Archive for December, 2009

Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees? One Perspective by Don Phelps, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards

December 30, 2009 52 comments

I would like to warmly welcome and introduce Don Phelps, of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards in Chelan, WA. Don is the author and guest of today’s post “Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees”. Having been a tasting room administrator myself for a number of years at a wine shop, I know very well why wine shops have a fee, but I wondered if this reason differed for wineries; it does! It’s surprising how many people do not understand just how much goes into getting that one taste of wine into their glass, and why, in fact a tasting fee is applied. Here is one vintners perspective:

As a small winery (2000 cases) we (Hard Row to Hoe) elected to institute a tasting fee at our tasting room. We did this primarily to protect ourselves against large groups that come on bus tours that historically taste wine, take up staff resources and leave without purchasing. This does happen! We also found that there were a small percentage of our visitors only interested in one thing – drinking free wine!

In our case the tasting fee is five dollars and applied toward the purchase of a bottle of wine if the customer decides to buy, so you can think of it as a non-refundable deposit.  It has been our experience that most folks buy at least one bottle of wine so we actually collect very few tasting fees, other than in the case of the large group tours.  For those that do winery tours just to taste and not buy, the tasting fee allows them to taste and leave without feeling an obligation to buy wine as you might if you tasted for free.

We welcome everyone to our tasting room and encourage big limo and bus tours to visit.  We believe that even if they do not buy on this visit, they will spread the word about the quality of the wine and the good time they had in the tasting room and will eventually be back. Word of mouth is our best advertising.

The bottom line to all of this is the fact that not charging a tasting fee drives the cost of wine up to every wine buyer because a winery has to recover their costs and make a return on their investment or go out of business.

So the next time you are out wine tasting think about the effort and expense the owners went through to produce a bottle of wine to open and share with you and you will better understand and appreciate the purpose of the tasting fee.

Thank you so very much Don, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your insights on tasting fees.

Find Hard Row to Hoe on Facebook and Twitter!

Visit their tasting room: Directions from Chelan: Follow Highway 150 towards Manson. Take a right at Mill Bay Casino on to Wapato Lake Rd., Ivan Morse Rd. is the second right. Look for Hard Row to Hoe winery signs, we are at #300 Ivan Morse Rd.

Or contact them by email!


Seattle area and Woodinville Winery Tasting Room Guide From Social Media’s Seattle Wine Gal

December 28, 2009 10 comments
Adams Bench By Appointment only 425.408.1969 14360 160th Pl. N
Alexandria Nicole Cellars

Anton Ville Winery

Thursday- Sunday: 12:00 am – 5:00 p.m. Closed Monday – Wednesday.

Saturdays and Sundays 1:00 – 5:00pm



19501 144th Ave NE., Building C-900

19501 144th Ave NE, Suite D300

Baer Winery Saturdays 1:00-5:00pm and by Appointment 206.683.3393 9118 222nd St. SE
Betz Family Winery By Appointment only 425.861.9823 13244 Woodinville Redmond Road NE
Brian Carter Cellars Daily- 12:00 – 5:00pm 425.806.9463 14419 Wood- Red Rd NE
Chateau Ste-Michelle Daily 10:00am – 4:30pm 425-415-3658 14111 NE 145th St
Columbia Winery Daily 10:00am – 6:00pm 425.482.7490 14030 NE 145th ST
Covington Cellars Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays – 1:00-5:00pm 425.482.7490 18580 142nd Ave NE
Cuillin Hills Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425-415-8466 19501 144th Ave NE, Suite C-200
DeLille Cellars Daily 11am – 4:30pm 425-489-0544 P.O. Box 2233
Des Voigne Cellars Saturdays 1:00 – 5:00pm, Sundays 1:00 – 4:00pm 206-415-8466 19501 144th Ave NE Suite B-500
DiStefano Winery Fridays -3:00 -7:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm 425-487-1648 12280 Woodinville Dr. NE
Domaine Ste. Michelle Same as Chateau Ste. Michelle 425-415-3658 14111 NE 145th St
Edmonds Winery Saturday and Sunday – 1:00 – 5:00pm 425.774.8959 19501 144th ave NE D-700
Efeste Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.398.7200 19730 144th Ave NE
Facelli Winery Saturdays and Sundays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425-488-1020 16120 Wood – Red. Rd. NE, Ste 1
Guardian Cellars Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 4:30pm 206.661.6733 19501 144th Ave NE # F1100
Hestia Cellars Saturdays 11:00am – 4:00pm 425.333.4270 18572 142nd Avenue NE
Hollywood Hill Vineyards Fridays 3:00 -7:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays -12:00 – 5:00pm 425.753.0093 Apple Farm Village, 14525 148th Ave NE, Suite 114
Januik Winery Daily -11:00am -5:00pm, Wednesdays -12:00 7:00pm 425-481-5502

JM Cellars Fridays -2:00 -6:00pm, Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm 206-321-0052 14404 137th Pl. NE
Mark Ryan Winery Thurs. thru Sunday 12:00-5:00pm 206-910-7967 19501 144th Ave NE #F-900
Matthews Estate Mon. -Wed -2:00 -5:00pm, Thurs -Sun. -12:00 5:00pm 425-487-9810 16116 140th Place NE
Matthews Estate Tasting Room Saturdays and Sundays 12:00 – 5:00pm
Northwest Totem Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.877.7111 15810 NE 136th Place, Redmond
Novelty Hill Winery Daily -11:00am -5:00pm, Wednesdays -12:00 7:00pm 425-481-5502 14710 Woodinville-Redmond Rd. NE
Page Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:00pm, Sundays 1:00 – 5:00pm 253-232-9463 19495 144th Ave NE , Suite B 235
Patterson Cellars Friday, Saturday and Sunday 12:00 – 5:00pm 425.483.8600 19501 144th Avenue NE, Suite D-600
Pomum Cellars By appointment and select events 206.349.8159 18654 142nd Ave NE
Red Sky Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 5:00pm $5.00 Tasting Fee 425-481-9864 19495 144th Avenue NE B220
Ross Andrew Winery Thurs. thru Sunday 12:00-5:00pm 206-369-3615 18512 142nd Ave. NE
Saintpaulia Vintners By appointment only 360-668-8585 14522 NE N Woodinville Way
Silver Lake Winery Mon. -Sat. -11:00am -5:00pm, Sunday 12:00 5:00pm 425.485.2437 15029 – A Wood – Red Rd
Sparkman Cellars Special Events and Appointment only 425-398-1405 19501 144th ave NE D-700
Stevens Winery Saturdays – 12:00 – 4:30pm 425-424-9463 18510 142nd Ave. NE
Vine & Sun No Tasting Room Hours
William Church Winery Saturdays -12:00 -4:00pm, Sundays 1:00 -4:00pm Feb. – Nov. 425.427.0764 19495 144th Ave NE suite A100
Woodhouse Family Cellars Daily 11:00am – 5:00pm 425-527-0608 15500 Wood-Red Rd. Ste C600
Woodinville Wine Cellars Saturdays – 12:00 – 5:00pm, Fridays by Appointment 425-481-8860 17721 132nd Ave NE
XSV Wines Saturday – 12:00 – 5:00pm, Sunday – 12:00 – 4:00pm 425.210.1554 19501 144th Ave NE #C300

THE Most Important Social Media Marketing Business Strategy: Be Authentic

December 27, 2009 15 comments

Like most small business owners and “self- branders”, I used to have the wrong idea about how to ‘use’ Social Media.

Are you a wine shop owner or winery looking to add Social Media to your Marketing campaign? One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to focus solely on an increase in bottom line sales and conversion rates. Here is what happened to change my thinking, and why you should change yours now.

I ran a Social Media Campaign for a large international online retail fertility supplies corporation. I adopted the persona of @FertilAidAmy, the infertility world’s online source of trusted and accurate infertility information (having attained a degree in Women Studies and health, I was actually a legitimate trustworthy source of information). I will be frank with you. The number one goal we had as a company was to use Social Media to increase bottom line sales. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all; most companies are using Social Media for just that reason. It’s not so much about why you’re doing it, it’s how you go about it.

As FertilAid Amy, I slowly built a community, employed clever tactics to increase clicks on our website (and conversion rates), used coupons, contests and games to engage people, and ultimately increased bottom-lines sales quite significantly.

Here’s what I never bargained for, and what I realized the moment we saw this campaign become truly successful: I began to really, truly care. I was involved in the lives of the people in my online community, well beyond just trying to sell them stuff. I established trust, create a raport and gained a huge following for the simple reason that I began to honestly care and love my ‘target audience’ as real people, and friends. I believe that this reality was ‘sensed’ by my community, and this was the moment the campaign began to thrive. All of my aforementioned goals of bottom line sales etc. began to increase. I was being rewarded for being authentic, and my reason for doing Social Media began to change. I went from a sales person to a friend and trusted source of information, both seemingly and in reality.

When done well, the lines between Social Media done for profit and done because you care will begin to blur.

You may be asking yourself what is the intent behind Seattle Wine Gal? I am in no way going to mask the reality of my reasons for starting this Social Media presence. My Seattle Wine Gal campaign (using my love of wine) was originally intended to show future employers the level of Social Media engagement I am capable of. The moment I began to truly care for the people in the community I am engaging in, and my campaign shifted from ‘putting myself on the map’, to meeting new like-minded people, and creating real, true friendships, was the moment I realized that Seattle Wine Gal was a success. I do not feel like the timing was coincidental.

Be Authentic, create REAL friendships and connections, engage, stop trying to sell stuff (or at least do it in a more elegant way), Go beyond your business sense and enter an arena of mutual respect and care.

Start Giving a Damn… you will be amazed by the ‘results’, and the shift in how you view your clientele and the Social Media Community you created.

-Seattle Wine Gal

Social Media for Wineries and Wine Shops: Why is Everyone Talking About Gary Vaynerchuck?

December 24, 2009 21 comments

Wineries and Wine Shops interested in Social Media Marketing may be hearing the name Gary Vaynerchuck floating around. Even if you haven’t heard of him, or have some sort of objection to him, it’s important to at least know about this pioneer of wine marketing and personal branding. Author of Crush It, Gary is known as the Social Media Sommelier. Gary entered the wine industry by taking over his small family wine and liquor business. With a lot of hard work, he is now considered THE face of Interactive Internet Marketing for the wine industry (and well beyond). Check him out, read the book and get your butt in gear with your Social Media Marketing! If you would like more information about how to start your Social Media campaign, feel free to email me at or find me on Linked’In, Twitter, or Facebook.

Check out this VIDEO! Gary Vaynerchuk – Social Media, Marketing & Personal Branding Guru

Social Media Marketing Strategy for Wineries: People Will Listen if You Have Something Worth Saying

December 15, 2009 12 comments

If You Build It, They Will Follow. Do not attempt Social Media Marketing without having a clear strategy in mind! There are many facets of good strategy: setting goals within Social Media; how to go about achieving goals, and what to offer in return for customer/potential customer interest and loyalty. This post is about offering something in return for interest, loyalty, and appreciation.

Blogging about, Tweeting about, and making Facebook posts about your latest wine deals etc. will not build your Social Media community. Yes, you should use these to your advantage within the space, but do it with some finesse and thought. Engagement is key. Get creative, listen to people, offer clever incentives to get people into your tasting room. Above all, have a very specific niche and stick with it.

Let me explain what I mean by ‘specific niche’:

Without a consistent theme of your posts and Tweets, you will confuse people and lose their interest. The wrongful assumption is that you need to type up a blue streak about you you you. Telling people about the latest deals, a new vintage release, awards won etc. tends to interest people who are already a customer of your winery or shop more than potential clientele. The idea of Social Media Marketing is to extend your fan base, and get new people into your tasting room, while also engaging existing customers. I recommend creatively incorporating your wine deals and releases etc. into your well thought strategy.

Here are some examples of potential thematic niches that a wine shop or winery could adopt:

JoeShmoe Wine Cellars: Offering you excellent food and wine pairing ideas, for free!

Seattle Wine Shop: Your source of information for the newest and most unique wines available in the area.

Barbara Evans Winery: 101 wine tasting advice for the beginner enthusiast.

After coming up with this element of your strategy, i.e. what you can offer, stick with the plan. Gently and creatively incorporate your promos and events through this medium.

Please comment below and let me know what you think! I wish you luck and hope that this was helpful in your new or existing Social Media endeavors.

All Content Written By Seattle Wine Gal/ Barbara Evans

If you don’t think social media is relevant to your wine business, you sound like the radio industry when TV came along.

December 14, 2009 5 comments

If you don’t think social media can benefit your brick & mortar business, you’ve never heard of Gary Vaynerchuk.

If you don’t think social media is part of pop culture, you’ve never heard of @ShitMyDadSays, which went from a Twitter account to a sitcom on a major network.

If you don’t think social media is relevant to your business, you sound like the radio industry when TV came along.

Social media might be bleeding into the mainstream now, but it will soon become a pre-requisite for doing business. It is an extension of your customer service, your marketing, your public relations, your every single phase of your business.

It is how your product / service will be discovered, grow and improve. Your customers will not be censored and if you aren’t engaging them, they will vote with their dollars and go somewhere else.

Taken from my blog comments by: Kevin Glowacki @AtlantaWineGuy

Back to Basics: What Can Social Media Do For You and Your Winery?

December 13, 2009 9 comments

On Dec 1st I published a blog post entitled: ‘Winery Guide to Measuring Results of Social Media Efforts. Click Here to read that post. I think I posted about Measuring results a bit preemptively. Perhaps you know what Social Media is, but are curious about whether or not you should be on-board. If that is the case, please read on. I have done some thinking and have taken those same Social media proponents spoken about in the Dec 1st post, and have compiled a list of how Social Media can help your winery or business. This post is dedicated to Woodinville’s NW Totem Cellars, whose efforts to be a unique and small production winery will very soon be coupled with a Social Media campaign (they have reached out to me and expressed an interest in getting their presence off the ground). Please help them out by following them on Twitter: @NWTotemCellars.

When done properly,

  • Social Media are an extension of customer service and relations. Social media allows customers direct, and often real time, interaction with and access to you, your staff, and family (if you so chose). When done right, it also offers clients and potential clients the feeling of exclusive insider access (“you hear it first”, coupon codes, new release info etc). It also allows you as a business direct access to what people are saying about you, and allows you to jump in on the conversation.
  • Social Media establishes trust through dialogue, participation, and conversation. Rather than speaking ‘at’ your customers, and telling them what you want them to hear, social media enables you to listen and exchange ideas with them. This provides a human touch and puts a human face on your business.
  • Social Media increases your reputation. Providing information and/or services free of charge (via blogs, articles etc), you not only develop customer appreciation, but also become a respected authority/expert in your field.
  • Social Media increases word of mouth and recognition. The more people that are talking about you and/or your products on the web, the more people that are talking about you to friends, family coworkers etc. in the ‘real world’ Here is an example of how powerful this can be.  There are currently more than 300 million active Facebook users, the average of which has 130 Facebook friends. If you get just 10 of them to post a comment mentioning you, that comment has the potential to be read by 1,300 people, who may then mention you in their own comment posts!
  • Social Media efforts lead to an increase in SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Once efforts to increase product/company mention online become established and implemented, online mention of your company, and any other topic that you may be blogging, tweeting about, or discussing online will be directly connected to you when someone searches said topics. For example, if you write, post, and publish enough articles with the key words “ fine wine on a budget”, when someone does an online search to find out how they can afford good wine on a tight budget, your company name appears at the top of the list. 
  • Social Media , when done properly, increases sales. Social media efforts that have a strategic focus, plan, and goal, as well as a properly maintained and executed campaign, will result in an increase in sales. Trust building, increased visibility, reputation, word of mouth, and SEO all directly increase the amount of interest, foot traffic and sales for your business.

All of these factors tie in together. Social Media is cyclical and aspects of it are interwoven. This can make it a tricky endeavor to trust due to the nature of the difficulty in measuring results. I have offered a few ideas about measurement, please feel free to check out my Dec 1st post. Also, as always, please feel free to contact me directly if you would like more Social Media tips or an in-person one on one tutorial.

Seattle Wine Gal: Social Media for Seattle Area Wineries and Wine Shops