Musings of a Wine Maven

Lord Save Us, Martha Stewart is Selling Wine Again

by Jerry Clark

Never a quitter, Martha has shaken off the debacle of her failed venture with Gallo a decade ago to come back at the unsuspecting wine consumer with a new wine marketing scheme. Unable then to successfully sell her Martha Stewart Vintage label at fifteen bucks a bottle, her name is now attached to a box of six of her favorite selections for $59.99, served up in a wine club framework. Hmmm, if a fifteen buck wine made for her by Gallo couldn’t sell, why then these ten buck finds (introductory price) from California, Spain, Italy and France?

There are at least two rosés from Provence, the region that has taken the U.S. by storm with its immensely popular pink wine (however, I am not sure these particular rosés are part of the storm). Perhaps added shipping costs to get the foreign examples here will be offset by less marketing expense, or low margins to be made up with huge volume sales (her first wines had limited distribution).

Surely part of the disenchantment for me is that that her parent company, Sequential Brands, is trading principally on her brand ID, and, for my money, could care less what’s in the bottle. As a celebrity she is far from alone in embracing the surging interest in wine. But at least with some others, Pitt and Jolie for example, they bought property and brought in true talent to manage (Marc Perrin).

Brands can be as important in wine as with perfume or other luxury products. I buy Italian with confidence when I see that it has been selected by Leonardo LoCasio. The same holds true with Jorge Ordonez for Spain. Here in celebrityland America, I keep the antenna poised to alert me to another enterpriser, like Fess Parker, who purchased property almost thirty years ago that his children have continued to develop. I see Fess first turning over the soil with his Bowie knife and saying “unhitch the wagon — this is our new home.” Unhappily, my reception from this news of Martha is faint, very faint.

Illustration by Mike Dater

17 Comments

  1. Now there is a club that I do not need to become a member of! When will Provence WineZine launch a wine club? I have much more confidence in your picks (and I believe YOU would be picking out the wines–not a staffer!)

  2. Peter,
    Great thought! I will bring your wine club idea up at the next PWZ Editorial/Operations Meeting.

  3. When can we expect the Kim Kardashian Wine-in-a-Box? Water it down, alcohol content 2% and margins that would make Big Pharma blush – that’s it – a Blush wine. I can t wait. It’s called “Kim’s Blush.” I can’t wait to unscrew the box now.

  4. I want to laugh, or at least applaud, but I know that its very likely the big agencies are pitching dozens of stars each year with wine merchandising ideas such as that which Martha just brought forth. So why not Kim?

  5. ‘Kim’s Blush’? Drop the ‘l’ and it my sell:). Don’t band me!
    RANT!
    I hate Corporate wine in general! Blending grapes from unknown sites, overblow fruit bombs, excessive alcohol, fancy labels, and hughes mark-ups. And those are the good point!

    • Woody,
      Happily there are so many serious sources for good wine available to us. New consumers don’t need to be dependent on all the wine clubs emerging for the uninitiated. They just need to find a local merchant that knows what they have.

  6. Jerry, a couple of months ago following some comments you made about a Wine Spectator article listing some wines from Provence (which were primarily rose’ as I recall from one vineyard), you suggested that you could make some recommendations for me on a broader array of Provence wines for our consideration on our next trip to Provence. I have not followed up on your suggestion yet, but I think Peter Mansell’s suggestion of a PWZ Club, or alternatively, monthly wine suggestions, is a good one that all readers could use and enjoy. Gerry Nathe

    • Hi Gerry, We really like your idea of wine suggestions and are mulling over how that could be best accomplished (especially given the varied distribution of Provence wine across the US and other countries where we have strong readership). As for a PWZ wine club…now, THAT would be fun!

  7. Gerry,
    I think Peter’s suggestion has merit. Tonight I am in New Hampshire for a Tavel rose tasting organized by the blog. I will bring this idea up to them. Thank you for getting on board!

  8. Anyone buying Martha Stewart’s wine selections doesn’t know about wine, doesn’t care about wine and will not learn anything about wine from her. It’s a big who cares. The NRA has a wine club and I never thought they know anything about wine. I belong to the NRA and I subscribe to Martha Stewart Living but I only listen to Jerry Clark when it comes to wine.

  9. Claire,
    You put an edge to my thoughts. I did not know about NRA wine club. Perhaps had they embraced Fess Parker as a celebrity spokesman, rather than Charleton Heston, they could be adding a great deal of revenue from wine sales.

  10. Jerry,
    Always knew you were the best Marketing and Sales Executive I ever worked with in my 32 years in the graphic arts industry! Sounds like you can transfer your talents to the wine biz.
    Woody

  11. Woody,
    It helped my vinous career by having clients like you that took great enjoyment from a good bottle of wine with dinner. We have to uncork something again down the road.

  12. What made Martha a wine connoisseur? 6 bottles for $60….what’s next?Beside the region from where it comes , it would be interesting to know the producers.

  13. Jean,
    You ask the pertinent questions. Right now I am on the trail to learn more of the Californian Chardonnay being offered. Her wine web site does not have much to say about it, other than it comes from California.
    You can track what she is offering on:
    Martha Stewart Wine Co.

  14. Okay, now you HAVE to get a box of MS wine just to see what horrors she has perpetrated. I expect a full report.

    • Jen,
      Be it the six bottle sampler, or a single bottle, I will bite. And of course will report back on what I think. As I mentioned earlier to Jean, I am looking into the background of one of her selections. In that effort, to date, I am becoming perplexed.

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