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Top Sommeliers On How Wine Brands Can Help With Restaurant Wine Sales

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30/06/2023 Top sommeliers such as Adriana Valentini, Vincenzo Arnese, and Tonya Pitts share how wine brands can help their restaurant wine buyers grow their sales.

Sommeliers Choice Awards chats with top sommeliers around the world such as Adriana Valentini, James Bube MS, Will Costello MS, Vincenzo Arnese, and Tonya Pitts share how wine brands can help their restaurant wine buyers grow their sales. Here's what they have to say.

James L Bube, Master Sommelier and General Manager of Mercantile Dining and Provision in Denver, CO


James L Bube

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This differs on your market so your mileage may vary here, don’t forget to check your local laws! Where there are deals on quantity or "family plans," you can lower your overall cost if you're going to "partner" with a given supplier be it locally or nationally.  Ultimately understanding that your vendors are generally only compensated by sales, managing expectations, and being realistic with what you may be able to deliver is very important.  Many suppliers have budgets for events and to an extent, you can establish your venue as a place to potentially hold a trade tasting (can't wait for these to come back again!). You can generate revenue when your establishment may otherwise be dark and get others in the industry more comfortable with your brand. View James L Bube's profile.

Adriana Valentini, Head of Beverage at Oxford and Cambridge Club, London Area, United Kingdom

Adriana Valentini

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For a wine supplier, communication with their audience is important - understanding the venue and possible customers. A great way to do this is by having a very well-made website, and by investing in the quality of their products range at all stages of production and consistency by delivering to us, the final customers, quality vintages and up-to-date price updates with our orders.

Will Costello, Master Sommelier, Las Vegas, Nevada, United States

Will Costello

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Suppliers know their inventory and the ability to create deals. If I know I am trying to drive some margin on my sauvignon blanc by the glass, a savvy supplier could let me know of a 3-month deal on a wine, and would/could support my requested pricing in order for guaranteed volume. If the restaurant is of high visibility; table tents or branded POS could also be supplied in order to support the wine placement.

Samantha McCrimmon

Your sales rep should be able to give you a heads-up on upcoming sales at least a month in advance so you can pre-order and get your budget ready. Also, if you have the storage space, buy in volume to help lower costs. Reps should also be helpful with the sales training - they can taste/train the associates on their wines and help you to organize winemaker dinners. To find older vintages, I also worked with private clients and would buy portions of their collections. This helped me greatly at Crown, where there was a demand for older vintages that many suppliers could not fulfill. That category was successful for us.

Vincenzo Arnese, Head Sommelier at Alain Ducasse at The Dorchester, London, United Kingdom

Vincenzo Arnese

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Suppliers are an important part of a restaurant, their help can drive the results to a higher level. We need to have healthy relationships, based on trust and mutual understanding. The best supplier that I have are the ones that are aware of my guest’s needs and come up with the right solution. 

Michael Mighetto Hoefling, Service Manager & Sommelier at Spruce in San Francisco, Bay Area

Michael Mighetto Hoefling

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For a large organized wine program, the wine team knows exactly what and how to navigate producers and wines swiftly, and what we really need is deep discounts on large orders, or incentives for BTG and incentives for long-term relationships. Suppliers can also offer their assistance in showcasing wine education at line-ups on any given day.

Tonya Pitts, Award-Winning Sommelier, San Francisco, CA

Tonya Pitts

Tonya Pitts

Suppliers can help with pricing, staff education, incentives for staff, and helping the professional locate new products to offer your customers. I like to call them products of interest to your clientele.

Thomas Brenner, Sommelier at Palo Alto Hills Golf & Country Club, California, United States

Thomas Brenner

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Suppliers most often do a fantastic job of doing precisely what is needed of them. They bring you the wines that suit your beverage program, drive sales and satisfy sales expectations in a mutually beneficial way. My favorite reps are those that deliver to you what you asked for, and hopefully even more than that. Insights about promotions, great values, hot items, rare finds and high quality are traits that endear me to most wine reps. Understanding the buyer intimately, and delivering SKUs that suit their needs is paramount to driving sales in any sales environment.

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