Domaine du Grand Mayne
Join us and have the fun and involvement of being an owner in our French vineyard and wine business.
We make award-winning white, red and rosé wines, and then supply these wines direct to consumers and high quality restaurants. The vineyard is situated in the Côtes de Duras, 50 miles east of Bordeaux; beautiful south-facing slopes planted with the classic Bordeaux grape varieties.
We intend to invest in the vineyard, the winery and the brand, to make Domaine du Grand Mayne a destination location for tourists and wine lovers, so enhancing our reputation.
The company's shareholders will be members of an exclusive wine club. As members, they would benefit from significant discounts on wine purchases, and on renting the vineyard villa. Events are also planned for shareholder members in the UK and also at the vineyard.
The company has a system allowing members to benefit from the significantly lower French duty rates, by buying and collecting our wines for their personal consumption from either the vineyard or our warehouse in Calais.
Our grape harvest from 2014 is expected to produce 165,000 bottles, although our existing winery is able to process more than 300,000 bottles each year. Our goal is to increase the annual output from our own vineyard to 250,000 bottles. We will do this by planting new vines and maximising our production quality.
If we are successful in increasing the demand for our brand more rapidly, we anticipate supplementing our estate-grown wines with high quality grapes selected from neighbouring vineyards.
History shows that this plan is quite attainable for the vineyard: Andrew Gordon, who owned Domaine du Grand Mayne until 2007 and has since rejoined as one of our directors, achieved annual production of approximately 300,000 bottles, with most of the sales going direct to consumers.
As well as increasing the quantity of wine under the Grand Mayne label, we will seek to increase our sales volumes and sales margins by further increasing the quality of our wines. We offer our wines at two levels: an entry level and a premium level fermented and matured in oak casks. We expect increasing our focus on our premium level wines would further increase our annual turnover.
As with any wine producing business, the vineyard soil (terroir) is a vital factor in determining the quality of the wine. Our south-facing slopes occupy one integrated area and the soil is a mixture of clay, limestone and sand. We consider these soils ideally suited to the production of quality wines, because the soil retains water deep in the ground to feed the roots. The deep root growth also improves the physiological maturity of the vine and the grapes. Since 1985 Grand Mayne wines have won over 100 medals, and this is a great testament to the standard of the most fundamental component of our vineyard: the earth.
The right vineyard site is complemented by our experienced team of winemakers: a talented young French winemaker and an experienced South African Wine Director.
Substantial accomplishments to date
Late in 2013, our new company was set up to buy the French company Sarl Grand Mayne, which had suffered from several years of poor management by a previous owner, and was in a difficult position with its banks and creditors.
Since then, our accomplishments have included:
1) creating financial stability and security for the company: bank loans and creditors have been fully settled
2) overseeing a full year of smooth vineyard management, a successful harvest in 2014 and a renewed focus on high quality winemaking
3) recruiting and appointing a very experienced and very relevant board of directors
4) completing a new branding image for the Domaine
5) winning two awards at Paris for our wine
6) starting the renovation of La Maison, our 6-bedroom villa at the vineyard
7) setting up new trade accounts with restaurants in the Duras vicinity
8) re-engaging with over 8,000 potential UK customers
9) rationalising the stocks of wine at the vineyard
10) building a new website
The most important part of our income is, as you would expect, from the sale of our wines. The vineyard has traditionally sold through a variety of channels, although our focus for 2015 and beyond will be to concentrate on direct sales to consumers and sales to restaurants in both France and the UK.
Other sources of income that we plan to develop include:
1) letting income from the vineyard villa,
2) rental income derived from other assets and machinery owned by the company (ie using our sophisticated harvesting machine to pick grapes for other vineyards),
3) other sources of income relating to wine tourism and events held in the UK and at the vineyard.
Wine sales will always be the major source of income for our business, although we believe that careful development of vineyard tours, harvesting and other events will be highly complementary, and will form a key part of our long term business model.
Unlike many early stage businesses, we have considerable assets already to back our business. The property assets we hold include:
• 80 acre vineyard, planted with mainly Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet vines
• a 6-bedroom/6-bathroom villa
• a 4-bedroom manager’s home
• further accommodation within a stone barn
• a large winery building complete with 300,000 litre capacity stainless steel tanks
• underground wine storage cellar complete with oak fermentation and maturation barrels
• other buildings including a shop, tasting room and office
• tractors, harvesting machinery and a full array of vineyard and winery equipment
• the equivalent of over 300,000 bottles of wine, either in bottle or in tank
Protecting and enhancing these assets will be a key focus for the management of our business, as they provide an important layer of asset protection and security for our shareholders.
Use of proceeds
The funds we raise will be used both to enhance the assets that we already own, and to improve the market position of Domaine du Grand Mayne.
Firstly, we will be planting new vines throughout the vineyard. Our vineyard is planted predominantly with Sauvignon Blanc for the white wines, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc for the reds. We will implement a programme of replacing any low yielding rows entirely and in-filling on other rows.
Secondly, we are committed to investing in our facilities to create an improved customer experience for visitors. We are also refurbishing the villa, which can be rented by shareholders and others. And we will be increasing our expenditure on new oak casks so that we can increase the proportion of our wines within the premium range.
Finally, we will be investing a small proportion of the funds in marketing strategies aimed at enhancing our brand reputation and vineyard sales.
Domaine du Grand Mayne has an interesting and unusual history, and this history is at the heart of our marketing plans for our new era.
Andrew and Edwina Gordon bought Domaine du Grand Mayne in 1985 when it was overgrown and semi-derelict. They had recognised the excellent potential at the site and so they set about transforming it into an award-winning vineyard and business.
One of their winning ideas was to create a membership system for the vineyard, whereby individuals became members, joined in with harvest and other vineyard activities and, importantly, bought a big proportion of the annual production. The Gordons showed how involving members in the life of the vineyard could be a successful arrangement for all concerned.
Whilst we think the owners from 2007 through to 2013 appear to have let slip the good work carried out by the Gordons, our research indicates that there is still a strong bond between the original membership and Domaine du Grand Mayne. Accordingly, we are engaging with the original membership set up by Andrew and Edwina, and re-establishing the community involvement that was so much a part of the business originally.
In short, a key component of our marketing is to build up a community of individuals who will buy wine direct from the Domaine, either with delivery direct to customers’ doors or through collection from Calais or the vineyard. The community of buyers will come from the original membership set up by the Gordons and from new shareholders, their friends and family, and from individuals who visit the vineyard. (Please note: to qualify for full shareholder discounts and entitlements there is a minimum investment of £500.)
We also plan to sell our wine through more conventional sales channels, including local retailers and restaurants, and to high quality restaurants throughout the UK.
Characteristics of target market
Domaine du Grand Mayne produces a balanced range of white, red and rosé wines designed to appeal to the wine-drinking public. By selling wine direct we can provide excellent value, and even offer personalised labels. We believe our entry-level wines are perfect for everyday drinking, the oak-aged wines, whilst being affordable for most wine-drinkers, are of sufficient quality to be served on more prestigious occasions and to complement food.
Wine buying tastes change slowly over time. Yet our grape varieties and wine styles should be broad enough to protect us from such shifts, especially as we have the services of a talented young French winemaker and a Wine Director, Martin Meinert, who has many years experience of viticulture and winemaking in South Africa and elsewhere throughout the world. With their combined expertise we aim to adapt to market trends and tastes.
Our board also benefits from the experience of Andrew Gordon and Philip Addis, who both ran successful wine companies in the UK.
Grand Mayne is already selling its wine locally in France as well as in the UK, Belgium, Germany and Scandinavia. We plan to build on these contacts and others, but the key to success is in re-establishing the market direct to consumers in the UK.
This was previously very successful and a good database already exists but we will build on that via new shareholders, and through an effective on-going communication and PR strategy using social media as its core.
New branding will be incorporated into all aspects of our external profile, including a new wine label and bottle presentation and an effective web presence. The new website has been built with high-level SEO engineering, and will enable on-line wine ordering both for collection in France, either in Calais or at vineyard, or delivery to the UK.
Wine tourism would also be developed alongside the rental of our own vineyard property as a key to the market development in this part of France which attracts many tourists through the summer months. The vineyard is in the Lot et Garonne, a popular area for British and northern European tourists.
Local restaurant sales will form an important part of the brand building process, as will be our commitment to winning medals in wine competitions. The vineyard has already won more than 100 medals and we realise this is an important quality endorsement.
Our directors have good contacts in the UK industry to help achieve good listings in the UK restaurant sector both through distributors and on a direct basis.
There are other French vineyards selling direct to the consumer, but we think few will have such an effective web based platform and experienced leadership in terms of winemaking, sales and distribution.
We believe we can be one of the best. When the vineyard was first restored in 1986 it was a pioneer in involving the consumer directly with the opportunity to participate and share in a vineyard experience. Now we are taking it one stage further with the offer of an actual share in a vineyard in a part of France that is easy to visit and enjoy.
It is a great compliment to the vineyard that we expect many of the original vineyard enthusiasts to invest in Grand Mayne.
The infrastructure at the vineyard which consists of a fully equipped "chai" (winery), barrel cellar, offices, winemaker house and six bedroom rental property are excellent. They give us a base for providing shareholder benefits, entertainment, and specially arranged visits allowing members to stay at the vineyard.
Further investment is required in the vineyard to ensure optimum quality is maintained and improved upon and that production levels increase.
This is key to the future financial success of the vineyard. We are also planning a number of events designed to add value and enjoyment to the wine buying experience and build sustainable relationships with our shareholders and customers. These may include UK based winemaker dinners, a grape harvest festival and blending and winemaking experiences.