“Giving voice and life to wines from underrepresented regions”

Seth:

Hello and welcome to the latest edition of Beverage Marketing Association’s eBev Global Interview series! Interested in being featured? Drop us a line:

We’re very excited to have Robert Hayk, Founder & CEO of here with us today to look at the importance of shining a light on wines from underrepresented regions. Robert, thanks so much for being with us today!

Robert Hayk:

Hi Seth.

Seth:

Robert, can you tell us a little more about Grapes and Barley, and your mission to further the development and awareness of underrepresented wine regions?

Robert:

The last decade has seen major changes in the wine industry as winemakers invest in the newest technology and more boutique production for global markets. Yet it is still the fastest shrinking country in the world, with its population leaving for brighter opportunities.

We see working with countries like this as a win-win for wine lovers. We can do our part to invest in the success of the Bulgarian wine industry while also sharing really great wines that people will be able to enjoy any day and not just on special occasions.

Seth:

When you think about the ecological/social impacts of various winemaking techniques, are there aspects of the process you think many consumers are unaware of?

Robert:

Definitely. And this is a huge issue for us. Just like we want to know where our produce came from or if the beef we’re eating was grass fed, I think it’s important to know what we’re drinking.

That’s why starting in 2020, we’re going to begin working towards complete transparency, disclosing and educating consumers about the caloric content of our wines, sugar content, and any additives that are included in the winemaking process.

We’re also switching our glass bottles to a lightweight option to reduce our carbon footprint.

Seth:

How does G&B’s focus on being socially and ecologically sustainable influence the suppliers you work with? What about your business decisions in general?

Robert:

It’s extremely important to us that our partners are willing to work with our evolving needs as we try to implement sustainability into every aspect of our business. Fortunately, the traditions of winemaking in Bulgaria naturally align with many of our beliefs, since the common practice is hand harvesting grapes and using no animal products for filtration.

As for general business decisions, we have to take everything into consideration, from the way the wines are made, the recyclability of our packaging, to fair prices that allow for the best value possible without sacrificing the livelihood of anyone involved in the production process.

Seth:

I think we’re circling around the fact that a rapidly increasing consumer demographic truly cares about the holistic behavior/impact of businesses and their brands. And in truth, this creates an incredible opportunity for “good” businesses. How are you communicating G&B’s passion for this and reaching/empowering your fans along the way?

Robert:

As brand owners, we have few opportunities to communicate directly with our customers, since our wines have to first go through the middle men of a distributor and retailer. So we focus a lot on engaging online with consumers through social media.

We love technology and get excited about how things like blockchain, QR codes and short links can help facilitate direct communication of our values through our products.

Seth:

As we look ahead to the next 3-5 years – can you give us a few predictions about how consumers will respond to the exploration, exposure, and education around “new” or less well-known wine regions?

Robert:

I think people are already really open to discovering new regions. It adds to the story and experience of drinking when you get to explore a place totally foreign to you. I think the biggest change we’ll see in the next few years is how retailers respond to these lesser-known regions as they start to appreciate the value of offering something new to their customers.

I think the focus on region will become less and less important as we begin to realize that quality wine can come from so many different places

Seth:

Robert! Thanks so much for joining us today! I love your story and mission and wish you all the best while you continue to grow here in the US and edify consumers about the importance of underrepresented wine regions! Hopefully we will meet in person at eBev later this year.

Robert:

Thank you for letting me share our story, Seth! Cheers!

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