The days of hotels serving the same restaurant-quality beer, wine, and drinks may be over. More hospitality companies are creating custom cocktails, brews, and even private labels to stand out and craft a more memorable guest experience.
In line with this trend, Benchmark—a developer, manager, and marketer of independent, soft-branded, and experiential hard-branded resorts, hotels, and conference centers—has partnered with a California winery to create its own exclusive collection: Mō zāik. Named after Benchmark’s Mosaic travel and lifestyle journal that nods to the company’s culture, Benchmark partnered with Monterey-based Scheid Family Wines to source wines specifically for its hotel and resort collection.
“Our goal was to partner with a company that not only shared our family values and culture, but also could create a single origin, 100 percent estate-grown product,” explains Patrick Berwald, vice president of food and beverage for Benchmark.
Scheid Family Wines uses a sustainable winemaking process, which is better for the environment and cost effective for both the winery and Benchmark. “They’re using wind turbines to control the temperature of their grapes and their vineyards. They’re using reclamation ponds, which gather enough rainwater that is used to feed the crop. That whole message of sustainability is important to what we do and to the consumer who connects with it,” Berwald says.
The Mō zāik collection features four different wines: a Pinot Noir, a Cabernet Sauvignon, a Sauvignon Blanc, and a Chardonnay. The wines began rolling out to all Benchmark hotels at the beginning of May, and hotel teams were trained to tell the story of the partnership to add to the overall guest experience. Scheid is also assisting in training Benchmark’s team members about the process for creating each wine in the Mō zāik collection.
Berwald adds that Benchmark has launched other resources surrounding the new collection for team members. “We created a website because this is a large play for us in the catering and events space. We also wanted something that was easy for our events and sales people to tap in to. They can print out notes and share with clients to embrace the product. We’ll be doing more instance-based situations where we get the winery more involved. We’ll send some team members out there, too—some of our top sellers—and get them immersed in what Scheid does.”
Benchmark’s diverse portfolio made introducing and positioning the collection in each property a challenge. “We have some properties that are very large in volume, and we need to make sure that the product makes sense where it’s positioned,” Berwald says. “Those properties could be more outlet-focused versus banquets or events. Some are more group-focused. Operationally, it has to make sense.”
“One of the key differentiators that we focus on in terms of driving profit for each of these properties and owners is beverage,” Berwald adds. “Traditionally, we don’t make money on food. We make it on catering and we make it on beverage.” For instance, one glass of wine can sell for more than the cost of one bottle. “It’s pretty dramatic in terms of the product we can drive. With that, it makes a lot of sense everywhere.”
Berwald hopes to continue the partnership with Scheid by eventually adding keg wine to Benchmark properties. Storing wine in kegs preserves the product longer, lessens waste, and is operationally easier.
While guests may be experiencing the new wine collection for the first time, Benchmark food and beverage directors and chefs have already had the opportunity to experience the product, and Berwald says the reaction was “overwhelming.”
“Benchmark has never really dabbled in this before, where we’ve been able to leverage the power of the collective to deliver a product like this together,” Berwald explains. “For team members to embrace it, get behind it, and validate it, it’s a win for us, and I know it’s going to be a win for our guests.”