Denis Mackenzie is based in New York City. He is the Chief Operating Officer of a successful international marketing firm. The firm markets for wine producers and distilleries in the United States and Europe.
Denis Mackenzie entered the marketing business in an entry-level position in a small company. The company worked with small businesses and regional corporations. While Mackenzie gained valuable skills from his time with this company, he decided that he wanted to travel and see the world.
He applied for a job at his current company and spent several years abroad in France, Greece, and Italy, working with different wineries to create solid marketing plans. His understanding of the European wine market leads his company to great success.
Denis Mackenzie had a lifelong dream of owning a winery. In 2001, he purchased a small winery near his family home. The Lake Erie wine country in Pennsylvania is a beautiful region that grows many different kinds of grapes, from French varietals to native American types like the Concord grape.
The winery struggled under its past owner and needed many improvements before it could be profitable. Mackenzie made significant investments in the winery in hopes of bringing it back to its former level of success.
He regularly gives back to his community by hosting charity paint and sip nights. The winery also hosts weddings and special events.
What inspired you to buy a winery?
Visiting so many different wineries in Europe made me want to try the business for myself. I grew up in the Lake Erie wine country in Pennsylvania, and I always enjoyed visiting the wineries. It’s a beautiful part of the country, and the small town feel is very attractive to someone who has spent so much time in New York City.
What kinds of technology do you use in your work?
My company’s business thrives on technology. Everyone in our company is connected with Slack, which enables us to keep in touch whether or not we’re at our desks. My account executives use databases to keep track of their contacts. My advertising crew uses graphics programs to create new ways of displaying the product.
Is social media an important part of your business strategy?
Yes, it’s become more important in recent years. Instagram has become a big part of our business. It presents an aspirational vision of life. If our products can be a part of enhancing someone’s life, we are happy to provide them.
Where would you most like to travel and why?
I’ve never been to Australia. I would love to see the wine country there. I have always wanted to go to New Zealand as well.
What are some secrets to marketing wines and spirits?
I don’t want to give away all of my secrets, but the most basic is that you want your product to fit in with an aspirational lifestyle.
What do you feel is your most important business skill?
Perseverance has been a vital trait. When I bought my winery, there were some lean times when it felt like everything was going wrong. I nearly gave up on my dream, but I decided that the risk was worth it. I’m glad that I didn’t sell my winery.
What brought you back to the United States after your time abroad?
My company promoted me, and I wasn’t able to stay in Europe anymore. I was ready to come back to the United States. I wanted to spend more time managing my winery. My father took over many of the day-to-day operations in the last few years I was abroad.
What was your favorite subject in school?
My favorite subject was social studies. I am fascinated with history, and I still read about the Revolutionary War and the Civil War. People haven’t changed over the centuries, but the conditions they live in have changed. It’s tempting to romanticize the past, but it’s better to take a more balanced view.
What advice do you have for our readers?
When your job gives you opportunities, take advantage of them. I wouldn’t have achieved this level of success without moving outside my comfort zone. Spending time in Europe was rewarding.
Another piece of advice is always to handle your money carefully. Hire an accountant if your situation is at all complicated. I made some youthful mistakes with money and had difficulty recovering from them.