Jorge sweeps clean

Jorge Monteiro has been head of ViniPortugal for less than a year and in that time has seriously shaken up the marketing of Portuguese wine. Perhaps the most visible change was the scrapping of the protection racket by which three UK supermarket chains were paid to list Portuguese wines. One of them, Majestic, then had the cheek to demand a marketing discount from the producers of the Portuguese brands they stocked. Jorge called their bluff and offered to present in-store tastings and promotions at his expense, but was turned down. Confirming it was all about making easy money rather than marketing a category.

20120510 193615 Jorge sweeps clean

Jorg has also called time on the UK winewriter gravy train. After Decanter announced that their job was done and he UK public was up to speed on wine styles and offerings, Jorge has taken them at their boast and will in future focus his UK marketing moolah to education of chefs and sommeliers. In the UK at least, as in America, winewriters still influence opinion. Wine Spectator is the most potent organ, even if they did not write a word about Portuguese wines last year, apart from listing several of them in their Top 100.

Portugal was also placed third behind the USA and France in the 2011 “best value” and “wines to cellar” lists of the Wine Enthusiast. Recommendations which had a huge effect on sales. Jorge’s comments should be taken to heart by WOSA, the SA equivalent of ViniPortugal, who are busy dishing out invitations to Cape Wine 2012 at the minute.

But perhaps the biggest lesson for SA wine marketing is the effect of a new broom. WOSA management ran out of ideas a decade ago and like old barrels, need desperately to be renewed.