Sherwood Estate Wines celebrating 25 years of winegrowing

Wine Competition Policy

Wine competitions and tastings have been something of an enigma for us over the past 20 years.

A few years back, we made the decision to no longer voluntarily enter wine shows (competitions) or comparative tastings in magazines that charge an entry fee and/ or marketing fee.

Our reasoning’s for not entering shows, competitions and tastings are many and varied.

Over the last 20 odd years we have entered and won many medals and accolades for our wines, which was useful early on for the company, but as the years have gone on we believe the usefulness of these are no longer relevant for us. The benefit was always short lived and confined to that wine only. In fact I believe the winning of these medals and awards has been detrimental to the long term development of Sherwood Estate.

In our situation, basing marketing activity on winning medals is very short term and prevents the understanding of the many unique selling points of Sherwood Estate. It’s always an easy option for a sales team to sell wine on medals/points etc rather than spending time understanding the long term attributes of the wine and wine company, to the benefit of long term sustained sales.

A few very successful wine companies do use the medal strategy successfully. When done, it has to be all out entering every conceivable competition and then sustained over a number of years.

One of my main reasons for the negativity of wine shows, is that I believe they are ultimately detrimental for the consumer as well as the producer, as they don’t encourage consumer self experimentation of the many and varied wine styles of the world. Many of the most interesting wines in the world are never entered in competitions and comparative tastings.

What these shows are doing is encouraging a similarity of style, generally styles that show up well in shows. So we are ending up with producers making wine for shows rather than consumers. This is leading to the homogenisation of wine as well as the commodification of it – this is certainly not what we as a company are about.

Another of my gripes which most consumers don’t realise is that all wine competitions/shows, comparative magazine tastings are businesses in their own right with the specific objective of making money for the organizers, rather than providing a service to the consumer as they are sometimes marketed. Entry fees for the shows can cost many hundreds of dollars for a single wine, if medals are won there are extra compulsory costs of promotion such as write ups and photos for medal brochures etc, these costs run into thousands of dollars for a single wine.

I used to believe the benchmarking aspect of entering shows was a positive, however for the same reasons as above eg similarity of style, homogenisation - I now don’t believe this. We as a company do our own internal benchmarking using wines from all over the world with varying styles. We actively encourage and pay for our winemakers to attend as many domestic and international tastings as possible.

Dayne Sherwood
Managing Director
Sherwood Estate Wines

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P.O. Box 100, Church Road, Waipara 8270, New Zealand