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  May 2, 2018
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How to stay motivated - Wash. Rinse. Repeat.   Case studies in DtC success

We often hear: "How can I stop checking out on the job halfway through my day?" Or essentially: "How can I keep myself on task and motivated through my work day?" 

People working in winery tasting rooms can often experience a bit of burn out and no longer look at guests as warmly as they once did.

Self-motivation takes practice. It is a skill we need to develop and practice daily. When master motivator Zig Ziglar would hear anyone say: "Motivation just doesn't last." His reply was always, "Well neither does bathing, that's why we recommend it daily."



When it comes to improving the tasting room experience, how much is enough to lift the bottom line? According to a few winery executives who've led their teams to increased direct-to-consumer (DTC) sales, the answer lies in implementing calculated changes, some large and some small, both internally to staff and externally to the guest.

The insights came during a panel discussion at this year's WiVi conference in Paso Robles, Calif.

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 "WISE Bites" continued.


 "Tasting Room Forum" continued.

How to know when you need to work on motivating yourself?

  • When you look for projects and not for guests.
  • When you inwardly groan when people are approaching you.
  • When you feel you should get hazard pay for repetitive stress syndrome for having to repeat yourself over and over again.
  • When you focus on the negative parts of the job.
  • When your coworkers annoy you.
  • When time seems to drag.
  • When you can't wait to leave work.
  • When instead of being charming and warm, you are short and sullen.

A good leader will be on the lookout for staff burnout and take steps to increase job satisfaction and pride in the workplace. Leaders can sometimes miss it, so we need to recognize it for ourselves. What can we personally do to stay motivated?

Here are 10 WISE Tips:

1. Step back and take time to remember how you felt the very first time you walked into your winery. Remember the sights, the smells or whatever it was that triggered your senses. Remember that the guests who are walking in are experiencing just that. We need to remind ourselves how people are feeling as they walk in, and if there isn't a warm and friendly greeting, it could become overwhelming. What would your expectations be if you were a guest?

2. Sometimes you just need to take a short break. When you do, give yourself a pep talk. Remind yourself what our guests deserve. They deserve the best, and you are the person to give them the best. It is not fair to them if you are giving them your bad day, they deserve much more than that.

3. Smile. If you make yourself smile, even when you don't feel like it, you eventually feel like it because it's contagious with all the people around you. Get that smile on and get back to it and start engaging with the guests. Give them your best because you are so good at who you are and what you do. Make the guest feel that the best decision they made today was to come and see you.

4. Use the Platinum Rule. Most people know about the Golden Rule, to treat others the way we want to be treated. At WISE, we take this to the Platinum Rule: Treat others the way THEY want to be treated. How do they want to be treated? You'll never know unless you ask the open-ended questions to find out their preferences and engage with them. You have amazing gifts. Share them with your guests. It's fun and helps breaks the monotony.

5. Celebrate your successes. Think about your most successful days of selling and what made those sales successful and challenge yourself to do it again or beat your own goal. When you can challenge yourself and have fun doing it, time flies by.

6. Take a walk. Whether on your own or taking a group of guests for an impromptu walk in the vineyards, cellar, or wherever, just change up your routine. Get some fresh air and a change of pace.

7. Create a tradition with coworkers. Give yourself something to look forward to at different points of the day or different days of the week. Whether you celebrate when you reach a sales goal, have a weekly bowling league with coworkers or something else that you can look forward to, try and make a tradition out of it.

8. Do something creative at different points of the day. During slower times, role play with your coworkers to find new ways to sell to different types of wine buyers; work with the merchandising team to create more compelling displays. During busier times, find ways to be creative in your conversations with guests - in appropriate ways, of course.

9. Learn something during downtime. What else can you find out about the wines, vineyards, terroir, or other things about your wines and brand? What's of interest to you? Explore it and share it.

10. Remind yourself about your important role at the winery. Years of hard work to plant and cultivate the vines, worry about weather and pests, harvest, bottling and aging have gone into creating this beautiful wine, and now it is yours to sell by cultivating great relationships with guests who want to taste it. What an honor!

The great thing about our winery tasting rooms is that we get to practice our skills daily. If we make a mistake, it's not nuclear physics; the place isn't going into meltdown. We can come back tomorrow and practice again. The more you practice, the easier self-motivation becomes, and soon it will be second nature to you. So practice motivating yourself. Rinse and repeat. You'll shine.

Source: WISE Academy,

Winery Job Index
DtC Job Subcategory

Direct-To-Consumer Job Subcategory 

Direct-to-consumer positions, including tasting room and retail staff, saw demand rise 4% in March, raising the index to a new benchmark of 866.

DtC Shipments

Direct-To-Consumer Shipments

DtC shipments increased 10% to $342 million in March versus a year ago.


"There are a million wine brands; there are a million wine regions," said Maeve Pesquera, senior vice president at Daou Vineyards and Winery in Paso Robles, Calif., during the session. "Every winemaker I've ever met is super passionate about what they're doing and they all have a really great story. So how does the Central Coast and our winery specifically beat through that noise and break through the fray?"

Pesquera comes from a background in marketing luxury, having spent 14 years with national brand Fleming's Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar, most recently as national director for wine and beverage, culinary strategy and innovation. She transferred her expertise in fine dining to Daou in 2016 and has managed hospitality for the winery, which produces 25,000-35,000 cases annually, ever since. "To me, the crux is our people," Pesquera said. "For us at Daou, we put the people at the middle of our equation always. That starts with internal associates first and radiates out to our customers after."

Pesquera said she has created a principles and beliefs document to define success for the company, and by which performance is measured. "We're looking for people who are emotionally intelligent, who are kind and gracious, who have a giving heart - giving for the sake of giving. We can teach them how to sell wine and tell our brand story."

As such, she said Daou develops many people from within and has, in the last six months, promoted three associates to manager level.

That document, however, is a living one, and therefore subject to regular change. "The marketplace has evolved," she said. "We have to take out all our brand assets, literally and figuratively, about every six months, and ask 'Are they relevant?'"

Emulate successful retailers
"Most of us have been to an Apple retail store," said panelist Tim Snider, president at Fess Parker Winery, which produces 65,000 cases annually in Santa Barbara County. "Are they stocking the shelves and hoping for the best? No. When you go in, it's about interaction, learning, and discovery, with people on hand to guide the experience. There's a sense of community and excitement. What we've done at Fess Parker and what I think can work across the board is to bring those concepts to the consumer now."

Snider, who's been with family-owned and operated Fess Parker for almost 20 years, discussed how the company has evolved its tasting room experience since opening 30 years ago. "We do have a traditional bar, and we'll pour wine and staff will educate. But as we've added new spaces, experiences and opportunities, the majority of our guests are gravitating to these other experiences."

The similarity to successful retailers like Apple, he says, is a focus on education, discovery and learning.

One such space, Snider said, is the tasting room for sister brand, Epiphany Cellars, where the bar has been augmented by "a whole new tasting room format that's seated, interactive, and education-based."

And in another sister space for Addendum Wines, seated tastings are the only option.

"They're focused on education, discovery, and learning. They're fun, interactive, exciting, and they've done very, very well."

The emphasis on education extends first and foremost to staff, Snider said, citing the introductory certification of eight tasting room attendants with the Court of Master Sommeliers, as well as several others at levels 1 and 2. "If our staff can speak intelligently about Puligny-Montrachet in the context of Chardonnay in the Sta. Rita Hills as well, they'll be better equipped to deliver a learning experience for our guests."

—Jaime Lewis

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Tasting Room News 

Lynfred Winery names tasting room GM

Roselle, Ill.-based deVine Cellars, sister store to Lynfred Winery, promoted sommelier Gregory Hayes to general manager of the winery's downtown Naperville, Ill., tasting room. Hayes has been with the company for five years, conducting wine education courses and concierge service in the winery's Founder's Room. "Gregory has created his own following of what we call, 'The Gregory Fan Club' at the winery," said Lynfred Winery general manager Andres Basso in the company's press release.

Brick Barn announces management team

To coincide with the opening of its new hospitality center, Brick Barn Wine Estate in Buellton, Calif., announced its management team: Tom O'Higgins, general manager; Rob DaFoe, winemaker; Sonja Walker, tasting room events manager; and Channing Jones, wine club manager.

The new hospitality center adjoins the winery and includes a tasting room, indoor event spaces, a wedding garden and outdoor guest lounge. The winery is situated on a 1,100-acre ranch and is owned by Norman and Cathy Williams. 

New Tasting Room Products

Engineer develops wine preserver

Ryan Frederickson developed ArT Wine Preserver to keep open bottles of wine fresh for seven to 30 days. The preserver works by providing a patent pending dose of pure argon gas. "When a tasting room or salesman serves wine, they have a lot of open bottles just sitting there spoiling. Up to 30 of these bottles can be open for sampling, so the cost of dumping adds up quickly," Frederickson says. By using the ArT Wine Preserver, he claims tasting rooms can preserve up to 50 bottles for only $15.

Online digital marketing training 

Think Wine in San Rafael, Calif., launched an online curriculum providing education on how to use online marketing and advertising channels to support a winery's DtC program at an affordable price. Think Wine courses cover a range of topics, including social media strategy, how to leverage DtC information into a marketing strategy, and website building basics.

Please send suggestions to





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