The True Definition of ‘Fine Wine,’ According to Fetzer Vineyards' Stephanie Peachey

7/10/2019

Stephanie Peachey

 

In recent history, we have seen the global appetite for wine explode, just as wine production has spread throughout new and exciting regions around the world. Finding the best of the best, and bringing it to businesses and consumers, is the job of Fetzer Vineyards' new Vice President of Fine Wines, Stephanie Peachey.

Peachey has a long history in the wine industry, having previously served as Vice President for brand strategy and direct-to-consumer marketing for two popular California wineries. In her new role, Peachey will continue her outreach to businesses and consumers, building strategies to help better tell the stories of Fetzer Vineyards' incredible portfolio.

In announcing the new position, Fetzer Vineyards’ CEO Giancarlo Bianchetti explained, “We saw the need for a Fine Wine Division following our expansion in South American imports in 2018, and also to address the growing interest among U.S. trade and consumers in the premium and luxury segments of the market. It was important to find the right executive to steward this portfolio, and in Stephanie Peachey, we have a leader with the experience, insight and vision to successfully build Fetzer Vineyards’ presence in the growing fine wine space.”

We recently sat down with Peachey to hear her insights into the industry today, where it’s going, and what first attracted her to the world of wine.

The American consumer is changing and embracing the way wine is purchased, talked about and enjoyed all the time, and what she preferred 10 years ago is definitely not what she wants today. This dynamic is incredibly exciting to me.
- Stephanie Peachey

Ms. Worldwide
I’ve always loved to travel,” she told us, “and early in my career I found myself visiting a number of the world’s most exciting wine regions, like Priorat, Spain and the Colchagua Valley in Chile. I was intrigued by the global wine industry and I was drawn in by the industry’s unique complexities. You have, at its heart, elegant consumer packaged goods vying with global competition, and seasonal challenges arising from the nature of farming itself.”

Having been in the industry for as long as she has, Peachey has witnessed her share of changes.

“I am fascinated by the rapidly evolving consumer behaviors associated with wine, paired with our mandate to market and sell what is essentially an ancient product,” she said. “The American consumer is changing and embracing the way wine is purchased, talked about and enjoyed all the time, and what she preferred 10 years ago is definitely not what she wants today. This dynamic is incredibly exciting to me.”

Finding Fine Wine
What is fine wine to her?

“Fine wine is any bottle that makes a special impression on a consumer,” she explained. “In my twenties, fine wine meant something very different to me than it does today. For consumers looking for fine wines, I suggest paying attention to sourcing and other informative details on bottle labels.”

Without resorting to googling all their wine options in the store, consumers can still find out a good deal about a wine from the label.

“Even if you don’t know much about wine, the more details you can glean from the label—such as vineyard name and location, farming practices including organic farming, and other details about winemaking—the more you’ll know about the care and attention that have gone into the wine,” she said. “Generally, sustainable, organic and Biodynamic® farming practices are directional indicators of quality, highlighting a winegrower’s commitment to the land—which is, after all, where quality truly starts.”

Putting Wine Regions on the Map
“I’m really excited about Bien Nacido Vineyards in California’s Santa Maria Valley, on the South-Central Coast,” she told us. “In the world of Pinot Noir, Bien Nacido has a very unique signature, and wines grown there offer a beautiful expression of the varietal and vineyard.”

She also had deep praise for South American wines, Chile in particular.

“Chile is a geographic jewel,” she said. “Long and skinny and volcanic, Chile is buffeted by the Antarctic-influenced Humboldt Current in the West and the Andes to the East. Northerly vineyards are just south of the spectacular Atacama Desert—among the world’s driest places—while southerly growing regions are influenced by the blustery Chilean Patagonia.”

Within Chile, Peachey singled out specific regions for further plaudits, saying “Limarí Valley, one of the most northerly regions for wine, is home to our incredible, cool-climate Marques de Casa Concha Chardonnay.”

She added, “Casablanca Valley, in the country’s middle, is where we grow the serious, coastal-influenced Ocio Pinot Noir. Further south, Cachapoal Valley is home to some of the most exciting Carmenère in the world at our Peumo Vineyard. We are also farming electric whites and Pinot in southerly Bío-Bío Valley, and call home the Alto Maipo region near Santiago. Here, we craft globally celebrated Don Melchor Cabernet Sauvignon in the shadow of the Andes.”

Sharing a Glass
Reaching consumers can be a tricky cast, but according to Peachey, Fetzer Vineyards is “focused on being consumer-centric and customer-driven. It’s all about a tailored approach to ensure businesses are equipped to delight the consumer.”

Communication is important, she adds, because “consumers want to know the background behind these wines, and for businesses to be able to share that and to convey the uniqueness of the wines you must have a strong relationship. We are thrilled to be in a position to bring the right attention to new world fine wines, and to strengthen their position in the fine wine category.”

 

The American consumer is changing and embracing the way wine is purchased, talked about and enjoyed all the time, and what she preferred 10 years ago is definitely not what she wants today. This dynamic is incredibly exciting to me.
- Stephanie Peachey

Sustainable Popularity
Why does sustainability matter?

“What’s most important now,” she said, “is for wineries in this industry to communicate clearly with consumers about farming practices and the positive impacts that sustainable, organic, natural, and Biodynamic practices have on the land and wines.

"We owe it to consumers to focus on facts, and to communicate clearly. On a personal note, I’ll add that this all comes back to the notion that anything worth keeping requires work. It’s why practices like sustainable operations, organic farming, land conservation, and how we treat workers and stakeholders is important.”

She added, “as a Benefit Corporation, Fetzer Vineyards has taken concrete steps to solidify its commitment to all of this; we love seeing others take similarly bold stances. It’s the right thing to do.”

Fruitful Careers in Wine
Peachey is clear about the path to success in the industry for a woman — or anyone.

“It takes drive, desire and character. Day to day, it’s important to be humble enough to admit when you don’t know something—and to be confident enough to speak up when you do,” she said.

She also extolled the importance of getting your hands dirty. “Never consider yourself above the grunt work,” she said. “If the floor needs to be swept ahead of an event, or a bathroom cleaned, then that’s just what needs to be done.”

She is also a believer in elevating others, as well as yourself.

”Encourage those around you,” she said, “and remember that your colleagues are not your competition. The competition should always be with yourself. Take mentorship from the best people around you.”

Breakthru Beverage is proud to bring Fetzer Vineyards' portfolio to businesses across the country. Talk to your Breakthru Sales Consultant today to add Fetzer Vineyards to your order and learn more about how to grow your business with these wines.

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