Wine Innovation Insights

Global macroeconomics are impacting the pricing of select vintages from First Growth Châteaux and Vineyards around the world.

Instead of the market being driven drinking preferences, it is now being driven by brands and the macroeconomics of the countries where individual's are purchasing the wine.

Soon the wine industry will go through another cycle of rebalancing pricing versus demand.

Our insights into wine are listed below in the form of articles and interviews with wine makers, industry executives and chateau owners for your perusal.

To learn more say [email protected]

Carlos Moro: The Innovation Interview

Carlos Moro, Founder, President & CEO of The Matarromera Group of wineries shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and wine.

Born in Valladolid, Spain in 1953, he is a Technical Agricultural Engineer and, above all, a wine lover. His family background has been always linked to the vineyards and the wine. His ancestors were pioneers in the planting of vines in Olivares de Duero and Valbuena de Duero, considered today as the most prestigious area in the Ribera del Duero wine region.

In 1988 he decided to change his professional and personal life and started to built a dream which finally became true. In 1988, Matarromera Winery was founded in Valbuena de Duero.

Carlos Moro worked for 7 years as Agronomist Engineer for the Spanish Minister of Agriculture. He was also Deputy Secretary General of the Spanish Food & Beverage Industry Federation and Agricultural Expert at F.A.O. (Food and Agriculture Organization).

In the 1980’s he was also an Engineer at the General Directorate of Agricultural Industries. Carlos Moro also belongs to the Senior State Civil Service Corps, he was the Secretary General of the Technical Aeronautical Material Builders Association and Member of the Intergovernmental Committee of Airbus.

Carlos is a member of CARTIF Board, member of the Board of Valladolid Chamber of Commerce, member of the Board of the Spanish German Chamber of Commerce, Project Manager of the R&D Wine Panel Test, Emina Club Founder, and creator of the Oils from the Duero Association, among many other responsibilities.

However, despite his impressive academic background, it was his passion for the world of wine that led him to create Matarromera Winery located in the heart of the Ribera del Duero region where Carlos Moro started his own dream. Since then, Carlos’ life changed drastically.

After creating Matarromera, Carlos Moro continued his wine trajectory with another 6 different wineries: Valdelosfrailes in Cubillas de Santa Marta (in Cigales Region, Valladolid, Spain), Rento winery which is located in an old noble house of the XVI century where the Marquis of Olivares lived, and where a Jesuit Convent was built afterwards.

At the same time, the group of wineries grew with Emina Rueda winery (D.O. Rueda Region) and Emina Oxto (for fortified wines).

The birth of Emina Wine Interpretation Centre in Valbuena de Duero in 2006 was a revolution in the national wine scene. It also houses a spectacular wine cellar with modern architecture where a Museum of Wine and a wine tourism complex was created to catapult Emina as the first reference in wine tourism for the region.

In recent years, Carlos Moro also created Abrobiotec Company, devoted to biotechnology applied to food industry, and Esdor Cosmetics, engaged in the research, development and production of natural cosmetics coming from the polyphenols grape skins.

In 2009 Carlos Moro was elected President of VITARTIS, Food Biotechnology Business Association in Castilla y Leon.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

INNOVATION is a necessity. It is a philosophy and a way to manage a company. Since I created the Matarromera winery in 1988 I have considered Research, Development and Innovation as a main pillar of our strategy. It is a different policy and people might think that it is an expensive policy, but from our point of view it has been profitable.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

The Wine industry definitely needs to bet on R&D. We can not think that everything already has been made because what we did 10 years ago is probably useless today. That is why we need to think carefully about it. Of course, we must not forget our history and our traditions, but we won’t survive with this alone. The world, the market, and it’s preferences change every day and we need to adapt our work and products to these trends.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

When I was young I used to go to the family vineyards with my Dad every week. He always told me that I should leave the vineyards because they would be available whenever I wanted, so he insisted that I go to Madrid to become an Agricultural Engineer and to start working in Public Administrations. That advice was essential for me because I could train in several disciplines that I would need in the future.

On the other side, I do not think I should give any advice as nobody knows the whole truth, but I would recommend to everyone (entrepreneurs, winemakers, and the rest of the industry) to keep training and studying. There is always something to improve or something to invent.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

To be honest, I think our greatest achievement is our continuous wine success in the market. Since we started to commercialize our wines we have received several prizes and recognitions, but the most important one (and the most difficult) is how the global market sees our different wines positively year after year.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

I still prefer physical newspapers and books, but it is obvious that things are changing and we need to get ready for that. But at this moment, reading a book or a newspaper physically, feeling the paper between my fingers, is much better than touching a screen.

When and why did you start to reinvest more than a third of the group’s profits into research and development?

We established our R&D Department in 2005, although that was something that I had in my mind long time ago. I considered that investing that huge amount of money was going to be worth it in the future, and time is starting to give me the reason. Obviously, it is a very risky strategy, but sometimes as an entrepreneur you need to assume difficult decisions.

What was the inspiration and why did you build an Innovation Lab at the Winery?

The inspiration basically comes from my own philosophy. That’s the way I think. We established our own Lab at EMINA Winery and today more than 12 people are working on more than 30 different projects. Some of them will see the light some day, but maybe some of them won’t (let’s hope these are the least!)

How large have you estimated the non-alcoholic wine market to be?

The non alcoholic wine market is much larger than the “normal” wine market. Two simple questions: how many regular wine drinkers can you find in the world? 200 million? Maybe 300 or 500? The second question is: how many tentative non alcoholic wine drinkers can you find in the world? I can count to around 6.5 billion people. The whole world. All the targets. All the people, all the different religions.

It is a very difficult market as we are just starting to commercialize it and there are no other companies doing this, but we are confident about its success in the future and we will see that its succeeds.

Have you experimented with technologies or techniques that would help to prevent the sale and distribution of counterfeit wine?

Not really. I know that it is a serious problem for the industry, as it is also for the technology markets, fashion, etc.

What is the next great market for Spanish Wines?

At this point, I always like to be honest: Spanish wine needs to become much bigger in the international scene. It is extremely difficult to find very good Spanish wines in China, The United States and many other countries, while you can find very good French, Italian, Australian, Chilean and Argentinean wines. In my opinion, Spanish wines are extremely good, but the international market doesn’t feel the same way as most of the Spanish wineries have not found the way to export their excellent wines. That is one the biggest problems of the Spanish wine industry.

So, trying to answer your question, the next great market for Spanish wines is almost the whole world as we still need to grow dramatically in almost every country in the world.

Bo Barrett: The Innovation Interview

James P. “Bo” Barrett, Chief Executive Officer of Chateau Montelena Winery shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and Chateau Montelena.

James P. “Bo” Barrett took over the role of Chief Executive Officer at Chateau Montelena Winery following the passing of his father, James L. “Jim” Barrett, in March 2013. Prior to becoming CEO, he served as Master Winemaker for over 30 years. Bo’s career in the wine industry began in the summer of 1972, when his family purchased the historic stone building and estate vineyards in Calistoga, California. He spent the first summer working in the old vineyards, pulling star thistle and picking up rocks in preparation for replanting.

Bo has been involved in every vintage at Chateau Montelena since the winery’s rebirth 1972. His intimate knowledge of the Estate vineyard, gained over 40 years, provides him with a wealth of experience that allows him, year after year, to “bring the vintage and the vineyard to your table in a wine that is elegant, balanced and enjoyable.”

In 1976 Bo transferred to Fresno State University, where he was an honors student in Viticulture and Enology. As 1981 drew to a close, Chateau Montelena’s Winemaker left to pursue other opportunities and Bo was offered the job by his father, the winery’s Managing General Partner. “When I told my dad I would think about it, I was concerned about what it would do to our relationship. I thought about it for two days and finally told him that I would need to have the freedom and professional respect he had shown the previous winemakers. He agreed, and that’s how it’s was.”

When not making wine, Bo enjoys flying, scuba diving, skiing, and spending time with his wife, Heidi, and his three children.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

I define innovation in the broad sense as ‘A New Idea’. More specifically, it is a non-obvious and not previously existing solution to a problem or improvement to any process.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

The Government Bureaucracy. Those people are afraid of their own shadows.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

This is a tough one. Today: I’ll go with “A man’s got to know his limitations”.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

Finding a job I would do for free and making a good living at it. And marrying the right woman.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Both. However, I don’t read newspapers as often as I used to – I’m constantly on the go, so digital is easier to access and carry around, but at the same time, the local papers have such a homey old-school feel. Not to mention an iPad isn’t as good at wiping off lunch burrito drippings. That being said, things are definitely moving to digital.

How do you balance heritage and technology during the winemaking process?

Easily. If the new technology makes the wine better we use it, if not we stick with traditional methods and equipment. The old saw “don’t be a slave to fashion” works both ways. Back in the early ‘70s, my father’s goal was to make First Growth wines at Chateau Montelena Winery, and that remains true today, over 40 years later. We take the incredible fruit from this historic piece of land and try to make the best wine that we possibly can. Ultimately the “balance” between heritage and technology is found in what allows us to produce the best wine. Period.

With the advent of social media you have been able to offer wine enthusiasts a greater glimpse into the winemaking process. What technologies are you most excited about and will Chateau Montelena embrace these new trends to build a stronger relationship with their customers?

For those who have not had the opportunity to visit the Chateau but enjoy our wines from afar, social media helps provide context and allows consumers to at least experience this place virtually. I see social media as a platform that we can leverage to give consumers that “VIP” access that so many seek out and it is also an opportunity for us to differentiate ourselves from the hundreds of other wineries in the Napa Valley and thousands that exist internationally.

Video is not necessarily a “new technology”, but we are excited about where it is headed because so much about Chateau Montelena is visual and video really allows us to capture the personality of this place and the people who work here, including myself. Giving people a sense of who we are and what we do will always create stronger and better relationships with our brand.

Is Chateau Montelena currently experimenting with NFC or Augmented Reality technology to create experiences around the wine bottle?

We are in the early stages of exploring how these technologies might be incorporated into the Montelena experience. Similar to the heritage/technology balance, we want to ensure these would add value to a customer’s experience at the winery and are not merely adopted for the sake of being on the cutting-edge.

How has the wine industry changed since the 1976 Paris Tasting?

In many ways. Technology since the late ‘70s has come a long way. In 2011, for example, we completed a seismic retrofit and upgrade of our cellar. Now we have state of the art cellar with enhancements such as smaller fermentation tanks that are connected wirelessly for emphasis on precision winemaking. Now we can monitor and adjust the wine from virtually anywhere (with a wireless connection of course). Chateau Montelena Winery has been a pioneer in sustainability for over 40 years – before being “green” was trendy. So, in that sense, a lot has changed as new technologies have evolved. We run almost entirely on solar and last fall we installed EV chargers at the Chateau for those driving electric vehicles. But, regardless of how many updates we make, we are still making wine in a 130 year-old chateau. At the end of the day, technology can’t replace a gut feeling and intuition.

Since the Paris Tasting, the industry has also expanded as a whole. There are over eight thousand wineries in the United States today and over four hundred in the Napa Valley. The popularity of wine has grown and the younger generations have taken an interest – they’re buying wine and it’s becoming a part of their lifestyle, which is great for us old guys because it means we get to keep doing what we love. At the same time, many of these individuals are taking a professional interest in the business. Both of my daughters are under 30 and working in the industry, so it is pretty cool to watch them grow and forge their own paths.

How has the Chateau Montelena brand and wine been received in the newly expanding Chinese wine market?

China is a rapidly growing market and we are currently evaluating our opportunities there.

Matt Dees: The Innovation Interview

Matt Dees, Winemaker of Jonata shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and Jonata wines.

There are some people who are educated toward certain positions in life and others who are born to assume them—and Matt Dees is what you’d call a natural winemaker.

Armed with a degree in soil science from the university of Vermont and vintages at Staglin in Napa, California and Craggy Range in Hawkes Bay, New Zealand, Matt has an intrinsic feel for wine, from dirt to glass. Curious, earthy and experimental by nature, Matt’s approach to winemaking is grounded in the vineyard (pun intentional) first and foremost: attuned to the vines, the weather, the soil, Matt seems almost to be a part of the vineyard itself.

Not being bound by the conventions of the enological world of academia (no degree in winemaking here) has allowed Matt to come to an untethered philosophy of wine. Where Jonata is concerned, this is an important point: Jonata is an unconventional place that requires an unconventional, open mind to bring it to life.

Lastly, Matt has another very concrete talent: a keen feel for the shapes and dimension of tannin. Listening to him discuss the tannin elements found in Jonata wines is like listening to Buckminster Fuller describe the geodesic dome (which he invented), or like listening to the daring polyphonic construction of Bach’s Brandenburg concertos. Dees is a winemaker who’s emotionally and intellectually connected to structure, texture and tannin and explores these elements deeply in his wines.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

For me, innovation is both an acceptance that times/markets/fields are always changing and an insistence that in order to succeed one must change with them or (even better) a few steps ahead. It is an open minded, yet driven approach to finding new solutions to ever changing problems. Innovation in winemaking is a balancing act between embracing the tradition of the past few thousand years of production and finding new ways to push one’s craft to a higher level.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

For a field that is near and dear to my heart, I would like to see restaurants take a more innovative approach to wine lists and wine service. There are certainly many brilliant sommeliers from coast to coast who are finding new ways to simultaneously give their customers what they want, while also acting as a guide to introduce them to new wine grapes, regions and styles.

There are always innovative ways to create more diverse lists, make menu formats more accessible, price wines with consumers in mind and use technology to make the whole process more seamless and suave.

Obviously, wine is made to drink with meals and we need to find ways to make drinking wine at restaurants a more attractive and enticing option.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

Make hay while the sun shines. My father told me that when I was young. It has treated me well. Take care of business, get your work done and be efficient. There are just too many other things to do besides making hay when the sun isn’t shining.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

It would probably be my involvement with the Jonata team over the past ten years and all that we have accomplished together. We’ve come a long way since the days of being advised to grow asparagus or make a golf course on the sandy property instead of growing grapes. We’ve taken an old cattle ranch and transformed it into a world class vineyard. It always feels good to prove the naysayers wrong.

More specifically, the 2007 La Sangre de Jonata and the 2009 El Desafio de Jonata (cabernet sauvignon) are probably the greatest tangible achievements that I’ve been a part of (my two children aside of course).

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Books: Physical. The feel, the smell, all that romantic stuff; I’m a sucker for that. Newspapers: digital. Who needs all that constant shuffling, refolding and smudging? I’m not sure that I’ll miss them.

How has not having a degree in wine given you a competitive advantage?

I suppose in some ways it has allowed me to think outside the box. I’ve got a scholastic background in plant and soil science, but I’ve always approached wine as a craft one learns through experience.

I love embracing the vagaries of nature, the joy of understanding a property as a living thing and the dance of working with wild fermentations. I would never deny that it is important to understand the science behind them, but I’ve always viewed wine as something more driven by passion and creativity.

What are your thoughts on Google Glass and will you use the technology to offer wine enthusiasts a glimpse into the winemaking process?

Great question. I have to admit that I’m a bit of a luddite when it comes to new google glass type gadgets. As an aside, Google Glasses are those glasses that help you fly, right?

How do you market your wines without devaluing the brand?

With sincerity, an honest message and with complete conviction because you believe deeply in what you are selling.

In a world where counterfeit wines are ever-present, are you currently experimenting with any technologies to ensure the provenance and authenticity of the Jonata wines?

That is certainly a concern moving forward. As counterfeiting grows more and more rampant, we will likely be forced to consider some of the options out there. Nothing would be more frustrating as a winemaker than putting so much blood, sweat and tears into producing a bottle of wine, to have a completely unrelated product arrive in front of an unsuspecting consumer. I lose sleep over that type of thing.

What new innovations do you feel, for better or worse, will have the greatest impact on your unconventional approach to Jonata in the future?

Google glasses of course. Either that or new methods to farm vineyards without irrigation/improved grapevine plant material such as more drought tolerant rootstocks or completely disease free clonal selections. Not to get too geeky, but anything that would allow us to continue to farm healthy, disease-free vines with less and less water requirements on our sandy vineyard would make a huge impact. This type of innovation from nurseries and plant research centers could greatly help not only our vineyard, but also properties throughout the State of California as we continue to swim uncertainly amongst the increasingly bizarre weather conditions.

David Pearson: The Innovation Interview

David Pearson, CEO of Opus One shares his thoughts and insights on innovation, technology and Opus One.

Named in February 2004 the first sole CEO of Opus One, David Pearson was hired to maintain and enhance the shared vision of Baron Philippe de Rothschild and Robert Mondavi, two great men of wine. Responsible for all production, marketing, sales and administrative activities at the winery, Mr. Pearson has taken stewardship over a wine and a joint venture poised to endure for generations.

Prior to joining Opus One, Mr. Pearson served as President of Rancho Arroyo Grande located in the central coast region of California. From 1996 to 2003, Mr. Pearson was employed by the Robert Mondavi Corporation where he was Vice President, General Manager of Byron Vineyards & Winery, and before that, Vice President, General Manager of Vichon SARL, responsible for the establishment of wine growing operations in Languedoc, France. He conceived the marketing strategy and executed the launch of Vichon Mediterranean wines from Languedoc Roussillon. The brand was recognized as Impact Magazine’s “Hot Brand” twice within four years.

From 1991 to 1996, Mr. Pearson served with Heublein, Inc. where he held the position of US Marketing Manager for the wines of Baron Philippe de Rothschild.

Mr. Pearson began his career in wine production, responsible for vineyard management and winemaking at San Pasqual Vineyards located in Southern California. He subsequently held the position of Senior Sensory Scientist in Heublein’s Research & Development division where he was awarded Heublein’s President’s Award for the implementation of innovative sensory evaluation techniques.

Mr. Pearson holds a B.S. in Enology from the University of California, Davis and an MBA in International Business from the Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation is like creativity: no one really knows where it comes from, why or when. But, you know it when you see it. Innovation is the surprising and unexpected result that comes from combining a deep and profound understanding of who you are and what you want to achieve. Innovation is change, but not in a void or without context. Change for change’s sake is frequently meaningless and misdirected. Successful innovation comes from real understanding, extraordinary desire – and persistence! Innovation means to me that you are alive and growing. Successful innovation means that you know what you are doing and why. At Opus One we strive to bring innovation to every aspect of our daily work and business.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

All industries need to embrace innovation and take risks. The management challenge is to balance risk taking and innovation while protecting and nurturing your core business. I do not believe in absolutes in the wine business – or any business. This means that everything we do, all our assumptions and considered facts, need to be constantly reevaluated. We must always be open to new ideas and new concepts – and willing to take risks, while staying true to our core values and mission. In the past decade we have innovated in our vineyard management, global sales approach and our guest relations activities at the winery. All of our innovations are designed to achieve the highest level of quality and focus entirely on our customers’ expectations and experiences.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

“The quality of my life IS the quality of my communications to myself and to others”, Anthony Robbins. Success in business and in life is all about, and in the end only about, how we manage our relationships – and, we do that through our communications. The success of our business depends on the quality of our relationships with our business partners, suppliers and distribution channel, and with our customers. At Opus One we measure our success not by how many bottles of wine we sell, or by how much money we are making, but rather by the quality of our relationships and the number of new friends that we are making.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

Hiring well. There is little that is more difficult than assembling a top-rate team that is efficient, effective, focused and aligned on one goal. I have had the pleasure several times in my career to have been part of, and to have put together, some of the best teams in the wine business. And, with these groups we have achieved great things together. Opus One is the finest wine team with which I have ever been associated.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

Both. But, let’s be clear digital is the way of the future. I love my Sunday New York Times, delivered to my house, slowly turning the pages as I read through with a good cup of dark roast coffee. The digital information age is a revolution that has just begun. Through the digital information revolution we are now able instantly to provide our customers with detailed and customized information about Opus One and about our wines. Returning to the importance of relationships, through digital technology, we create and maintain more personalized contact with our customers.

What did it mean to you when the board of Opus One appointed you CEO in 2004?

It was the greatest honor and challenge of my career. The Board of Directors explained to me that going forward it was their intent that Opus One be managed independently from the founding families. It was an enormous responsibility and obligation that the Board was giving me and all of us at the winery.

Opus One has done a tremendous job of partnering with hotels and resorts to expose the wine to potential new customers. Was this part of your strategy when you became CEO in 2004 to grow the brand?

Opus One has always understood the importance of partnering with top hotels, resorts and restaurants. Robert Mondavi, the great pioneer of Napa Valley and one of the founders of Opus One, spent his life traveling around the world sharing his passion for wine with top sommeliers, restaurateurs, and hoteliers. We are just following in his footsteps. Our strategy since 2004 has been to achieve a greater global presence and recognition for Opus One. In the recent past years we have successfully developed a significant presence in countries around the world – in large part, by working closely with the top hotels and resorts of the world.

What is your greatest challenge in managing the Opus One brand?

Maintaining balance and pace. There is great energy and passion here with everyone that works with Opus One. We have to be careful not to try to do too much and to push too hard. Ours is a marathon not a sprint.

With the Opus One Estate being located one hour from San Francisco, has Silicon Valley had an impact on your business in terms of adopting and implementing new technologies?

The proximity of Silicon Valley has not been the issue, but the emergence of technology, and specifically Social Media technology, is impacting us greatly. We have embraced social media technology as an effective way of communicating in a direct and meaningful way with our customers. Wine is all about storytelling and personal experiences. We are implementing innovative ways of telling our story directly to our friends and customers. Notably, since 2008 every bottle of Opus One has an NFC chip placed behind our back label. This chip, which can be scanned by most smart phones, provides the customer with instant videos of our winemaker explaining the wine and vintage, and also allows us to track the bottle as it circulates around the world.

In an interview with Wine Taste TV you said; “Great wines have a soul to them”. How are you able to ensure this with each release of Opus One?

I don’t know, to be honest. I do believe that great wines have a personality, a life and a soul to them. We get to know them like good friends; we watch them age and grow in complexity over time. But, I don’t know from where specifically in the grape growing or winemaking process this comes. It is the happy mystery and magic of wine. Making wine is a dance between man and nature and you have to work every year to find the proper balance between the two. Balance is the key. The expression of a vineyard or a terroir comes from hundreds of different things and actions that are taken every year with every vintage. By bringing a remarkable level of “attention to detail” to everything that we do and by seeking out the unique expression and character of each year, we find, rather mysteriously and happily, that each vintage of Opus One has a unique personality and soul.

Sacha Lichine: The Innovation Interview

Sacha Lichine, Owner of Sacha Lichine International/ Vins Sans Frontiers shares his thoughts and insights regarding Chateau d’Esclans Rosé, Innovation, Trends and building a truly global wine brand that is expanding into Asia.

Sacha Lichine was born in Bordeaux and educated in America, Sacha Lichine began working at his family’s former property, Chateau Prieure Lichine, during the summers of his youth. At age 23, Sacha’s first enterprise was organizing luxury wine tours in France which helped facilitate the establishment of Sacha Lichine Estate Selections for wines from the Rhone. He also worked as a Sommelier at Anthony’s Pier 4 Restaurant and then with an importer/ distributor/ wholesaler both of which were in Boston.

Sacha then went on to work for Southern Wine & Spirits in California and in 1987 he established a distributorship on Saint Lucia called Caribbean Chateau. During the same year, a defining moment in Sacha’s career came about when he started running Prieure Lichine at age 27. In 1990 Sacha started a negociant business, Borvin, which he still operates focusing on selecting the best wines from Bordeaux. Recognizing the importance of innovation in an increasingly varied wine industry around the world, Sacha developed a line of new world wines from France, Sacha Lichine International / Vins Sans Frontiers which today consists of a range of blended wines from the Languedoc and varietals from other regions in France.

A pivotal moment for Sacha was his 2006 acquisition of Chateau d’Esclans in Provence. In keeping with his uncanny sense of innovation, Sacha felt that Rose had strong developmental opportunities to become more serious from a production standpoint in addition to being served and consumed more broadly. The result to this foresight energized by an abiding passion for making and promoting great wine, has resulted in building a world class brand while providing a strong contribution to unprecedented growth within the Rose category. This has made for a remarkable chapter in Sacha’s dynamic career to date.

How do you define innovation and what does it mean to you?

Innovation is something new or different and, in the case of Chateau d’Esclans/ Whispering Angel, much of this is based on introducing new ideas and methods to producing Cotes de Provence Rose. Beyond painstaking, methodical vine cultivation and harvesting techniques, the wine is produced in a state of the art winery beginning with electronic sorting equipment that insures zero deficiency when it comes to guaranteeing that all grapes which go into vinification are perfectly de-stemmed and resemble each of the correct physical characteristics dictated by the wine maker including shape, size, color and general condition. This is verified by an optical eye which is programmed to detect whether grapes ‘make the grade’. Our refrigeration systems are equally sophisticated as are the vinification systems which are a cross between stainless steel vats and new & 2 year old oak barrel vinification. The ladder is quite special and, while reserved for our higher end wines, this method is part and parcel to the way we differentiate our brand as being the greatest Rose in the world. Towards that end, oak vinification is a process reserved to fine wine making, something to which Rose is generally not equated. This is where innovation, from a production standpoint, plays a role.

The innovative nature of the wines we produce get trade professionals, journalists and, of course, consumers to take notice and taste the wines. But, before doing so, they will have either heard or read about them given that Chateau d’Esclans is very established. Our packaging is quite striking. Whispering Angel is a force that has a brand personality unto itself beginning with its name putting it in a different place then most, if not all other Roses. It has been featured twice on American network television (in a popular sitcom & second on a travel and culture feature on a major morning news program). As for our higher end wines, since the most recently released vintage, 2010, the packaging has been overhauled in order to speak to their position as super premium wine. Top flight wine journalists and trade professionals including sommeliers, from around the world, marvel at how amazing our high end wines Les Clans and Garrus are.

What industry needs to embrace innovation and take more risks?

Speaking for our industry, this is a must and I think you can apply that to any industry because, truth be told, nothing is more constant than change & one must be in sync with this realization in order to be relevant to consumers particularly when you are building a brand.

What is the best piece of advice that you have been given and received?

We don’t follow trends we set them… given to me by my father, Alexis Lichine.

What is your greatest achievement and why?

I have achieved many things that have led me to overseeing my former family’s property, Chateau Prieure Lichine and selling it followed by the acquisition and oversight of Chateau d’Esclans. In both cases I have owned and run globally distributed world class wine brands. In terms of d’Esclans, this is something that was built from scratch and about which I am particularly proud. Additionally my branded blended wines from the south of France are well positioned as wines which are easy and enjoyable to drink. We are in the process of creating a new brand encompassing 3 wines bearing visually arresting package design and good quality both of which will put them ‘out ahead’ of many wines within the value segment.

Newspapers and Books: Digital or Physical?

If you are speaking of media exposure, we seek it out and respond to opportunities recognizing the importance to maintain an elevated profile amongst targeted consumers. As for newspapers, they represent an important part of the mix because of their daily frequency. Most major journals have wine columns some of which are overseen by a particular journalist and others of which provide articles written by various contributors. In terms of articles about our wines and the key people behind them going into the digital or physical space you will agree that both are becoming increasingly seamless.

What technologies do you use to manage Chateau d’Esclans when you are on the road building a global brand?

Technologies include the prevalent mode of wired devices to maintain constant contact with clients and our associates. Other technologies include promotional events which of course rely on visual aid imagery, presentations, dvds with sound, sight and motion that bring our unique proposition to life.

When did you first spot the rosé trend? Was foreseeing this trend what lead you to acquire Château d’Esclans in 2006?

I knew for some time that there was a vacant sector in the category and it was really a matter of getting to the point where the acquisition could be made in order to see things through. Today provisional information indicates that new wine drinkers are gravitating to Rose which bodes favorably for the likes of Whispering Angel and perhaps more so our new our new Rose creation, Single Blend, a Grenache based Rose made from some of the best Grenache growing areas in France. For higher end consumers there are an abundance of brand development opportunities for Les Clans and Garrus particularly because these wines add such a different dimension to the fine wine experience by comparison to the more established red and white wines on the market. So we have responded to trends pointing toward category growth by crafting different Rose wines which cater to consumers of different echelons and tastes.

We were first introduced to Whispering Angel by the sommelier at The Four Seasons Resort Nevis, West Indies and have since become loyal to the brand. You wisely chose to market the wine at luxury hotels around the world- why?

These sort of venues, luxury hotels, are key to building a prestige brand because of the echelon of consumers they draw. That being said, word of mouth endorsements from discerning consumers go a long way toward raising awareness, stimulating trial and increasing sales.

With Chateau d’Esclans available in over 51 countries and expansion into Asia well underway, what will be the largest market for rosé wine in Asia within 5 years?

It is difficult to know however in Asia alone we’re up about 50% over the past two years and note that in markets such as Hong Kong, Singapore and at resorts in places like Phuket, and in various parts of China, our Rose wines are catching on and becoming emblematic ingredient products for many trendsetters to enjoy and be seen with.

How are you balancing heritage and lifestyle as you build the Château d’Esclans brand?

We try to balance form and function by making classic and fabulous wine that, to consumers, tastes this way. Lifestyle pertains to promotional events at the Chateau and through themed events (Pink Parties) in various global markets where the Provence Rose lifestyle is experienced by consumers and trade professionals all of whom derive a sense of how lovely our wines are on their own and become superb accompaniments to the enjoyment and the enhancement of gastronomy.