American shrink-wrapped Penfolds confusing 60-year old

I’m in my 60s. Early 60s, maybe, but still 60-plus. When I was 30 the age of 60 was considered advanced. Now it’s said 60 is the new 50, even the new 40. This line of thinking was set in motion after reading this:

“In an effort to draw younger consumers, Penfolds Max’s wines [in the US] will be packaged in a bright red shrink-wrapped package, which can be unzipped after purchase to reveal a classic Penfolds bottle.”

Like all 60-plus blokes, I like to think myself still of sound mind and in touch with younger generations; after all, I am only 40 in mindset. OK, maybe 49.

In all honesty, I cannot grasp why younger wine consumers, indeed consumers of any legal drinking age, would be attracted by a bright red shrink-wrapped package? They’re not buying female erotic lingerie or a leather jockstrap studded with diamonds. It’s a bottle of wine, for goodness sake. What the hell has red shrink-wrapping got going for it?

OK, you bright young hipster marketing supremos drawing coin from Treasury Wine Estates, I admit to an ageing, fuddled brain, so please enlighten me.

Staying with the US, an interesting article appeared in Forbes this past week. It was speculation that Constellation Brands (CB) is lining up Ste Michelle Wine Estates (SMWE) as its latest wine acquisition. This is pure speculation based on a Wells Fargo report highlighting the fact that SMWE’s business only accounts for about 3 per cent of sales and 2 per cent of profits for its current owner. True, the wine company is not in the business of tobacco or tobacco products, as its owner Altria (parent company of Philip Morris) is, so could be disposed of. Should disposal be considered, CB would be a possible candidate, but there is a reasonable argument that it might not be interested in the whole business; just some of the brands. We shall have to wait and see.

As we are indulging in a large slice of American pie, and ignoring the fact that this is editorial and not the International Wine News section, let’s stay with the stars, spangles and banners. The US remains the largest wine market in the world and all wine-producing nations want a slice of it.

While Argentina battles Italy, battles Chile, battles France, battles Australia, the simple fact that American wine production, itself huge, is also in competition, appears to be lost. When people involved in the Australian wine industry bewail imported wine, I often think of the Americans, who don’t wail half as much about the flood of imports they have to contend with.

The latest export figures from Wine Australia to end of March 2017 show the US market to be worth $470 million, up 6 per cent. This looks good, but back in the glory days, in the year ending March 2008, the US market was worth $834 million.

In roughly the same period, Californian wine shipments to the US market have increased from 191 million cases (2006) to 238 million cases in 2016.

What excites both Californian and Australian producers is the value aspect of the American market. Wine sales above US$10 ($13) a bottle are in growth.

More on Australian wine exports in the Australian Wine News section.

From the land where the deer and buffalo roam, via Byron Bay.

Good karma


3 thoughts on “American shrink-wrapped Penfolds confusing 60-year old”

  1. It seems that I am older than you Tony, but I like to think that I too am in tune with the younger market. In fact just 30 minutes ago I was dubbed “the perpetual teenager” on Facebook…

    I, like you, am quizzical as to the logic behind “bright red shrink-wrapped package” around a bottle of Penfolds. To give them their due, at least they are trying to innovate (a quality Vicky Greaves brought to Hardys 20 years ago), but I just can’t see “hip” packaging being the answer (Is shrink wrap “hip”… and what was the question?)

    In fact, the wine industry is already under siege from the anti-alcohol lobby, so why add superfluous polluting packaging to their armoury?

  2. I cannot believe anyone would shrink wrap a bottle of wine. A bottle is a perfectly good recyclable container. The world has far too much plastic already without introducing any new totally unnecessary packaging. Until I hear this crazy idea has been abandoned I will not buy Penfolds of any description. Maybe TKR can enlighten me and others as to what other brands to boycott so as to send a strong message to anyone thinking shrink wrapping wine is a good idea to please re-think this craziness.

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