How Do I Feel About Finger Lakes Wine Country After Visiting Sonoma?

As you know, I recently returned from the first North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA in Sonoma County. This was my first trip out West and only the second wine region I have visited. One of the reasons I was anxious to explore Sonoma was for a new perspective on both the offerings and challenges of our region here in the Finger Lakes AVA. Realizing that one can become jaded by not looking outside of the wine country landscape that has become home, I ventured forward excited and looking for new perspective.

Although a good bit of our time during the conference was spent at the Flamingo Resort and Spa, the opportunities to explore bits of Sonoma were good ones. Saturday included our choice of Zephyr Adventures vineyard walks that I previously posted about. Here’s what I took away after visiting and experiencing Michel-Schlumberger.

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Beyond the amazing experience that Zephyr Adventures provided on these vineyard walks, I immediately noticed how down-to-earth and friendly winemaker Michael Brunson and General Manager Judd Wallenbrock are. I felt as if we were old friends invited to spend an afternoon in the vineyard with them. The people I encountered in Sonoma overall reminded me of the friendly, warm folks who make up the Finger Lakes Wine industry. To me, this is one of the reasons I fell in love with our wine country when I first started visiting tasting rooms in the Finger Lakes just two years ago. More than anything, in my mind, the people and the way they make you feel when you visit a new place create a connection to the region that you want to bring home with you (in several bottles!) and tell your friends and family about. And of course return to visit again.

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Remember this coming from a wine lover who has a discerning eye for detail and who is looking at the numerous choices of wine to drink and wineries to visit, in hopes of adding a new favorite to my list. What are you and your staff doing to capture your new visitors hearts and create a memorable experience that will assure repeat visits and purchases of your wine? Do you have programs in place to excite your tasting room staff each day and make them feel special so that they in turn can project that feeling to your tasting room visitors? Are they personally consulting on wine purchases for visitors (when possible) or just letting them walk around the tasting room after finishing their tasting, possibly without purchasing any bottles? I’m not suggesting that your staff hard sell anything, but rather take a few extra steps to direct and help select wine that could lead to interest in your wine club down the road and return visits to your winery. Remember, people connect with people and this could make a difference. Visitors will walk out feeling special, more so than at the tasting room where they were not given that bit of personal attention.

Am I missing anything? Feel free to chime in.

More ideas to come…

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4 responses to this post.

  1. Melissa, I think you have it entirely correct. The wineries with whom we work in Sonoma to offer Vineyard Walks do this because they want their visitors to remember them as a winery & vineyard & tasting room in totality. They want visitors to remember specific staff members, beautiful views, or the winemaker’s perspective on the local climate, rather than just the wine itself. All this, in theory, will also translate into higher sales as visitors connect with a winery.

    Allan, Zephyr Wine Adventures

    Reply

  2. Allan,

    That’s exactly what I will remember from my vineyard walk and will seek out Michel-Schlumberger’s wines to bring that experience back and share it with others.

    Feel free to let me know if I can offer a testimonial for Zephyr Adventures in the future. I can’t tell you enough what a pleasure it was to participate in the vineyard walk and the Wine Bloggers Conference overall. Thanks, Allan!

    Melissa

    Reply

  3. Speaking on behalf of Michel-Schlumberger & the entire Dry Creek Valley, we were all delighted and excited to meet you and show you around our little bit of heavan on the West Coast.

    Please, visit us any time! Thanks so much for the kind words Melissa.

    Reply

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