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Newsletter July 2013

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  July 2, 2013
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WISE Bites   Tasting Rooms in the Flesh
Common brand fumbles in the tasting room and how to avoid them   Open this email. Your career in the wine business depends on it…
The biggest challenges we have seen while mystery shopping hundreds of wineries have been areas where a winery’s brand seems inconsistent and sends mixed messages to the consumer. These are what we call brand fumbles.  
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"WISE Bites" continued   "Tasting Rooms in the Flesh" continued

Brand Fumble No. 1: How do you avoid “gut check” inconsistency?

The first type of brand fumble happens when our internal assessment (or “gut check”) is conflicting with what we know the winery website promises and/or what the desired brand story should be. Just because we know what the brand is doesn’t mean that this is being translated accurately to consumers. The customers’ gut check may not be what the owner thinks it is, or wants it to be.

Answer: Everything speaks! Be consistent.

The lesson here is being consistent. As Disney says so well, “everything speaks.” This concept emphasizes that every minor detail says something to your guests. It puts them in a mood or a frame of mind that can affect their experience at your winery.

Once your desired persona/brand position is clear, does everything else match it? Consider:
• Your venue and layout,
• The design of your guest experience—from tour script to tasting options,
• Your staff knowledge/skills/attitude/dress,
• The music and lighting.
• Does your visual merchandising tell a story that reinforces the desired brand image—or did someone just think selling finger puppets would be cute?

Try to ensure that everything at the winery speaks to your brand and your business goals—and then continually monitor it. It is hard to judge for yourself, so having objective audits on an on-going basis is really important. Audits are meant to identify the brand gut check through someone else’s eyes.

Brand Fumble No. 2: How do you achieve
a memorable impression?

The second type of brand fumble occurs when a guest walks away from a winery visit with no real memorable impression or understanding of what makes the winery different from the one down the street. If a typical wine country visitor sees six to 12 wineries per visit, how is your winery ever going to stand out? What can you do to make sure that it does?

Answer: The golf course test.

Image a couple just got back from visiting wine county, and the next weekend they are on the golf course. Their friends ask them about their trip and want to hear about their experiences. Bob is about to tee off and says: “We went to XYZ Winery, and…” This fill-in-the-blank is where your winery brand is going to come through. It’s what guests remember from their visit to your winery.

The way to create a memorable impression is storytelling. Try to think about a brand story that is so impactful you would remember it a year from now. The best stories are those that teach you something, give you a flavor of the wine country or winery brand, and those that appeal to you emotionally. This type of brand story is what resonates with guests long after they’ve visited.

If you provide personal, genuine, thoughtful service, people will remember you—and your brand. You are not just selling wine, you are selling a memory. Make it a positive, lasting one.

Note: This is the second WISE Bite in the three-part series Better Branding through Consumer Direct.

Source: WISE Academy,


Updates in direct shipping legislation

Direct shipping laws keep changing, but an article by Paul Franson reviews the new regulations for several states. You and your winery are responsible for knowing the laws and abiding by them. Read more here.

Private label olive oil

Left Coast Oils has been marketing premium olive oils for quite a while. Tom Hunter, the owner of the company launched six months ago, announced the new “private label” division for wineries looking to have their own branded bottles created for sale through tasting rooms and wine clubs. Such bottles can carry a winery’s name to food enthusiasts as well as wine aficionados. Find more at

Knowledge is everything

• The direct to consumer wine business continues to thrive. For the latest statistics visit Wines & Vines' Wine Industry Metrics page

• A new app for Virginia wineries helps visitors find the right one using their smartphones.

American Wine Consumers Coalition is a newly formed association for wine consumers.

Do you know how a barrel is made? This six-minute video produced by Tonnellerie O provides insights to help you inform your visitors like a master cooper.

Calendar of events: Lots of wine-related events are scheduled all over the world. Click here for a list of all the ones we could find.

Predicting wine club behavior

Keeping good track of customer data can help wineries retain club members and find new ones. Wines & Vines staff writer Andrew Adams covered an event at Sonoma State University, where experts discussed how to keep wine club members engaged.

The future of the wine market in Canada

A new report from Canadean presents detailed data about wine consumption trends in Canada, providing historic and forecast consumption volume and value at market and category level, alcoholic strength (fortified wine), price segment (still wine), country-of-origin data, brand share data and distribution channel data.

Vineyard-designate tasting

One event that really binds producers and consumers is the tasting where grape producers pour their own vineyard-designate wines. I still remember the first one I went to in Texas during the mid-1980s. The passion of the grapegrowers was so evident that the wines tasted even better. One winery to hold such a tasting with panache is Dutcher Crossing in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma. Growers represented the Taylor Vineyard, the Maple Vineyard and others, and the crowd was appreciating the wines drawn directly from barrels with “thieves” handled by the growers themselves. Consulting winemaker Kerry Dampksey was on hand to answer questions and tout the merit of each wine. It made for a very down to earth and memorable experience for all the visitors.

Renwood boasts a unique ceiling

A couple of weeks ago Renwood Winery held a winemaker dinner as part of the highly successful Barbera Festival. Beside the tremendous food/wine pairings (Barbera does go beautifully with smoked salmon and filet mignon), the ceiling of the room was intriguing and quite “green.”

barrel staves

Renwood’s original ceiling made of barrel staves also acts as sound insulation.

Follow-up after the sale

Once a visitor has committed to your winery by purchasing something, (s)he becomes a friend for life—and to keep friends, you must communicate with them. I bought some wine at the Sanglier Cellars tasting room. Even though I paid with my credit card, the same day I received an email confirming my purchase, thus continuing the conversation and opening a dialogue for the future.

Sent: Saturday, June 22, 2013 2:08 PM
Subject: Order summary from Sanglier Cellars

Thank you for visiting the Sanglier Cellars tasting room. Below is a link to your order summary. Our goal is to make balanced wines that reflect the unique place that is Sonoma County—wines in harmony with its agricultural bounty and the foods that are the joys of our tables. Please visit us again! Glenn Alexander, Brian Check and Chelsea Hawley.

Tasting Room Market

What’s new to sell…

If wine-by-the-glass on-premise sales are on the horizon for you, check out Jane Firstenfeld’s roundup of handy wine gadgets

Wine Caddys can be a financially successful item in your tasting room merchandising program. See the company’s offerings here.


Please send suggestions to

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.

Newsletter Archive    
June 2013 May 2013   April 2013 March 2013
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