The Coronavirus has essentially thrown a wrench in the works of nearly every business in the world, especially in the landscape of restaurants, hotels, and the whole wine industry. From retail to restaurants, hotels and venues, most of the channels wineries use to sell their wines have been stifled. The pandemic has wiped out wineries’ ability to sell to restaurants and hotels and even in their own tasting rooms. If there is any hope of keeping wineries and their staffs afloat, every winery and importer needs to explore these five key tactics for getting wine directly to the customers’ lips in the near and long term.
- Virtual Wine Tastings
Virtual Zoom tastings with the winemaker are practically commonplace now, especially with corporations looking to keep their employees engaged from home. These “calls” usually last 45 minutes to an hour and include one or two wine selections, a guided tasting, and a Q&A afterward. I’ve spoken to many wineries that are hosting these tastings at least once a week. This is a great strategy for connecting with the consumer directly, and making your wine relevant and accessible.
- Partnering with Wine Companies
Companies like Wine.com enable wineries to reach a broader audience by creating special packages and virtual tastings. They’ve reported huge increases in sales with these partnerships. Both the wineries I’ve spoken to that sell to companies like wine.com have reported up to a 300% increase in sales!
- Smaller Bottle Sizes
Some wineries are packaging their wines into sample size bottles and creating value packs of four to six selections so their customers can taste many different wines without having to open full bottles. They are starting to use neutral gas such as argon to protect the wines and are shipping them out faster so the wines are fresh.
- Expand on New Alcohol to Go Laws
Curbside pick-up is very popular amongst many restaurants, wine shops, and wineries where the customer emails or calls in their order and they can pick up the wines at a scheduled time. This is very helpful for wine lovers who want to support their local shops and wineries. These curbside pickups can be tied to Zoom Virtual tastings as well.
- A New Way to Taste
I’ve spoken to many wineries that plan to “soft” open as the weather gets nicer, particularly those that have outdoor seating, a restaurant or food option, and Tasting Room Directors/Guides. We don’t know exactly what the next few months will bring, but I believe the virtual tastings and online wine buying are here to stay. Time to focus on connecting with wine lovers online.
I wish all my winery, restaurant, hotel, and wine hospitality colleagues a swift and mighty recovery when this all ends! If you ever need some help finding your way, Master & Shaker is here to help with everything you need.