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Ideas behind Villa Sandahl

1.   Vision

2.   Model companies

3.   Image

4.   Business strategy

5.   Consumer segments

6.   Market channels

7.   Target groups

8.   Wine Style

9.   Competency

10. Genesis Vineyard

11. Varieties

12. Cultivation

13. Wine making

14. Technology

15. Quality

1. Vision

Villa Sandahl Kft is a new player in a traditional wine region, which has been growing vines since the roman empire (at least). Needless to say, it is important to refine the specific terroir opportunities and all accumulated values from the past, but it is equally important to bring in new approaches where significant progress have been made all over the world since the old times.

The behavior among wine consuming people is under constant evolution and has changed drastically even in the latest decades. It is necessary to keep up with offering a product that is recognized for being attractive and competitive.

To keep energized and passionate in the long run, it is also vital when producing wine, that the owners of Villa Sandahl themselves adores to drink their own wines and enthusiastically like to present their thrilling story.

All together, Villa Sandahl has the vision:
 

Villa Sandahl's vineyards has the potential to bear such grapes,
which vinified by the best equipment and methods available,
results in wines with chance to be recognized on the world wine markets,

as one of the best dry white wines.
2. Model companies

To succeed to realize the vision and all other values referred above, Villa Sandahl must:

  • Applying quality- and business skill

  • Create profit margin by customer satisfaction

  • Find the right people (and get rid of the rest)

  • Don’t fear new thinking

  • Be energized and passionate

  • Keep persistent and long-term

 

Models from other business professions are such companies as Toyota, Ikea and Google.
They are interpreted as reliable, serious, persistent, long term, inventive, market oriented and quality driven.

3. Image
There is an image concept called 'out of the box'. Inside the box  there are such companies and persons, which are mainstream and rather easy to predict. For example Brittney Speers and soap operas.

Outside of the box there might also reside companies and persons. They are much more unique and harder to keep track of. If their products and offerings are strong and high in demand, their customers like them, because they are creative and don't follow the majority. Examples of 'out of the box' are 'Monte Python's Flying Circus' and Lars von Trier films.

From the early start in 2004, Villa Sandahl has in fact acted very much 'out of the box'. How many finds the most amazing vineyards in Hungary, how many starts a wine production without any degree from schools, who wins several Decanter medals after a few years, etc.

Villa Sandahl has actively taken the decision to strive for uniquely high quality, implying that an 'out of the box' position would be highly beneficial. A recent example is to apply a unique label for each wine and vintage. This is introduced by the 2010 wines, and has been enthusiastically received from critics and customers.

4. Business strategy

It is a fact in most parts of the world, that cheap and low quality wines have lesser and lesser demand. Wine is more and more seen to fill a life style and being a source of adventures, instead of a cheap way of getting drunk. Consequently, low quality wines are exposed for a hard price press and risk to get unprofitable to produce.

On the other hand, and quite contrary, high quality wine have a lot better profit margin. This fact has a lot of reasons, and amongst other can be mentioned the scarceness of ultimate vineyards, the difficulties to find necessary competency, and the timeless problem to get quality into all parts of a wine production.

High quality wines have good margins but will always be a very limited volume on the wine market. Villa Sandahl's vineyard has the potential to give the necessary grape raw material for excellent quality wine. Thus, the preferred business situation for Villa Sandahl is to produce relatively small amounts of very high quality wines.

The company structure being established consists of one Hungarian company, called Sandahl Viticult Kft. to cultivate vineyards and one Hungarian company called Villa Sandahl Kft. to produce wine, and one Swedish company, called Sandahl International AB, to be the 'umbrella' company marketing the wines.

5. Consumer segments
Comparing with basic food, water, shelter etc, wine is a not product that is necessary for survival. Because of that, wine can easily be excluded and replaced by something else, and consequently a wine products get rather sensitive for any kind of influences, e.g. fashion, trends, politics etc. One way to structure wine consumers into segments, is to look on how they use wine:
  1. Drinking wine to get drunk
    Anything containing alcohol is suitable.
  2. Drinking wine to be social (intoxication as the glue between friends). People and accompany is more important then the wine, e.g. ordinary parties.
  3. Drinking wine to bring a feeling (beyond intoxication). The wine has a role in the arrangement, e.g. a good dinner with fine wine.
  4. Drinking wine to create an experience. The wine is crucial for an arrangement, e.g. the food depends on the wine
  5. Drinking wine as a passion. Wine is the centre for arrangements, e.g. a wine tasting of rare quality wines
  6. Drinking wine to show prestige. The price tag is crucial, e.g. cheering after signing an agreement

No

Segment

Quality

Appearance

Satisfaction

1.

Boozing

Low

Tetra

Drink to get drunk

2.

Social

Ordinary

Bag in box

Drink to get more sociable

3.

Emotional

Selected

Nice bottle

Drink to make life richer

4.

Enthusiastic

Premium

Design bottle

Drink to get excitement

5.

Passionate

Ultimate

Unimportant

Analyze to get a nerd

6.

Prestige

Unimportant

Prestige bottle

A way to show power

A lot of other segment models could imagined, but this rather simple segment model is good enough.

6. Market channels
In previous chapter a consumer segments model was defined, ranging from simple to advanced usage of wine. As a wine producer you now have to meet this customer demand by appropriate wine products. And the trick is to estimate what the customer is prepared to pay to get the satisfaction referred in the table above. Estimated consumer prices and other logistics are given in the table below.

Note, that consumer prices are referring to countries with functioning competition and insignificant excise taxes. For example Sweden with a monopoly, all prices are 3 € higher.

No

Consumer segment

Quality

Con-sumer price

Typical distributor

Order volumes

1.

Boozing

Low

-> 2 €

Bulk
suppliers

Truck-loads

2.

Social

Ordinary

2 - 5 €

Chain stores,
monopolies

Many pallets

3.

Emotional

Selected

5 - 8 €

Ordinary retailers

Few pallets

4.

Enthusiastic

Premium

8 - 20 €

Specialised retailers

Part of pallet

5.

Passionate

Ultimate

20-200 €

Niche
retailers

Single cases

6.

Prestige

Un-important

200 € ->

Prestigious traders

Single bottle

Comments to the segments:

  1. Boozing. Wine produced in Europe gets too expensive for this segment.
  2. Social. Many Hungarian producers are targeting this consumer segment. To get profitable, the wines must be modern and stream lined and production must be large-scale and cost efficient. The Swedish monopoly Systembolaget is also performing best in this segment, and are quite good to support its producers (but very poor in promoting higher segments). The conclusion is that Villa Sandahl must make a quality that surpass this segment.
  3. Emotional. This segment still cover rather big volumes and can generate substantial sale. However, to be profitable as a small producer, the higher end of this segment ought to be reached. This is typically the Villa Sandahl blended wine segment.
  4. Enthusiastic. Now the sale volumes are considerable lesser than previous segments, but the margins are great. This is typically the Villa Sandahl single vineyard segment, but to sell Villa Sandahl’s even modest production of around 5 000 bottles for this segment, many European countries must be covered.
  5. Passionate. To come up to this cult segment, it is more or less necessary to get support from influential writers and critics. Villa Sandahl produce vineyard top selection wines for this segment.
  6. Prestige. The producers of this segment are either well-known producers since centuries ago, or tiny boutique wineries producing surreal quality wines. This is a volatile segment, since trends and hype all the time change.
7. Target groups

From previous chapter table about consumer segments, a lot of facts were presented, such as consumer satisfaction, wine quality, profit margin and ordered volumes. From all presented facts above, Villa Sandahl has decide to select “upper emotional”, “enthusiastic” and lower "passionate" segments to be the most important.

Target groups

Consumers

Quality

Price

Volumes

  Boozing Low -> 2 €

Truck-loads

Social

Ordinary 2 - 5 €

Many pallets

Villa Sandahl
target groups

Emotional

Selected 5 - 8 €

Few pallets

Enthusiastic

Premium 8 - 20 €

Part of pallet

Passionate

Ultimate 20-200 €

Single cases

 

Prestige

Unimportant

200 ->

Single bottle

The most important group in Villa Sandahl target groups is consequently the “high emotional”, the “all enthusiastic” and "low passionate" consumers, which below are called the “wine loving people”. However, there are certainly a lot of other groups and players around them, which are important when to deal with the wine loving people, see the table below.

No

Villa Sandahl targets groups

Product
channels

Information channels

1.

"Wine loving people" (high emotional, all enthusiast and low passionate)

Quality retailer,
Internet shop

Web site,
Face book,
Newsletters

2.

Prestigious restaurant sommeliers

Sample bottles

Personal contact,
Newsletters

3.

Wine journalists

Arrange tasting

Tell a good story

4.

Wine critics and wine challenges

Submitting bottles

-

Comments to the Villa Sandahl target groups and channels to reach them:

  1. Villa Sandahl first mission is to satisfy wine loving people, looking for such wines that offer them something extra. That might be Villa Sandahl’s unique and successful history, the wine value for money or the trend for quality Riesling. Wine loving people are somewhat price sensitive, but if the quality and image is obviously attractive, these people can be pushed to pay more then they usually do. Channels are:

  • Quality retailers promoting us and convincing the customer.

  • Internet shops are very cost efficient, since all middlemen are eliminated.

  • E-mail newsletters are good to push the customer to reflect and buy.

  • Web sites, Facebook and other modern media should not be overlooked.

  1. Sommeliers at restaurants are another target for Villa Sandahl, since Villa Sandahl wines go very well with food. Also prestigious restaurant sommeliers are excellent ambassadors for Villa Sandahl.

  • Personal contacts seem to be the only way to set up a restaurant contact.

  • E-mail newsletters for professionals are good maintenance of a contact.

  1. Journalists are another good ambassador for Villa Sandahl, and an article is much cheaper than an advertisement of the same size.

  • A good story and a attractive image is essential to reach this target.

  1. Wine quality is not very transparent and easy analyzed by people in general, resulting in a shortage of reliable advises and guidance. This is provided by wine critics who thereby get very influential, thus making up an important target group for Villa Sandahl.

  • There are many wine challenge arrangements, and it is important to select the influential, such as The Vine Advocate, Decanter and Riesling du Monde.

8. Wine style

Villa Sandahl always have to consider making different types of wine for their different target groups, or try to make compromises that many target groups are ready to accept.

As an example of this conflicts, is the two target groups “wine loving people” and “wine critics” which has slightly contrary preferences:

Wine critics

Wine loving people

They are a bit conservative and traditionally correct
 
They are easier to flatter, and skip correctness
"Wine to food must be dry" "Pour any good wine available"
"Noticeable sugar is undesired" "Some sweet body is preferred"
"Acidity must be noticeable" "Acidity may not be disturbing"
"Wines must be region typical" "Typicality not a big matter"

Most wine loving people prefer a boost of the body with some residual sugar (5 - 7 g/l). This is a bit over the detectable level when tasting, but clearly within the EU definition for dry wine. However, for wine critics this sugar level might be (a couple of grams) too high. Consequently, Villa Sandahl ferment the blended wines to higher residual sugar to satisfy wine loving people, and ferment the single vineyard wines with less sugar to catch the critics and more “classic” wine loving people.

Furthermore, Villa Sandahl don't want that their wines should be referred to as “sour” or “acid”. This means that the acidity level should be moderate (5 - 7 g/l, or about the same amount as for sugar) and that the acidity should be round and ripe. This is mainly achieved by late grape harvesting.

On the other hand, acidity brings elegance and freshness. Villa Sandahl’s “soft acidity” approach above must consequently be balanced by a “fresh acidity” contrast. This is obtained by selecting the “mineral acidity” Riesling variety as the optimal variety of choice, and to avoid malolactic fermentation (which anyway doesn't go well with Riesling). Without this acidity boost, wine critics should be sceptic to the wine style of Villa Sandahl.

Volatile acidity in excess levels can be regarded as a flaw in a wine. However, in a moderate level (0.4 - 0.6 g/l), volatile acidity release the smell and brings complexity to the wines.

Late grape harvest cause the sugar to rise, which means that the alcohol level can get high when fermenting to dryness (above 13%). This is not a big problem if the wine is rich, so that the alcohol can be hidden among a lot of other supplying components. Despite this, Villa Sandahl must avoid a too high alcohol levels, since health care institutions see high alcohol levels as unfashionable.

Producers to hold up as models for preferred wine style might be Hirtzberger and FX Pichler from Wachau and Zind-Humbrecht from Alsace.

9. Competency

The Villa Sandahl owners are::

Thord Sandahl from Värnamo in Sweden, has a genuine experience of business and leadership, being president of the large size Swedish family owned transportation corporation Sandahlsbolagen AB.

Christer Sandahl from Lund in Sweden, has a long experience of official wine judgements in the Swedish wine association Munskänkarna, and has collected and tasted rare wines from all over the world for over 25 years.
 

One of the most important areas for to succeed with an efficient quality operation, is to find the right people.

Villa Sandahl entrepreneurs:

Zsolt Palkó is the site manager on Villa Sandahl. He has both economic and wine education, making him ideal to both plan and follow-up everything on our site, and to be the careful wine maker taking care of all quality details of our wines.
 

Dedicated consultants:

Gunnel Sandahl is the wife to Christer Sandahl. She is consultant in computer laboratory programming and always takes part in the harvest and pressing at Villa Sandahl.

Fabien Stirn from Sigolsheim in Alsace. He is a talented wine maker of the fifth generation, producing superb Alsace grand cru wines. He is the invaluable oenological consultant for us.

 

Dedicated subcontractors:

Soós Katalin is our wine broker in the Budapest area. She helps our restaurant and shop customers with samples for tasting and she  is pleased to take wine orders and make wine deliveries.


 

10. The vineyards

Badacsony is located on the northern shore of lake Balaton in the western part of Hungary. The distance from Badacsony to Budapest is around 200 km, which also is the distance to Vienna in Austria and Zagreb in Croatia

The Badacsony hill is a remnant of volcanoes, which were active four to five million years ago at the end of the Pannonian epoch. The area was once covered by the Pannon sea, which later was the ancestor of the Danube river. That is why sedimentary rock can be found under the volcanic rocks. The geomorphology of the area is very varied, it comprises bigger and smaller basins, basalt and lime-stone mountains.

The Balaton lake, with an area of almost six hundred square km, is much younger, just slightly more than twenty thousand years old.

The first vineyard to be acquired by Villa Sandahl is consequently called the "Genesis vineyard" (former Zsuzsanna vineyard). It is one of the steepest slopes of the Badacsony Hill. The vineyard is 3.4 hectares, has a gradient of about 1:5, and is straight south-facing. Villa Sandahl regard this vineyard to have the same potential as many famous vineyards in Alsace and Wachau.

The more recent acquired vineyards of 6.6 ha are all closely uphill and a bit western to the genesis vineyard, and of the same high or even better quality characteristics. Villa Sandahl is thereby the biggest user of premium vineyards on the Badacsony hill.

11. Varieties

All vineyards are planted some 30 years ago. Genesis was planted with Rhine Riesling and Pinot Gris, with some additional Zeus. Solitude and Bishop Backyard are planted with Rhine Riesling. Earl Ridge is the only vineyard planted with Olasz Rizling. All the other are planted with Pinot Gris (Szurkebarat).

Villa Sandahl have recognized that all vineyards have the hottest and driest microclimate of the Badacsony hill. Thus the vineyard seem to be a location favorable for both white and red varieties, either sun loving white varieties or early ripening red varieties.

The late ripening Rhine Riesling is found to be the perfect white grape match for the hot microclimate, and is also worldwide highly regarded as a quality variety. Villa Sandahl will proceed with this variety as the major target.

Villa Sandahl runs an improvement program to engraft the other varieties (Zeus and Pinot Gris) into Rhine Riesling or other more suitable varieties.

12. Cultivation

When to producing a top quality wine, it is crucial to have control in the vineyard and for example limit the harvest yield. Fortunately, there has never been any overproduction in the Villa Sandahl vineyards since the current vines were planted 1983, so there is no big need for any challenging changes in this matter.

Currently the standard for Villa Sandahl is to take out 4 ton per hectare, corresponding to about 25 hectoliter wine per hectare. This is a very modest yield, which maybe considered to be heighten a bit without scarifying wine quality.

Harvest and pressing is a substantial risky moment and must be supervised down to details. Grape clusters must be cut off gently, carefully placed in small collecting boxes, which may not be over filled. A grape that get even the smallest rip in the skin, starts to oxidize, which erodes the wine quality.

13. Wine making

One of the most important moment in white wine making, is the grape pressing procedure. Villa Sandahl press whole clusters (without destemming) gently and slowly for several hours.

During the ongoing pressing, Villa Sandahl applies the method to separate the must in several fractions of different grades. After pressing is finished, a first judgment can be made if to mix any of the fractions or to ferment all of them separately.

The fermentation is done very slowly in a reductive environment, in months rather than weeks. This enriches the wine considerably as well as the required low temperature keep freshness and bring elegance to the wine. There is never a need for malolactic fermentation.

To control the fermentation speed, temperature must be continuously watched and controlled. All wines being under fermentation is measured and ana lysed every day.

After fermenting, another judgment is made which tanks is up to standard for selected wines and what must be declassified to blended wines. Qualities below blended wines is not sold under the Villa Sandahl label.

Bottling is done in sterile environment into stylish bottles, and without compromising cork quality.

14. Technology

A quality wine is the result from impeccable treatment by adequate technology.

In the vineyard the Carrera TRX 9400 AC tractor with low gravitation centre and wide balloon tires is the key enabler. To the tractor connects sprayer, crass cutter and sprout cutters.

The grape press is essential for making white wine. Villa Sandahl use an old Wilmes 6000 press, which is run manually controlled and adapted all the time to the juice quality tasted at the collecting tray.

Some producers use large casks to be traditional and/or enable some micro oxidation. Villa Sandahl avoid wood, because the fear to strip down the elegance and to accelerate the maturation of the bottled wine. Villa Sandahl use only stainless steel tanks, many of them with movable top, because fractions differ in volume for every vintage.

To be able to measure in an efficient and accurate way in a stressing reality, Villa Sandahl acquired an analyzing instrument named "Oenofoss" from a Danish company. From a wine sample drop this machine deliver the nine most common measurements with enough accuracy within a half minute.

To ferment and bottle the wines, Villa Sandahl has a close and long term cooperation with the Szeremley vinery in Badacsonytomaj.

15. Quality

Quality control is one of the most crucial aspects when to produce great wines. The overall difficulty is, that quality can not be separated out as a stand alone activity performed by a certain person or group. Quality must instead be understood and interwoven in every part of the operation by everybody working in the Villa Sandahl team. To everybody's help, the operation is described in a detailed manual.

First of all, the value chain of the Villa Sandahl operation is captured and understood. This is a map of every activity important for the quality, from the very first planning of the vineyard, all the way through green work, harvesting, pressing, fermentation, and up to the wine is in the bottle and consumed by a satisfied customer. Se the presentation introduction power point that explains this more in detail.

After capturing the value chain, all spots in the chain  influencing on wine quality is identified. After that, a prioritized plan is established, describing which spots having which quality weaknesses and in what prioritized order to improve them.

Finally and most difficult, the decided quality improvements have to be implemented in the real operation. The improvement can for example be to acquire better equipment, sometimes to change supplier etc, but most often it is to deal with changing the way people think and work. This is often considered to be a painful transition, but when Villa Sandahl has decided what must be done, there is commitment and patience until the implementation has proven to be in place.

The above quality work is not a one-time-activity, but must be continually repeated as a "continuous learning and improvement" concept. To not improve and learn, is in best case to stay still, but if competitors are moving forward, then yourself are moving backward relatively to them.

Villa Sandahl Kft
8261 Badacsony
Római út 203/1
Hungary

Sandahl International AB
Box 2045
331 02 Värnamo
Sweden

  Swedish