Singapore welcomed double the Californian goodness as both Orin Swift and Louis M. Martini – both E. & J. Gallo brands – launched earlier in May this year.
Louis M. Martini is an iconic Napa Valley winery with a legacy of crafting world class Cabernet Sauvignon since 1933. The winery is dedicated to producing the best expressions of Cabernet Sauvignon, the wines are crafted from some of the best vineyards in Napa Valley and California’s North Coast including Monte Rosso, Stagecoach and Cypress Vineyards.
On the other hand, Orin Swift is a far more modern wine brand that started in 1998 by David Phinney that’s achieved somewhat of cult status over the past decade. Focusing on wines that are purposeful in nature, Orin Swift looks to improve and build on the level of complexity in each of their wines by continuously experimenting with different vineyards throughout California. This creates styles that celebrate complexity achieved through geographical diversity.
Both Orin Swift and Louis M. Martini are owned by leading American wine company E. & J. Gallo.
During their launch event, we sat down with Bill McMorran, Vice President & General Manager, Asia/Pacific to discuss wine trends, China, and e-Commerce.
Spirited Singapore (SS): According to various reports, for example Vinexpo Asia, and especially China is leading the growth of the wine market. What do you think are some the trends and factors driving the growth?
Bill McMorran (BM): Chinese consumers are more knowledgeable and engaged with wine today, they are more selective about what they are going to drink and consumers are willing to spend more on premium wines. In addition, consumers are more open to other countries or regions, especially New World wine.
Premiumisation is a global trend and Gallo is continuing to grow its premium portfolio.
SS: What’s coming up in Asia for the wine industry, more premium labels or more mass-market quality wines?
BM: In recent years, Gallo has acquired several vineyards and wineries including the internationally regarded Stagecoach Vineyard in Napa Valley as well as ultra-premium brands like Orin Swift Cellars, J Vineyards and Winery and Talbott Vineyards.
Gallo has also invested in vineyards in California’s Central Coast including the Rancho Real Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley appellation of Santa Barbara County.
In addition to the renowned premium brands we now offer in the market in Asia, including Louis M.Martini, William Hill Estate Winery and MacMurray Estate Vineyards, we will continue to look for opportunities to bring more ultra-premium brands to satisfy growing consumer demand.
Over the past few years, Gallo has invested over $1 billion in its premium capabilities.
SS: How has the partnership with Alibaba’s Tmall been so far in China? What has E. & J. Gallo learnt so far, and do you think the accessibility of online will work in other parts of Asia, maybe Singapore?
BM: In 2018, Gallo signed a 3-year strategic joint business partnership with Alibaba Group, the world’s largest online and mobile commerce company. The Gallo flagship store opened on Alibaba’s Tmall, China’s largest B2C platform for both international and Chinese brands and retailers.
In line with Alibaba’s vision of New Retail to seamlessly blend online and offline shopping experiences, Gallo is also featured on Tmall’s Supermarket, Hema Supermarket and RT-Mart, which leverage technology and consumer insights to offer consumers a more-efficient shopping experience.
While Gallo has partnered with Tmall in the past for its Carlo Rossi, Peter Vella and Gallo Family Vineyards brands, the new E. & J. Gallo Winery flagship store features more of Gallo’s premium wine offerings including Apothic, Carnivor, Dark Horse, Gallo Signature Series, Orin Swift, Louis M. Martini winery, and several others that are helping to meet the growing demand in China for premium wine.
e-Commerce is a growing trend worldwide for almost all product categories. Gallo is investing in e-Commerce within the U.S. and in all of our global markets.
SS: Given the increasing use of technology in the production process of the wine industry, for example AI and digitalisation, how do you think this will impact the human workforce, or customer touchpoints, for example at retail?
BM: At Gallo we are focused on continuous learning, building our capabilities and innovating for the future. Technology plays an increasingly important role in this, and we are working on projects and use cases involving artificial intelligence, machine learning as well as virtual reality.
From our 2018 KUBE survey, you can see that the e-Commerce effect is having an impact on how consumers are shopping for wine and spirits. This requires us to innovate and ensure consumers canfind and buy our wines which technology plays a critical role in.