Remote Tasting Room Tips for Non-Tourist Towns

Despite being a place where one can visit tasting rooms that serve good, estate grown wines, Scottsdale, Arizona is nonetheless miles away from wine tourism regions like Napa and Sonoma.

Aridus Winery — which grows its grapes in Pearce, Arizona — makes most of its sales at its tasting room in Scottsdale, which it opened on Super Bowl Sunday in 2016.

Its winery and original tasting room are located near the estate vineyard in Willcox.

As a result, the clientele, audience and available help are all different than what one might see in California, owner Scott Dahmer said.

The Scottsdale tasting room draws an especially eclectic crowd. Only about 1-2% of the customers are from California, Dahmer explained.

“We have a mixture of both wine aficionados and typical (casual wine drinkers),” Dahmer told Vintner Magazine during an interview for the September/October edition cover story. “We have some out-of-staters who visit in wintertime, and we have some local people who come in and tell us they don’t know about wine.”

An easygoing approach with tentative customers is Aridus’s strategy.
“I tell them ‘Sure you do,’” Dahmer said. “Because they know what they like.”

Putting a tasting room in Scottsdale was met with a lot of curiosity when Dahmer opened up shot. Wineries in Arizona weren’t previously allowed to operate remote tasting rooms.

The trend caught on, though, and so have the customers.

“After we opened up five-plus years ago, we started to see more and more little tasting rooms in Scottsdale,” Dahmer said. “But people weren’t used to it at first. They’d confuse it with a wine bar. But we’ve been around long enough that people are getting the idea.”

Dahmer said it was difficult to get people experienced in the wine industry on his tasting room staff, but not impossible and that he leaned toward applicants with experience in the wine industry.

Beyond that, there were characteristics in employees he said he looks for.

“They need to have an enthusiastic appreciation for wine but an ability to soft sell,” Dahmer said. “We don’t want them to be car salesmen. They have to be a people person.”

Making sure they’re familiar with the product is also key.

“We make sure our staff know our wines,” he said. “We take them to the winery and show them how it’s made and help them participate in some kind of process while they’re there. That way they can go back and tell that story.”

“They can go back and tell the customer, ‘I was there when this was bottled, and it was cool to see the (process).’”

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