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July 13, 2022

Navigating La Place w/ Rebekah Wineburg & Diego Garay, Quintessa

Navigating La Place w/ Rebekah Wineburg & Diego Garay, Quintessa

Rebekah Wineburg, Winemaker, and Diego Garay, Director of Exports for Quintessa in Napa Valley, discuss their journey towards selling in 50 countries in 3 years through the La Place system.


Building a global brand takes a lot of effort and investment. Even with the network of >400 negociants on La Place de Bordeaux, wineries have to make significant investments in brand building and press. Rebekah Wineburg, Winemaker, and Diego Garay, Director of Exports for Quintessa in Napa Valley, discuss their journey towards selling in 50 countries in 3 years through the La Place system.  


Detailed Show Notes: 

Rebekah’s background

  • She wanted to be a winemaker at 16
  • Worked in Italy, New Zealand, Australia, and mainly in CA
  • At Quintessa for 7 years

Diego’s background

  • Worked on exports for Sena and Almaviva in Chile, who export ~98-99% of production
  • Director of Export for all Huneeus wines

Quintessa

  • Estate winery in Rutherford, Napa
  • 160 acres of vineyards and make 1 red wine (Quintessa) - ~8-12k cases/year
  • Until recently, it mostly sold domestically - ~50% DTC, ~50% US wholesale

La Place de Bordeaux Overview

  • A marketplace where most Bordeaux wines are traded, often futures
  • 3-tier system - chateaux sell to negociants, who sell to international trade
  • Criteria to be on La Place - brand pedigree (e.g., high scores) and a well-known brand
  • Wineries need to build demand for negociants w/o the help of importers, as they are not brand builders
  • New world wines have only been selling through La Place for the last 15-20 years
  • Courtiers (brokers that find negociants) - some specialize in new world wines
  • >400 negociants on La Place
  • Non-exclusive system

Exporting via La Place

  • 2022 - exports ~5-15% of production, primarily Asia, UK, Germany, Switzerland
  • The goal of exporting - build a world-recognized wine estate
  • Long-term export goals - ~30-35% of production
  • Prior to La Place - exported ~1% to Canada, Japan, Mexico
  • They started selling on La Place in 2019
  • Negociant reached out to Quintessa looking for new world wines
  • Quintessa working w/ <10 negociants directly w/o a courtier
  • Demand growing - negociants asking for more wines, need to start allocating them
  • Need to do a lot of education for global trade on what makes Quintessa unique (e.g., terroir, place), need to show the history and age-ability of wines

Benefits of La Place

  • It helps put wines in a global perspective (e.g., Rebekah had to start presentations with CA instead of Rutherford or Napa)
  • Reach high-end distribution in a short period of time - Quintessa is now in 50 countries in 3 years

Tradeoffs of La Place

  • Need to invest in brand building
  • May see discounting due to the non-exclusive system
  • Logistics - send all wines to Bordeaux, which are then sent on to the rest of the world (more manageable for the winery but may have extra ship lengths)
  • Loose control of distribution (try to get depletion reports but challenging as clientele list is the most valuable asset of negociants)

Costs of La Place and pricing

  • Similar to 3-tier in the US
  • Negociant margins are often lower than in the US due to non-exclusivity
  • Try to keep pricing in-line w/ US pricing
  • Has not seen any pushback on price

Marketing with La Place

  • Set up training sessions through negociants with trade
  • A lot of media investment (local journalists, local PR firms)
  • Focused on UK, Japan, S Korea for press

Advice for wineries interested in La Place

  • Need to know the La Place system
  • Need to build the brand yourself and make the investment
  • Need the pedigree and brand for the wines to be successful
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