With two labels, Lieb Cellars and Bridge Lane Wine, Michael Cook, the Director of Sales for the Long Island, New York winery is always looking for the right retail fit for the brands.
It can mean keeping an ear to the ground and eyes online to make sure that the winery is keeping up with where it needs to be.
“Much of the “research” here is just trying to pay attention to the areas that are getting big “buzz” for food and wine,” Cook said. “We get lots of interest from the serious wine and food people from all over.
“If we know anyone in those areas working in restaurants or wine shops, we reach out and start making connections.”
Of course, direct sales to the consumer has become a big priority as the pandemic continues across the United States and more wineries look to entrench an online presence for either local pick-up or shipping door-to-door.
That means paying attention to industry sales data and trends but Cook said that they also very dialed into social media/consumer channels as well.
“I think we’re trying to absorb as much as possible — hard industry data along with food and wine culture … and pop culture, it’s all connected,” Cook said.
In the last year Lieb launched into two new markets — Florida and Texas — both notoriously tough wine markets for smaller suppliers to navigate, Cook said.
“In Florida, it was a beverage director at a resort that was asking for one of our Lieb wines,” he said. “In Texas, it was a retail buyer with locations all over the state that was asking for one of our Bridge Lane wines.
“By no means, are these product requests any indication that we’ll see success in these markets, but it sure helps in the search for a good distributor. It’s always hard to forecast or assess whether a particular market is “worth the effort”, but I’ve mostly found that if I’m given the opportunity to help — if our partners will allow me to put in the effort, we’ll move the needle.” Sometimes it can take years of what feels like ‘spinning the wheels,’ Cook said before they finally start to break through.
“Maybe it’s a new approach that works? That’s the relationship-building part,” he said.
Between the two labels and the diversity they have within, Cook said they believe that all the wines have a rightful place in any place.
”Between our two labels we offer wines ranging from beautiful/delicate traditional method sparkling wines, to “quality” boxed wines, kegs and canned wines, many of which have been poured in some of the best restaurant accounts in the country,” he said.
Cook noted that one of his distributor managers told him a few years ago that he loves working with the two labels from the winery because it can offer something to every account, whether retail or on-premise — serious and snobby, or not.
“There’s a wine in the lineup that they’re going to like,” he recalled.
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