Introducing ASPECT, Breakthru’s Innovative Commitment to the World of Fine Wine

Mar. 8, 2021

Fine wine brands have stepped firmly into the spotlight in recent years, as wine consumers are increasingly seeking out brands they find to be high quality, and above all, authentic — and they are willing to pay more for the experience.

According to Nielsen, fine wine sales have grown consistently over the last decade, which indicates that a more thoughtful approach to fine wine sales isn’t just timely, but necessary. It is in that spirit that we are thrilled to introduce Aspect, Breakthru’s best-in-class approach to the world of fine wine.

Aspect is a new fine wine strategy within Breakthru’s North American footprint and will serve as a concierge-style service for businesses eager to capitalize on the growing fine wine trend.

Spearheading the Aspect Fine Wine strategy will be a seasoned expert of fine wine, Daren Cliff, who will serve as Senior Director of Fine Wine. Cliff’s first taste of the wine world was in 1997, where he worked for a boutique fine wine broker on California’s Central Coast. Over his decorated 23-year career, Cliff, a Certified Wine Specialist, has delivered exceptional service to a variety of businesses who were eager to win in the fine wine space.

We couldn’t be more excited to have Daren Cliff leading the charge for us on all-things fine wine. We chatted with him to get his take on the unique features of Aspect, its benefits, and the state of fine wine in 2021.

What benefits will Aspect have for Breakthru customers?

Daren Cliff: We strive to be the preeminent fine wine distributor in the country. For our accounts that have a robust fine wine strategy, that means that those customers can expect best-in-class, concierge-style service. We will be calling on the best restaurants and fine wine retailers in our respective markets and we want to deliver the same quality of experience to them that they deliver to their customers. The Aspect sales teams will be highly knowledgeable, accredited sales consultants who will have the customer’s needs as their highest priority.

What benefits will Aspect have for Breakthru’s brand partners?

The brands that are part of the Aspect portfolio have been vetted through our rigorous internal selection process. Our associates are going to get much deeper into our selected brand portfolios than a traditional sales team. They will be focused primarily against qualitative results, such as growing points of distribution and gaining by-the-glass share.

Whether it be a larger brand partner with a new luxury/fine wine strategic team or one of the many small-to-medium partners who have lived in this space for years, having Aspect will give them laser-focused connectivity to the right businesses.

How has fine wine been impacted by COVID-19?

It’s no secret that the pandemic has turned the on-premise channel on its ear. Those restauranteurs that have made it thus far have had to pivot immensely, operating basically as a retailer during the worst of the shutdown periods. Meanwhile, brick-and-mortar retailers and e-retailers alike enjoyed exceptional growth during the pandemic as at-home consumption increased.

While there has been strong growth over the last year in many categories for beverage alcohol, fine wine posted some of the highest increases. The ultra-premium category grew 26% in 2020, luxury and super-luxury grew 23% and 24% respectively, while the Icon category ($50+) grew 53%.

Any fine wine trends to keep an eye on?

I think that the demand for quality and authenticity is only going to increase, as today’s fine wine consumer wants to be told a story. They are looking for a more nuanced knowledge about what they are drinking than in the past, and this bodes well for the family-owned wineries who have actual vineyards and a winery that can be visited as opposed to just a wine brand. 

What excites you most about Aspect, and about the future of fine wine at Breakthru?

What excites me most is that we are answering a siren call with speed. Among the larger, multi-state distributors, there is nothing quite like what we are launching with Aspect. I feel it’s a true differentiator that will help us stand out in the fine wine space. The second most exciting part of this is that it is basically a startup and the energy within the organization from the senior leadership team down to the individual markets is just incredible.

We are launching a first-to-market cohesive sales strategy within a successful larger wholesaler that is focused squarely against a single category — fine wine — which I consider to be a true art form.

What’s not to be excited about?