Making the people happy

27 June, 2008

Maverick winemaker-cum-marketing guru Willi Opitz is a man on a mission. "We don't want to make the people drunk, we want to make the people happy," he says, pushing the corners of his mouth upwards.

Opitz's marketing spiel is pat but extraordinary. He's repeated the same stories so many times that he often asks "have you heard the story?" before embarking on a tale, and has laminated visuals to illustrate them. "We don't send samples, we like to look people in the eye," he says, "and that's what we call direct marketing."

Perhaps the most unusual story is his mission to break into the US market. Without the budget for advertising or consumer research, he did the next best thing: read the US newspapers to see what everyone there was talking about. At the time it was 1996 and Bill Clinton was about to be elected to his second term. "So we said, let's go into the vineyard on election day, which was Nov 4, and we can pick grapes and call the wine Mr President," he says. He delivered the wine personally to the White House and afterwards ended up meeting Clinton in Vienna.

For every wine you taste with Opitz he will give you a food match: a teaspoonful of Granny Smith mousse to bring out the zesty green apple in Pole Position Welschriesling 2007; spicy mango chutney highlighting floral, perfumed notes in Muscat Ottonel 2006; and a strawberry that meets its match in Pink Kiss Pinot Noir Rosé 2007.

Website: willi-opitz.at

Contact: +43 2175 20840,

winery@willi-opitz.at




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