Wines & Vines Home
   
 
Welcome Guest
LOGIN |  CREATE ACCOUNT
 
ADVERTISEMENT
 
 
 
12.07.2009  
 

Washington Warms to Supermarket Tastings

Successful pilot program for in-store wine tastings may become permanent fixture

 
by Peter Mitham
 
 
Washington supermarket wine tasting
 
Safeway's Cherie Myers said the pilot tasting program worked well, and hopes it will become a permanent feature.

Olympia, Wash.  -- Washington state’s year-long pilot of wine and beer tastings in grocery stores helped enhance shoppers’ store visits without producing a discernible increase in public safety violations.

Washington State Liquor Control Board staff on Nov. 30 presented a report regarding the pilot tasting program to committees of the state legislature. The report was delivered to the state legislature Dec. 4, setting the stage for the January 2010 introduction of a bill that could see in-store tastings become a regular part of supermarket promotions.

Approximately 200 tastings were scheduled under the program, which began Oct. 1, 2008, and ended Sept. 30, 2009. (See “Washington Tests Supermarket Tastings,” Wines & Vines, Oct. 6, 2008.) Regulations for the pilot program required participating stores to have a fully enclosed retail area of at least 9,000 square feet, primarily selling groceries. Up to 2 ounces each of four different wines could be poured, as long as the total pouring amounted to no more than 4 ounces per visitor. (California, by contrast, allows three 1-ounce samples per visitor.)

Servers were required to receive training similar to those working in winery tasting rooms, and a food offering to complement the wine or beer was required. Retailers could charge for the tastings, but wineries, importers or distributors could not subsidize the tasting.

Public concerns about the supermarket sipping originally focused on public consumption and risks to youths both from inattentive parents and access to beer and wine themselves. However, a dearth of public safety issues arose during the year of pilot tastings, encouraging positive perceptions of the program.

WSLCB enforcement officers identified just three infractions of state liquor laws at pilot sites, all related to regulations governing serving alcohol to minors. Pat Kohler, administrative director with the WSLCB, noted in the report that overall compliance with state liquor regulations was “slightly better than the retail grocery average.”

Positive feedback highlighted appreciation for the tastings, “enjoyment of the sampling process,” the “enhanced shopping experience” to which tastings contributed, and noted that consumers desired expansion of in-store tastings.

Cherié Myers, director of public and government relations with Safeway Inc., told Wines & Vines that the national grocery chain was “very pleased” with the pilot program. Seven Safeway stores across the state participated in the pilot program, accounting for a quarter of all participating locations.

“We were very pleased with the results,” Myers said. “The main benefit was introducing consumers to wines that maybe they would like to try and then purchase. It was good for the consumers -- they enjoyed it. (It was) another added pleasure to being in the store.”

Safeway has wine stewards available in its stores to assist customers, but the grocer hired a separate company to handle the tastings. Wines to be poured were profiled in the store’s weekly flyers, while a representative of the featured winery was on hand to talk with consumers. The tastings also turned consumers’ attention to other wines, Myers said, helping support overall sales during what was a difficult time for many retailers.

“In a time when the economy was less than desirable, we were very pleased with the results,” she said. “It was a program that, during the time that we all experienced this last year, could have been doomed....However, I’m pleased to say that we were very happy with this program.”

Myers said she anticipates a permanent in-store tasting program. Strict guidelines will be presented to legislators in January and are expected to receive approval early in the new year.

Not everyone was happy with the pilot program, however. Two of the original 30 stores approved to participate in the pilot program ultimately did not host any tastings. One of those was Denny’s Harvest Foods in Medical Lake, in Eastern Washington.

Owner Denny McDaniel told Wines & Vines last year that the requirement for retailers to cover costs associated with the tastings --  including staffing and product costs -- would eliminate any profits he hoped to see from increased sales. Indeed, the WSLCB report said many retailers didn’t notice a significant increase in wine sales.

“It’s a good idea, but they went about it the wrong way,” store manager Zane McDaniel said, confirming that Denny’s never hosted tastings under the pilot program.

Still, the enthusiasm of Safeway and another retailer -- who claimed wine sales jumped 20% as a result of the program, according to the report -- are pointing to in-store wine tastings becoming a permanent feature of Washington state supermarket promotions.

 

SHARE »
Close
 
Currently no comments posted for this article.
 
CURRENT NEWS INDEX »


 
Wines & Vines Home
 
866.453.9701 | 415.453.9700 | Fax: 415.453.2517
65 Mitchell Blvd., Ste. A San Rafael, CA 94903
info@winesandvines.com
Wine Industry Metrics
 
Off-Premise Sales » Month   12 Months  
August 2014 $558 million
5%
$7,613 million
6%
August 2013 $531 million $7,167 million
     
Direct-to-Consumer Shipments » Month   12 Months  
August 2014 $78 million
17%
$1,686 million
10%
August 2013 $67 million $1,530 million
     
Winery Job Index » Month   12 Months  
August 2014 218
12%
224
19%
August 2013 194 189
     
 
MORE » Released on 09.15.2014
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Practical Winery & Vineyard Library
 
Search the PWV archive »
 
 

Direct To Consumer
Wine Shipping Report
2014
 
Download full report »
 
 

CALENDAR
  • September 18-21
     
    Euphoria
     
  • September 22-23
     
    Wine Industry Financial Symposium
     
  • September 23-24
     
    Experimental Design and Chemometrics for Chemists
     
  • September 27
     
    Red Mountain AVA Block Party
     
  • MORE »
 

READER COMMENTS
 
Article: Financial Impact of Napa Quake Rising »
 
I still think the numbers are low and don't include legal fees. Section 165 was...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
In addition to oxidation of somee of the SO2, post-bottling chemical changes are a continuation...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
I agree with the 14:46 post. I have switched to screwcap on most of my...
Reader: Chris Baker
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
What I have found in the past between the type of closures is this. A)...
Reader: Guest
 
Article: Tasting the Effects of Wine Closures »
 
What about glass closures (vinolok)? I always see this debate going on and glass is...
Reader: Guest
 
 


Directory/Buyer's Guide — Your Wine Industry Marketplace
 
 
WINERY SEARCH
 
 
Advanced Search »
SUPPLIER SEARCH
   by Product
 by Company Name or Brand
 
Browse by Category »
2014 Directory/Buyer's Guide
The Wines & Vines Directory and Buyer's Guide
 
 
EXPANDED ONLINE SEARCH INCLUDED WITH PURCHASE
 
ORDER NOW »
 
LEARN MORE »
 
 
Wines & Vines Magazine
 
 
LEARN MORE »
 
SUBSCRIBE »
 
Digital Edition Now Available!
Wines & Vines Digital Edition Now Available
 
LEARN MORE »
 
ORDER NOW »
 
 
The Wines & Vines Online Marketing System
 
The Industry Standard winery marketing application
 
FREE LIVE DEMO »
 
VIEW VIDEO »
 
 
 
 
Latest Job Listings
 First Class Lounge
 Los Angeles, CA
General Administration and
 Sales Representative -...
 San Rafael, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Account Manager
 Mt. Pleasant, MI
Sales and Marketing
 Field Sales Manager
 Maryland/Dc, MD
Sales and Marketing
 Human Resources Coordi...
 Paso Robles, CA
General Administration and
 Wine Club Manager/Coor...
 Agoura Hills, CA
Sales and Marketing
 Bottling Line Operator
 Hopland, CA
Winemaking and Production
 Liquor Manager / Wine ...
 Northbrook, IL
Sales and Marketing
 Host / Hostess
 Livermore, CA
DTC, Tasting Room and Retai
 Payroll / Accounts Pay...
 Rutherford, CA
General Administration and
 
More Job Listings >>
Follow Us On:
 
 





Home  |  About Us  |  Editors  |  Subscribe  |  Print Edition  |  Digital Edition

Advertise  |  Site Map  |  Contact Us  |  Privacy Policy
 
 
Copyright © 2001-2014 by Wine Communications Group, Inc. All Rights Reserved.
No material may be reproduced without written permission of the Publisher.
Wines&Vines does not assume any responsibility for any unsolicited manuscripts or materials.