Participating in regional events like holiday wine trails are one tool wineries have to attract new customers.
The Winery at Marjim Manor is a participant in the Niagara Wine Trail in New York this month, and President Margo Sue Bittner said the event is a worthwhile one for her winery.
“These events get people to purchase their first bottle from us if they haven’t been here before,” Bittner told Vintner Magazine. “My job is to get them to come back and participate in more winery and wine trail events.”
Such events also help create a “stronger together” effect with area wineries working together to create one event, especially in the case of the Niagara Wine Trail, which has been going on for 20 years.
“We have done a number of versions of this event,” Bittner said. “An ornament at each winery. Cookies, cork cages. Our most popular ornaments were the train ones. The Niagara Wine Trail had the engine, and each winery’s logo was on a different car from coal car to caboose.”
This year, the gift is a Niagara Wine Trail Wine Journal. Each member winery has a page with information about the winery and their featured wines, with room to write notes about the wines tasted along the trail.
“Now that we are entering our 20th year, we wanted a gift that would reflect the diversity along the trail,” Bittner said.
Wineries participating all help promote the event, which is, in part, marketed as a way to help folks complete their holiday shopping. Gift baskets and gift cards are commonly available to purchase in addition to bottles of wine.
Most of the tickets are sold to people in the Buffalo or Rochester areas, but Bittner said they have seen visitors come from all over.
“Social media is No. 1,” she said. “We share the information on Facebook, Twitter and whatever other forms the wineries use. Most of us do e-newsletters that we include them in. The wine trail creates a poster that we all hang up in our wineries, especially the bathrooms.
“There are posters throughout my winery. We also decorate a lot for the holidays and promote ‘Lighting of the Manor.’ This year there are only 12 Christmas trees and 25 Menorahs. We also provide snacks and something for the designated driver — a coffee mug with coffee or water.”