Why Winning Wine of the Year at USA Wine Ratings Matters

21/09/2018 Winning "Wine of the Year" is not only about the recognition of its superior quality. See how it contributes to your wine business.

2018 UWR Wine of the year MedalWinning “Wine of the Year” at the USA Wine Ratings can have a tremendous impact not only on the consumer recognition of a certain wine in the marketplace but also on the sales of that wine. That’s because winning “Wine of the Year” is about more than just recognizing a wine for superior quality, it’s also about recognizing the commercial viability of that wine. If a wine wins “Wine of the Year,” there’s a good chance that it will be the type of wine that customers will choose to buy from retail wine stores, or order off the wine list of top restaurants.

Enhanced brand recognition in the marketplace

Most visibly, winning “Wine of the Year” at USA Wine Ratings could have a huge impact on the brand recognition of that wine in the broader marketplace. In today’s wine marketplace, wine drinkers are increasingly looking at wines as brands, and so it’s important to be able to convey a unified brand message and story to consumers. When perusing shelf after shelf of wines, consumers are looking for brands that they recognize.

After winning “Wine of the Year,” a winemaker will have the ability to promote that award online, and especially on social media. Why not create a Facebook post telling fans about your latest award? Or create a brief video for Instagram, letting fans meet the winemakers behind the award-winning wine? This social media content can then be shared widely, leading to a huge boost in overall recognition in the marketplace, due to the viral nature of social media content.

Boost in sales

The three judging criteria of the USA Wine Ratings - Quality, Value and Packaging - are designed specifically with the goal of finding commercially viable wines. In other words, the wines that score highly in the competition are those that judges have evaluated as having extremely high commercial viability. These are the types of wines that consumers are likely to consider when shopping for a wine at a retail wine location or to order off the wine list. In short, the wine that wins “Wine of the Year” has already proven its worth - it is a superior quality product with strong brand appeal and attractive pricing.

This commercial viability can translate immediately into higher sales. Say, for example, that a distributor is looking for a new wine to add to the portfolio. Being able to choose a wine that has already proven its worth as a commercially viable wine can be an extremely attractive option. It means that distributors can lower their overall risk profile - and it also helps them sell more of the wine to retail locations. Essentially, the “Wine of the Year” already comes pre-packaged with its own story and value proposition - it is a wine that sells itself.

Thus, when a consumer is shopping for a wine (and perhaps checking his or her wine app at the same time), it is very helpful to have a special label on the bottle proclaiming the wine to be the “Wine of the Year.” Far more than just getting 90 points from a wine critic, a major medal or award from the nation’s most prestigious wine competition can have a huge impact on overall sales.

Word-of-mouth buzz and promotion

For even the largest wine brands, it can be extremely expensive to advertise on traditional platforms, such as print media, TV and radio. Thus, there is always the need for relatively low-cost marketing channels where it is possible to “get the word out” without expending aggressively. And that’ why winning “Wine of the Year” is so important - it is a very valuable source of word-of-mouth buzz and promotion.

It all starts once a wine wins “Wine of the Year” - not only is the wine promoted directly on the social media channels of USA Wine Ratings, but also the organizers of the competition can provide media assets that make it possible to share this award both online and offline. Fans who already enjoy drinking your wine can also share news of this award, thereby amplifying its impact and reach.

Media attention

All winners of the USA Wine Ratings also receive promotional support from the organizers of this competition. This includes the creation of press releases announcing the names of all winners, as well as the posting of the names of all winners on the USA Wine Ratings website. This leads to a situation in which the media can also pick up the story. A magazine or publication might, for example, choose to highlight the fact that a local or regional wine producer won an award. A trade magazine might pick up the story to illustrate a certain trend in the marketplace. And, of course, there is the chance that online bloggers and social media influencers will also pick up the story, turning it into a very unique narrative that highlights specific aspects of your winemaking operation.

Meet this year’s winner: St. Francis Winery & Vineyards

Reserve Merlot St Francis Winery & Vineyards

It’s important to note that these benefits of winning “Wine of the Year” extend to all winemakers, no matter how small or large they are. The 2018 winner of “Wine of the Year,” for example is an award-winning winery in California’s Sonoma County, St. Francis Winery & Vineyards. The win is an early proof of concept that their new Reserve wines - and especially their award-winning Reserve Merlot - are truly a unique expression of Sonoma terroir. It might lead to St. Francis Winery gaining enhanced distribution for its wines, or to increased sales in the local California marketplace.

And don’t forget, winning “Wine of the Year” is about more than just boosting the sales of a single wine - it is also about boosting the commercial prospects of all wines in the portfolio. It might be the case, for example, that a winning Reserve Merlot also leads to a boost in sales for Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon and Reserve Zinfandel from St. Francis Winery at the same time.

Thus, it’s possible to see how winning “Wine of the Year” can have a very tangible impact on both the top line and bottom line of any winemaker. It can lead to a boost in sales, a boost in overall profitability and a very real increase in brand recognition. The USA Wine Ratings are all about finding the types of wines that are going to be big commercial successes.