Home Wine Business Editorial Sales & Marketing Open the Gate: Gain Consumer Converts with “Gateway” Wines

Open the Gate: Gain Consumer Converts with “Gateway” Wines


Age notwithstanding, new wine consumers can be found — and courted — by offering
a variety of products and presentations.

By Robin Shreeves


Wine consumption is “growing at a slower and slower pace,” reports San Francisco Chronicle. In response,the industry needs to pull in new drinkers, wherever and whomever they are, to increase the pace of consumption.

Brands that understand they need entry level, or “gateway,” products in their portfolio to entice wine novices, no matter what their age, are in a position to bring in new wine drinkers and build brand loyalty. These products can be approachable traditional wines, low alcohol offerings, RTD spritzers or coolers, or alternatively packaged wines. Anything that attracts curious newbies.

Know What Consumers Want in an Entry Level Wine

14 Hands, part of the Ste. Michelle Wine Estates portfolio, finds out what’s important to consumers before creating products or campaigns. 

“Each year, we focus on improving our understanding of what’s important to our consumers — including the content they engage with, the occasions where they are consuming wine, and where they are shopping — so we can have our product and our campaign message wherever they are,” says Amanda Wygal, brand marketing director.

Wygal advises brands, large and small, listen to what consumers are telling them. “They’re telling us they want variety in format and taste profile; they want authenticity and transparency; and they want brands to meet them where they are,” she says.

14 Hands’ bottled and canned Unicorn Collection is a great entry point for new wine drinkers. The wine is fruit-forward and approachable. 

“Starting at about $15 per bottle and $6 per can — and ranging from our slightly sweet Unicorn Bubbles to crisp and refreshing Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc to our juicy red blends — there’s something for every taste preference,” she says.  

Wygal says the brand, and the way it’s being marketed, is paying off for the portfolio.

“We are seeing some early success in recruiting consumers from other beverage categories and in bringing in younger wine drinkers to 14 Hands through our non-traditional marketing,” she says. We’re very intentional about making wine fun, approachable, and easier.”

Target a Diversity of Drinkers

VSPT Wine Group is a leader in premium wine and sparkling wine sales in Chile and the Argentinian domestic market. Its varied portfolio includes GatoNegro, a producer of semi-sweet, red, white and rosé wines, all under screwcap.

“VSPT offers to consumers in the entry level category the much-loved Gato Negro brand, which has a long history and is a great favorite among consumers in the domestic market in Chile,” says Andrés Tauber, president of VSPT US. 

While the GatoNegro brand is an entry level wine, it’s not targeted at the youngest legal drinkers. Tauber says its target market is people over age 35, and of the wine group’s 20 brands, it’s their biggest in the United States. 

Gato Negro’s marketing also encourages diversity and inclusion across age, race and gender/orientation lines, supporting many LGBTQIA+ initiatives and NGOs. (In the US or in Chile?) “Find Your Flavor, Show Your Pride,” a previous US campaign, included a digital media contest and a “bath &body” party. The brand is planning a new activation for June’s 2023 NYC Pride March which will include a digital media campaign and influencers.

“Our commitment to diversity is not only about attracting new consumers but is also an organic and deeply held part of the brand’s DNA,” says Tauber.

Remove Intimidating Barriers to Entry

Mario Mazza, vice president and general manager of Mazza, a Pennsylvania winery in the Lake Erie AVA, knows bringing in new consumers is imperative for the winery to “make wine for money, not with it.” 

He says, “Whether it’s a sweeter wine, whether it’s canned products, whether it’s products with a different look and feel, we need to appeal to different people.” 

Mazza creates a different look for its wines by creating various labels under its brand. Bare Bones Wines is a label for wines that are approachable to people who are newer to wine. The collection has one red, one white, one rosé and one slightly fizzy semi-sweet Moscato — all broadly appealing wines. And, like Gato Negro, all the bottles are under screwcap.

Mazza believes that putting wine under screwcap or offering it in cans removes a barrier to entry for wine novices. “Consumers don’t need a corkscrew, and they can open the wine wherever they are,” he says.

Mazza’s Perfectly Bubbly, a Prosecco-style sparkling wine, is now under crown cap, removing the intimidation of popping a cork on a bottle of bubbly. The Pennsylvania winery also has a line of bubbly wine in cans, the Getaway series. And, like the Bare Bones brand, the wine retains quality, but remains simple. There’s one red, one white and one rosé.

Creating a variety of approachable products, embracing the diversity of drinkers and removing intimidation from wine are all ways to meet drinkers where they are and invite them into the space that wine brands are asking them to enter. 


Robin Shreeves
Robin Shreeves

Robin Shreeves

Robin Shreeves is a drinks journalist and lifestyle features writer. Her wine writing has appeared in dozens of print and online publications including Wine Enthusiast, VinePair, Courier Post, Carpe Travel, Spirited Magazine, Edible Philly, Vintner Project, Edible Jersey, USA Today, and Drink Philly. She holds a Level 3 wine certification and Advanced Wine Speaker certification from the National Wine School.



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