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  September 3, 2014
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WISE Bites   Tasting Room Forum
Is Data Collection a Priority?   Virtual Vintner Crowd-Sourced Wine Give Your Customers Winemaking Power
After meeting someone for the first time and enjoying the experience, it’s natural to ask for contact information so that we can keep in touch and hopefully see them again. This is true in our personal lives, so why not in the tasting room?

When guests come to our winery, our intention is to make sure they have a good experience, learn about our brand and our wines, and make a purchase. If we’ve done our job right, they’ve had a great time and want to become a customer, so why wouldn’t we invite them to? From our market research, only one in four guests are asked by tasting room staff for any contact information. Why is it so hard for us to collect contact data from our guests—especially since so many would love to stay in touch?

Based on our experience, wineries either have not made contact data collection a priority (and thus collect data from less than 5% of guests), or they have effectively made it a priority and collect more than 60%. The formula is pretty binary—it either is working or it’s not.

  La Crema brand (Kendall-Jackson) has launched Virtual Vintner, an interactive digital program that will result in a new crowd-sourced wine. Kicking off this week, the Virtual Vintner platform asks participants to vote on a variety of winemaking decisions, including varietal, appellation, vineyard, barrel treatment, wine name and label design. The resulting La Crema wine is expected to debut in late fall 2015. La Crema, which sells roughly 850,000 cases annually in the United States, is positioned primarily in the $20-and-up range and offers a variety of wines from California’s Russian River Valley, Anderson Valley and Monterey regions, as well as Oregon’s Willamette Valley. Ste. Michelle Wine Estates’ Columbia Crest also announced plans to launch a crowd-sourced wine in recent days (see news below).
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"WISE Bites" continued   "Tasting Room Forum" continued.

When It Doesn’t Work:

When wineries are not successful at collecting contact data, it is usually one of two reasons:

  1. Understanding. The team doesn’t realize how important collecting information about customers is for the entire direct marketing program. Who goes out on a first date, has a great time, and doesn’t make sure they have contact information to go on another date? Keeping this analogy going, of-course there’s another name for someone who goes out on a lot of one-time dates with no follow-up....But you can’t have a second date if you don’t know how to get in touch with the person. Getting the team to understand the big picture—why data collection is such a priority—is the first step in getting acceptance and buy in.
  2. Culture. How often are we asked in our day-to-day lives for our own contact information? We may get irritated if the grocery store and pharmacy asks again and again. But this isn’t that. When someone seeks you out, visits your winery and has a good time, we need to assume they’ll want to stay in touch. They’ll want to know what’s happening at the winery. They’ll want to give their email to us…but we need to ask for it. Our research shows that the reason we are uncomfortable is we remember being irritated at undesired requests, so we assume they won’t want to be contacted. But this is not that. There needs to be a cultural shift as a team so that we leave our own baggage outside the workplace and embrace that it’s just good manners to invite guests to stay in touch after they’ve had a fabulous guest experience.
When It Works:
  1. Multiple Ways to Collect. Having only one way to collect data sets up a singular way to fail. Instead you should have multiple ways to collect contact data. Create a contest with tasting room staff on different ways—fish bowl, 'guess the corks,' part of the check-out process, etc. —to get buy-in and creative solutions that work best for your property. Give prizes to the best ideas from your team. Today’s contests are tomorrow’s sales goals.
  2. Plant the Seed. A great way to have staff collect contact data is have them “plant the seed” about the benefits of joining the mailing list. Use features and benefits selling just like they would with the wine club by sharing the benefits of it (such as notification on events, recipes, new releases, etc.). Letting the guests know what’s in it for them, gives guests a reason to happily provide their contact information.
  3. Appointment Card. We’ve seen wineries that are successful at getting more than 90% data capture who make it a part of "housekeeping." One way is to have every guest fill out an "appointment card." Give each person a blank contact card at every setting and ask them to fill it out—whether prior to pouring the wine or at the checkout. If it’s part of tasting room housekeeping, it’s part of the routine for staff, and guests will follow their lead.
  4. Compensation. If staff is truly making an effort to offer all the options to guests (in a brand-appropriate way), then why not build incentive compensation into the budget? Measure and reward those who are meeting company goals not only with wine club sign-ups but also wine sales and data collection incentives. It doesn’t have to be monetary, but people will respect what you inspect. And, people really just want to do a good job—so show them how well they’re doing with a leader board and post the results.

Is data collection a priority for your team?
If not, what’s holding them back?

Source: WISE Academy,


Chateau Ste Michelle Launches
1,000-case Crowd-Sourced Wine

Is this the beginning of a new trend? When two major wine producers enter the game, we should pay attention…Could this model work for your winery? Be the judge by reading more at The Columbian.

Distributors vs. WineryDirect Sales
Competition or Partnership?

The debate has been going on forever, but Rob McMillan (Silicon Valley Bank) has a definite opinion that can be summarized by his statement: “Time to wake up wholesalers. Your producers are giving you a gift by selling wine from the tasting room—even at a discount under your suggested retail price."

Insuring your wine stock

As the latest earthquake in Napa revealed, insurance companies offer new types of policies that may meet your needs for financial protection, including cyber liability insurance. Read more in the North Bay Business Journal.


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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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