Everyone I know has had an excellent experience involving wine, could be discovering something new or a conversation fueled by a little liquid courage. A good wine is unique, its made by passionate, dedicated people. Producing a bottle of wine takes a team, months of hard work, skill and patience. Once created, the next challenge is getting the wine into the hands of those who will love it most. 

Going back 100 years this was done almost entirely through cellar door sales, over time the process has evolved to include retail distribution and more modern sales tactics like wine clubs and wine events. Retail has taken a financial piece of the pie but opened up cellar doors to customers who might not have visited the vineyard or a sales event. A direct sale is still the most profitable, and I would argue most emotionally rewarding for a winery as you have an individual connection with the customer. Very few wineries can afford to keep the doors open without these customers, but competition from the wine glut has made this an evermore challenging problem to solve. 

This series of blog posts will explore the next frontier in direct to consumer marketing, digital. 

  • What wine business problems could technology solve? 
  • What solutions are out there for the wine industry? 
  • Finally, tips from a digital business expert and marketing manager that any label should know.

Research and Validation Process

Before I run headfirst into a new verticle, I do my homework to ensure there are business problems that my team can solve. This ensures we are working with industries that need us. The research conducted in this instance started with a birdseye view; for this at random, we visit the digital assets (websites and social media) of 100 wineries and evaluate their digital maturity (The level of skill in integrating technology into their marketing mix). I quickly discovered that an opportunity did exist, very few wineries outside of big cellar doors registered particularly high with any digital marketing proficiency. Therefore, I move to phase two. Chat with the industry.

For this, I sent out 300emails to cellar doors around the country with a large variety of products and target markets, asking if the assumptions I could make from phase one are real to them. From the answers, I got back I was able to validate I was correct with 98% of respondents on all but one problem.  

Here are the questions I asked and will cover in the next part of this article.

  1. Standing out from other cellar doors in the region (This is not an issue according to my research)
  2. Maintaining a positive relationship with cellar door customers once they leave
  3. Getting direct wine sales with customers rather than through distributors. I am assuming a direct sale even with a discount is still better value than a wine being bought off a shop shelf
  4. Promotion of events (if this is something do) to get a profitable level of attendance
  5. Turning online sales into a significant revenue source for the winery
  6. Getting feedback from your customers on the product. In your expert opinion, have I missed any significant problems? Are these difficulties? And if so, is technology currently helping to solve these across the industry?
  7. One final question. In this digital age, do you feel like you are winning and getting the most value that you possibly could?

*When we mention wine, we are not talking about goon. Had to clarify this with one of my team :).