Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit (Video)

Importing Wine for Pleasure and Profit

Have you ever enjoyed a wine when you were traveling abroad say in Tuscany or Bordeaux, and wondered, how can I import a case of this when I get back home, especially when it’s not in the liquor store?

And beyond importing wine for pleasure, what about for profit, whether it’s to save money on your purchases or to get into the business of being a wine importer?

That’s exactly what we’re going to learn from our guest tonight, Charles Steven Trenholme.

Steven Trenholme has been hosting the seminar Importing for Wine, Beer & Spirits For Pleasure & Profit, since 1993, with rave reviews from both participants and media, including the Globe & Mail, Toronto Life, CBC Radio and others.

Steven shared with us how to find the most interesting wines to import, what are the costs involved, and selecting the right wines for your palate and others.

P.S. Tune in here for our next Live Video Wine Tasting:

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We’ll be simultaneously broadcasting on Facebook Live, YouTube Live Stream and Twitter Live Video via Periscope.

Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.

If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:


Here’s a sampling of our lively discussion from our Charles Steven Trenholme Video Chat:

 Lori Kilmartin11:05 You can do less than 10 cases but the freight would be MUCH more – probably not worth it

Stephen Andrews40:01 Wow thank you. Love their wines


Dea del Vino Wine Journeys15:11 I have heard there is a danger of your wines being ‘cooked’ during overseas transit over the summer months. Are you aware of this being a regular problem at all?

Elaine Bruce22:02 I hear that Alberta is very lucky with what is available – my problem is that it is more difficult to get wines from the other provinces (BC excluded)
Lori Kilmartin29:18 Does it frustrate you that the LCBO controls what we get. I find they tend to stick mostly to tries and true when there are SO MANY other great wines out there!!

Lori Kilmartin17:22 Steven. In your opinion – are there any countries that are more difficult to import from than others – even with the LCBO involved?

Beverly Asleson6:32 What is your favorite wine and what country?
Lori Kilmartin6:43 I was already importing wine for my Agency when I took but still learned a few things.


Gwen Barton11:54 Interested to know if it’s easier in Quebec?

Roger Caughell21:28 What is a typical agency mark-up?

Chelle O’Connor0:40 Looking forward to these tips tonight!


Stephen Andrews32:19 Is there a market for what I call “wacky wines”?


Dave Head9:45 Does the LCBO ship temperature controlled?


Jon Young5:18 How easy is it to import wine for your own restaurant?


Stephen Andrews

Stephen Andrews29:19 Champagne is now on sale in Aruba!

Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews23:34 For personal consumption I would and have bought wines form importers.


Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews20:32 I would have to compensate the taster

Jean-Marc Parent30:48 Have to tell my brother in law, he is in Aruba right now!

Jean-Marc Parent9:15 Do we have to involve the liquor board ?


Stephen Andrews

Stephen Andrews19:28 I would need to have a very experienced wine taster to find quality buys which would cost money

Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews15:32 I looked in to this years ago and the tax was terrible is that still true.


Neil Phillips

Neil Phillips26:54 Me too, Stephen: I get an awful lot that way. Just a challenge as case lots.

Stephen Andrews

Stephen Andrews10:07 What amount of cash out put would you need to reasonably start?

Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews4:28 I need to import wine to Aruba and not loose my shirt.


Neil Phillips

Neil Phillips10:41 Yes. All POs are actually issued by the LCBO. Or as the French say, “Le Monopole”

Stephen Andrews38:44 Jean -Marc have him go to Lings

Stephen Andrews
Stephen Andrews36:49 Excellent Steven
Neil Phillips

Neil Phillips15:18 Largest wine buyer = CostCo

Neil Phillips
Neil Phillips12:25 Very gracious, Steven.
Beverly Asleson
Beverly Asleson22:10 What is your favorite wine and from what country? India and Beyond?








Burgundy Vineyard














Steven Trenholme













Bodgea Moderna Chile









Italian Palazzo




Fall Seminar 2017





Steven Trenholm​

Steven is the principal of CS TRENHOLME & ASSOCIATES – an international Sales & Marketing Consulting firm, supporting the beverage alcohol industry. He has been involved in all facets of agency management, supplier relations, and he also assists with LCBO negotiations. He is a consultant to the French, German, Italian, Spanish, South African, Australian and Mexican governments, as well as a number of important wine producing firms.

CS Trenholme & Associates is a management consulting firm established in 2003, providing sales & marketing support to the beverage alcohol industry. Our specific focus is assisting wineries and/or brand owners to market their wines in Canada with the objective of maximizing their potential and profitability.

Prior to forming the group, Steven Trenholme – Managing Director spent over twenty-five years working in agency management, marketing many of the world’s top wine brands within the Canadian market.

Steven holds a degree in Political Economics from York University and a graduate degree in Marketing from the University Of Toronto. He completed a Diploma from the Wine & Spirit Trust of London, U.K. and is a graduate of the German Wine Academy at Kloster Eberbach, Germany. Recently he was invited to become a Visiting Professor at Humber College –Toronto, School of Hospitality, Tourism & Recreation.

The firm’s associates are located in satellite offices, adding expertise and focus to the markets of Western Canada, Quebec and the Maritime provinces.



Topics that are covered during his seminars are:

Morning Session

> Where to find new and interesting wines, spirits and beers.
> How to start your own successful import agency.
> Determining the best strategy for new product development.
> How to negotiate with suppliers.
> Marketing channels – which are the best for you and your suppliers.
> Opportunities as a Consignment and/or Private Stock Agent
> Employment opportunities in the beverage alcohol industry

Afternoon Session

> How products are priced
> Agent commissions and promotional allowances
> Ordering samples
> Dealing effectively with the LCBO
> Selecting the right products for today’s market
> How the LCBO selects products and how to increase your chance of success
> Vintages – a lucrative market
> Determining the best strategy for a new product launch
> Working with LCBO wine consultants – how to find sales support at store level
> Working with the media
> Other provincial markets: Privatization, Options & Opportunities


So you’re in Tuscany or Bordeaux and you’re having this great wine and you’re almost sure that you can’t get it at the local liquor store back home, how do you take more than a bottle or two back home with you? Can you import a case and how do you go about that? Is it expensive, is there a lot of legal red tape?

Well, that’s exactly what we’re going to explore tonight on the Sunday Sipper Club. I’m Natalie MacLean, editor of Canada’s largest wine review site and we gather here every Sunday at six p.m. to talk to the most interesting people in the world of wine.

Now before I introduce our guest fully, in the Comments below, let me know, yes or no, are you interested in how to import a wine into this country? Have you ever gone traveling and wondered how can you do it? I know personally, I am and I’m going to refresh the Facebook comments here, I’ve never done it, other than taking, you know, one or two bottles home with me and you know, what the legal, allowable amount is in your suitcase, say.

So I see we are broadcasting live, which is terrific, oh, Dave Head is here, “Oh yes,” he says, he wonders how to import wine, Dave is a real wine advocate, there’s Rachelle Connor, “Looking forward to these tips tonight,” welcome to you all. Okay, so, as I said, just post yes or no, are you curious about how to import wine into the country? Stephen Andrews joins us, Jen Havers, Stephen Andrews, yes, okay and Beverly Asleson, excellent guys, welcome, welcome and Happy New Year, I should say, it’s been a long break, but a refreshing one and I hope you all had a great holiday.

Alright, so our guest this evening has been hosting an extremely popular seminar, entitled appropriately, How To Import Wine For Pleasure and Profit. He’s been hosting it since 1993 and he’s had rave reviews from both participants, as well as from media outlets like the Globe and Mail, Toronto Life, CBC Radio and many others. He’s been involved in all aspects of brand management and agency management in the wine industry and he really knows what he’s talking about, when it comes to importing wines. He’s been an advisor to many of the governments, like Government For Friends and Mexico, South Africa, Australia, on how to import their wines into Canada and he is going to share all those tips with us tonight, so I’m really looking forward to our conversation and he joins me live now from his home in Toronto. Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club, Charles Steven Trenholme, how are you?

Thank you very much, Natalie MacLean.

Alright and I’m pronouncing this, because I know you go by Charles Trenholme in the industry, especially when you’re hosting these seminars, but we’ve known each other a long time and I’ve called you Steven, which is I believe your middle name.

That’s right and the name that friends know me by, for the most part.


It’s a bit of a story, but we won’t go through it here.

Well, maybe at the end of the conversation, we’ll see.

No, sure.

-I know.

Alright, Steven, so how did you get involved in importing wine? What drew you to that aspect of the wine industry?

Well, it’s a story, you can imagine I have told many times, but at the heart of it, I was finishing up my undergraduate work and a friend of mine said, “What are you going to do, when you graduate?” and I said, well, I don’t really know at this point, I just want to graduate and have done with it and he said, “Do you know, you know a lot about wine and really like wine, you should get into the wine business,” and it was like an epiphany, I was like, yes, yes, I’m totally going to do. Now it took me a year, because I didn’t know anything about the business at all, but it took me a year to find my first job, you know, it was a small company, that was willing to take me on, because I was willing to work for very little money, you know, as often is the case, you know, people who want to make a career change or want to get into an industry, we’re prepared to make little sacrifices, but you know, again, that was almost 40 years ago and you know, I’m very grateful for the initial opportunity and from there, I’ve, you know, made a career of it.

Terrific, excellent. So Sam joins us from DC, I’m glad you like the topic, Paul Hollander is in Virginia, Laurie Kilmartin’s in Ottawa, Elaine Bruce in Calgary, you’d like to learn more, excellent folks, and remember I can only see five comments at a time, then they stream off like the stock ticker tape or whatever, so keep posting your comments, as we go along. So Steven, tell me, why would someone want to learn about this topic?

Well, you know, as your listeners will attest, you know, it’s a fascinating industry, I mean, wine is a fascinating topic. So you know, we’re involved in it, we enjoy it, we share it and you know, obviously there’s a business out there as well, so you know, people who have a little bit of an entrepreneurial spirit perhaps see it not only as, you know a source of enjoyment, but maybe perhaps a source of a career or a source of income, so to speak.

Terrific, wow, Jean-Marc Parent, Happy New Year, excellent and Stephen Andrews says, “I need to import wine to Aruba and not lose my shirt.” He spends a lot of time in Aruba, but we’re going to focus on importing wine into Canada tonight, Stephen, but do feel free to post questions regarding that. So Steven, now is it, the seminar that you teach, is it very technical or what’s kind of the heart of what you’re getting at in this seminar?

Well, as you can imagine, Natalie, it’s a day long seminar,


There’s a tremendous amount of information disseminated during this seminar and then following, but you know, you can’t possibly teach someone everything there is to know about a business in one day,


So essentially in the one day seminar, you know, I provide an overview of how the industry is organized, so I outline who are the stakeholders, how Liquor Boards function, how suppliers operate, the relationship between the importer agent and the supplier, the relationship between the supplier and the Liquor Board, how products are marketed, how products are priced, these sort of things, so people go away from this seminar with a… you know, a kind of a basic understanding of how the industry works.

Right, okay and so for… Oh, Gwen is here, hello Gwen, and John Young asks, “How easy is it to import wine for your own restaurant?”

Well, the, I mean, you can certainly import wine for your own restaurant, it’s what’s referred to as a private import.


So if you can find a winery, that isn’t represented already and that winery’s prepared to ship wine to a Liquor Control Board, then the Liquor Control Board on your behalf will place an order with the supplier and then the supplier will ship the wine to the Liquor Control Board, who will in turn test it, price it and deliver it to you, so it’s not, you know, it’s not difficult, most Liquor Boards have the facility to do these, as I said, private imports, but the first thing you want to look at is, you know, is that winery already represented and if they are, then the agent will do that work for you.

Okay, excellent and Stephen, I should just note, I know I told you to ignore us on camera, but you can look into the eye of your camera.


I think I got you scared of looking at the computer at all, but you’re giving some great answers here. So for consumers, so let’s say, let’s take that typical scenario: I’m in Tuscany, I love this Chianti, I can’t get it at home, what’s the first thing I do to, I want a case of it, so what’s involved, take me from that time to getting that case at my doorstep by help or somehow?

Right, well, I’ll answer the question and then I’ll disappoint you.


You know, the first thing you require basically is the contact information for the winery…


… and then once you return, you can go to the Liquor Board and provide the Liquor Board with the contact information for the winery and the wine or wines, that you would like to import. The Liquor Board, on your behalf, will contact the winery, will determine if they’re prepared to ship the wine to the Liquor Board, the Liquor Board will take care of all the logistics, pick it up at the winery and then you know, bring it back to the province involved and the Liquor Board will also request from the supplier their net export price, so the price that they’ll sell it to the Liquor Board, providing that the Liquor Board picks it up at their location.


You know, so it’s a process that goes on every day, the problem from an individual’s perspective is that the Liquor Boards have contracts with transportation companies, freight forwarders.


And then in these contracts, there is a minimum case quantity required, in order for that freight forwarder to provide the Liquor Board with a quotation for freight, alright?


So let’s say you’re in Tuscany and you want to bring back some wine, so the wines from Tuscany, if they’re picked up from the supplier, the freight I think is about 10 dollars a case and that’s irrespective of whether it’s a case of 12 or six, which are the standard case sizes for wines in 750 milliliter bottles. However out of Tuscany, for instance, the minimum quantity, I believe is somewhere in the neighbourhood of 15 or 20 cases. So if you’re an individual, you know, you might be a little hard pressed to need or to want 15 cases of wine. Now, you can also consolidate the order, so for instance, you could buy five cases of Chianti and five cases of Vernaccia and five cases of Brunello and you know, five cases of Marama or whatever, you know, provided that that particular supplier has all those wines available, so you could kind of consolidate, so to speak, an order, in order to get that freight rate.

And that’d be for just one producer or one winery, or could you combine imports from several wineries in that region?

No, it would have to be from one supplier, because of course what you’re looking at is the freight cost from that supplier to the liquor store closest to the customer,


And when I say that, when you, as an individual, or a restaurant, for instance, when you place a private import order, the product will be shipped, if you don’t want to pick it up in Toronto, will be shipped to the liquor store nearest you.


So, you know, so that’s a lot of handling, when you think about it, so as you could imagine, it’s not really in a freight forwarder’s and the Liquor Board’s interest to just pick up one case.


I mean, you’ve been to Tuscany, right, there’s all these winding roads and hills you have to go up, so to send a truck, let’s say from Florence, all the way to some little winery in Greve and then back to Florence and then that in turn has to get from Bul Florence to Livorno on the coast and then on a ship and then everything else. And there’s so much handling, so for one case, I mean, they’ll do a case, but the problem is that the freight on that one case would be the same as the freight on 15 cases.


Around 15, so that’s, that’s you know…


… a disincentive.

That puts it in perspective and we’re just going to take a moment here, folks, to, you know, if you’re enjoying this conversation, please share and comment, ask questions. I’m going to be picking up the questions as we go along here and Steven has generously agreed to offer a gift certificate of 100 dollars off his seminar, that he hosts in Toronto for someone who shares the video tonight and makes comments. So if you’re interested in this content and you believe others would be too, please do share it.

So Neil Phillips says, I know Neil’s in the business, “All POs are actually issued by the LCBO “or as the French say” yes, Dave Head says, “Does the LCBO ship temperature controlled?” Is the wine temperature controlled?

Yeah, yeah, at certain times of year, obviously, crossing the North Atlantic in the middle of the winter, the containers either have to be insulated or they’re what they call refurbs, which are a heated container, so there’s, you know, a cost that will be passed on, if indeed it has to be shipped in winter, but again the Liquor Board contracts, you know, ships, huge quantities of wine, so they have probably the most economical freight rates anywhere.

Sure, and I think I’ve heard, I don’t know if this is still the case, they’re the single largest buyer of wine in the world, the LCBO?

Well you know, with statistics and damn statistics and damn lies or something,

Yes, Benjamin Disraeli.

Something like that, but I think as a matter of fact, it’s actually the SAQ, which is the biggest importer of wine.


Whereas the Liquor Control Board is the biggest importer of alcohol and beverages, so there’s this subtle distinction.



Okay, go ahead.

Yeah, again, you know, it’s just a number, who knows really?

Sure, sure and related to that then Steve, and Gwen asks, “Is it any easier to import wine “in Quebec, than it is in Ontario?”

The Quebec, the SAQ certainly has a private import division as well.


And it’s quite dynamic, so I don’t know if it’s any easier or any more difficult, but I think it’s a fairly well used system. You know, I live in Toronto, Canada, I work more or less exclusively with the Liquor Control Board, although throughout my career, I’ve had some exposure to the other Liquor Control Boards, so I know a little bit about what’s going on in the other provinces, but I, you know, I’m not going to suggest for a moment, that I’m an expert on each province, but there is some private import facility available in every province in Canada.

Okay, great and Neil Phillips says, “Very gracious, Steven, your answers,” and Beverly, yes, I know we’re very Canadian-centric tonight, she’s in California, but next week will definitely be for you and stay tuned for what that topic is. Stephen Andrews, “Costco?” Not sure what the question is there, Stephen, but Dave Head said, “Oh, it’s Mark Twain who made that quote,” I thought it was Benjamin Disraeli, anyway thank you for the correction, Dave.

So Steven, who is your biggest customer? Who comes to this seminar? Is it sommeliers wanting to import for restaurants? Is it people who want to become wine agents? Or is it consumers, who have this real passion and want to collect and build their cellars?

Well, with each seminar, at the beginning of the seminar, I ask people to stand up and introduce themselves to the group and to give me some idea of what they would like as a takeaway for the day. And you know, over 25 years, the groups almost always break down into the same percentages, a third of the group are people you know, that have had a long career, a long, successful career, but they’re looking for something to do in their retirement essentially, or they’ve been downsized for one reason or another, you know, they’re in their fifties, early sixties, they still have some working years ahead of them and they would like to do something, so that’s one group and that almost represents a third of the people with a shop.


The other third are people that interestingly have some connection already to the beverage/alcohol industry. They have a relative, a brother-in-law, who owns a winery or distillery or a craft brewery, somewhere in the world and when they visit it, their relative says, “Oh, you know, maybe you can help us “find a market in Canada”, or you know, “in a specific province”.
And then there’s a third group and these are generally people, who are kind of mid career and they’re doing quite well in their career and their careers caused them to travel quite regularly and often to wine-producing areas. I had a fellow, who was a director of Facebook and so he was going to California on a very regular basis and loved wine and was finding all these wineries and when his shares vested, he wanted to set up an agency. So that’s a third of the people, the people that you know, they don’t really, they don’t really have a business kind of ambition, but they’re finding all these wines and they want a strategy for bringing them back.

Okay, wow, interesting profiles, it’s interesting to hear those details behind it. So Neil Phillips clarifies, “The largest wine buyer in the world, Costco,” okay, Dea Del Vino Wine Journey says, “I have heard that there is a danger “of your wines being cooked ” during overseas transit, during summer months, “are you aware of this being a regular problem at all?” Sounds like it’s not, when it’s the LCBO, but maybe in other cases, Steven?

You know, generally speaking, you know, logistics is a really interesting, it’s almost a science and you know, when you think of getting a case of wine like, where’s the furthest place on the planet from Ontario? It’s maybe like Perth, Australia, yet wine seems to get from Perth, Australia to Ontario in perfectly good condition and one of course, you know, they’re using heated or refrigerated containers, the ships move quite quickly, so I mean, it takes some time for a, you know, unless it’s really extreme conditions for wine to be cooked or oxidized, so it’s generally not a problem.


You know, when you think about it, there’s very little, you know, quality control issues with any products through any Liquor Control Boards. One, they have good labs, but still, you know, there’s just a lot of know-how at all levels of the supply chain, so it’s not a problem, generally speaking.

Oh good, great. Stephen Andrews says, “I looked into this years ago “and the taxes were terrible, is that still true?” The tax you’ll be charged trying to import these wines.

Well I mean, the tax is a part of the total markup, that’s applied by the Liquor Board is very high and it’s getting higher, in fact. You know, in April, they’re going to increase another 2% and then the feds are going to increase duty and excise as well, about 2%. So you know, death and taxes. Another, I think that’s also Mark Twain, ‘the only thing for sure in life, right, death and taxes’, somebody.


But you know, it’s unavoidable and certainly they have taxes in other jurisdictions as well, so you know, you just have to deal with it.

Right, so would your, again, the answer might be not simple, but would you advise this as a means for saving money or making money, if you’re not going to be a wine agency, you’re just a consumer with a real habit, who wants to collect, is this worth pursuing, the importing?

Well you know, it’ll provide you with an opportunity to, you know, perhaps find or get some wines, that aren’t generally available.


You know, I mean, collectors, by their nature, want things that other people don’t have, right?


You know, you have a Monet or that fellow, that Saudi prince, who bought a Leonardo, right, you know, he’s got something. He was prepared to pay for, whatever, because he knew he would be the only one who had that. So, it’s you know, if you’re passionate about it, you can get something that somebody doesn’t have, you know, there’s some bragging rights there and also, you know, as we all know, those of us who travel with wine, you know, there’s nothing that rekindles a memory better, than a bottle of wine you’ve had, when you’ve traveled.


You know, I mean, how romantic is that on an anniversary to share a bottle of wine, that you and your partner had at a, you know, overlooking the Adriatic in a little taverna in Greece or something like that or in a castle on the Rhein or you know, a top hotel in California?

Absolutely, I think that’s why people are so intrigued about importing wine, that’s a very good comment. Laurie: “Steven, in your opinion, are there countries, “that are more difficult to import from than others, even with the LCBO involved?” Good question, Laurie.

Well yes, certainly there’s countries, I mean, that produce wine that aren’t kind of big on our radar like Moldova or Georgia, these sort of places, but it’s, you know again, you know, like case in point, earlier this, no, we’re already in the new year, so it was last year, I was involved with bringing in some wine from India. So, you know, one of the things we had to do before we could present it to the Liquor Board was get a quote for freight, which the Liquor Board did for us and then we were able to find an appropriate pricing, a price for the product, but you know, it came from Mumbai, India.

So, you know, there’s really, you know, no place that you can’t get wine from. But you know, again, there’s other issues, of course; of language facility, the freight rate might be incredibly high. Fortunately Mumbai is a port, there’s a lot of things being shipped out of it, so it wasn’t so much of a problem, but you know, there, I don’t know, Tajikistan or something, you know, that might be the freight rate out of there might be prohibitively expensive. For instance, I have a client, who has an organic Mezcal, that comes out of Mexico and the freight rate on that, because it’s in this obscure location in Mexico and I guess you have to have bandito insurance or something, it’s like 35 dollars a case,


So that’s a lot, you know.

Sure is.

And that of course is marked up.


Which causes the product to be kind of quite expensive.

Wow, you bring up Mexico. I was just in Cancun for a vacation with my family and tasting all these Mexican wines we cannot get. It was interesting. We only get one or two here, that alone made me wonder, in relation to our topic. Roger Caughell, I hope I’m saying your name correctly, Roger: “What is a typical agency markup?” I guess once they get the wine imported into Canada, he’s asking, or Ontario, I suppose that differs, but is there any sort of general answer you could give there, Steven?

That’s a very good question, of course, ’cause that kind of answers, where’s the money? Generally speaking, you know, agents are loathe to tell you how much commission they’re earning, but as a rule of thumb, kind of the starting point might be about 10% and then added to that would be an advertising and promotion allowance or an A&P allowance of an additional 10%, because you need some funds to promote a product. But again, you know, your commission is going to be added to the supplier’s net export price and then that of course is going to be marked up, so the more commission you earn, the more that that will increase the retail price to the markup.
Now the markup formula works on a way, that a small increase with cheaper products will make the cheaper product a little more expensive, but with the more expensive products, because the commission is such a small part of the price, it doesn’t have a dramatic impact. So generally speaking, the more expensive products you can actually earn a little more commission, without seriously impacting the retail price. You know, for instance, if after you’ve done the markup of let’s say, I don’t know, an Amarone and you’ve done all the calculations, you’ve already added your 10% commission and the retail price comes out at 46.95, well, you probably think, “Well, you know, that’s kind of a nowhere price, “if somebody’s prepared to pay 46 dollars, “they’ll probably pay 49,” in that instance, you can add a little more commission, boost your price up to 49.95. You’ve also boosted up your A&P allowance, so you have a little more money to spend to promote the product.


And that’s really critical in this market, that you have money to promote your product, because there’s certain penalties, that agents pay for products, that don’t sell properly, or don’t sell.

What are those, the penalties, you mean being delisted by the liquor store or?

Well for instance, if you get a product in the LCBO through Vintages, you have 60 days from the date of release to sell 75% of the inventory.


And in the event that you don’t sell 75% of the inventory, the Liquor Board in Vintages has the right to discount the remaining inventory by 20% and to deduct that amount of the discount from your supplier’s invoice.

Wow, okay.

So it doesn’t happen all that often, it happens to everybody sooner or later for a number of reasons, but thankfully it doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen and you have to be aware of that.


Also on the general list, you have sales quotas to meet and if the product doesn’t meet that quota, again, you’ve signed off against an understanding that the product can be delisted to encourage quick sell through…


And your supplier or the agent is going to pay for that at the end of the day.

So promoting those products is really key from…

Yeah, nothing sells itself, you know.


I mean, even things like, I don’t know what, you know, the classified grows and all these iconic wines, well, you don’t think they’re being promoted, but they’re being promoted in very subtle ways through public relations and that sort of thing,

Right, and events.

Whereas, mass merchandised brands are being promoted with discounts and bonus air miles and value added items, that are put on the bottles and shelf extenders and displays and these sort of things.

That’s coming in here, Stephen Andrews: “For personal consumption, I would have bought wines from importers,”

Neil agrees, “Me too, Stephen, “I buy a lot of wine that way, just a challenge “as you have to buy them in case lots.”

Beverly is asking you: Steven, “What is your favorite wine “and from which country, India and beyond?”

Oh dear, again a question that I’ve been asked frequently and for me, you know, I’ve been in this business for a long time and it’s a great business, don’t get me wrong, it’s a fantastic business, but the single most thing that interests me is the phenomenal and inexhaustible variety in which wine is available, that’s what makes it so fascinating.


There’s just so many different wines, so many different vintages, wine evolves, you know, through the aging process, a food and wine pairing can make all the difference in the world, but if the question was asked, or posed in this way, I’d say, you know, “Charles Steven, we’re going to send you to a deserted island for two weeks, you can only take one type of wine. So what would you take?” and my answer to that is always, “I would take Champagne” and the reason I would take Champagne is it’s incredibly versatile, in terms of food pairing, incredibly versatile. And you know, it’s really hard, you have to be really depressed to be depressed, if you’re sitting there on a deserted island drinking Champagne.

Right, It would go with those stray crabs, the coconuts, whatever. It could handle everything; and related to that a little bit, but closer to the wine importing, are there particular regions of the world right now, that are really hot, trendy for people wanting to import wines from those regions, like in your seminar, you’re seeing people say, “Okay, let’s focus on this region,” like what is the inside scoop here?

Well you know, I mean, from practical purposes, it’s always good to follow, you know, emerging markets or growing trends. So of course, you know, generally speaking, Italy, specifically Tuscany and Veneto are really hot, California is very hot. Chile and Argentina are still doing very well, but there’s a very narrow price range, you know, that people are prepared to pay for Chilean and Argentinian wines. Australia is kind of like this… it’s neither here nor there. I mean, it was big, obviously, it’s still fairly big in volume, but you know, it doesn’t seem to have legs for growth at the moment. New Zealand of course, I mean, there just doesn’t seem to be any end to this Sauvignon Blanc thirst that everybody has, but again you know, it’s a fairly mature category, lots of suppliers, lots of product in the market. You know, I’ve noticed, you know, the suppliers are getting very aggressive and the only tool that they have to play you know, is discounting, so there’s a lot of New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc being discounted.

Discounted, yeah, that’s interesting though, Steven, like I have a background in product management at Proctor & Gamble on the food brands, like Crisco and Pringles and Betty Crocker and there was always an avoidance of promoting via price, because you train people just to buy on deal and then they move to the next brand, they’re not developing real brand loyalty was the thought,


Do you have any thoughts on that?

Well, I think what we’re finding, you know, with these LPOs, we are conditioning consumers to buy the bargains,


So when you put a product on a discount, an LTO, limited time offer…

Time offer, yeah.

… you get a tremendous lift in volume.


But you know, the follow on period, you know, you see your sales deteriorate.

And I’ve heard they can even go flat again, like I could understand if it was a sampling program to get it out there and build loyalty, but it’s almost like they look for the next deal.

Well I think people are conditioning. I do exactly the same thing. I go online at the beginning of the month, I look what’s on LTO, “oh, I’d like some of that and some of that” and then I go order it online and I get a case and I drink it over the course of the month and then towards the end of the month, the ones I like, I order more of it.

Right, okay.

You know, my friend, Andrew Von Teichman from Von Terra, he has the Radio Boca wine and he had that on a very generous LTO, but sometimes what happens is the LTO over performs, so you not only exhaust your projected inventory, you also exhaust your follow on inventory. So the next month, you don’t have any product to sell.

Oh, wow, okay.

You know, it’s just like, shoot me now.

And you were talking about wines being promoted, does the LCO and other Liquor Boards, are they demanding of agencies and wineries, “Show us your marketing plan beyond like advertising and food and drink or whatever,” are they requiring people, agents and wineries to be out there showing marketing plans or investments?

Well, when you… when you’re submitting a product for a potential new listing, they ask for a marketing plan.


So that’s part of the decision making process on behalf of the buyers. Now once the product is listed, the agents in fact compete for these in-store merchandising programs. You can do everything you’d like, you know on premise and you know, and in the market, but you have to compete for in-store promotions,


So of course, you know. you see at Christmas period, it’s only the big brands, the big, high volume, expensive brands, that get the promotion,


Whereas in January and February, there’s not so many brands on promotion, you know, they’re generally, you know, less viable, not less viable, but not the A-list brands, let’s say.

Sure, sure, everybody’s cutting back and trying to diet and…

Well, they know there’s not that much traffic in the store.

Right, yeah.

And you know…

Absolutely. Alright, “Is there any market for what I call wacky wines?” Not sure what you mean by that, but I guess esoteric or strange little birds of wines, I don’t know exactly what you mean, Steven, but do you think there’s a market for those real niche wines?

Well, of course there is, I mean, there’s been lots of history and you and I have had them all, you know, all these kind of, I mean, all the Australian critter wines, for instance, you’ll remember… what was it called? The New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc called Cat’s Pee on a Gooseberry Bush,

On a Gooseberry Bush, yeah.

You know, the Fat Bastard, there’s, I mean, there’s all kinds of novelty labeling, you know. There’s all kinds of fruit and wine blends and that sort of thing, wine creme, wine liqueurs kind of thing, so yeah, one never knows. I mean, this is an incredible market, so you know people are, a lot of consumers are prepared to look at a lot of things and you know, this whole millennial cohort looks at wine completely different than you know, I do, so you know, they’re prepared to buy all kinds of different things, you know, they don’t have the same biases, that we came into wine buying with.


This pretense, you know, they’re just, they’re kind of prepared to look at everything, I mean, look at Barefoot Cellars and Gala, huge brands, you know, but again, it’s targeted towards a certain demographic.

Absolutely. Steven, I can’t believe how quickly the time has gone. For people who would like to take your seminar, how can they find you online, what’s the best way to contact you?

Well, I think you can either do a search, you know, with the seminar, Importing Wine, it’s also with Beer and Spirits for Pleasure or Profit or I have a website with the contact and it’s quite simple, it’s Can Market Wine as one word.

Okay., so that has my email address in the contact and my telephone number and so forth.

Awesome and I’m also posting a blog post, well I have already on our little chat before this, I’ll be posting this chat, as well as your contact information for people, who are looking for that and as I said, folks, if you have really enjoyed this conversation, please share it, because Steven has generously offered a 100 dollar gift certificate off his seminar, which we will draw for next week, so if you’re watching the replay, you can still qualify for this and of course, I’m going to announce the winner from our last session before the holiday break, so stay with me and I’ve got a few other announcements to make, so you don’t want to disappear yet, but Steven, Charles Steven Trenholme, to bring it full circle here,


Thank you so much, great insights, I mean, this really is a full day and beyond of information, but it was really good to get some of the highlighted, you know, top line tips and what’s involved, really helpful Steven, I really appreciate you taking the time to chat with us tonight.

Oh, it’s a pleasure and thank you very much for this opportunity, Natalie, I really appreciate it.

Oh, absolutely.

You’ve been very supportive over the years and you have a, you know, a great product in Natalie MacLean and in Nat Decants and all the things you do, so you’re very well respected in the industry.

Thank you, thank you very much,


That’s very kind. Okay well, I’ll say goodnight for now, Steven, but we’ll be in touch, I’m sure.

Great, thanks, goodnight.

Okay, goodnight.

Bye bye.



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