Shark in the Vineyard

Famous PGA Tour golfer Greg Norman, nick named the Shark, is now also famous for his Greg Norman Estates wines. In his new book "The Way of the Shark: Lessons on Golf, Business, and Life" Norman dedicates about 10 pages (pg. 246-255) to his wine business, which is the topic of this article.

If you are unfamiliar with Greg Norman's wines, check out your local LCBO Vintages and you will find the Greg Norman Cabernet/Merlot and Shiraz, both are Vintages Essentials (

Greg Norman Estates (GNE) has been very successful since it's launch in 1998. Beginning in his home country with Australia Estates, GNE has also expanded to have a California Estates division. Greg Norman wines have faired very well in the consumer wine market. At the end of 2003, GNE was selling over 230,000 cases of wine. This success has been a classic brand extention story, claims Greg Norman. "This wine deal didn't materialize because I'm a connoisseur. Rather, it came about because I had built up credibility in my brand."

The Greg Norman Shark logo can be found on all sorts of clothing and wines around the world. Norman's brand has extended to golf equipment, apparel, golf course design, real estate development, restaurants, and of course, wine.

Greg Norman's success can be attributed to his brand, but also his business decisions and research. When starting out, Greg went through an extensive process to narrow down what type of wine he would produce and what region he would source the grapes from. He spent time exploring Australia's wine regions and was facinated with the wine making process. "We don't take into consideration the years of preparation that go into every single varietal." He compares that to how fans don't appreciate how much effort is required to be a professional golfer.

When GNE started under Foster's wine conglomerate it needed a niche. It was decided that GNE wines would be on "the low end of the premium range" and would produce classic Australia varietals. Producing the "best of class" wines matched the North American palate and helped position Greg Norman's wines. They would produced five wines: Yarra Valley Chardonnay; Limestone Coast Cabernet Merlot; Limestone Coast Shiraz; Coonawarra Reserve Shiraz; and South East Autralian Sparking Chardonnay/Pinot Noir.

He applied the same model to the California Estates, producing classic California wines. And now with the success of the Autrialian and Californian Estates, Greg Norman thinks he can do the same in other countries. "Ultimately, I'd like to think that Greg Norman Estates is well positioned to create best-of-class wines anywhere in the world"

Perhaps he will expand, but If he ever comes to Canada he'll have to compete against fello PGA tour player Mike Weir, Canada's most famous golfer. Mike Weir Estate Winery has now launched in Niagara-On-The-Lake, Canada's main wine growing region. So it appears Mike Weir is following in Greg Norman's footsteps. First with his clothing line and now with his winery. We'll have to wait and see if it will be as successful, but Weir's wine is certainly worth a try.

For more information on Greg Norman estates and Mike Weir Estate Winery please visit and
Greg Norman's book is available at Chapters/Indigo and your local library.


Paxton Allewell