What should you consider when buying wine as an investment? What’s the cold, hard truth about the Canadian wine industry? What makes for a successful wine brand launch? Are Kevin O’Leary’s wines as great as he says they are?
In this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast, I’m chatting with Kevin O’Leary, prickly merchant of the television shows Dragon’s Den and Shark Tank, as well as the founder of O’Leary Fine Wines, O’Leary Funds, and O’Leary Financial Group.
You can find the wines we discussed here.
- What should you consider when buying wine as an investment?
- How can you benefit from a “divorce cellar”?
- What’s the business case for you to invest in the Canadian wine market?
- Why does a $14.95 price point allow you to gain market share quickly?
- Why does consistency in production create a great experience for you as a wine consumer?
- How were the final two wines chosen for the launch of O’Leary Wines?
- What key points do you need to nail before pitching your new wine venture?
- What’s the marketing strategy for the first five years of O’Leary Wines?
- What’s the cold, hard truth about the Ontario wine industry?
- How does O’Leary Unoaked Chardonnay give you an unexpected taste experience?
- Which foods pair well with O’Leary Unoaked Chardonnay?
- What twist can you add to your whites to make a refreshing summer beverage?
- How does having a cork versus screwcap affect your perception of wine?
- What can you experience from O’Leary Cabernet Merlot?
- Which remarkable wine did Kevin’s taste on his first encounter?
- How was Kevin introduced to wine?
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Transcript & Takeaways
Welcome to episode 87!
What should you consider when buying wine as an investment? What’s the cold, hard truth about the Canadian wine industry? What makes for a successful wine brand launch? Are Kevin O’Leary’s wines as great as he says they are?
That’s exactly what we’ll learn in this episode of the Unreserved Wine Talk podcast. We’re chatting with Kevin O’Leary, aka the self-described Mr Wonderful from Shark’s Tank and Dragon’s Den. He shares what he would consider to be the toughest questions he’d have to answer if he were pitching the idea for his own wine brand on one of those shows. Plus, he delivers what he considers the Cold Hard Truth for the wine industry.
This conversation took place several years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for Kevin’s comments.
I’ll include a link as to where you can find the video version of this conversation, the wines we tasted and my free online wine and food pairing class in the show notes at nataliemaclean.com/87.
Okay, on with the show!
Well, there you have it! I hope you enjoyed this chat with Kevin O’Leary.
Here are my takeaways:
- Kevin did his homework. Even though he wanted to launch high-end wine at $40, he listened to advice and targeted the sweet spot under $19 to gain market share, widespread and permanent distribution in LCBO stores and consistency in the product to build consumer trust. He also wanted to be hands-on in creating the blend and that’s easier to do with Niagara than Burgundy.
- Still, I’m amused that participants in his informal focus groups in Cape Cod and the Muskokas were not exactly everyday wine buyers — they are the $50+ Montrachet crowd. But you have to admire his passion. As I said during our chat, he reminds me of the wine version of the popcorn promoter Orville Redenbacher.
- He dismisses the assertion the celebrity-named wines take the focus away from the wine region and on to themselves. That’s debatable, but I do believe these wines, if well made, which his are, can introduce more people to wine, which is a good thing.
- Finally, I agree that people should feel free to enjoy wine the way they like, say as a spritzer with sparkling water and ice cubes. That’s the way I view my books. I may have written them a certain way with an intended message, but readers will complete the experience with their own interpretations and memories.
You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting again with Dr. Antonia Mantonakis, Professor of Marketing and Consumer Psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. Dr. Mantonakis reveals the insights from her research on how the name of a wine affects both our perception of it and how much we’re willing to pay for it. Difficult to pronounce names score higher, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that wineries should use them. Why is that? And who is more apt to pay more: wine novices or experts? Find out next week when she joins me from the university in St Catharine’s next week.
In the meantime, if you missed the previous chat with Dr. Mantonakis, episode 83, go back and take a listen. We discuss how celebrity-endorsed wines affect our buying behaviour. It’s not what you think. I’ll share a short clip with you now to whet your appetite.
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it, especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that Kevin shared. You’ll find links to the wines we tasted, a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat, where you can find us on Facebook live every second Wednesday at 7 pm, and how you can connect with me personally in my free online video wine and food pairing class at nataliemaclean.com/87.
Thank-you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week, perhaps one of Kevin’s wines or maybe Persuasion from his former Dragon’s Den co-host Arlene Dickenson– just don’t tell Kevin I recommended that!
Kevin O’Leary 0:00
When I enter into a business, I want to be competitive and I want to win. That’s what I do in everything I work. So I started doing some research, I sat down with the people at the lcbo and said, let’s talk about price point, I thought I’d want to come out at around a $48 price points of white. They said You’re crazy. Here’s why 97% of wines purchased in Ontario are under $19 a bottle. The sweet spot is 1495. If you want to garner massive market share quickly, you want to be 1495. So effectively what happened is I took what I thought was a $50 bottle and brought it out in 1495. Because you can’t get a permanent listing at a crazy high price point. You can’t get a permanent listing. If you’re not a QA and you want a permanent listing, there’s over 600 lcbo stores. So I’m in 120 now I’m rolling out another hundred. I’m doing lots of tastings with the customers I’m enjoying the marketing process, but understanding the market is very important if you’re going to launch a wine and gain market share.
Natalie MacLean 1:06
Do you have a thirst to learn about wine? Do you love stories about wonderfully obsessive people, hauntingly beautiful places, and amusingly awkward social situations? That’s the blend here on the unreserved wine talk podcast. I’m your host, Natalie MacLean. And each week, I share with you unfiltered conversations with celebrities in the wine world, as well as confessions from my own tipsy journey as I write my third book on this subject. I’m so glad you’re here. Now pass me that bottle please. And let’s get started. Welcome to Episode 87. What should you consider when buying wine as an investment? What’s the cold hard truth about the Canadian wine industry? What makes for a successful wine brand launch? And our Kevin O’Leary’s wines as great as he says they are. That’s exactly what we’ll learn in this episode of The unreserved wine talk podcast. we’re chatting with Kevin O’Leary, aka the self described Mr. Wonderful from shark tank and Dragon’s Den. He shares what he would consider to be the toughest questions he’d have to answer if he were pitching the idea for his own wine brand on one of those shows. Plus, he delivers what he considers the cold hard truth for the wine industry. This conversation took place several years ago, so keep that in mind as the context for Kevin’s comments. I’ll include a link as to where you can find the video version of this conversation. The wines we tasted at my free online wine and food pairing class. that’ll all be in the show notes at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 87 Okay, on with the show.
Kevin O’Leary is best known as the prickly merchant of Dragon’s Den, as well as on ABC Shark Tank. He’s also built a software company that was acquired for more than $4 billion. And now runs O’Leary funds an investment firm with assets of more than 1.5 billion. Welcome, Kevin.
Kevin O’Leary 3:24
Great to be here. Natalie. Thank you.
Natalie MacLean 3:26
Before we jump into your own wines, tell me Can you remember the first wine that you ever tasted?
Kevin O’Leary 3:32
I can you know, my dad who Swiss lives in Geneva loves Keno. And he’s got a huge cab full of Burgundy’s I think, remarkably, one of the first ones I ever tasted was a 1962 latach, which you know, is a really bad place to start because it doesn’t get any better than that. I think he really polluted me and gave me a sort of a feeling for how down I can go from there. That’s the real problem. You Because you don’t want Latasha to become your favourite wine you just can’t afford it. You
Unknown Speaker 4:03
know, you’d either have to do that or start your own investment fund to afford that kind of taste well to Shay. So what drooly? Do I? Was it that wine? Or was it another Wine Experience that really made you say, hey, wine is something I want to know more about, learn about that sort of thing. It was
Kevin O’Leary 4:19
always part of my family. So you know, we would have wine even when I was a young child five or six, because in Europe, they generally give you wine a little bit, so that it’s not something that you’re not used to. And I think that’s actually a very good culture because I didn’t drink excessively ever, and it was so much part of my family all the way through that. I just got used to it. So one has been a natural element to all my meals. I’ve always enjoyed it. I hope you know, I don’t drink it excessively, although I love it so much. But I do the same thing with my children. I’ve introduced in the woman at young age. My daughter is really taken to it. She’s actually very good. My wife is very interested in wines and actually manages our five cells. We have now I have a lot of wine as an investment, and I buy aggressively. I’ve got a really deep seller of Burgundy’s, Bordeaux’s, and Californians and I’ve just sort of extended into the Italians now, with some super Tuscans that I’m enjoying. So, at the end of the day, it’s one of the most wonderful hobbies you can have. It brings family together friends together, and above all that it’s great to drink good wine,
Natalie MacLean 5:24
five sellers, approximately how many bottles
Kevin O’Leary 5:27
you know, I probably am less than 10,000 because I’m very, very selective. few thousand in each seller, but you know, what I’m looking for is and I buy with a group of five of us who are always on the lookout around the world for opportunities. You know, I think if some of the greatest purchases I’ve made are what I call divorce sellers. You know, men and women separate and they can’t agree on the wine and they look for a buyer to buy the whole thing out. Recently in Boston, that happened to me, David and I went to my buying partners. We got a bit five in the morning and went through a seller. It was massive. And we bring our technology with us our wireless computers. We want to be fair, but the prices we offer, we know the world price auctions for everything. We bought that entire seller took us two trucks to move it. And it was just so much fun doing it. And of course, we helped that couple out because we gave them liquidity in a market I think is in some ways, very expensive auctions of wine generally cost 15 to 20% of the value, just through the auction process. If you get a buyer like me to come and get it, you save a lot of money.
Natalie MacLean 6:33
Wow, I was gonna say that sounds like vulture capital. But I guess you were helping those people out. When did you first get the idea to launch your own wine brand?
Kevin O’Leary 6:41
Well, you know, I love wines. And I’m always interested in exploring new ideas in wine and you know, for 20 years here in Ontario, we were a backwater. You know, I’m a proud Canadian. By this I have a home here in Toronto. I spent a fair amount of time two days a week here. And so what I have always watched over the years is the progression from being a relatively unknown place? Let’s face it 20 years ago, Niagara primarily was growing up, Bruce got grapes, which are terrible. I mean, you make jam with that stuff. You go blind if you drink the wine, that’s just awful. And what’s happened is the climates changed. And some really great wines are being grown now by some very capable inventors. And so you take you know, fraud, for example, the climate is perfect for that grape in Ontario. And lately in the last five years, we’ve had some amazing products that have come out of here. And I think you can get a classic Bordeaux blend right out of Ontario. And that’s what I wanted to do. I wanted to do a couple things, launch myself into the wine business because I’ve always wanted to do that, particularly with a cab blend. And I love Chardonnays in the summer so I thought I just do too, and I went looking for a partner. Luckily, I have a brand name that I enjoy doing multiple businesses with O’Leary funds on their mortgages. I thought why not O’Leary wines and we’ve been relatively successful The only been on the market a couple of months we’ve won five international awards on our cap lens so believe me I’m licking my chops I’m liking this no but your
Natalie MacLean 8:10
cash flow kind of guy Kevin, why not spirits where the margins might be greater?
Kevin O’Leary 8:15
Well, you know, I think you can go there naturally but I think it’s more delicate to develop a brand around something that I love. I don’t drink that much spirit liquor. You know, it’s occasionally I have a vodka and soda but my real love is developing my evening with a great crisp Chardonnay or Monica Shea when I get home from work, that’s my idea of a cocktail. And then with dinner, a fantastic bottle of red that I enjoy with my family. So you know, hard liquor is not part of my fibre and so that’s not where I want to go. I want to be able to stand up to people and say listen, I have created a wine for you. That is so spectacular and value that I want you to compare it to anything else you can buy at the same price. That’s what the O’Leary brand is all about. That’s what I wanted to do and why
Natalie MacLean 9:00
Okay, fair enough. But why not a mantra Shea I know you’re proud Canadian. But what was it from a business perspective that made you say, okay, Niagara?
Kevin O’Leary 9:09
Well, what I wanted was consistency. If I bring the wine and you try it once and you take it from the first case, I want it to be as good on the 10,000th case. So I need access to quantity that I know is going to have consistent quality. I don’t think that’s easy to do with a mantra Shea in Ontario, you know, that’s one thing also explaining to the market what a mantra Shea is versus a Chardonnay in some ways at the same thing. It’s not that easy. Right now the fastest growing category. I’ve done a lot of research on this. Our unoaked Chardonnays people are getting tired of the heavy buttery, challenging your own food flavour of a heavy Oh, Chardonnay and I thought let me bring an unoaked Chardonnay mantra shake ish if you will. If you you know go with me on this Chris almost with an element of a Swiss farm dog an effervescence of yeasty kindness. thing happening there. And I was describing that to my wife and to the guys at violin estates. Brian Allen, I said, Can we get there? Can we blend and I know chart Nay, that I’d want to sell. And we spent a lot of time on that chart to one day I just tasted and said, this is it. And that’s what we went with. And it’s been very well received. So I’m trying to introduce people to different ideas when it comes to white. Four years here in Ontario, a heavy oak chard was the way to go. Now this category is growing, I want to be part.
Natalie MacLean 10:29
Okay, and why not a premium like a 35 $50? Niagara Chardonnay?
Kevin O’Leary 10:35
Great question, because that’s where I wanted to go. So here’s what I learned when I started doing research because this is also a business venture for me. I have employees working on it, I want to be successful. When I enter into a business, I want to be competitive and I want to win. That’s what I do in everything I work. So I started doing some research, I sat down with the people the lcbo and said let’s talk about price point. I thought I’d want to come out at around a $48 price points to the white They said You’re crazy. Here’s why 97% of wines purchased in Ontario are under $19. A bottle. The sweet spot is 1495. If you want to garner massive market share quickly, you want to be 1495. So effectively what happened is I took what I thought was a $50 bottle and brought it out in 1495. And the guys at the lcbo, right, because you can’t get a permanent listing at a crazy high price point. You can’t get a permanent listing. If you’re not a QA and you want to permanent listings, there’s over 600 lcbo stores. So I’m in 120 now I’m rolling out another hundred. I’m doing a lot of tastings with the customers I’m enjoying the marketing process. But understanding the market is very important if you’re going to launch a wine and gain market share. So it’s 1495 for the white unoaked Chardonnay and 1495 for the cab blend. Those are very good price points because I think they’re both worth $50 above
Natalie MacLean 11:59
Spoken like it marketer, why did you go with Vineland estates? Why not a bigger distribution arm based in Niagara?
Kevin O’Leary 12:06
That’s a great question Natalie. And believe me, we spent a year doing due diligence with all the partners, all the potential partners. You know, the guys at Vineland really care about the product, they have an emotional attachment to their process the land, they’ve done this on their building capacity. They had two production capabilities when I did due diligence with the lcbo. And many of the fine restaurants I like to dine in. Everybody loved those guys. So relationships in wine matter more than any other business, you got to trust your partner, you’ve got to like your partner, and all the people involved in the distribution process have to like them, too. They came up with flying colours. And not to say we didn’t go too far down the road with some other bigger players, but the consistency of the product. I mean, Brian understood I said, Look, if I put my name on it, I want to drink it. And I don’t want people to open the bottle and find one tastings different than another. That just blows my brands up. I can’t have that happen. I believe they can do what I need to do. I think they can expand with me. I think you’re going to find this one all over Canada as in some very interesting call marketing deals I’m working on right now. Luckily, I enjoy a very large audience on television. Many other companies want to work with me on that and radio. And we’re doing a lot of cooperative marketing around both wines in the next year.
Natalie MacLean 13:19
So no more Pepsi or coffee on the table during the broadcast, so you can have a glass of wine with you. Absolutely. Cheers to that. Kevin, what was the process in terms of developing the wines themselves? Did you taste a lot of different blends? How did you get to the point of these are the two wines we’re going to launch?
Kevin O’Leary 13:35
Well, my wife Linda is on her way to becoming a sommelier. So she’s very interested in wines. And she worked with Brian and Alan and Alex who runs soleri ventures. When we were developing this to do our we went through a whole series of tastings and blends and we had a lot of fun doing it because what I’d like to do is host a dinner and one of my favourite restaurants. Let’s try a bunch of wines. Let’s try some of the competitive ones. Let’s try some ones that I’ve loved for years. The monster Shay’s I brought over France, the Font Awesome Switzerland. And we just tried together to come to that one place where we knew we had. So it was a tremendous amount of fun. There’s nothing more fun than doing. I have a lot of different business ventures. This is the one I’m having the most fun with. And so we blended it basically. So we got it nailed. And then we waited a week and tried it again. You know, you want to give some time between the first tasting the second, make sure you’ve got it right. Then what I did is I took down a bunch of test bottles down to Cape Cod, where people love to drink Montreux shades with their lobsters on hot summer days. The middle of August I hosted a lobster bake, and of lobster steam right on the beach at about 30 people there brought a couple of cases the white brought some Californians also took the labels off them did a blind taste test in a very, very competitive market because those people in Cape Cod, those Americans love their oaky shards leather on oak shards love their French Sumatra shades. We had them all there. I couldn’t believe how well received the wife was they loved it. And I knew I was onto something.
Natalie MacLean 15:06
That’s quite the focus group technique. I’ll have to do something similar with the Cabernet.
Kevin O’Leary 15:10
A lot of fun eating the lobster.
Natalie MacLean 15:13
Good for you. So if you were pitching your idea for these wines on Dragon’s Den, what would be the toughest question you’d have to answer?
Kevin O’Leary 15:21
You know what I want to know if it was me pitching and I was going to investors and saying, look, I need money to launch this. What’s your marketing strategy? What’s your production and logistics strategy? What’s the next level? In other words, you just starting with two wines? Where are you going to go? Where’s this business going to be in five years? Those are the right questions to ask. This is a living growing thing. You’ve got to get it right. You can’t do this, bring out a wine. In the case of our reds win awards, and then not deliver on quality. You’ve got to make sure every year you’re in You’re out. You’re doing the best job you can with whatever the sun gives you each year.
Unknown Speaker 15:57
And so what would be your answer that what is the next level for you?
Kevin O’Leary 16:00
Well, what we’re going to do naturally with these two wines is making ubiquitous in Canada. In other words, wherever you go and a fine restaurant or wherever province you’re in, you’re going to find these two O’Leary wines. That’s Goal number one. Number two is I’m already working on the next two because I’ve got partners like the lcbo. We’re talking about our marketing strategy a year ahead of time. I’ve got two great ideas for the next I won’t tell you what they are yet, as I’m still testing, I’m still trying and they’re still blending. But you know, they’re going to be great because my promise to consumers a buy my wine is this. Listen, it has my name on it. I drink it and it’s really, really
Natalie MacLean 16:36
good. Remind me of Orville redenbacher something the wine version. Some would say now, celebrity wines are derivative, even a disservice takes the focus off the region and onto the celebrity. What do you say to that?
Kevin O’Leary 16:49
That’s a load of crap. Natalie. I love wine. I love wine. I would never ever ever marketed one with my name on it. That wasn’t fantastic. It’s that simple. I haven’t been serve these wines to anybody yet that said, I can’t stand this is terrible. They love them. And maybe they’re just saying that’s my face. But what I’ve learned is they go and buy it again sales have been very, very strong. And I go into restaurants and say, Look, I want to order my O’Leary, what do you have? And they say, No, we don’t have it yet. I say I won’t be back till you do. So I’m really pushing my wines wherever I go. I’m a marketeer. I’m a salesman and I love wine.
Natalie MacLean 17:25
Now, your fellow Dragon has also launched a brand as you know, wine brand, Arlene Dickinson persuasion.
Kevin O’Leary 17:31
What do you think of her wine? Look, I’ve tried persuasion. It’s fantastic. There’s nothing wrong with it. But you know, we’re competitors on Dragon’s Den. And we’re competitors in the wine business. I’m going to outsell our 10 to one. I love Arlene. She flies into the office on a broom every day.
Unknown Speaker 17:48
This is recorded. Thank you, Karen. But what did you know? She went with California. What do
Kevin O’Leary 17:53
you think of that? Well, I know she loves California cats and I like them too. There’s no question about it. And you know, she obviously wants to develop premium brands with her name. Nothing wrong with that, but the distribution challenge of bringing a Californian into candidates, can you get a permanent listing? Can you get permanent distribution? Not saying you can I just think the jobs a lot harder, but there’s nothing wrong with her wine. It’s excellent. And she knows one. I’ve sat down with her many nights and we’ve piled through some fantastic California cats. She knows them very, very well. She knows what she likes.
Natalie MacLean 18:23
Okay, before we jump into tasting, what’s the cold, hard truth for the Ontario wine industry? What has to change? What do they have to do?
Kevin O’Leary 18:31
The biggest challenge we have in this province is the perception of our own market that California wines are not excellent quality. What happened 20 years ago was the industry did a massive disservice to itself by bringing out poor wines. People don’t forget, you think of all those Lambrusco grapes, all that terrible stuff that gave everybody so many headaches that’s not forgotten. So slowly, but surely, we’ve got to bring them into the modern age of great great wines in Ontario. are you? I’m part of that process. There’s certainly many other ventures here in Ontario. They’re doing a fantastic job bringing their wines to market. The QA nomenclature gives you a quality experience every time. I think all of this is important, but the biggest challenge you ask anybody making wine in Ontario is the perception of the buyer in Ontario. And I’m hoping as we speak right now we’re fixing that problem. You never know.
Natalie MacLean 19:25
All right, so you’ve got both your wines. I’ve got the Cabernet mirlo although I have tasted the unoaked Chardonnay before so why don’t you tell me a bit about the Chardonnay we’ve already mentioned it’s on Oh,
Kevin O’Leary 19:37
it’s more food rally. While we’re talking about it. Let me actually put some in this blast because talk about a wine is when it’s on your lips. There’s no question.
Natalie MacLean 19:46
I’ll pour the Cabernet.
Kevin O’Leary 19:47
You know what I think the first thing of course is just to experience that, bring it in through the nose and listen to the tongue back the way I like to do it. With a white you want to see what is it offering and most people think When they pour a beautifully golden shark like this, they’re waiting for that big blast of heavy buttery oak. That’s not the experience you’re gonna get here. You’re getting a minerally. Chris, almost commercial about what you’re about to experience, you know, this one is going to have something fresh and exciting, I think. And that’s what we tried to do with its nose. And of course, oh, now that is here from the nipple of Aphrodite. There’s no
Natalie MacLean 20:26
well there’s a tasting note for you.
Kevin O’Leary 20:28
But this white against anything out there absolutely anything I would put this up against an $80 bottle of mantra Shea and say this is as good and it’s perfect with so many different foods. This is why it’s so popular now. This summer it was all I served at the dock up in Muskoka people loved it. I have to have another stick now. It’s just getting the summer over again.
Natalie MacLean 20:48
Okay, you have a moment there with that turning. When I reviewed it. I thought it was excellent value. Actually, I gave it I think it was an 88 out of 100 which is a pretty high score for that price category but loves What else seafood? What else would you pair with this one?
Kevin O’Leary 21:02
That’s what’s interesting. It goes even with a brunch. We had a brunch on Sunday with a bunch of people that came up this associates of mine. I served at the table with everybody having omelettes, you know and they loved it. This is a very classic French Way fresh vegetables, omelettes. It was even some people they’re eating smoked salmon. I think it’s fantastic with fish. Some of their even I was having a beef dish at one o’clock in the afternoon. I was drinking shark with it. I’ll tell you something else which really surprised me this summer Natalie. I don’t know if this train is made its way over central Pei. But people there take the roses and put ice in it during the lunch hour. And I noticed up until this year, many people were taking this O’Leary on a shard throwing ice into it almost, which to me would have 10 years ago insane but really enjoying it so is finding its way into almost like a sports or like environment and they were Going to half a bottle full of ice. It’s not for me but I watched many people do it and absolutely love it. So I think people are experimenting with their whites making it a very casual beverage in the summer and continue to drink it in the fall in the winter as well. So I think this goes well with even chicken. I haven’t found a food this isn’t great with
Natalie MacLean 22:20
okay 1495 What’s with the court cada screwcap?
Kevin O’Leary 22:24
You know, I when I was doing my marketing, and testing people’s perceptions here in Ontario, because I spent a fair amount of time and money on this. I’m still amazed even though there’s nothing wrong with the screwcap technology at all. In fact, in some ways it’s better than cork, you know that you’ve done your due diligence. There’s still a negative perception about a screw cap, particularly when the price point is under 1999. I decided because I was just launching the wine to avoid that problem. Not saying I won’t go to screwcaps in the future. But on this launch, I went with cork plus i can brand the cork I could put my name On it becomes part of the experience of opening the wine. You know, these are some of the things you start thinking about when you’re designing a label and what the cap looks like and all of that. So I decided to make the whole experience something people were anticipating with a higher quality, higher priced wine, and I left the cork in as part of the market.
Natalie MacLean 23:17
Okay, fair enough. Let us taste the Cabernet Merlot. Oh,
Kevin O’Leary 23:21
absolutely. There are more complex tasting. There’s no question about it. Now many people have misperception about Cabernet from this. This is a blend Cabernet Franc, Merlot Cabernet saw. These are all great wines, a classic classic Bordeaux blend.
Unknown Speaker 23:37
Kevin O’Leary 23:39
just wonderful. You know the great thing about this, Natalie, it has the same nose than it did a year ago and I started blending. This is why the quality and consistency in partnering with Gods like why not really matter? You’ve got to get it right every time showing.
Unknown Speaker 23:56
That is great, especially for the price point really comes from Aphrodite. Other breast.
Unknown Speaker 24:01
Thank you for clarifying. This.
Kevin O’Leary 24:05
This is a great deal for 1495 Come on, you have to admit you taste thousands of lines. This has to be up there. What did you score this
Natalie MacLean 24:13
90 looking for a testimonial. I did think it was great like I’ve tasted at blind to start off with with a lineup of other Cabernets and that’s how it netted out there not that I let price influence scores, but yeah, no, it’s great quality. Kevin.
Kevin O’Leary 24:28
It’s been recognised. I mean, you know, we had no idea what happened so quickly, but we submitted it to many different international contests where up to 1700 wines were tasted. In some cases, it was the only Canadian awarded anything. I’m really really proud of this because red is the baseline of any wine brand. There’s no question about it. And to really celebrate something grown well you just think over the last 20 years, the last two decades where we’ve come from, from Lambrusco grapes to this delicate, beautiful cabinet from which is so enticing. can compete anywhere in the world and it’s winning all around the world. So it’s not just the Chileans or the Australians or the Californians or anything from France, we can hold our own in Ontario. And that’s the message I want to get. It’s not just about O’Leary once I want Ontario to win with this. And that’s
Natalie MacLean 25:16
what I’m so proud of. I think that is the approach that the whole industry does have to take the rising tide will lift all the ships, they need that mass working together to the critical mass to achieve some sort of brand recognition as a region.
Kevin O’Leary 25:29
So dessiner this wine now I take a ball of red with me when I travelled to Europe, okay, recently over there, and I brought it to a dinner in Switzerland in Geneva. And I didn’t tell them it was from Ontario. They loved it. They couldn’t believe it. That’s the response I get everywhere. They just say wow, this isn’t French. No, it’s from Ontario, Canada. There used to be a comic who sang a song. It started with the champagne was Canadian. it be a joke. Now we can bring great great vintages to the world.
Natalie MacLean 25:59
That’s true. Terrific. Well, thank you, Kevin, for chatting with me about this. I think it’s an interesting business case and what you’ve done with the two wines, and I’m looking forward to seeing where you go next, because I think you have some innovative strategies that indeed will help the wine industry. So I wish you all the best with that.
Kevin O’Leary 26:14
Let’s stay in touch and talk often. You’ll be amazed at what’s coming next. Thank you.
Natalie MacLean 26:19
All right, cheers.
Well, there you have it. I hope you enjoyed this chat with Kevin O’Leary. Here are my takeaways. Number one, Kevin did his homework. Even though he wanted to launch a high end wine at $50. He listened to advice and targeted the sweet spot under $19 to gain market share widespread and permanent distribution in liquor stores and consistency with the product to build consumer trust. He also wanted to be hands on and creating the blend. And that’s much easier to do when you live in Toronto. And you’re doing Dealing with Niagara rather than burgundy. Number two. I’m still amused though that the participants in his informal focus groups in Cape Cod in the Muskoka is weren’t exactly everyday wine buyers if he was going for that big market share, they truly are the $50 plus monitor Shea crowd, but you have to admire his passion. As I said, during our chat, he reminds me of the wine version of the popcorn promoter, Orville redenbacher. Number three, he dismisses the assertion that celebrity named wines take the focus away from the wine region and onto themselves. That’s debatable, but I do believe that these winds if well made, which is are can introduce more people to wine, and that’s a good thing. And finally, number four, I agree that people should feel free to enjoy wine the way they like it, say as a spritzer with sparkling water or ice cubes. That’s the way I view my books. I may have written them in a certain way. With an intended message, but its readers who will complete the experience with their own interpretations and memories. You won’t want to miss next week when we’ll be chatting again with Dr. Antonio Manta naugus, Professor of Marketing and consumer psychology at Brock University’s Goodman School of Business in St. catharines. Ontario. Dr. Mountain Agus reveals insights from her research on how the name of a wine affects both our perception of it and the price we’re willing to pay for it difficult to pronounce names score higher, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that wineries should use them. Why is that? And who is apt to pay more? Why novices or experts Find out next week when she joins me from the University in St. catharines. In the meantime, if you missed our previous chat with Dr. Mountain Agus Episode 84 go back and take a listen. We discuss how celebrity endorse wines affect our buying behaviour. And it’s not what you think. I’ll share a short clip now with you to whet your appetite.
Dr. Antonia Mantonakis 29:09
When you think about wine, what are some words that you can think of and when you look at consumers responses, you can see that there’s a little bit of an overlap. When you think of certain sports like golf, you know, it’s more prestigious or luxurious or a leisure activity, maybe, you know, tends to be enjoyed by certain types of people and so on. And these were the responses that we got about wine whereas a sport like soccer or hockey or wrestling, you know, we tested a whole bunch of different categories of sport and the the degree of overlap or the degree of match was not really as strong and so that led us to categorise different sports as being a high, medium or low match to the product category of wine in order to do our study.
Natalie MacLean 30:08
If you liked this episode, please tell a friend about it. Especially one who’s interested in the fascinating wine tips that Kevin shared. You’ll find links to the wines we tasted a full transcript of our conversation, the video version of this chat, where you can find us on Facebook Live every second Wednesday at 7pm and how you can connect with me personally, in my free online video wine and food pairing class at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash 87 Thank you for taking the time to join me here. I hope something great is in your glass this week. Perhaps one of Kevin’s wines or maybe persuasion from his former Dragon’s Den co host Arlene Dickinson Just don’t tell Kevin. I recommended that
You don’t want to miss one juicy episode of this podcast, especially the secret full body bonus episodes that I don’t announce on social media. So subscribe for free now at Natalie MacLean comm forward slash subscribe, may be here next week. Cheers