Posts Tagged ‘Wine Marketing’

Is There a Great Divide Among Wine Producers in the Finger Lakes?

As I’ve come to understand more about the present state of the Finger Lakes wine industry, a few key topics seem to bubble up to the top consistently. One that I find to be important is the question of whether or not there is a divide or segmentation of the wine producers here based on the types of grapes being planted and produced by each winery.

The Finger Lakes wine industry has a history steeped in plantings of native varieties such as Concord and Catawba and some of its best-selling wines still reflect a significant demand for these wine varietals as well as for hybrids. It seems that there is a bit of a divide amongst those producers who are catering to this sweet wine-drinking consumer, in some ways the lifeblood of the region, and those who are throwing themselves into producing vinifera varietals such as Riesling, Gewürztraminer and Cabernet Franc in a dry style that are attractive to a more sophisticated palate, for those wine geeks and foodies among us.

And I’ve seen wine lists at wineries that incorporate both sweet, native varietals and vinifera. Where is the future of the Finger Lakes in regards to native vs. vinifera? Do you feel a divide amongst producers with one side all for producing the sweeter style wines vs. those who are much more interested in perfecting their vinifera offerings? Will vinifera varietals continue to put the Finger Lakes “on the map” as a serious world-class wine producing region, overshadowing the image that clings to the region because of its history of producing sweet wines? I wonder if there should be a separation in marketing efforts for the two segments. Are the sweet wine-only producers dragging the vinifera producers down in terms of the perception of Finger Lakes Wine Country? Or is there some way to use the diversity of wine offerings available in the Finger Lakes to our advantage and tout the region as one that offers both ends of the spectrum, appealing to many types of wine palate?

Morgen McLaughlin, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association, offered these observations on the topic, “I think the reason that many wineries still produce sweet wines is because they sell better in tasting rooms. The drier, vinifera wines do well with journalists, restaurants, retailers, and with certain consumers. The wineries in the Finger Lakes rely heavily on tasting room sales (over 80% of sales for many wineries) and at the end of the day the wineries need to stay in business. Even those producers who focus on dry-style vinifera wines have at least one “cash cow” wine. Maybe not always a native or hybrid blend, but something with residual sugar. Most people talk dry but drink sweet. Why do you think Kendall Jackson has sold so much Chardonnay. They added some residual sugar and saw their sales skyrocket.”

(Full disclosure: I work with Morgen and Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association on projects on a regular basis)


Wine Tasting in Georgia

We got our first taste of Georgia wines at the largest winery in Georgia, Chateau Elan in Braselton. This 3,500 acre winery and resort produces 20,000-25,000 cases of 22 varietals annually from 75 acres of vineyards and has a sister winery in California.

Some of the wines designated as American in their names combine grapes from both the Georgia and California vineyards, while Founder’s Reserve Georgia wines are made exclusively from Georgia grapes. Of the wines that we tasted, the Scarlet 211 and American Port stood out most, in our opinion. Scarlet 211 is a big, bold red made from the Syrah grape and the American Port combines wine and brandy in this intense sweet dessert wine. My mother is a brandy lover and her clear favorite was the American Port, so we were sure to buy her a bottle, but made her promise to think of us when she pours herself a glass! (See picture)

It’s this type of context, memory, link of a happy experience that I feel lends to brand loyalty for wineries. It seems that a wine tastes “better” if you can reflect back on a fun get-together that included the wine, or in this case, of the gift of the wine from loved ones.

Now, how to bring those experiences to life via wine marketing to create raving enthusiasts and loyal customers, that is something I ‘ve been thinking long and hard about. Can you think of your favorite wine and is there a memory connected to it? Does it evoke emotions or bring a smile to your face? Cheers to that!

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Wine 2.0: Using Twitter to Promote Wine

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I recently jumped on the Twitter bandwagon and now follow several thought leaders in the wine industry there.  I’ve found the Twitter posts interesting, insightful and helpful in monitoring what is on the minds of those deep in the industry.  Not all posts are about wine, some of them are personal and allow you to get to know your Twitter friends more intimately i.e. what their favorite sports teams, tv shows and hobbies are. 

Many of my favorite bloggers post a link to their latest blog posts on Twitter as soon as they create and post them to their blogs, providing instant access to their latest thoughts.  This is great!  I love this much more than checking RSS feeds because with plugins such as Twhirl, a popup notification appears in the corner of your computer. 

In addition to bloggers, some winery owners are also starting to Twitter updates, adding their personal thoughts on new releases, events, which wines have been selling well and personal likes and dislikes.   I think that this is a nice way for wineries to build relationships with their customers and prospective customers.  Everyone seems to be thirsty for an inside perspective on wineries they would like to do business with and getting to know the owners in this quick, updated fashion can help to create interest in visiting a winery’s website and tasting room and ultimately to purchase their wine!  I would love to see updates from wine makers and vineyard managers.  I think consumers would respond well to educating themselves about wine and all of the complexities associated with getting a bottle to their tables in this initmate, fun environment.