The Future Sparkles For Private Brand Wine

    Retailers’ private brand wines are better positioned than ever before, say exhibitors who participated in the Private Label Manufacturers Association Private Label Trade Show in Chicago recently. Wineries and producers from South Africa, Kosovo, Italy, and California said that private label wine has become a must-have for retailers who want to entice the 21st-century customer.

    That’s because these wines have little in common with the cheap and poorly made brands that dominated the market for years and they say that you don’t have to look any further than the success of retailers like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Aldi, and Lidl.

    This year’s exhibitors cited:

    Pricing. Private label producers, says George Kuhn of Owl Ridge Wine Services in Healdsburg, Calif., are being more aggressive in helping retailers meet margin and pricing requirements. The sweet spot, he says, is $12 to $20 retail.

    Innovation: How about wine that isn’t made with the same old grapes? Two wineries from Kosovo, Kosova Wine and Stone Cellars, are showing how far eastern Europe has come. Stone Cellar’s private label line, Food Wine, includes native grapes like the red vrnac and the white smederevka. In addition, Italy’s Gruppo I Vinai has responded to the popularity of sweet red wine with a private Lambrusco.

    Quality: Retailers are demanding better quality, and producers are responding with wines like Cantine Europa’s organic reds and whites from Sicily.

    Packaging: Retailers are more demanding than ever, and it’s not enough to have a fancy, wine-sounding Chateau-y name. Instead, they’re looking for products like South Africa’s Zidela Wines and its Mooiberg reds and whites and its Mbali white.

    Service. If a retailer says they need something a certain way we’re going to find a way to make it work, says Gabe Markovitz of Rack and Riddle Custom Wine Services in Napa, Calif. Case in point: a Champagne-style sparkling wine made from California grapes at one-quarter the price of Champagne.

    These companies were among 1,450 store brand suppliers to exhibit at the annual trade show presented by the Private Label Manufacturers Association.

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    Christopher Durham is the president of My Private Brand and the co-founder of The Vertex Awards. He is a strategist, author, consultant and retailer who built brands at Delhaize-owned Food Lion, and lead strategy and brand development for Lowe’s Home Improvement. He has consulted with retailers around the world on their private brand portfolios including: Family Dollar, Petco, Staples, Office Depot, Best Buy, Metro (Canada), TLW (Taiwan) and Hola (Taiwan). Durham has published five definitive books on private brands, including his first book, Fifty2: The My Private Brand Project. In 2017, he will debut his newest book, Vanguard: Vintage Originals, a visual tour of innovation and disruption in private brand going back to the mid-1800’s. Dynamic in his presentation while down to earth and frank in his opinions, he has presented at numerous conferences, including FUSE, The Dieline Conference, Packaging that Sells, Omnishopper and PLMA’a annual trade show in Chicago. Durham lives in Charlotte, NC with his wife, Laraine, and two daughters, Olivia and Sarah.