J.W. Sieg Wines
J.W. Sieg Wines is a family-owned and –operated wine distribution business based in historic Charlottesville, Virginia. Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, the company has been in operation since 1962, when James Wallace established the operation. His son, Terry Sieg, joined the family business later on and took over operations in 1975. While wine was the original focus of the company, JWSieg took a 20-year hiatus from the spirit to focus on the distribution of other beverages. After serving as an Anheuser-Busch distributor for a few decades, the company has shifted its focus back to wine.
Terry’s daughter, Ashley Sieg Williams, now owns the company with her husband, Smith Williams. The couple works with a staff of 25 including eight salespeople covering territory in Virginia and Washington, D.C. Geoff Hoffman, the company’s vice president and general manager, has worked with J.W. Sieg for more than 20 years. He began working for the family as a sales representative and now applies his experience and expertise in a leadership role.
“Ours is a bit of a comeback story,” Hoffman explains. “A few years ago, when we decided to transition back into wine, we grew too fast.” Now, the company is rebranding. With growth under strict watch and new technology to improve efficiencies, the business is on track for mounting success.
“Having to rebuild was a challenge for us,” says Hoffman. “We have spent a lot of time nurturing relationships both with our suppliers and our customers.” Now that JWSieg has struck a happy medium, the focus has shifted to growth. The business is consistently working to improve and maintain a variety of wines that cater to the demands of the market.
High-end boutique California wines make up around 10 percent of the company’s portfolio. The rest is primarily mid-range wines. “Buyers are drinking the $15 bottles of wine,” notes Hoffman. “We are always looking for new wines from all over the world. We have just partnered with Vintage Epicure in New York City, a marketing and import company that is helping us bring in more wines.”
The selection spans the globe in origin. While the business represents some of the better known wine markets, such as France, Italy, California, and Spain, emerging markets include Chile, Argentina, Australia and Germany. While these less famed wine destinations have been producing the good stuff for centuries, American oenophiles have a growing appreciation for the varieties produced there.
JWSieg also has a large selection of domestic wines, including inebriants from producers coast-to-coast. California, Oregon and Washington are all accounted for as well as New York and local flavors vintaged at home in Virginia.
Over the coming months, the business is taking on a number of initiatives to ensure steady, controlled growth. JWSieg is launching its own private label wine through a partnership with a vintner in Argentina. The team is already doing some in-house labeling for some suppliers as well as design. This initiative promises to deliver a value-oriented variety while helping the team build the brand up.
“Right now we lease space in big warehouse,” Hoffman adds. “We want to buy land and put our own warehouse up. Right now we direct import and consolidate containers, which is extremely expensive for the distributor. My idea would be to store more here in the U.S. and not charge people an arm and a leg. That will allow us to cut costs and pass some savings along to our customers. It’s a win-win for us and the wine industry.
Throughout all the ongoing changes, Hoffman and his colleagues are utilizing technology to improve efficiencies. Through a state-of-the-art ordering system, the business is better able to manage inventory and expenses. On top of that, customers can order wine through JWSieg’s online portal, which also allows users to keep track of orders and revisit popular wines.
JWSieg is catering to customers – a practice that has kept the team going strong for more than 50 years. Accommodating a range of taste and price varieties is old hat for the newly rebranded business, which will continue to focus on high-quality wines from all over the world.
As the company grows, JW Sieg Wines maintains a focus on customer satisfaction, service and value in international wines for the Virginia-Washington, D.C. market.