An Interview With Denis Mackenzie
When it comes to marketing wines and spirits, there’s no better person to take care of the task than Chief Operations Officer Denis Makenzie. With an international marketing company that caters to clients worldwide, as well as providing local services in France, Italy, Greece and the United States – we simply couldn’t pass up the opportunity to get to know a little bit more about the man behind the winery.
How did you get into marketing?
After graduating from college, I began working at entry level in a small marketing company that worked to help local businesses to expand their commercial reach. I quickly discovered a passion for the role and learned skills that enabled me to develop innovative ideas and strategies of my own. Moving forward I changed jobs (to work for an international marketing firm that specialises in fine wines), began travelling and working overseas, and started the wheels in motion to fulfil my dream of opening a winery of my own.
Did you achieve your dream?
Yes! In 2001 I purchased my very own winery near my hometown in Pennsylvania. The wine growing region in Lake Erie was already close to my heart, so as soon as an opportunity presented itself, I grabbed it with both hands. I had a good understanding of the wine industry, a passion to create my own produce and had hands-on experience through previous work that helped me to deal with the inevitable challenges.
What does it take to run a successful winery?
That’s a good question. I had general marketing experience on a local level, as well as internationally specializing in wines and this really prepared me for opening my own business. I was lucky to develop a passion for wine making.
I quickly learned that being fluent in both French and Italian would enable me to communicate better with my international clients (with these being some of the biggest wine distributers in the world), and I made sure to ask lots of questions and get advice from the guys on the front lines of the industry to ensure that I was well-armed during the set-up of the winery and before the grand opening.
Of course it wasn’t an easy endeavour and it definitely took a few years of hard graft for the winery to become profitable.
How do you reach your target market to run a profitable winery?
Any successful wine-making business will aim to make a profit by making good quality wines; product sales are imperative. We reach local and nationwide clientele by generating good publicity and by sponsoring and hosting charitable events – and we also ensure that our grounds are available for booking for weddings and special events, too.
Having a strong connection to the local industry has definitely been a valuable part of both growing and maintaining a successful winery, too. Our region offers visitors the ability to create self-guided tours of the available wineries and this has been especially helpful when maximizing our reach.
We are now looking toward branching out even further (we distribute internationally to a range of European countries already), and with Australia firmly in our sights – be sure to watch this space.
Interview with Denis Mackenzie on 28 October 2018