The Current State of International Wine Marketing

Annika Lindburg, Staff Writer/Online Productions

Alex Gambal, owner of Maison Alex Gambal winery, majored in History from UNC Chapel Hill and began a career in real estate in Washington DC. Gambal attended viticulture school in Beaune and decided to move to Burgundy, a region in France, in 1993.

“He is the first American to have purchased and made wine from a vineyard. Alex is a friend to many people in the Oregon wine industry  ” Linfield College President, Thomas Hellie said.

Gambal did not exaggerate the dire circumstances his winery is in. “We are producing wine way under our production costs and this is a problem. One of the biggest problems problems is we don’t know how many acres are in Burgundy,” Gambal said.

Hectares are a metric unit of square measure and Gambal stated how few barrels he’d been producing. “Been producing around ten to 20 hectares. Instead of producing around 22 barrels per hectares, we’ve been producing around four to nine barrels per hectares,” Gambal said. “Around 60% less than what we need to break even,” Gambal added.

Gambal mentioned how the cost for producing wine is equal. “All of the wine costs the same to farm. 8 or 9 thousand an acre. This year it costs around 12 thousand an acre,” Gambal said.

Part of the problem is the unpredictable weather. “Hail, super hot weather, and a drought have contributed to this problem. I lost close to 80 percent of my vines due to the unpredictable weather” Gambal said.

Gambal explained how Beaune produces wine and the changing world of the wine industry. “Beaune is primarily an export project. We don’t sell direct. We are at the end of the food chain. Low yields and high fix cost equals burgundy is changing. The cost is going up while the supply is going down. “It is a seven times coefficient, because we have to export,” Gambal said.

Gambal does not know what the future of the wine industry holds and is curious to see how it all folds out. “Fascinating to see how it all falls out in the next ten years,” Gambal said.

Gambal does realize the dire situation he is in and knows American’s tastes are predictable. “Could lose and will lose market share. People can’t get enough of Pinot and Chardonnay. American’s love sugar. American’s love Coca-Cola,” Gambal said.

Gambal provided some insight into the behind the scenes of his vineyard. “We have hail insurance. After the deductible, it about covers our cost of production. We make our money off the bottle. Everyone’s cost is the same, everyone’s rent is about the same. Most people don’t own their own vines. They are rented,” Gambal said.

Gambal ended his talk on a solemn note. “I don’t know the solution. It’s never been like this before. If we have a normal harvest, it’ll be two to three years before were back in balance,” Gambal said.

The talk was a part of the Wine Lecture Series which features speakers from around the world covering diverse topics in wine.