With beverage alcohol retail sales spiking strong during the Covid-19 pandemic, there has never been a better time for Beaujolais Nouveau to uncork a holiday season. “This year has been challenging for our industry—between Covid-19 and the endless tariff battles we’re facing—but with unprecedented wine sales at retail since March, we see a tremendous opportunity for Beaujolais Nouveau this month,” says Dennis Kreps, co-founder of Napa Valley-based Quintessential Wines, which imports Georges Duboeuf ($13-$15 a 750-ml.). “Nearly all of our Duboeuf business is earned through our retail partners so we see incredible potential as November brings colder days and more at-home drinking occasions.”
Sales Uptick Expected
Retailers are gearing up nationwide to kick off a yearend season like no other. “The pandemic, most likely, will be beneficial to Beaujolais Nouveau sales in retail stores,” says Olivier Kielwasser, category lead for wine at BevMo, a retailer with nearly 170 stores in California, Washington, and Arizona. “Off-premise traffic is up. The wine gives people a reason to celebrate at the end of a difficult year. Many Beaujolais Nouveau Day parties have already been planned on Zoom, leading shoppers to look for the wine in stores as opposed to going to an actual event.”
BevMo is taking a multi-faceted approach to marketing Beaujolais Nouveau this year. Besides in-store displays, the retailer will advertise the wine in print, feature it online, and in email blasts as a traffic driver, and integrate it in a food and wine pairing guide. “Beaujolais Nouveau performed well in 2019, thanks to strong consumer demand and displays placed close to the entrance of the stores,” Kielwasser says. “We anticipate an uptick in sales this holiday season.”
The Beaujolais Nouveau buzz this year is humming early with wine consumers. “Beaujolais Nouveau is a celebratory wine, and we’re already seeing a response from consumers on our social channels, eager to celebrate with us,” Kreps says. “With many families unable to gather for Thanksgiving this year, we expect the dynamic to change, but for Beaujolais Nouveau to offer a consistent, comforting presence as the stores turn to their holiday displays.”
Retailers continue to quickly evolve and embrace technology to remain connected with customers amid Covid-19 challenges. “Some markets are still offering socially distanced events on and around November 19, where allowed, but for others, we’re seeing innovative virtual experiences, including pre-recorded guided tastings, as well as live events,” Kreps says.
Quintessential Wines is launching its first-ever national consumer contest, The First Wine of the Harvest—Cork Contest. All Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau 2020 corks coming into the U.S. this year have been marked with a code, offering the buyer a chance to win prizes, including a grand prize of a premium Georges Duboeuf personal wine cave, a large wine fridge that holds 200-300 bottles. “We’re supporting the program with digital and print advertising, social media engagement, in-store displays and eye-catching point of sale for our retail partners,” Kreps says.
High expectations exist for this year’s Beaujolais Nouveau. “We expect the wine to be on par with last year’s cuvée which was very good, with notes of red fruits, especially raspberry and blackberry,” Kielwasser says. “Beaujolais Nouveau has become rounder and more aromatic. The grapes used to make it now have higher sugar content as a result of generally warmer growing seasons. This leads to a wine more structured, less acidic, and more in line with today’s consumers’ expectations.