UK and Japan vital for fine wine17th December, 2013 by Patrick Schmitt
Fine wine brands shouldn’t forget Japan and the UK for sales and image building, believes Opus One CEO David Pearson.
In a discussion with the drinks business in London last month, Pearson warned producers not to overlook the UK and Japan in the rush to build business in China, and stressed the importance of both Tokyo and London as sources of sales for his Mondavi-Rothschild joint-venture, Napa’s Opus One.
“In all this talk about Hong Kong and China, no one seems to be mentioning Japan,” said Pearson, pointing out that Opus One’s sales in the latter country were four times greater than those in Hong Kong and Mainland China combined.
Indeed, the Californian Cabernet blend has a production of 20-25,000 cases depending on vintage, and Japan accounts for 35% of the 52% that’s currently exported of Opus One.
“Japan is very sophisticated… it is a wonderful market, and we’ve been there for a long time,” he said.
Explaining the success of Opus One in Tokyo, Pearson believed it could be connected to the city’s respect for the past along with a “very modern culture”, which are two contrasting aspects to Opus One: it is a “joining of the traditional with Rothschild and the more modern with Mondavi”, he commented.
While the UK market represents a smaller proportion of Opus One exports with a 10-12% share, Pearson said that a strong presence London was crucial to the Napa brand’s international image.
“The great wines of the world need to be present in London,” he said, referring to the capital’s best restaurants and retailers.
Continuing he commented, “It is insufficient to be traded in the UK just so you can be sold in Asia.”
As a consequence, Pearson told db he was working on improving the sales and distribution of Opus One in the UK.
“We are making sure Opus One is served in London over the next 10 years,” he said, announcing that the brand would be hosting a series of dinners in the capital to advance awareness of the wine.
He also said that an emphasis by some fine wine brands on serving new customers in China had “left a lot of upset people behind in Europe”, and while he admitted that the “growth rate is tremendous” in China, he described the country as the “wild west of wine”.