The True Impact of Direct Sales for Small Wineries

In this article, we’ll discuss marketing tips for small wineries to sell more of their product directly to customers “out the cellar door.” We’ll also dive into the effect of small tasting rooms and wine sales.

Keep It Local

Keeping costs low is one of the most important things that can be mastered in order to maneuver the wine industry in a responsible way. This is especially critical for small wineries where the bottom line is much smaller than larger scale productions. So, how can you market to the locals while being fiscally responsible in building your brand?

Hosting an event is one way to draw interest into your cellar doors. Marketing can be as easy as placing a sign outside of the front door, on the yard or on poles around the neighborhood. If you’re in a more rural area, try placing an ad in the local newspaper or ask industry websites to send your event out to their networks via social media. Events may include wine tasting hours, cooking courses, festivals, and even small concerts.

Check in with your local chamber of commerce and invest in your local area. Locals are always searching for exciting new things to do and try – and wineries are usually right on the top of the list! In addition to your local chamber of commerce, it might behoove you to check in with tourism boards, hotels, inns, bed and breakfasts, and restaurants. Creating a cross-promotion that brings customers to everyone is beneficial and doesn’t have to be a mutually exclusive arrangement.

Direct-to-Customer Incentive

Silicon Valley Bank’s Wine Division founder Rob McMillan recently hosted a video discussion regarding the effect of direct-to-customer sales for small wineries. His research revealed that “direct-to-consumer wine sales is the future that has arrived.” Over 1,200 representatives responded to the survey, largely agreeing that future sustainability for small wineries would come from direct-to-customer interactions.

It’s currently estimated that 50 per cent of a wine’s success is directly tied to personal interactions with the customer. Customers are demanding that personal attention to make them invest in their new favorite varietals. Simply put, direct wine sales are good for business.

Tasting Room Strategies

When it’s time to open that tasting room, you want to ensure you have the best strategies at your fingertips to market your wine successfully. In Napa Valley, a hub for all things wine-related in Northern California, the rules of the road are: keep it light, educational and engaging, Wineries big and small take guests on tours of the proverbial cellar, answer questions guests may have, and supply snacks and water along with every pour in the tasting room. The experience is inviting from start to finish – and it goes a long way to foster continued brand loyalty.

After a positive experience, new customers often join the wine club, which reinforces the benefits of direct-to-customer sales. Wine clubs often feature specials, discounts and announcements for their members that are off-limits to other customers not on their lists. The membership buys the customer an exclusive look at their favorite winery and their offerings. In return, the wineries are tasked with collecting personal data in an effort to continue marketing and upselling their products to the database of loyal customers.

When a winery takes advantage of cutting out the middleman, everyone benefits. The customer obtains personal one-on-one service and tasting opportunities and the winery enjoys a larger profit margin than splitting it with a go-between service. Finding your network of customers through the marketing techniques above not only ensures positive outreach for the client – it also lays down the groundwork for a profitable enterprise no matter the size.


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