How have you created your winery to be a place consumers want to be at? How have you used your physical space to better position yourself in the market and create an experience? Those were questions posed to Kentucky’s Harkness Edwards & New York’s Fox Run Vineyards recently.
It’s a big question for Harkness Edwards Manager, Nini Edwards.
“Since Day 1 it’s always been about the experience and the feeling,” she said. “From the customer service to the environment to the consumables … everything has to be fabulous.”
Edwards said she has worked with her staff to create a comfortable space where consumers can come in to slow down and enjoy the Kentucky countryside.
“My staff is trained to get to know every person who walks through the door,” she explained. “I could write paragraphs about the experience I provide, but I would say the No. 1 thing that separates us [from other wineries] is my staff.”
Edwards explained that most people that come to the tasting room may know nothing about wine.
“They want to hang out and have a good time with their loved ones,” she said. “So, when you start going down the rabbit hole of ‘this wine has blueberry frontal notes… blah, blah, blah …’ you quickly lose them and my customers cannot relate,” she said. Instead, the staff is trained on the wine, but the top thing is for them to ask the customers questions about themselves to make them comfortable and for the staff to get to know them.
“Ask them about their kids, where they’re from, what they like to do,” she said, “then once they’re comfortable, questions about the wine will naturally occur.
“I cannot tell you how much this has separated us from other tasting rooms where the server pours the sample then goes down the quick list of tasting qualities then walks away. I see it everywhere and I would be mortified if I saw my staff do that.”
The personalized attention that people receive at Fox Run is similar in scope, as the ownership group of Scott and Ruth Osborn and Albert and Kathleen Zafonte noted.
“The atmosphere our staff creates, and our vision to make wine approachable keep guests coming back,” they wrote in an email to Vintner. Increasing the connections through staff interactions can help create fans and additional sales past the tasting flights. The Osborns are very hands-on and can often be seen working in the tasting room or café, which can be a standout concept for consumers.
“Our repeat visitors often become wine club members, and after that our goal is to maintain them as Fox Run fans for life,” they said.
In the marketing manager role, Fox Run’s Samantha Dreverman looks at the data collected from the Penn Yan, New York tasting room to develop remarketing campaigns that can drive traffic to its online store.
”We’ve recently switched over to flat rate shipping to reduce shopping cart abandonment as well,” she said. ”Overall, I believe the authenticity of our brand and the consistency in the quality of our wines is what drives our DTC sales.”