Monday, December 3, 2012

The Okanagan's first independent wine brokerage opens

Photo: Wine broker Mark Wendenburg

Veteran Okanagan winemaker Mark Wendenburg and his wife, Jacquie, have launched the Okanagan’s first independent wine brokerage, a business whose time has come.

Industry reports suggest that the 2012 vintage in British Columbia was a record 35,000 tons. That is expected to generate surplus wine, leaving wineries scrambling to sell excess volume.

The Wendenburgs have come along at just the right time. Within days of launching WineAspect B.C. Bulk Wine Brokers Ltd., they were dealing with a couple of dozen clients. “It has been very well received,” Jacquie says.

The WineAspect website currently includes these wine offers:

·                            2012 Chardonnay    5,863 Lt                     $ 5.40 per litre
·                            2012 Pinot Blanc      3,177 Lt                      $ 4.10
·                            2012 Pinot Gris        10,137 Lt                    $ 5.10
·                            2012 Syrah                15,017 Lt                    $ 6.50
·                            2012 Gamay Noir     9,200 Lt                     $ 5.50
·                            2012 Pinot Noir        1,100 Lt                      $ 8.00
·                            2008 Mad. Sylvaner/Mad. Angevine 1,100 Lt

There are also five inquiries from producer that want wine; and Jacquie says that additional offers and requests are being processed.

“Every winemaking country in the world has bulk wine brokers,” Mark says. “We do too. The big wineries have them but there isn’t anybody for the smaller wineries … and some are not so little.”

The idea came to him because he had begun fielding requests in his other business, Wendenburg Wine Consulting, to handle bulk wine sales (and he did a few transactions).

“It is such a different business that I thought it made sense to start it on its own,” he says.

So he teamed up with his wife. She handles the administrative chores while Mark makes sure the wine samples are sound and marketable.

Mark, who was born in Penticton in 1961, the son of a grape grower, has been involved in the wine industry since 1980, including training in Germany from 1982 to 1987. On his return to the Okanagan, he worked at Brights Wines and then became involved a trial sparkling wine project at what is now the Blue Mountain winery.

In 1992, he joined Sumac Ridge, taking over, among other duties, the production of Steller’s Jay sparkling wine. He left Sumac Ridge in 2010 to become a consulting winemaker, with Blasted Church Vineyards and Backyard Vineyards now his major clients.

Jacquie was born in Switzerland and met Mark when he was working at a winery there. She brings a rich background in customer service and administration to the wine brokerage business, including 10 years as an international flight attendant for Swissair.

“He is going to be the front man and I will do the leg work,” Jacquie says.

The strength of their business includes the credibility that Mark has earned within the industry. He is someone that everybody trusts, and in the business of trading wine, that counts for a lot.

Many wineries already trade or sell wines but there has never been a well-organized brokerage before.

“There are other places where people can advertise [wine] but there wasn’t one go-to person,” Mark says. “We really want to help the wine industry. I know how tough it is for big companies and small companies because I have worked for both of them. [I know] how hard it is the manage volume: it is either too much or it is too little, and you have to try to manage it. This is the way.”

To begin the process, a winery will send Mark samples, along with a technical analysis of the wine. If Mark decides that the wine is sound, the offer goes up on the WineAspect website. Mark and Jacquie will handle negotiations, confidentially, between seller and buyer. When a deal is completed, they will charge each party 3% of the sale price of the wine. There is a flat fee of $100 to each party if the volume handled is 500 litres or less.

The buyer is encouraged to do his own technical analysis and Mark keeps a spare sample of the wine to ensure there are no changes in the wine between the offer and the sale. However, WineAspect itself does not guarantee the wine.

Wineries have various reasons for selling bulk wine. It may be surplus to their blending needs or to their portfolio. They may have made the wine because they agreed to take extra grapes offered by one of their growers. They may need a bit of cash quickly.

Similarly, the reasons for buying someone else’s wine are numerous. A winery may need to fill a hole in its portfolio; or complete a blend; or put together blends for export.


At October 2, 2014 at 10:49 AM , Blogger Ben De Jager said...

Hi John I'm Bed de Jager from Columbia Gardens Vineyard & Winery and are looking for a 1000L of Merlot bulk wine

Please contact me on or at 2053677493


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