New book dives into how wines become a luxury wine brand

WHAT IS THE RITZ-CARLTON OF WINE? Park Square? The best ?

The brand is known as “Luxury Wine” and a new book on the market provides insight for collectors wondering if their liquid investment is up.

Luxury Wine Marketing: The Art and Science of Luxury Wine Branding” (Infinite Ideas, 2019, $69.95) is by Peter Yeung, strategic marketing expert, and Liz Thach, Master of Wine and professor of wine and management at Sonoma State University.

The authors give this definition of luxury wine in the book: “It is of the highest quality, from a special place on earth, has an element of rarity, a high price and produces a sense of privilege and pleasure for the owner.”

In a short Q&A, the authors collaborated to answer the following questions:

Q When does a cult wine like Screaming Eagle become a luxury brand? Why is it a great brand to illustrate this crossover?

A It takes time and it doesn’t happen all at once. It’s not like one year is “cult” and another is “luxury”. And many cult wines also fall into the luxury wine category, as described in our first chapter. It’s mainly from consistent quality and a steadily building reputation over at least 20 years that gradually moves from being a cult wine brand to being part of the luxury set. This is accompanied by growing secondary market activity (with a secondary market premium) and increased investment demand from collectors as proof that this is a luxury brand.

Q How will this benefit collectors the most? How to ensure that cult taxis and other brands have luxury brand status? What is the point of having luxury brands in your cellar rather than cult convertibles?

A. The book gives collectors an idea of ​​the scope and size of what’s out there when it comes to fine wines. (Note: for consumers, the wine industry should describe it as ‘fine wine’ whereas from a commercial perspective, the term ‘luxury wine’ is more appropriate). Which regions are important and how much wine do they produce? Who are the most important players in each region? Seeing how existing fine wine brands have fared can also help collectors know if their current wine investments are moving in the right direction over the long term.

Cult taxis can come and go. True collectors also have an investment element to their collection, requiring “luxury wines” that stand the test of time and hold their value. Have you heard of the high-end electric vehicle “Fisker”? It was a cult brand that was even featured on TV shows but ultimately fell short.

Q What do you think collectors will find most intriguing about this book?

A. Depending on the level of knowledge of the collector, it can be different:

Moderate level of knowledge –– the market size by region of fine wines, lists of luxury and emerging luxury wine brands, and lists of the most expensive wines.

Level of in-depth knowledge –– the differences in cost, price and profitability of fine wines compared to commercial wines; the trade-offs that wine brands weigh when dividing wines among customers; how wine brands think about pricing; and gain knowledge of the wine auction and counterfeit markets.

Q What did you find most surprising in your research on luxury brands?

A. The size of the market was certainly a surprise. It was much bigger than we thought. The diversity of business strategies and experiences of the many luxury wine brands featured in the book was also surprising. It’s not a one-size-fits-all type of solution or experience, but it’s often the product of the different personalities of the cave founders.

You can reach Wine Writer Peg Melnik at [email protected] or 707-521-5310.


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Jean H. Vannatta