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Interview, Part Two: John Grant, Managing Director, Beringer at Treasury Wine Estates

April 5, 2013

This second part of SND’s interview with John Grant, Treasury Wine’s managing director for the Beringer business unit, looks at the untapped export potential for California wine across Asia and other global markets—and how Treasury plans to seize that opportunity in the coming years.

SND: As you look at the Beringer unit’s global profile, where do you see potential for expansion?

Grant: To put it in context, Treasury Wine Estates’ Australian brand business exports around two-thirds of what they produce. Beringer exports a little less than 10%, so I think there’s a clear opportunity to develop an export business with Beringer. Not just the Beringer brand—although that would be the basis of it—but also our other estate brands like Chateau St. Jean, Stags’ Leap, Etude and Souverain. We believe the luxury end of the portfolio is positioned to get some traction in certain markets around the world.

SND: Which international markets are you primarily targeting?

Grant: China would certainly be one. We look at China as three separate markets, the mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan. The mainland’s huge emerging middle class is looking to take cues from the West in terms of consumer behavior. Part of that is wine consumption. There are 200 cities in mainland China with populations in excess of 2 million. We’ve only just begun to scratch the surface in terms of connecting there.

SND: As you look to build Beringer’s profile in China, can Treasury’s existing foothold there with its Australian brands accelerate the California unit’s development?

Grant: Yes. We’re leveraging our strength in a market like China. Very few wine companies have a strong route to market there, and we have an infrastructure already. It’s built around the pioneering efforts by Penfolds, Wolf Blass and Lindemans with our importer ASC Fine Wines.

SND: How are you getting Beringer and other California labels in front of Chinese consumers?

Grant: We’re taking the lead on education. We have a program called Napa’s Finest, which includes Beringer Private Reserve release events, and we’ve done three of those events in mainland China over the past year. We’re also doing waves of market visitation, education and insight. For example, our winemaker Ed Sbragia is going back to China this month to reinforce the message and conduct seminars. We also plan to bring a contingent of key Chinese media, gatekeepers and opinion leaders to Napa for a week of full immersion in Napa wine. It may take 3-5 years to get meaningful traction, but it’s something we’re very committed to doing. We’re doing the same initiatives with regard to Japan, South Korea, Taiwan and Hong Kong.

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