Text Size:-+

In Case You Weren't Sure About the Global Wine Marketplace

File this story under "You know globalization is at work, when..."

No matter the fuss some people raise about the increasing globalization of the wine industry, the fact remains that there's nothing to be done about it. It just is. Technology, demographics, politics and economics have shaped the world to the point that even those who would seek to avoid the effects of globalization can no more do so than they can adelsheim_label.jpgdecide to fly by flapping their wings.

And even those that might take baby steps to take part in the global marketplace cannot avoid the sometimes bizarre implications of the ability to sell to anyone anywhere.

Take the startling realization that Adelsheim Vineyards recently came to in the course of exploring international markets for their excellent Oregon Pinot Noirs. As reported in a blog post by Dave McIntyre of the Washington Post, David Adelsheim is having to dramatically change his labels in order to sell his wine to audiences like the British and the Japanese.

For those unfamiliar with Adelsheim VIneyards, for years the bottles have been labeled with artwork done by Adelsheim's wife Ginny, including wonderful portraits of their daughter Elizabeth, who can be seen growing older vintage after vintage on the succession of labels.

The award winning labels themselves have become as famous as the wines, so changing them was not something to undertake lightly. But apparently if Adelsheim wants to sell his wines to the British, the labels need to look more "French" and if he wants to sell his wine to the Japanese, the girl on the front making eye contact with the buyer has got to go.

I shook my head when I read that, and marveled at the craziness of the world we live in. When a tiny little Oregon winery is thinking about branding to appeal to specific cultural values and buying triggers, you know the world has, in the words of journalist Thomas Friedman, become very, very flat.

Read the story at the Washington Post.

Comments (6)

SG wrote:
06.19.10 at 7:32 AM

I can't help but think that this is a mistake. From a distance, it sounds like they're taking something beautiful and distinctive and making it more generic and mundane. A separate set of labels for export to the UK and Japan would seem to be a better option to me. That way they can continue to offer something unique to their existing customers while opening up new markets at the same time.

John Kelly wrote:
06.19.10 at 8:44 AM

The idea that there can be a "global" package for any branded product is suspect. Even the most iconic brands alter their packaging to reflect the cultural preferences and sensitivities of certain markets. And the history of global marketing attempts is littered with missteps: The Chevrolet No Va in the Spanish-speaking world, and "Nik" branded shoes in the Arabic come immediately to mind. The problem for a small winery embarking on a global mission is guessing how much wine to allocate to each market before a different label is developed for each bottling.

MFB wrote:
06.20.10 at 11:01 PM

For many years I've regarded the Adelsheim label as very odd, unattractive and inappropriate. (I had no idea the rather poorly drawn picture of the plain looking woman was his daughter.) What's so surprising about the fact that an effective label on a commercial product should look tastefully commercial.

06.21.10 at 10:40 AM

Alder -

Thank you for discussing Adelsheim Vineyard on your blog. However, I feel the need to comment to clear up a bit of a misrepresentation about our rebranding efforts in the media.

If you refer back to a press release we distributed in December (http://www.adelsheim.com/news/adelsheimNews.jhp?itemid=225), you will note that “The key to this branding project is linking the extensive history of the company to our vision and aspirations for today and the future.”

The company has evolved in a major way over the previous decade, gaining increased recognition for wine excellence due in part to the addition of Dave Paige as Winemaker in 2001 and Chad Vargas as Vineyard Manager and Viticulturist in 2006. In 2008/09, we expanded our fermentation space and built a stunning tasting room to complement our growing Consumer Direct program.

Last year, we did extensive research with a branding company based in Portland, Oregon, surveying trade partners (distributors and on- and off-premise accounts), wine club members, and tasing room visitors. From this research, we developed a comprehensive brand platform, in which this design project has its roots.

Rest assured, the last thing we want to see is a "generic" label. In fact, we are working hard to ensure that the artistry associated with Adelsheim is maintained and that the labels are representative of the company, while still being distinctive enough to stand out on a retail shelf. We have partnered with Flint Design Company in Portland, which is regarded as the preeminent studio for premium food and beverage branding and packaging design in the Pacific Northwest. Owner Catherine Healy has 18 years of graphic design experience and has worked with such regarded Oregon wine industry clients as Ponzi, Bergström, Erath, and Penner-Ash.

I hope that this comment - while brief - helps your readers better understand the real reasons behind this project. If they or you have any further questions, I'm always available for comment.

Best Regards,
Catherine Douglas
Marketing & Communications Manager
Adelsheim Vineyard

Ray wrote:
06.21.10 at 3:12 PM

Interesting Article. It's a really strange coincidence that I was discussing label issues and globalization with a friend just last week and then I read this today.

diane wrote:
06.22.10 at 9:57 AM

If the world is so flat, why are we not able to accept a woman's eyes looking directly at the buyer? I'm baffled!

Comment on this entry

(will not be published)
(optional -- Google will not follow)

Type the characters you see in the picture above.

Buy My Book!

small_final_covershot_dropshadow.jpg A wine book like no other. Photographs, essays, and wine recommendations. Learn more.

Follow Me On:

Twitter Facebook Pinterest Instagram Delectable Flipboard

Most Recent Entries

The Mysterious Art of Selling Direct Critical Consolidation in Wine What Has California Got Against Wineries? Dirty Money for a Legendary Brand Vinography Images: Tendrils Highlights from Tasting Champagne with the Masters Off to Portugal for a Drink Vinography Images: Hazy Afternoon The Dark Queen of Châteauneuf-du-Pape: Domaine du Pégau Does California Have Too Many AVAs?

Favorite Posts From the Archives

Masuizumi Junmai Daiginjo, Toyama Prefecture Wine.Com Gives Retailers (and Consumers) the Finger 1961 Hospices de Beaune Emile Chandesais, Burgundy Wine Over Time The Better Half of My Palate 1999 Királyudvar "Lapis" Tokaji Furmint, Hungary What's Allowed in Your Wine and Winemaking Why Community Tasting Notes Sites Will Fail Appreciating Wine in Context The Soul vs. The Market 1989 Fiorano Botte 48 Semillion,Italy

Archives by Month


Required Reading for Wine Lovers

The Oxford Companion to Wine by Jancis Robinson The Taste of Wine by Emile Peynaud Adventures on the Wine Route by Kermit Lynch Love By the Glass by Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher Noble Rot by William Echikson The Science of Wine by Jamie Goode The Judgement of Paris by George Taber The Wine Bible by Karen MacNeil The Botanist and the Vintner by Christy Campbell The Emperor of Wine by Elin McCoy The World Atlas of Wine by Hugh Johnson The World's Greatest Wine Estates by Robert M. Parker, Jr.