Is Selling Non-Wine Merchandise A Helpful Strategy?

For some destination wineries, selling merchandise in their tasting rooms bearing the winery’s name makes sense, as does partnering with businesses that make spices, oils, soaps and kitchen accessories.

Lost Oak Winery President Roxanne Myers offered a counter argument to that strategy, noting that her Burleson, Texas-based business largely steers clear of it for one simple reason.

”Customers may love that stuff, and they may talk about it, but turning it into a revenue center is hard,” she said. “It takes a lot of work. It’s a lot of manpower to manage those programs, (and) it steals away from what our core is, and that’s wine.”

Myers said offering additional merchandise hadn’t been much of a help for Lost Oak. She said it represented between 3-4 % of her overall sales, it was cumbersome to maintain, it was hard to get and there was already a lot of it out there to purchase from other retailers.

“I mean, you can spend lots of time figuring out what merchandise to buy, buying it, and then selling it, almost like a retailer, like a box store,” she said. “There are winery models that do that, and they’re great, especially if they’re waiting for great shopping opportunities.”

Gervasi Vineyard in Canton, Ohio, which has a large gift shop on its 55-acre estate that includes a hotel, offers a wide range of products from other retailers. 

“(Our) guests seek mementos, special gifts, and often are willing spend more on unique and premium gifts and products to take home or share with others as part of their getaway experience,” Gervasi Vineyard GM Scott Swaldo told Vintner Magazine. “Our buyers — through some trial and error and listening to guests — have learned what they want and what works. We now carry more luxury items, jewelry, and special items for both women and men that these shoppers seek.”

Myers noted that Lost Oak doesn’t avoid selling non-wine merchandise completely.

“We do branded merchandise, so if you want a t-shirt with our name on it, a wine key or a YETI or a wine glass with our name on it, great,” she said. “Otherwise, we don’t carry a lot of olive oils or lotions or kitchen and bar accessories.”

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