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  January 4, 2017
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Top Three New Year’s Resolutions for DTC Success in 2017   Happy New Year!

Cheers to 2017! A brand new year is upon us, and we vow to do all those wonderful, productive things we didn’t get to do in 2016. As we set our sights on growing our business this year, let’s fill up our calendars and to-do lists with activities that will really pay off.

Here are the Top Three Resolutions on our list for 2017:

Make Friends With Our Data and Take Action

Now is the time to get out in front of the crush that has kept us busy completing lots of tasks but not addressing the bigger picture. So let’s create dashboards that measure what is most important and figure out what those numbers are telling us.

Frequently we think that simple increases in visitor traffic will solve our revenue challenges, but how are we doing with the traffic we already have? How are our conversions in the tasting room? What percentage of our visitors buy wine, join our wine club or sign up for our email list? These are the key metrics to monitor. Once we know these numbers, we can set goals for our team members to improve the areas that need it.

Are we capturing referral sources so we know who is sending us great guests? Our best referrers deserve our thanks as well as a special experience for their guests, so we need to find a way to identify them. None of our marketing departments have unlimited budgets, so it’s helpful to guide them to fish where our biggest fish are.


This is a time to reflect on good things, and I did just that this week in Healdsburg, a town of 11,000 that boasts about 30 tasting rooms in California’s Sonoma County. Siduri is one of the latest wineries acquired by Jackson Family Estates. I knew Siduri’s owner, Adam Lee, when I lived in Austin, Texas, where, as a wine shop employee, he was giving me 10% off on my wine purchases. More than 20 years ago, Adam Lee and Dianna Novy, his wife, made the move from Austin to Sonoma County. (Read their story here.) Fast forward to their new Siduri Healdsburg Wine Lounge, which combines food and wine pairing in a relaxed, comfortable setting. It really made me feel good about the well-deserved success of Adam and Dianna, who are keeping their friendly, down-to-earth attitudes as if nothing had changed. I sat at the tasting bar around 5 p.m. and did their standard five-wine tasting flight...

Siduri provides a tasting sheet and menu for its Pinot Noir wines.

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 "WISE Bites" continued.


 "Tasting Room Forum" continued.

Build Our Wine Club Beyond Club Shipments

Wine club members are a gift to our business, but whether they are a gift that keeps on giving is up to us. Are we operating on autopilot and just sending out the shipments? There’s a lot more we can be doing to increase engagement and sales.

Consider optional club offerings above and beyond the promised shipments. A white wine offer to Reds-Only club members is welcome in the spring, since some of their friends likely drink Chardonnay. A magnum offer for summer entertaining adds the “wow” factor to any gathering. Help our members entertain their guests with recipes, food pairings and entertaining tips—anything to help them look like heroes to their friends.

Our local club members get benefits not readily available to those who are far away—usually complimentary tastings and tours, and also access to the events and pick-up parties. How well are we taking care of our out-of-town members? Give them a Party-in-a-Box offer so that they can throw the same bash we are hosting at the winery. Include the wines, recipes and costume ideas so they can host their own event. Invite them to post pictures of their parties on Facebook to increase their engagement.

Segment Our Customers

The most popular word in advertising used to be “free.” Now it’s “you.” Every customer expects that since we have data, we will cater to their specific preferences. If we treat everyone the same, we just aren’t paying attention. If we take the time to zero in on both purchasing behavior and demographics, we can show our customers that they are important to us and we are paying attention to them.

Identify local customers who haven’t visited for a while. Can you offer a new tour or tasting experience to get them back to the winery, bringing their friends with them?

Are we sending the same email to everyone? If I own a dog, buy dog food and sign up for a pet store email list, I don’t expect to get offers on cat food. Are we treating our customers any differently? When we have a new release, are we letting our club members and best customers in on it first?

We all love to have large email lists, but are we kidding ourselves about how many potential customers we have on that list? Let’s take a hard look and clean up our database. Who on our list hasn’t purchased in the past 18-24 months? Send them a final offer and then move the non-responders to an inactive list. We all need this dose of reality about how big and responsive our list really is.

These are probably things you have thought about, but get beyond thinking about them and put these ideas into action. Let’s start off the New Year with some great best practices. Here’s to a great 2017!

Source: WISE Academy,




  • My tasting room attendant was Anna Rogge, who was very professional, knowledgeable and attentive. After only a few minutes I dared to ask if she had graduated from Sonoma State University’s Wine Business Institute... Bingo! Their graduates stand out!

Anna Rogge stands behind the bar at Siduri.

  • Siduri’s Pinots are made from some of the best vineyards in Oregon and California, and just to prove my point that this tasting room was something special, I looked to my left and Sabrina Schatz, the sommelier of Bobby Flay Steak in New Jersey, was sipping wines with her husband John Schatz, a chef and owner of several New Jersey restaurants. Their professional visit only included high-end Pinot wineries, and they loved this one...


Sabrina and John Schatz evaluate Pinots.

Another event proved to be a great promotion for a new tasting room, also in Healdsburg, called Cellars of Sonoma. The Tuesday Live Webcast lasts one hour and consists of an interview with a winemaker and live tasting of some of the wines. I must admit to going there because Heidi Barrett, the winemaker for cult winery Screaming Eagle was being interviewed and had brought wines to taste. There was no Screaming Eagle, but she guided tasters through plenty of other wines from the many brands she owns and works with.

Heidi Barrett at the Cellars of Sonoma

Watch the interview here. And find more information about Cellars of Sonoma here.

Cannabis Tourism: The trend seems to be toward more states legalizing cannabis for recreational use. This opens new “opportunities” to consider how it will fit with the winery tasting rooms and hospitality strategy. This article by Paul Franson digs deep into current statistics and options for the near future.

VinTank bought by Avero: Avero announced the acquisition of winery social media and reputation-management software VinTank. “Reputation management” is a new term used in the hospitality industry to explain the practice of attempting to shape public perception by influencing online information about an entity (Wikipedia). The VinTank software will be rebranded as AveroBuzz. Learn more here.

Wine Gadgets: By the time you read this the main gift-giving season will be over, but you may want to consider some of the items reviewed in this funny article by Esther Mobley of the San Francisco Chronicle.

November 2016 Metrics

DtC Shipments were up 7% in November compared to November 2015. Cabernet Sauvignon represents 49% of all shipments. Read more here.

The Winery Job Index is up 18% compared to November 2015. The DtC subcategory is 33% above November 2015. Read more here.

U.S. Wine Sales are up, and the total for the year should be close to $40 billion. Read more here.


UC Davis 2017 Programs: This link will take you to the UC Davis Graduate School of Management programs for 2017.

Sonoma State University Online Wine Business Management: The Wine Business Management Certificate is offered three times in 2017, beginning in February, May and September. Read more here.

Around North America

Eastern U.S.: As part of the hospitality and DtC industry, you may be interested to know that the TTB is proposing 10 new varieties of wine grapes east of the Rockies. Read the full story.

West Virginia: The rules regarding the inclusion of blood alcohol and fetal alcohol syndrome charts in each shipment of wine to a West Virginia consumer have been updated. Read ShipCompliant’s report 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 and events.




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