I have yet to have the honor to meet Shimshon Welner, in person, but Mr. Welner was very kind to take the time from his very busy schedule, as you will see soon, to talk with us about the kosher wine industry as a whole, his wine company, and the underserved market for kosher quality wine under 10 dollar. As you talk with Mr. Welner you cannot help but be impressed by his obvious passion for this industry, but also for his equally obvious self confidence and knowledge when it comes to selling into the ever growing kosher wine market.
I have recently been talking with my friends about the kosher wine market, the plethora of options, and the deep and real fear I have around the number of wineries going kosher. In Israel, for the longest time, the majority of wineries were non-kosher, while the majority of wine sold in Israel was kosher. That being on account of the largest wineries being kosher, who produce over 90% of wine in Israel:
- Barkan- Segal
- Golan Heights (Yarden)
- Galil Mountain
Many if not all of these wineries started off kosher, for a myriad of reasons, with a strong contributor being the ability to sell the wine to anyone and anywhere. That is a fair amount of wine that needs to be sold to an already well defined and limited group of Jews. Yes, religious Jews are buying wine more than they used to, still more and more wineries are starting kosher wine production. Many of them producing wine in the category that I call “death valley”, the wines with a rating of 84-90, that cost anywhere from 18-30 or more dollars. The scary part, is that the very large majority of all kosher wine out there fall either below 85, which makes it almost unsellable, or above it, but at a price point that just adds more product to the already yawning gap of under 90 point wines. Above 90, people have a desire to try it a few times, and may well continue to buy the wine, if they like it. Under 90, the wine will be bought maybe once as a way to try something different, but once they realize the product is inferior, they will not buy it again. So why the fear? Because 10 years ago, we would have been begging and screaming for this potential nightmare, but now it is getting to be a real potential problem.
You see there are three legs to the wine selling business, price, quality, and consumer. If you have a low priced and high quality wine that anyone can drink – you have no problems. If you have a high priced and low quality product that anyone can drink, you have some issues. If however, you have a low quality product with a high price and even lower consumer base, by not making the wine kosher, you are in deep trouble. You see, there are many hundreds of thousands of bottles of wine out there that a non-kosher wine market can sell, and they are often better and cheaper than their kosher counterparts. There lies in the conundrum that I am deeply fearful of. That is why I was so excited to speak with Mr. Welner. Read the rest of this entry