Tasting Room Newsletter March 2012

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  A newsletter for managers of tasting rooms, wine clubs, and DTC wine sales
  March 1, 2012
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Selling Your Wine Club
Is your tasting room one of the 20%?
Our mystery shopping benchmarks show that only 20% of local tasting room staff is effectively selling wine clubs.
Eventually, someone on your team needs to seal the deal by asking for the wine club sign up. But the real work begins earlier. From the moment a guest enters your tasting room, you can be selling wine clubs – without saying a word. Have you got signage that designates a special area for wine club or VIP members only? Does your price list include regular and “club member only” wines? How about photos of wine club events? Where are your club brochures – are they easily accessible to guests? These are the silent selling tools that can be used to help support wine club sign ups.
Once you engage your guest in a dialogue, you need to weave the benefits of wine club membership throughout the conversation. Include benefits such as access to insider events and “unique wines delivered right to your doorstep.” It’s important to first focus on exclusivity and other benefits, then on saving. Avoid focusing on discounts first to circumvent signing up short-term members. Be sure to take time during the sales process to foster the kind of long-term relationships you’re looking to build.
Wine club sales make sense not only for you and your winery, but also for your guest. Your guest will continue to feel the winery’s ‘love’ with memories from their visit, exclusive rewards, and wine that’s delivered right to them. The winery will have a steady, high margin, profitable income – it’s like selling popcorn long after the movie is over. Staff members, who may or may not receive a financial reward, will benefit from the intrinsic reward of helping a customer treat him or herself to great wine on a recurring basis.
Selling your wine club might not be rocket science, but it does make good sense.

Source: WISE Academy, www.wineindustrysaleseducation.com

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  Tasting Room in the Flesh
To Do 
After several trips to the Washington Association of Wine Grape Growers (WAWGG) Annual Meeting & Trade Show in Kennewick, Wash., in February, I managed to visit several tasting rooms. Forty minutes east of the Tri-Cities Airport is the small town of Walla Walla. Cold weather, frozen trees and gray skies were forgotten when we reached the tasting room for L’Ecole No. 41 Winery a few miles outside of downtown. The old schoolhouse is exceptionally great looking, and the outside has been carefully refinished to look almost new and yet maintain the glory of the architecture and history. Once inside, you need to walk up a wide staircase to reach the open tasting room, with memorabilia from the school days including old desks, bookshelves, chairs and a comfortable sitting area. It subtly smelled of old books, leather and wood, without the mustiness of some old buildings that could alter the performance of your nose and taste buds. Ben Dimitri, the consumer direct sales associate, was extremely knowledgeable about the history of the building and the wines, making it an integral experience to be remembered. We spent a good 45 minutes listening, tasting and then buying some wine for dinner.
Lessons to be learned: If you are lucky enough to have a historical building as a tasting room, a blend of the old and the new is the right combination to provide historical accuracy and a story visitors will remember—plus a clean environment for wine tasting. A key factor to success is training personnel to present the historical value of the building and blend it with the profile of the wines. A few anecdotes/trivia will make it a unique and memorable experience. Brendon Kubrock, tasting room manager at L’Ecole No. 41, understands that very well.
The next day took me to 30 minutes west of the tri-cities to Prosser, Wash., where Coyote Canyon Winery
is part of an entire subdivision made up of wineries and tasting rooms. Coyote Canyon is one of seven tasting rooms behind the large wooden double doors of this impressive Mediterranean building. Manager Carolyn Knee and her daughter, who happened to be taking hospitality lessons from her mom, were so enthusiastic about the wines that I even told the owner, Mike Andrews, when I saw him that evening at the WAWGG dinner auction. The special Albariño tasting right off the storage tank was a pure banana flavor worth remembering.
Lessons to be learned: Happy hospitality personnel impart their joy to visitors who, in turn, will remember the exceptional reception. That little out-of-the-ordinary tasting from the tank was just the right touch to make me write—and tell all my friends—about it.
Not To Do
I could be wrong, but…I always wonder about the marketing savvy of wineries doing a 75% off, let’s get rid of it, campaign to the public…It’s even worse when the wine is bad. OK, “bad” is a question of taste, and I understand the need to clear up inventory and/or improve cash flow, but tell me: If you have worked 10 years building the image of your brand—and a few feet away you are selling bottles for $40 and up at the tasting room bar—does it makes sense to sell a $25 bottle for $7? Instead, why not offer a special rate to your wine club members, tell them the truth about the wine (perhaps how good it will be with the recipe you include) and/or have a special “Inventory Extravaganza” day/event and again be clear about what the wine is and what it will be in the near future.


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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