“GLASS HALF FULL.”
– Mark Gmur, CWE
It would be too easy to write about the massive layoffs, furloughs, closures and downright depressing days we have been through the few months. It would be easy to hang your head down and wonder when this will end, when will things get better? The longer this pandemic goes on, the more we all see that there is no “easy fix” to this. There is no magic rebound in sight. But the glass is still half full.
When we started The Mark Wine Group in 2007, we did not see the Great Recession of 2008 coming. I those days, there was a big difference between who we were then, and the difference to what is happening today. Back then, we had nothing to lose. Anything we did was “plus business” (because we had none), and we had already planned to lose money the first year, so it actually wasn’t too bad. The next twelve years was spent building a wonderful team, and a fantastic business, and we grew with the times. We have all taken a very heavy punch in 2020 with the onset of the pandemic. The hardest thing has been witnessing up the personal devastation this has wreaked upon the livelihoods of so many great people in our industry. In comparison to 2008, this downturn hurts a lot more. But the glass is still half full.
This is unchartered terrain, but this is not forever. We know that things will come back, maybe a bit slower that we wanted at first. So, we need to do everything we can to prepare for the better days that are coming. In addition to managing the business, we are now very focused on storytelling of our brands, and on building and at the same time, strengthening our personal connections. The glass is still half full.
We have undertaken a COVID-19 program with our supplier partners and buyers aptly named “Let’s Stay Connected”, where send two curated wines each week. The response has been nothing short of HUGE. We knew that the extra time people have would allow them to really digest the wines and information we have been sending. So far, we are ten weeks into the program, and along the way we have created a magnitude of touch points for our supplier partners with their brands. Based on the success of the program we may see this becoming a mainstay of operations at The Mark Wine Group. The glass is still half full.
One other very bright spot for us has been our platform called “The Tasting Room”, which is essentially our online Tasting portal, where you can meet and taste with our winemakers. We started this initiative in 2015, long before video tastings were popular. Once the pandemic started our attendance has jumped from an average of 15-20, to more than 50 per event! During the pandemic we have hosted tastings with Charles Smith, NFL Legend Charles Woodson – a Saké tasting called “Keep Calm and Umami Online, and “A World of Bubbles” with Freixenet Mionetto USA. Upcoming tastings include a barrel tasting of our exclusive Pinot Noir with Fess Parker called The Bear and Star, as well as an estate tour and VVIP tasting at the incredible King Estate. We have been able to host a couple of hundred people through The Tasting Room so far, and we have been able to perfect how we do these moving forward. The glass is still half full.
Last, but certainly not the least, this time has allowed me to reach out personally to all our wonderful buyers and to reconnect with everyone we do business with, one-on-one. That is really energizing for me.
Our industry is full of incredibly talented, vibrant, creative people. It is with you, with them, that the next chapter in our business is already being written, and we are proud to be a co-author! Our glass will always remain half full, and with that – let me raise my glass and propose a toast to the better days ahead of us, and coming out of this stronger and more resilient.