Anyone who has had the privilege of trying Mexican wines can tell you that they are fantastic. The Valle of Guadalupe, just outside of Ensenada in Baja California is home to some of Mexico’s premiere wineries. Every year in September, the Association of Viniculture organizes “Fiestas de la Vendemia”, a month long festival promoting wines from the region. Unfortunately, many of these boutique wineries do not receive the exposure or the distribution that they deserve. The problem has been getting these wines into the hands of consumers on the other side of the border without charging exorbitant import and distribution fees.
I recently came across a company who is looking to do just that – selling wines from Baja’s finest boutique wineries by utilizing a unique e-commerce business model engaging their customer base with social media. Baja Wines was founded in San Diego, California and Ensenada, Baja California in 2010 by Marvin Nahmias and Roberto Tame. The two entrepreneurs made a decision to launch the company after years of living in the United States and being unable to find the wines they were looking for.
While Baja Wines is their most recent endeavor, the pair already had a great deal of experience with their other e-commerce site in Mexico, www.agoten.com. The deal-a-day site for wines was a huge success, so the transition over to Baja Wines wasn’t a difficult one. Nahmias explains the advantage of the “Direct2U” business model, “We had to help the vintners sell wine in the US direct to consumer, and try to “transfer back” most of the gain to them to permit them to grow. We had to do this in a selected group as costs are very high, and we wanted this great region to be known in the states. We built the business model, organized around 15 vintners that represent 33% of the wine production in our country (95% comes from Baja Region), and were able to help them take their wine to the states and start selling Direct to Consumer.”
Social media has played a big role in connecting Baja Wines with their customers. They are extremely active on both Facebook and Twitter (follow them @bajawines) , and frequently send out updates about specials or new wine additions to their loyal followers. When asked about how social media has impacted their business, Nahmias says “At the end of the day, when buying a wine online, you consulted Robert Parker, chateaus, Michelin. Today, we consult the person closest to us that “knows” something about wine. That’s where we want to be. I ask my partner Roberto every time I try a new wine, I don’t ask or review until I hear my friends or trusted sources, this is the new face of selling wine. Its measurable, it’s hard to do it right. We measure everything. We do strategies, not tactics, and truly use the medium as a multi-way communication channel, not just one way.”
For those readers who are unfamiliar with wines from the Baja region, Nahmias has the following recommendations, “I’ve tried all, really, and all are great. I personally love XikBal Cab Blend with a sandwich, torta or hot chilli spiced mangos (try it!), with mole it goes great. I love Amado IV, el Sombrero if I can afford it, and a Paulinha. The Ensambles from Paralelo (Hugo D’Acosta) are always a favorite in my house.” Baja Wines currently delivers to 20 U.S. states and hopes to expand its distribution footprint even further by next year. As more and more Americans discover wines from Mexico, Baja Wines is sure to be a key player in the Mexican wine industry.