Growing a Winery

The wine world has gone through a very hard year. Probably the most telling article was a few weeks back in the New York Times on February 16th in the Dining Section:

But in 2009, sales of wines priced at $25 and above dropped 30 percent nationwide, according to Nielsen. While global wine sales increased, California wine shipments fell for the first time in 16 years. Searching for a way out of the crisis, many Napa wineries are increasingly pinning their hopes on direct-to-consumer sales.

The hottest topic in the business is the so-called “retail room,” meaning the combined forces of the winery tasting room, the now-ubiquitous wine club and, most of all, nascent e-commerce.

This isn’t exactly a new idea – the winery tasting room became a profit center during the boom years, offering a preview of the possibilities. But on average, direct sales make up a meager 10 percent of local winery revenues, according to Brian Baker, a vice president at Chateau Montelena…

More recently, the Press Democrat had an article that was similar. Our sales grew in 2009 – not by much but they did grow. I have been thinking about this intensely and think I know a few key factors:

  • Our customers like our wine. We strive to make wine that speaks of the terroir and results the work for our customers.
  • We expanded our footprint. California exports internationally fell, ours expanded.
  • We spent more time with our customers – whether in New York or in our winery, we spent as much time as we possibly could introducing and explaining our wines.
  • We continued to experiment with new channels to talk to customers – we tweeted, continued to update our fan page and tried new services as they became available including FourSquare.
  • We experimented with TinyBottles.

And on that note, we will continue to experiment:

  • Learn how to make great wine without SO2.
  • Become better at making whites with skin contact.
  • Refining everything to lower alcohol.
  • Using technology to connect with more people.

Of course, it still all comes back to you , our supported. Thank you very much for helping us grow last year and please come to our open house on March 20th!