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Ohio Wineries Embrace QR Codes

Smart phones will connect consumers to state's 132 wineries

by Linda Jones McKee
QR Code Grand River Cellars
The sample QR code for Grand River Cellars in Madison was designed to attract new wine consumers, according to Donniella Winchell.
Geneva, Ohio -- Even if you don’t own a Smart Phone, you probably have noticed the little black and white squares that look like a scrambled Rorschach test on packaging, including wine bottles. Known as a QR (Quick Response) code, these two-dimensional barcodes provide fast readability and a large storage capacity. The traditional use of a QR code is to direct the user to a website or to add contact information into a phone so it doesn’t have to be typed in manually.

Donniella Winchell, executive director of the Ohio Wine Producers Association, has a broader vision for the potential of QR codes. “QR codes are hot,” Winchell told Wines & Vines, “but we think we can take the use of the QR technology far beyond just being a link to a single website.” She is launching a QR code project to educate consumers and build their awareness of Ohio wines, grapes and grape products, with the goal of building sales for all grape products at grocery stores, retail outlets and in restaurants through increased winery visitation.

Videos will provide wine education

During the next year, the OWPA will create at least 65 short winery/vineyard videos—one or more each for wineries across the state of Ohio. (According to WinesVinesDATA, Ohio currently has 132 bonded and virtual wineries.) “We want to develop a series of 1- to 2-minute stories that will take the consumer inside the winery to meet the winemaker and hear about the growers or wineries, told in their own words,” Winchell explained. An additional goal is to provide authentic, first-person explanations of “insider” wine jargon like “terroir,” “cool climate viticulture,” “carbonic maceration” and even simple things like “vintage dating” and “vineyard designation.”

While a general script format will be established for each winery to use to create continuity within the videos, wineries and growers will be encouraged to pick an “informational” topic from more than 100 suggested themes. Each video will then be assigned a QR code, and the videos will be posted on the OWPA YouTube channel and on the association website. Appropriate codes from the association’s collection will also be inserted in paid advertising to make those ads more educational and interactive. The six Trail Brochures produced annually by the association will include the QR codes inserted onto winery pages as well.

The OWPA has three Flip cameras that wineries and growers can use if they do not have personal cell phones or other cameras capable of producing high quality videos. Participating wineries will be encouraged to post their own QR codes on their websites and on other promotional materials.

Once the QR video scripts are in place, a second-tier effort will involve the creation of podcasts to be posted on I-Tunes, websites and other appropriate places to encourage downloads of audio scripts. Eventually, where legal and appropriate, additional codes will be developed to offer discounts for events and activities.

For more information, phone the Ohio Wine Producers Association at (800) 227-6972 or visit


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