A+ Wine Designs gets boost when striking ‘oil’

SAN DIEGO – Common knowledge says oil and water do not mix. Oil and wine, to the contrary, is a different story.

Case in point is A+ Wine Designs, an established California-based provider of custom labeling and etching on bottles of wine and champagne. Since last November, when A+ Wine Design added bottles of olive oil (and vinegar) to its product offerings, the company has validated the notion that man shall not live by wine alone. The new “oils” product lines at A+ Wine Designs will likely account for as much as 20 percent of the company’s orders in 2013.

While Michael McCarron, President at A+, could claim a talent for oil divining, he credits the company’s successful product roll-out to a more inherent skill: Listening.

“The number of requests for alternatives to wine grew over the years,” McCarron said. “It’s important to be ready for change and to keep changing. So we went for it.”

The company’s November 2012 introduction of olive oil and vinegar products was too late to catch that year’s holiday push, but that may have been a blessing. December is historically the company’s busiest time of year when etched and custom-labeled wine and champagne fits handsomely with corporate gift-giving. It’s the time of year when A+ Wine Designs stretches its resources and adds staff to make sure every order is filled.

Instead, the oils introduction began in earnest at the 2013 PPAI Expo. Then it was primarily a matter of making A+’s existing customers aware of the new option and making the most of a variety of media streams to get the word out. Adding to the interest is a marketplace that’s becoming increasingly health conscious.

“People are more into moderation and less about volume,” McCarron said. “The health angle of red wine is talked about a lot. Now olive oil has been proven to be good for your heart and gets a lot of attention. ”

McCarron acknowledges the competitive nature of his business and thus the perceived health benefits of wine and olive oil is but one part of a successful business formula. The company’s goal is to answer phones live, provide quotes in an hour and provide the quality customers expect when price-per-bottle starts around $20.

“Ours is a ‘wow’ product that’s as much due to the quality of labeling and etching as what’s inside the bottle,” McCarron said. “This business is more high tech than people realize, but that’s how we are able to give attention to every detail and to provide fast turn-around.”

And do the new “oils” get that same “wow” reaction as do the wines? “I’m not so sure about that,” McCarron said, “but feedback has been very good. So far it looks very promising.”