Through personal contact with customers and an ongoing passion for wine, WIV Wein International AG has become the world’s number one group of direct wine-selling businesses
WIV Wein International AG traces its roots back to the year 1675. What initially started as a family-owned vineyard has grown into an internationally successful group of companies with more than 4000 employees and sales partners around the globe.
Despite the changes that it has undergone over the centuries, the company remains family driven and ever-focused on (the distribution of) high quality wines, with Katharina Pieroth leading Pieroth Estate, a subsidiary of WIV Wein International AG and Andreas Pieroth operating as chairman on the supervisory board of the group.
While the history of WIV dates as far back as 340 years, the company’s success as a pioneer in direct sales began approximately 60 years ago, when brothers Elmar and Kuno Pieroth revolutionised the way wine was distributed into the homes of customers. Today this way of operating remains a key pillar of the group, as David Samuel, Member of the Board at WIV Wein International AG, notes: “The concept of direct sales of WIV is based on personal and non-binding wine tasting at the home of customers. Quality of wine, long-term experience, optimal service and professional advice are the requirements for our business success.”
Worldwide wellpositioned for the future
The core business consists of the distribution of fine wine, sparkling wine, champagne, and spirits. The company is one of the pioneers in the German direct sales segment and has also set the trend in terms of globalisation; today, the companies and brands of WIV are represented in 16 countries over four continents. Service companies for logistics, touristic and trade fair construction round up the service offering of the group of WIV Wein International AG.
Elaborating on the other services provided, David continues: “On top of direct sales, the group pursues a multichannel strategy to satisfy the growing requirements of the markets. With the specialist market chain Vino, we are also entering into the internet wine trade via www.vino24.de; we shape market trends, especially addressing young customer segments. Moreover, the British trading house Hallgarten Druitt Novum Wines as well as the Japanese subsidiary of Pieroth (Wine way) delivers wine to trade, hotels and upscale restaurants in Great Britain and Japan. The core of WIV’s business is in Europe, a quarter of sales relate to Asia and the Pacific region. The most important markets are Japan, Germany, UK and Switzerland.”
Quality and service – the foundation of success
By having its own vineyards and wine cellars the group can lay quality foundations for the successful sale of its own wine right back to the production stage, as Katharina Pieroth, Managing Director at Pieroth Estate discusses: “Mild climate and geological diversity are distinctive features of the Nahe wine growing region, where our Pieroth Estate is located; this area offers ideal conditions for wine with character and our vineyards are situated in the charming countryside with lush meadows and rough rock formations. Good wine is created first and foremost in the vineyard, which is why we put the highest value on nature-orientated care of soil and grapevines; in the cellar we restrict ourselves to little necessary interference in combination with modern cellar techniques. In addition to this vineyard, we count some of the region’s recognised top locations among our vineyards.”
Alongside the wines produced in own vineyards, WIV also sources over 1000 wines, juices and spirits for its sales companies and external customers through its own international oenologists. The company is buying bottled wines from wine estates but also has its own cellar and bottling site in Germany to ensure full quality control when bringing the carefully selected bulk wine or juice to the bottle or when producing and bottling its liqueurs. The comprehensive services which WIV has started to provide successfully also to external clients in UK and Germany include sourcing of bulk wine, bottling of wine, manual extra services to the packaging and finally logistic services such as warehousing and delivery through its co-located subsidiary top-Logistic. “The broad range of high quality services we offer combined with our passion to make it happen for the customer has helped us to continuously increase the bottle volume in our production and logistic facility over the last years and we see a great opportunity to further grow also the business with external clients,” says Meike Schmidt-Krenz, Head of Central Purchasing and Sales B2B at WIV.
Thus WIV is fully prepared and committed to inspiring customers with the quality of its wines that are both produced by the group’s own vineyards as well as sourced by well-reputed suppliers. With its own experienced wine buyers located in Germany, France and Italy, all of which are oenological experts, the group makes strong long-term relationships with key suppliers from all over the world. The wine suppliers of WIV are regularly visited by wine buyers to ensure the quality standards match the group’s own high levels; location, cellar, technical equipment are inspected and validated and ongoing quality control and permanent personal contact remain the base of a well functioning business relationship between WIV and each supplier. For over 20 years – since the end of apartheid – WIV has been regarded as a specialist in South African wines. “To start with, there was just the renowned wine house of Boland Kelder in Paarl, followed over the years by other famous partners which supplemented and rounded off the selection, the latest addition being Klawer Cellars from Olifants River. With the addition of wines from the estates of Groot Constantia, Meerendal and De Krans, WIV succeeded in marketing famous varieties exclusively far beyond the borders of South Africa,” explains Meike.
Having won numerous awards at national and international competitions, the company has earned a sterling reputation for delivering wine of a consistently high standard. This reputation, alongside a passion for wine and close relationships with customers, suppliers and service providers resulted in sales of 450 million euros in 2015.
As a family run group with a reputation for delivering outstanding customer service that matches the impeccable quality of its wines, the future looks ripe with opportunity for WIV as it continues to focus on direct contact with clients and improve competitiveness. “We also want to reduce our dependence on internal business by increasing the level of profitable external business and, of course, by continually improving the quality of our products and services,” concludes Meike.