Notes from the Winery breakout session at the Wine Tourism Conference

As promised, here are the collective notes from the winery breakout session on Wednesday, 11/14/12 led by Michaela Baltasar and Taylor Eason.

The session was attended by over 50 people, mostly associated with the direct to consumer sales and marketing efforts of a independent winery. The room was divided into 7 different categories allowing people to sit with a group that was interested in the same category.

The groups introduced each other and began sharing ideas around their category. Michaela and Taylor then instructed the groups to each come up with a list of highlights from their discussion to share with the session. The following list are the 7 categories and notes taken from the session.

Eat, Sleep, Shop – Partnering with Restaurants, Hotels & Retail

  • Empower your sales staff to build their own relationships with other business representatives and give them the leverage to make decisions that will drive traffic as a result
  • Work on person to person relationships
  • Incentivize your sales staff that build those types of relationships
  • Participate in progressive events – multiple venues
  • Call & thank businesses who send traffic to you (concierges too)
  • Partner with retail shops and pour your wine there
  • Be authentic & positive in your relationship building with people
  • Service is the foundation / Customer is #1. Remember what they have potentially gone through to visit you. Don’t close shop early or make late guests feel unwelcome.
  • Offer to train restaurant staff on your wines
  • Staff retention: long standing employees says volumes about your winery and the kind of business you run

Deal Making – Using Flash Sites (Groupon, Living Social, Gilt, Bloomspot, etc)

  • Think about who you want as a customer, and then structure any Groupon offer around that
  • Groupon could involve a community/business collaboration
  • Make sure you are collecting data in your tasting room on where your visitors are coming from so that you know what services you should use in the future

Be Seen – Building Can’t Miss Events that Drive Traffic

  • Drive new traffic, increase PR, and grow your contacts by partnering w/ non-profits or charities. It also helps with licensing issues.
  • Events are a great way to get people to commit. Create early bird pricing specials and up-sell (sell a table for an event rather than a reservation)
  • Build events around the interests of your membership (i.e. fly fishing) and bring vendors that apply to those interests. It ads value.
  • Follow trends (i.e. food trucks, mud runs, etc) and incorporate into your event strategy.
  • Don’t use Groupon for your winery events
  • People are tired of basic food & wine pairing events. Sometimes only subtle changes to food and wine pairing events are needed for big impact.

Traditional Channels – Working With Your Local Tourism Board

  • It’s about Relationships: return the phone call and email
  • Agree to pour at their events
  • Ask them what they need from you
  • Partner with tourism boards and piggy back off their larger events
  • Reward & educate their volunteers and staff
  • Cross pollinate with other regional tourism offices
  • Be active with tourism boards – it will help increase your exposure
  • Remember they have budgets and press contacts (free PR)
  • Working with Tourism Boards could have global reach for your brand – think big picture.

Neighbors – Developing a Referral Program Among Wineries

  • Find similar winery partners (size, price point, etc)
  • Cross train each other’s staff
  • “GEMS” = successful referral program
  • Promotional offers – share your wine club benefits with your neighbor winery’s members and vise-versa

The Network – Using Social Media

  • Make Wifi available in your tasting room – it promotes engagement!
  • Goal with Social Media is to drive DTC traffic
  • Social Media is not necessarily about giving something away – it’s about sharing what you offer
  • Track the data and analyze – it’s important to know what channels people are coming from.
  • A successful campaign is “Wine Club Member of the Day” on Facebook. It draws people in and engages them
  • Check the online reviews and respond.

Local Tourism – Getting Locals Engaged

  • Rule of 10 – When you leave your winery – where can you go that is within a 10 minute drive? Those are the businesses where your recommendations are coming from.
  • Participate and visit happy hours within this radius.
  • Hold a local’s night and extend hours and specials in your tasting room

There is now a facebook group for registered attendees of the conference. If you attended the conference, you can ask to join at: This list will be posted as a document within that group.