On the Incredible Success, Unique Idea and Money: 3 Inspiring Stories of “Anykščių Vynas”
“Anykščių Vynas”, which is celebrating its‘ 95th birthday this year, has a dynamic and unique history. Starting from the small Karazijos family wineries, today the factory located in the very center of Anykščiai is one of the largest fruits and berry wine producers in the entire Baltic region, with a product basket of more than 120 different beverages made from natural raw materials and employing more than 90 professionals. How did Lithuanian winemakers manage to take over such significant positions? “Anykščių Vynas” shares three success stories.
The family winery “B. and J. Karazijos Fruit Wine Workshops“, which later grew into the “Anykščių Vynas“ factory, has been successful ever since the very beginning. While it would seem that the head of the family, Balys Karazija, idea to produce wine in a country that at first glance simply has no resources for it was a bit odd, it soon paid off, and ever since then, the production has only been increasing. Eventually, Anykščiai became known as the Lithuanian Burgundy, in which, thanks to Karazija, orchards that glorifies the region to this day have appeared.
Nevertheless, despite the uniqueness of the idea, the efforts to nurture traditions and the innovative solutions at that time, it was difficult for “Anykščių Vynas” to adapt to the changing times. Therefore, when entering the new, 21st century, the positions of the Lithuanian factory in the market were significantly abandoned. Significant changes began in 2014 with the acquisition of the plant by MV GROUP Production.
“Anykščių Vynas” has long been producing natural fruit and berry wines, so it is natural that this part of the production became our absolute focus after taking over the management of the factory. The products have already won many local and international awards for their quality but were forgotten by the consumer. Thus, our main task was to introduce them in a new way” says Algirdas Čiburys, CEO of MV GROUP Production.
The first step for “Anykščių Vynas” on the way to renewal was a partnership with a leading Spanish design agency. “We wanted to see their attitude towards Lithuanian products and their vision. It paid off – we soon surprised consumers with a new image that quickly caught the eye” continues Čiburys.
The following was an update of the product basket: a total of 13 product novelties have been introduced to the market within the last five years in the wine category alone, including 3 non-alcoholic Voruta wines: black currant, white fruit wine and Winterspice cherry wine. Two more novelties will soon reach the store shelves.
“All of this is the result of the expertise of our specialists, which required not only united team work to achieve ambitious goals, but also individual dedication. The contribution of each colleague is significant – technologists who have carefully developed new recipes, laboratory specialists who have ensured impeccable quality, workers in the production who have ensured smooth processes on a daily basis, and all other professionals whose work is sometimes invisible to the naked eye but makes a significant contribution to the whole” says Čiburys.
According to Nielsen data, Voruta brand has a 7% market share in sales in the natural fermentation wine category in Lithuania. It is currently the No. 1 wine brand in the country in terms of sales, value and volume, based on 2020 Nielsen’s modern retail chains research data.
- Employees‘ Idea Which Saved More Than €400,000
Close cooperation and exchange of competencies between the four managed factories is one of the distinctive features of MV GROUP Production, which determines not only efficient organization of production processes and favorable conditions for employees to improve, but also enabling intelligent optimization of the company’s finances. In many cases, effective solutions are proposed by the employees themselves. For example, recently, the team of product development department and production technologists offered an original idea which helped the company save more than €400,000.
“In total, MV GROUP Production has four unique historical beverage factories under its roof – “Anykščių Vynas”, “Gubernija”, “Stumbras” and “Alita”. In the latter one we have been producing successful non-alcoholic sparkling wine for several years. There are two ways to make such wine, one of which is to remove the alcohol from the wine after it is made, that is, to dealcoholize it. As we did not have the necessary equipment for dealcoholization in the factory, we transported high-quality raw material for the production of non-alcoholic sparkling wine from abroad” says Čiburys.
However, the ever-increasing volume of non-alcoholic sparkling wine production dictated the idea of purchasing the equipment needed for dealcoholization, which usually costs close to half a million euros on the market.
“That is what we would have done, if not for the great ideas of our colleagues. After paying attention to the concentrated juice production equipment available at the Anykščiai factory for removing water from the juice, colleagues came up with the idea that it could be applied to dealcoholization processes as well. We turned to our partners – equipment manufacturers in Switzerland, who came to Lithuania and performed professional tests – it turned out that with proper equipment harmonization, such processes are fully possible, and the obtained non-alcoholic raw material in terms of quality parameters is not inferior to transported from abroad” says Čiburys.
As a result, the successfully applied equipment operating at the “Anykščių Vynas” factory qualitatively removes alcohol and makes a significant contribution to the production of Alita’s non-alcoholic sparkling wine, in addition, it enables the company to develop new, high-quality products. “So far, the equipment has been idle for most of the year, because it was needed only seasonally, and now we use it successfully all year round” says Čiburys.
- The Development of Production Has Led to Investment and the Need for New Employees
Nearly €1 million – this is the amount that MV GROUP Production intends to invest in their managed “Anykščių Vynas” factory in 2021. Most of the planned investments will be allocated for the development of the factory’s cold cellar, as well as the renovation of the laboratory. According to Čiburys, the need for solid investment was determined by the particularly rapid development of “Anykščių Vynas” production. For example, in 2020 alone, the production volumes of “Anykščių Vynas” increased by 36% compared to the previous year.
“Such expansion of production volumes was partly due to strengthening positions in foreign markets. Last year, “Anykščių Vynas” opened three new export directions, and the sales revenue of products under the “Voruta” brand alone jumped by almost 90%. In addition, after installing a modern production line costing more than 0.6 million euros in the factory, we significantly expanded the basket of products. The product portfolio has expanded by several times, so we have reached a point where we are forced to substantially increase our technical capabilities” says the CEO.
MV GROUP Production will allocate a major part of the investments in “Anykščių Vynas” planned for this year, more than €400,000, for the expansion of the cold cellar.
“After producing hundreds of thousands of liters of products at different stages of production, before pouring them into containers, we have to store it – to give time for fermentation, maturation, other relevant processes during production. In addition, raw materials for the production are also stored in the cellar. Investments in the cold cellar include not only complex construction work, but also the installation of modern equipment to ensure a specific microclimate in the cellar, as well as storage capacity” says Čiburys.
More than €200,000 is being invested in the renovation of the “Anykščių Vynas” laboratory: “The laboratory is one of the key parts of the factory structure, basically involved in all production processes, starting with the research of primary raw materials, continuing with intermediate and final product quality inspections. Due to the significant increase in production volumes, the available laboratory capacity is no longer satisfactory, therefore we will substantially renew the laboratory, applying the latest standards and implementing the most modern technologies”.
According to the CEO, such investments in “Anykščių Vynas” also dictate the need for new specialists. Currently, the factory with 92 employees is actively looking for a junior craftsman in the production bar, while at the beginning of the fruit and berry processing season, company will announce an active search for temporary specialists (production operators, product preparers).