There’s no way around it — wine drinkers have a lot of wineries to choose from.
And, yet, somehow, with so many to sample, many have their go-to favorites, and even choose to subscribe to wine clubs at direct-to-consumer wineries to ensure they get to enjoy more of the same multiple times per year.
Winery owners and winemakers have shared with Vintner Magazine their strategies for staying competitive in a tight market. For some of them, focusing on a smaller audience and diligently taking small steps to build their reputation has been the key to their success.
Staying committed to DTC sales
One of the key things that has helped Healdsburg, California-based Papapietro Perry Winery stay competitive is shifting from the three-tier system to focusing primarily on DTC sales, Co-owner and Winemaker Ben Papapietro said.
“Closer interaction with our audience has helped us a lot, as the profit margin is better for our business,” he noted.
Prioritizing small events
Flambeaux Wine in Healdsburg is another DTC winery in Sonoma County that has found value in growing its brand through relationships, facetime and word of mouth.
Vintner and Owner Arthur Murray said making friends and taking the time to do smaller events that have built its reputation have been crucial to his family’s brand’s success.
“We have had to do a lot of events and wine dinners, to make the personal connection, and the small events with other industry people, where you can talk to people and really connect,” Murray said. “With our size and goals and value, we seek enough of those situations where people try the wine and buy it. Your best friend is people talking about your wine. That’s when people will try and then buy the wine.”
Patience is important, Murray said.
“Our position is that to succeed you really need three things: a good experience, a good story and good wine,” Murray said. “If you have all three you can do really well, and it’s a matter of time not of strategy. You must invest the time to get those things out there.”
Building Notoriety Through Competitions
Think awards don’t matter? Think again, Papapietro said.
Good scores from wine critics, as well as consistently winning competitions, have helped the small boutique build its brand.
Awards at the North Coast Wine Challenge, the American Fine Wine Competition, Pigs & Pinot and taking the People’s Choice award eight times in a row at the event now known as the Healdsburg Crush are achievements he said he’s particularly proud of and have been valuable. “Ongoing recognition amongst consumers, friends and neighbors has been positive,” Papapietro said.