Wine Marketing and Wine Sales: The Cellar Door Dillema

I would like to talk about one of the most profitable ways of bringing your wines to the market – ie by selling them directly to your customers. By bypassing the distribution tiers the winery can take a larger profit and still be competitive in comparison to its competitors. The different ways of selling directly are either through your cellar door, through your website or to wine clubs. However there is a catch… When people do not know your product they generally will be not too tempted to just buy it without any recommendations. Wine clubs work well here, you get invited, do a tasting and get the members enthused and at the end of the evening orders are being taken and you sell some wine. You may even get lucky and get some repeat orders – but sales in general aren’t going to make you rich…

This brings me to the third and most discussed way of directly selling your wine – cellar door sales. Its often been said and written that the cellar door is an essential interface between your brand and your customers – its the most common way to directly interact with your customers.

If you’re planning a cellar door or are keen to review your existing facilities, here are four key areas to consider:

1. Location:

Its important to either being close to, or preferably part of, a main tourist route, in a strong wine tourism region with close proximity to other wineries. And if possible do make sure you sure that you are on the tour buss’s winetrail  route. Also invest in good directional signage into your property and a strong entry statement that will entice visitors to stop. Its also important to invest in adequate parking for your visitors.

2. Branding

Invest in brand consistency through signage, buildings, grounds and facilities. Make sure the entrance, grounds and facilities are professionally presented and that you a clear point of difference – something which defines your wine brand. Having a reputable restaurant at your tasting room site will add to your winery becoming a destination in its own right.

3 The people factor – great service

It’s  paramount to invest in great service and to make the customer feel at home.  One way of doing this is by conducting tastings in a jargon-free unpretentious manner – a common criticism of the wine tasting experience for many visitor, yet make sure that the person conducting the tasting has a thorough understanding of the growing and making of YOUR wines and an overall sound wine knowledge. They will need this to answer  your customers questions and to make recommendations.

4. Create lasting memories

The key to sucess is create a lasting positive impression with your customer of their visit to your cellar door.  Word of mouth promotion, either direct or through social media,  based on positive experience is a potent way to grow your business.  There are many ways to evoke positive memories in visitors: there are the wines themselves and the tasting experience, food on offer, architectural features or the opportunity to observe a working winery.  It is a combination of these and other things that create the winning impression.  Different people will respond to different aspects of their visit so it is important to focus on building a complete experience that reflects and complements your brand.

Once people have some awesome memories from their visit to your winery, they will look for your wine where-ever they are. Which brings me to the next topic – availability of your wine in a wide range of places – which is generally created through distribution channels – but that’s next weeks topic

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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