Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Michael Mondavi Visits CT: Addresses State of Affairs, Update on Folio Fine Wine Partners

On Friday May 8th, Michael Mondavi was in Connecticut to visit the Worldwide Wines sales force and address the state of the (wine) economy, where wine sales are nationally, and to give an update on the Folio Wine Partners portfolio.

Folio Fine Wine Partners was begun approximately five years ago, after the sale of Robert Mondavi Winery. The idea with Folio is a company that, to a certain extent, is employee owned, built with only brands that compliment each other and with a long-term outlook, as the majority owners are Micahel’s children. There is a specific goal at Folio to represent only wines/brands that fit a certain style/quality/value relationship and, as Michael pointed out, “I would be proud to serve on my Sunday dinner table”.

For Worldwide Wines, this means the wines from the Frescobaldi Family (Frescobaldi, Attems and Ornellaia), as well as Donnafugata, Palacios Remundo and Filaboa, and each of which continue to have strong sales, even in the economic slowdown.

Part of the discussion was about the state of affairs in the wine industry, especially as it relates to the current economy. The message here was that things are tough at the moment, but people are discovering new ways to do business, inventories are leveling out in the retail and on-premise trade and that things (should) start to improve over the next year, or so. There will be a certain amount of fall-out due to weaker business plans, but that companies with a strong foundation, solid brands and focused outlook will survive, and perhaps even thrive in the long-run.

At Folio, there is a slow but steady process for brand acquisition. As Michael stated they have passed on 55 different brands that were seeking representation. They have a clear idea of what will be part of the Folio portfolio and it will include only products that are of a certain quality level, but that also represent a value to the consumer and compliment the other brands/wines in the portfolio.

Some of the more recent additions to the portfolio include the wines of Palacios Remundo (Alvaro Palacios, winemaker) from Rioja and Filaboa from Rias Baxias. These Spanish producers have some of the highest reputations (Alvaro is considered to be one of the top two or three winemakers in all of Spain) and produce wines that are genuine and stand out from the growing crowd of mediocrity.

Michael’s biggest message of the day, though, was not about how great the wines are (in fact we only tasted two wines), but rather how dedicated he is to the general market and thankful for the continued support by the many retailers and restaurateurs which carry the Folio wines.

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