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Gonzalez Byass to be world wine supplier

Published:  12 June, 2009

Gonzalez Byass hopes to transform itself into a worldwide supplier of wines with agencies from all the major wine producing countries, according to its director general Jorge Grosse.

It is hoping to build on the succsss of Jackson State, which it took from New Zealand last year and offer more of an international wine solution for retail buyers.

"We want to become more of a global operator and are therefore looking to work with people in Champagne, Chile, Argentina, Italy, Australia, South Africa. We will have more respect amongst wine buyers if we are seen as wine specialists and not just about Spain and sherry," said Grosse.

He conceded the group has some way to go in establishing itself as a significant wine supplier in its own right, particularly in the UK, and that many of its Spanish brands are largely unknown here.

"People know our sherries, but not our wines," he said. "We need to open their eyes to them. That is our biggest challenge - to be as successful with our wines as our sherries."

It strengthened its wine team last year with the arrival of Suzanne Strain as wine director and former Great Western Wines chief, Mike Paul, joined its board.
Grosse is confident, following the acquisition in 2008 of major Spanish producer, Vinas del Vero, that it now has a range of both traditional Spanish varietal and internationally-blended wines capable of serving all the competitive price points in the UK, above £5.

The key now is to get distribution for brands including Vilarnau, its cava range, and Finca Constancia from central Spain. The deal signed last month with Matthew Clark to look after its sherry portfolio and wines including its Altozano range will certainly help.

Its Beronia range, from Rioja, and aimed at the on-trade, has a new label and design and a selection including indigenous varieties new for the UK market. "We want to be innovative and interesting," said Grosse. "Having a good product is a given in this marketplace, you have to have quality at every price category."

Grosse is confident the company's focus on the long-term, shaped by what is now the fifth generation of the Gonzalez family, is right for these times. "The first decision point is not about return, but about long term success," he explained.

It will, he stressed, only work with a number of companies it can manage.