VINTJS Wines, Brands, Partner Brands, and Reputation
DAH: I bought this bottle of Syrah to try. I think it might be pretty good, and it was only $6.99.
CHance: Where’s it from? “VINT-what?”
DAH: “Vintages.” But like VINT-TJ’s. It’s from Trader Joe’s.
CHance: Oh, of course. What made you think it would be good?
DAH: The label says “Produced and bottled by Robert N. Lindquist, Santa Maria, CA, USA.” That’s Bob Linquist. He makes Qupe.
CHance: Qupe wines are good.
DAH: Yes, they are.
There are several things I find interesting about this exchange, and other bottles I’ve purchased recently at Trader Joe’s.
First, I think it’s interesting that someone (CHance, my wife) who knows wine (but isn’t completely sodden from swimming non-stop in the sea of the wine business) didn’t immediately understand that VINTJS was a Trader Joe’s proprietary label.
Second, I’m intrigued, as a wine marketer, that respected winemakers and wineries are putting their names on Trader Joe’s proprietary brand back labels. It isn’t every Trader Joe’s brand wine that tells you of its winemaking, but it’s more than I’ve noticed before. Bob Lindquist made this VINTJS Syrah. I’ve been drinking a VINTJS Willamette Valley Pinot Gris made by Joe Dobbes (produced and bottled by Wine by Joe, Dundee, OR). And I recently reviewed a Trader Joe’s Reserve Zinfandel “Vinted and Bottled by Mazzocco Sonoma, Healdsburg, CA” … Mazzocco is part of Wilson Artisan Wineries, a group of wineries owned by Ken and Diane Wilson, who specialize in Sonoma Zinfandel. You can read that Zinsite review HERE.
Do these winemakers WANT their names on Trader Joe’s proprietary wines? Or does Trader Joe’s REQUIRE that their names be attached, as part of the deal? Either way, it adds some cachet, for me, the wine-drenched consumer. It makes the Trader Joe’s wines seem better, and, therefore, an even better deal, price-wise.
There’s still a lot of traditional private label wine out there, at Trader Joe’s and elsewhere. Wine that comes from one of several factory wine bottlers, hidden behind DBAs in Graton or Manteca. It doesn’t mean that wine isn’t good. It could be great. But the marketing of the wine trades only on the value perception and promise of the retailer or restaurant.
Our Middleton Family Wines Buried Cane winery has a “partner label” with Anthony’s Restaurants in the Pacific Northwest. Our regular Buried Cane label carries an additional logo, that of Anthony’s, and the wine is presented as a partner proposition, endorsed by both our companies. This stengthens both our branding efforts (in our opinions). Trader Joe’s is doing somewhat the same thing, when it endorses its proprietary labels with well-known winemaker relationships.
These days, when such a large percentage of the labels found on chain store shelves come from a very small number of very large wine companies, major retailers are looking again at proprietary brands. When they can leverage the reputation of winemakers to sell large quantities of their proprietary brands, they might be very tempted to do so. So, why would a respected winemaker allow their brand reputation to be leveraged in this way? Because it sells a lot of wine, and doesn’t damage their reputation with most consumers (CHance thinks no less of Qupe because she enjoyed a great deal on VINTJS Syrah).
Just think about the money involved. In the most recent issue of Trader Joe’s “Fearless Flyer” newsletter, this is the final paragraph promoting an $8.99 VINTJS Santa Lucia Highlands Monterey Pinot Noir (one of the TJ’s wines that doesn’t identify the winemaker, by the way):
“Sound good? We suggest you hurry in. We have 12,000 cases of this wine, which is about 55 cases per store. When it’s gone; it’s gone.”
That’s about $1.3 million in retail value. Relating to a single SKU at Trader Joe’s. That get’s my attention, wine business-wise.
DAH is David Anthony Hance at VinCreate.comShare on Facebook