Home Wine Business Editorial V Files Mystery Shoppers Visit ZD Wines

Mystery Shoppers Visit ZD Wines


ZD Wines is located on the Silverado Trail toward the North end of Rutherford, its entrance is marked by a boulder showcasing their logo. ZD Wines was founded in 1963 by aerospace engineers Norman deLeuze and Gino Zepponi, with the concept to produce world-class Burgundian style Chardonnay and Pinot Noir. ZD Wines acquired its brand to highlight the founders last names, but to also serve as the acronym for the term “Zero Defects,” a quality control term for perfection used in the Aeronautics Industry. Zepponi and deLueze sourced their first Pinot Noir vintage from Carneros and made history as the first wine to recognize Carneros as a region prior to its declaration as an AVA in 1983. ZD Wines expanded its portfolio to include Cabernet Sauvignon, but still relies mostly on its production of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the bellwether of their ongoing legacy.

The first level of the visitor center is open air with its light oak appointments that create a feeling of casual elegance. Tastings can be conducted for walk in customers on the lower level, however, visitors are encouraged to book seated tastings which are hosted upstairs with table options inside or out overlooking their vast vineyard acreage. Tasting options range in price from $40 to $150 and with the most basic option being a walk-in/tasting bar to an intimate barrel, vineyard or eco tour tasting experience, all paired with cheese or small bites.

Our visits were conducted as walk-in or through reserved seating upstairs and during on and off-peak times. On each occasion our tasters were welcomed, introduced to our hosts by name, and we were given a rundown of what our options were as far as wines (and seating as appropriate). We were also handed sign in cards to provide our names and contact information while we awaited guidance to our designated tasting area. The hosts all inquired about who we were, where we lived, how we heard about the winery and if we had any history with them before they launched into winery business.

Both types of experiences had pros and cons. The walk-in experience, while impromptu, was easy to navigate and maintained the same host throughout the experience. That said, he was the only front bar host, so he had to distract to serve multiple customers. The seated tasting, while much more intimate and informative, moved our shoppers through three hosts—our greeter, who made all the introductions, collected info, and learned who we were, a host assigned for the first couple of wines, and then another for the last two wines. While all hosts deserve accolades for their ability to connect, knowledge of the wines, story, etc., the transitions took some relationship building time away from the guests, and put everyone in a position to have to re-engage with introductions and backgrounds. That said, every host was very adept at asking the right questions and was passionate about the wines and the winery and was able to quickly connect through each transition.

ZD Wines was a very pleasant and memorable experience for all of our shoppers. Wine was purchased; Connections were made. Outside of the host transition in the seated tasting, ZD Wines exceeded all expectations in our five scoring categories.

ZD Wines
8383 Silverado Trail
Napa, CA 94558


Friendly and very informative staff, multiple tasting experience options, walk in guests welcomed, hosts knowledge of wine portfolio and endearing winery story.


Connecting & Building Relationships with Guests:

  1. Personal introductions and inquiries
  2. Collecting contact info via sign in cards
  3. Inspirational storytelling

Converting Sales, Wine Club Subscriptions & Staying Connected after the Visit:

  1. Clearly marked wine tasting, purchase, and club options
  2. Used relationship based closing questions for purchases

Virtual VinesThe V Files™ by Virtual Vines

THE V FILES™ is a monthly publication (subscribe for free) which offers an assessment and rating of wineries DTC performance in relation to overall guest experience and staff proficiency. Wineries are chosen at random by Mystery Shoppers and are evaluated using a scorecard approach leveraging DTC best practices. The ratings are based on how well each winery delivers a memorable guest experience and staff’s ability to sell, covert and connect with customers.

The Rating System is based on performance in the following categories:

  • Inspirational Story
  • Connection w/ Host
  • Sales Acumen
  • Wine Club Conversion
  • Collecting Customer Info

Virtual Vines DTC Sales and Marketing Consulting Services help integrate DTC best practices to help wineries build brand awareness, increase sales and grow customer loyalty. For more information please contact us: www.virtual-vines.com, 707-927-3574

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