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Newsletter May 2012

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  A newsletter for managers of tasting rooms, wine clubs, and DTC wine sales
  May 1, 2012
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Visual Merchandising
What does your tasting room say about your brand?

A revolution is occurring in tasting rooms everywhere. Wine tourism continues to grow as one of the most popular pursuits of discerning and sophisticated consumers, creating stiff competition for purchase dollars and intensifying the relationship between every aspect – physical, mental and emotional – of an outstanding guest experience. Great Direct-to-Consumer Managers, aware of the challenge in retaining loyal customers and sustaining growth, are now beginning to understand that looking good and doing well are inseparable. They have made dramatic shifts in the way their tasting rooms are presented, employing a mix of careful planning, judicious product selection and a thorough understanding of their brand story to attract target customers.

Good merchandising will attract customers, build the brand and increase sales

The rule in great visual merchandising is simple: the presentation should reflect the product. Just as there is a broad representation of wines, from high-end boutique to mid-market and value-priced, there is an equal dimension to presentation and product selection in the tasting room. Visual merchandising is a mix of art, inspiration, space planning and thoughtful attention to detail. It is part of “silent selling” which, along with presentation of the wines and engaging staff interaction, becomes part of the customers’ unconscious decision to buy the wine – or walk away.

A prime location, excellent wines and a dynamic team are all essential elements of success, but to build an extraordinary customer experience, understanding and employing the principles of good visual merchandising makes a huge difference. As Disney says, “Everything speaks.”

Source: WISE Academy,

iStock_000007330845forweb 2
  Tasting Room in the Flesh
I’m a bit leery about big corporations, having worked for one for more than 20 years. As far as tasting room experiences go, however, Kendall-Jackson does a super job.
Just a few days ago I stopped by KJ’s tasting room in downtown Healdsburg, Calif. It was almost 5 p.m., and the spacious square room had a dozen visitors lined up at the counter. The walls were covered with wine racks filled with bottles. It made me feel like I was in a wine store, not a space simply for tasting wine.
Though he was single-handedly serving all of the patrons, tasting room salesman Todd McKim made sure to say, “Welcome to K-J,” as soon as I entered. He was friendly, knowledgeable, attentive and quick to make suggestions, prompting me to buy two bottles of high-end Cabernet (which I can’t do at every tasting room I visit, otherwise I’d be bankrupt.)

Lessons to be learned: Bottles can be a decorative item. When they are displayed in dark wood boxes along the wall, they evoke a warm and cozy feeling that visitors want to bring home.

Suggestion box

  1. What additional topics would you like to see in this eNewsletter?
  2. Would you like to share ideas that have worked in your tasting room?
  3. What kind of tasting room/direct-to-consumer contest would you like to see?
Please send suggestions to

Happy Tasting!


Jacques Brix is Vice-President and Director of Sales, West Coast for Wines & Vines. This column is based on his personal experiences at winery tasting rooms.

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