Promotional efforts of muscadine wines and muscadine-related products: the case of southern United States wineries
Faculty of Business and Law
School of Marketing, Tourism and Leisure
Muscadine grapes are native to the southern United States, where they have been grown and consumed for generations. Apart from extensive coverage provided in scientific research concerning their healthy properties, to date very little has been researched about other areas of the muscadine grapes, muscadine wines and related products. For example, in an era when the 'local' aspect of foods can have a strong impact on both consumers and food growers, very little has been researched from an entrepreneurial, marketing and (wine) tourism perspective. In this context, academic literature investigating winery operators' efforts in promoting and selling muscadine products through the cellar door is almost inexistent. The present study examines this area from the perspective of 31 operators of family-run wineries located in several southern states. The findings demonstrate agreement among respondents about the critical need to promote the 'local' aspect of muscadine wines, as well as other value-added muscadine products. Some operators refer to the need to support local/state farmers following 'buy local' slogans, while others are reacting at consumers' demands for local products. Arguably, as more muscadine wineries are established in some of the southern states, muscadine wines may become more popular and more accepted by mainstream consumers. However, muscadine winery operators are confronted by several challenges such as the lack of resources and support to invest in or expand their promotional efforts; in some cases, state legislation prevents operators from distributing their products outside the cellar door. With so many wines and other beverages consumers can find in retail stores and in the hospitality industry today, the strengthening of current promotional efforts at the cellar door and introducing consumers to a relatively unknown local product (as compared with Vitis vinifera wines) become critical for southern winery operators.