This month wine and grape industry trade magazine and website Wines & Vines features a fascinating and detailed article featuring Peter Byck, co-founder, president and CEO of Winery Exchange, a provider of Private Brand wine, beer and spirit brands for retailers. The article recaps a presentation Byck gave to an audience of students, faculty and wine industry professionals at the University of California, Davis (UCD).
According to the article: Byck’s talk, presented through the UCD Robert Mondavi Institute and the Department of Viticulture and Enology, was the eighth annual presentation in the Walt Klenz Lectureship Series sponsored by Treasury Wine Estates (formerly Beringer Blass Wine Estates) in honor of former Beringer CEO Walt Klenz. In his introduction, Klenz said, “Winery Exchange is a new type of wine company that is looking at the wine business in a different way, building intellectual capital instead of asset-based capital.”
The theme of Byck’s talk was “Entrepreneurship in the Wine Industry—Balancing Risk and Reward in an Ever-Changing Market.” Byck discussed business lessons learned during the course of his career and tied them to what were inevitably Private Brand focused highlights in the company history.
Winery Exchange owns no winery facilities or vineyards, and just recently it started entering into grape-purchasing contracts. “We’re a non-asset-based wine company for the world and act as a one-stop shop for retailers to come to us,” Byck explained. Winery Exchange develops and manages Private Brands for U.K. retailers Tesco and Sainsbury’s—and for U.S. retailers such as Supervalu (brands include Jenica Peak, Pacific Flyway, Q Vineyards), Whole Foods (carries H&G, Grandmaster, PushPin Rose and others), Cost Plus World Market (Foodies), and many other brands for other retailers.
One of the company’s largest Private Brand wine clients is the Cincinnati, Ohio-based Kroger supermarket chain with more than 2,400 U.S. stores that include Ralphs, Fred Meyer, Food4Less and others. Kroger’s private-label wine brands include Hawkstone, Parkers Estate and Arrow Creek.
Winery Exchange has a five-year plan to grow Kroger’s control wine brand share from 2% in 2012 to 15% in 2017. A recent Kroger wine brand launch was Acronym GR8 Red Wine, dominated by Pinot Noir and Syrah, which hit the shelves in October 2012 in the $9-$15 per bottle price range. Byck said 30,000 cases of Acronym sold in its first two months on the market.