The wine-making process, from crushing of grapes to fermentation, is thousands of years old. But these days, in an age of globalization and ever more sophisticated consumers, selling wine demands a modern approach.
Take Summerhill Pyramid Winery, for instance. The British Columbia-based vintner has begun accepting Alipay to make it easier for Chinese consumers to bring home a bottle of Brut Rose sparkling wine or Spadefoot Toad Syrah.
The number of Chinese group tours to Summerhill’s vineyards in the Okanagan Valley — think of it as Canada’s Bordeaux or Tuscany — has been growing steadily for two decades. So it was only natural that the company would find a way to better serve these customers.
It’s a nimble move for a company that operates in an industry not known for its quick pivots, at least when it comes to business development and marketing. But these types of initiatives go hand-in-hand with the ethos brought to Summerhill when the winery opened in 1986. Founded by “émigrés” from New York, they pioneered winemaking in the Okanagan and, rather than merely replanting European grapes, turned the vineyard into a bona-fide tourist destination, with wine tours, a guesthouse and an organic bistro.
A dedication to organic winemaking has produced a number of award-winning vintages over the years, bringing further recognition to the valley. It was this global recognition that began to draw Chinese tourists in the first place. Now, Summerhill is paying particular attention to China’s wine lovers as the country has edged out the United States as its second-largest market after Canada.
Summerhill’s exports to China began nine years ago, its wine first reaching consumers through distributors. However, Cipes recently decided to try e-commerce there given it has proved to be a strong sales channel in Canada and the U.S.
That means leveraging the 9.9 Global Wine & Spirits Festival on Tmall. The festival will bring attention to a lot of the winemakers and liquor companies on the site, which can help to elevate the Summerhill brand among Chinese consumers. But it’s also a chance to figure out the process of bringing Summerhill wines to China, including logistics and warehousing and serving customers, in order to create a seamless shopping experience.
There are also two live-streamed broadcasts planned from the vineyard to introduce Chinese consumers to Summerhill’s wines, one later in September and the second just before the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival in November.
Summerhill itself is eager to make a real impression with Chinese wine drinkers as well.