It's a New Day

Yesterday was the culmination of many months of work. On the outside, it may not have seemed like a big deal, but between you, me and the lamp post, it reflected a lot of work, study, analysis, and more. What I'm talking about is our DTC Retreat. DTC is the acronym that the wine industry has dubbed the Direct-To-Consumer sales channels, i.e. tasting room, wine clubs, and e-commerce. These channels are separate from the traditional way wineries sell their wines which involve finding nationwide distributors and selling through the 3 Tier system. (Winery:Distributor:Retailer)

DTC has been an increasingly important buzzword for some time now. The most obvious reason is profitability. When you don't have the middlemen in there, it's a much more profitable way of doing business. However, more important is the fact that it's the only sales channel where we can FULLY control the customer's experience with our wines. Here's an example. Pretend you go out to dinner… you order a bottle of wine. You have an amazing meal, a great server, etc. Maybe you just got some good news or a promotion at work or your teenager actually picked up their dirty clothes, so you're in an even better mood. It's highly likely that all these positive influences will add up to a great experience with the wine you selected. But the converse is true too...

You're in a rush to get ready for dinner. You head to your corner liquor store to pick up a bottle. The sales clerk is non-existent or doesn't know diddly squat about wine, you have no idea if it's going to be food friendly and the lack of service and rush hour traffic makes the whole experience rather unpleasant. This could, in theory, negatively impact your perception of the wine, no matter how good it is.

Now, take a DTC experience.

Someone visits wine country. It's a glorious day in the valley. They stop into the tasting room on a relaxing summer afternoon and discover firsthand the delights of chilled Sauvignon Blanc. Or, they just received their latest wine club shipment and eagerly curl up in their easy chair to read the accompanying newsletter. It's all about Old Vine Zinfandel. The gnarly vines and history of the region nearly come to life with every sip they take. In these examples, practically every interaction they have with the winery, every impression, every conversation, every word they read, in essence EVERY ENGAGEMENT they have with the brand is fully controllable. It's all up to us. It's on our backs.  But herein lies the problem. As an owner, I can't control everything. I can't script exactly what they'll experience when they walk into our tasting room. I can't fully know that the tour or tasting that has been set up for them is being conducted exactly as I would like. Because, I have to rely on others. While I can teach, train, mentor, share, rant, rave, and jump up and down, there's no way I can be 100% sure that what I want our customers to experience is actually happening. Unless you tell me.

So that's why we had the retreat. To get everyone together for a detailed look at how we do things. We then asked ourselves, how can we improve? It sounds trite, but what can we do to SURPASS our customer's expectations? WHAT CAN WE DO TO WOW 'EM?

Three themes kept coming up. Family, Heritage, and Authenticity. These are the three core elements that are at the very heart and soul of Dry Creek Vineyard. They're the three things that we alone OWN and that must come through in everything we do and say.

We spent the morning revisiting our vision, mission, and core values. The afternoon was dedicated to team building and brainstorming. We threw in a few Kumbayah moments for good measure, but by and large we focused on how to better infuse FAMILY, HERITAGE and AUTHENTICITY into the tasting room, wine club and ecommerce. The team came up with some great ideas. We concentrated on the "what" not the "how," so people wouldn't get bogged down with logistics. No idea was too silly or grandiose. Everything from buying a golf cart for giving vineyard tours to hanging more family  photos was thrown on the white board. Here's one of my favorites: fly members of our hospitality team to people's homes to conduct private tastings and wine education.

I couldn't help but, how am I going to sell that idea to The HUSBAND??

Now, I'd like to get your feedback! What are we doing right, and where are we missing the mark??  Are we spot on, always exuding warm, gracious hospitality? Or are there a few grumps in our employ that are making a bad impression? What about our customer service? Is it timely and helpful like the good folks at Nordstroms? Or, do you get the run around leaving you frustrated and sour faced like the last time I contacted our internet service provider.

Please tell me, what do you want??? It's the only way I'll know.

| | Comments (4)


Scott Moss said:
May 13, 2011 6:29 PM

This is the passion I love. You are on the path to develop the ultimate wine experience with a 360 degree view.

If you can take what happens at the winery and tasting room and make it a virtual experience you will accomplish something no one else has.

There is a lot of mumbo-jumbo programming talk behind that statement... but picture a wonderful experience at your tasting room that the 'world' could see, experience and connect with, without having been in Dry Creek.

Cool, huh?

Kim (aka Wilma) Author Profile Page said:
May 17, 2011 9:34 PM

That would be very cool indeed. Please help me to understand what you have in mind by sharing more. Your comments/thoughts are very helpful!

Jim Tovar Author Profile Page said:
June 16, 2011 4:09 PM

For me, the idea that comes to mind is a site that has lots of interactive content about the winery that can satisfy a wide range of fans of your winery as well as those interested in the wine making process. I did a quick Google search for virtual wine tours and pretty much everything that came up was static content with maybe one video showing people sitting in a vineyard drinking a glass of their wine. Not very compelling!

Think of streaming video of you and Don discussing how you approach this passion of yours and what it means to you. Additionally, you could appeal to those who are interested in the behind the scenes workings of a winery by having your vineyard manager talk about the different phases of the growing & harvesting process; or your winemaker discussing what he looks for when deciding how to take the harvested grapes and turning them into the beautiful wines you produce.

I believe that the passion of you and your staff would shine through and make this compelling enough to drive visits to the site as well as to your winery.

Tiana U. Author Profile Page said:
July 10, 2011 12:34 PM

I came across your blog looking through the Blog Awards 2011 and really like the passion you exude for your business. As the marketer for my business, I'm turning more to video to enhance a virtual "experience". When I think about my husband and I heading north to visit wine country from San Diego, I look at having a personal experience like taking a tour, meeting owner(s), attending an event with tastings paired with food. When the real life experience exceeds the virtual experience it does motivate, inspire and retain loyal fans.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Kim published on May 12, 2011 6:25 PM.

The Vineyards Wake Up was the previous entry in this blog.

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