The National Sales Meetings

It takes a village. This is true in nearly all things in life whether it's parenting, selling wine or building a business. This notion really struck home for me after last week's national sales meetings.

Every year, usually twice, we have national sales meetings. The name sounds rather ominous and important for a fairly small group who gather to strategize, review, and brainstorm our upcoming year's sales plans and goals. I figure I've sat through at least 46 of these things. (That's 2X per year for 23 years). And to some degree I always feel a sense of déjà vu. I mean, there are only so many ways we can skin the cat, you know? But this was the year when the rules changed. When we had to throw out conventional thinking and look at our business in a new light. Like so many in this country, we got back to the basics and applied ingenuity and entrepreneurship that is part of our country's heritage.

But, trying to forecast sales with an economy so unpredictable is like predicting the weather in Hawaii. (It can change several times a day.) Sure we've got years of historical data along with this year's numbers, which by all measures have been pretty darn good. And, we have numerous promotions lined up for 2010 that will make an impact.  But if you asked me if I know FOR SURE whether we'll hit our 5 year plan or even a 3 year plan, I'd have to say I think so. And with this admission, comes a small degree of unease. A lot of my vintner friends are in the same boat. Ask anyone in real estate, building, banking or manufacturing—and I'd hazard to guess they'd say the same thing too. Of course some industries are booming. Take tortillas. Sales are sky rocketing. So are nursing homes and elder care. But wine, well it's as variable as there are wineries today.

At Dry Creek Vineyard, we are very happy to be finishing the year with sales flat to last year. (You know what they say, “flat is the new up!”)  Interestingly, national sales are off modestly, while California sales are up quite dramatically. Tasting room sales are also down a bit but then again, we've had 3800 fewer visitors this year over last. Happily, the wine club and online sales are booming.

As I sat through these sales meetings, the thing that kept coming back time and time again is the importance of relationships. In other words, if you strip away the complicated process of how we get our wines to market, it all boils down to one thing: Relationships. Relationships with distributors. Relationships with restaurants. Relationships with retailers. Relationships with wine lovers. Relationships with wine writers. Relationships with growers. Relationships with vendors, with lenders, you name it. It's all based on relationships. And no amount of planning, strategizing, brainstorming or forecasting can take the place of this old fashioned way of selling. It's how my father did it and it's how we do it.

Now back to my village analogy. Our sales team is our little village. They are our “relationship experts”. They are the wheels that drive the engine that brings the enjoyment of our wines to so many people. And, they are some of the nicest, hardest working, most ethical and caring folks I know. Thanks guys for all that you do!  

(And thank goodness we don't have to meet again until next year.)

After our meetings, we broke into teams at Relish Cooking School for a culinary cook-off—a highly recommended adventure!

| | Comments (0)

Leave a comment

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on December 14, 2009 2:54 PM.

Post Turkey Day Reflections was the previous entry in this blog.

The Dynamics of 'Family' Winemaking is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.


This is a blog about what it's really like to be in the wine sit back, take a sip and enjoy!

about me

our wines

our winery

our events

contact me

privacy statement

favorite posts

A Lifetime in Wine

Top 10 Traits of the Successful Family Winery

The Dreaded Family Meeting

Board Meeting Jitters

Is the Future of the Winery in Danger?

The Case of the Overweight Bottle

Wine and Dementia

Wanted: Talented (Normal) Individual for Family Owned Winery

A Sea of Wine

The Heroes of Our Industry

monthly archives


Hopes & Dreams

Owning a Coastal Cottage

Sailing for 6 Months

Getting a 100 Point Score

Favorite Haunts

Coast of Maine

Dry Creek General Store

Dry Creek Kitchen

Healdsburg Bar & Grill


Sonoma Country Antiques

Baci Cafe & Wine Bar

The Farmhouse

Istanbul's Grand Bazaar

Bad Ass Coffee

Bistro Ralph

Bits of Press

Food & Wine Magazine

The Wine News

Wine Enthusiast

Wine Spectator

Press Democrat

Sunset Magazine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Dan Berger's Vintage Experiences

Cruising World Magazine

Oprah Magazine

The Washington Post

Coastal Living Magazine

Wine & Spirits Magazine

People Magazine

SAG Awards Magazine

Forbes Magazine

Favorite Magazines

Coastal Living

Down East


Country Living

Quarterly Review of Wines

Wines & Vines

Wine Spectator

Wine Enthusiast

California Grapevine

Connoisseurs' Guide

Practical Winery & Vineyard


Vineyard & Winery Mgmt

Blog Buddy List


Hip Tastes

Pinot Blogger

All The Best

Julia Flynn Siler


Winery Web Site Report

The Pour - Eric Asimov

Dr Vino

Steve Heimoff

Start Up Ladies

Good Wine Under $20

Blind Muscat

The Wineroad Blog

Gabe's View

Wine Peeps

Vici Vino

Cellarmistress' Cellar Talk

Uncork Life

WineVine-Imports Blog

The Wine Witch


Honorable Mentions

Wilma Hits The World of Blogs
Most Intriguing New Wine Blogs of 2008
Midwest Wine Guy
Winery of the Month
Julia Flynn Siler
Meritage wines - and a fascinating glimpse into family business
Winery Web Site Report
New Winery Blog: Wilma's Wine World
Start Up Ladies
Insider's View of Family Owned Dry Creek Vineyard
The Glue that Keeps the Whole Thing Going
Atlanta Dish
Blog of the Week
Blind Muscat
The Merits of Meritage
Boston Wine Expo exhibitors, and the reason why winemakers are so darn happy