This year’s seminar tracks challenge accepted norms with new communication methods and unexpected product presentations. Plus, using technology to enhance sustainability is just good business practice.
By Barbara Barrielle
The tenth anniversary of WIN Expo, presented by Wine Industry Network on December 1, 2022, at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds in Santa Rosa, Calif., offers four separate learning tracks (Winemaking, Sales & Marketing, Strategy & Leadership and Vineyards & Growers) to let attendees and exhibitors customize their experience by following just one track or moving between subjects of interest.
Text messaging is the latest customer outreach method, but many in the industry aren’t yet on board. This hesitancy will be the focus of “Text me: Grabbing the Attention of Customers Through Text Marketing.”
Panelist Bryan St. Amant of VinterActive has researched this potentially valuable tool, which is not yet widely used in the wine industry but could be a game changer. “With text marketing, we have a 98% open rate and 12 times more engagement.
He continues, “I didn’t want to like text marketing, but it’s 30 to 40 times as effective [as email]. So far, the wine industry has been slow to adapt, and only about 8% have tried text marketing.”
Jennie Gilbert of Red Chirp, who will share the stage with St. Amant, knows that a winery’s DTC team has a lot to communicate and believes multi-channel delivery is the way to break through. “To get customers to act, your communications need segmentation and personalization,” says Gilbert. “Sending everyone the same thing at the same time won’t cut it.”
Sometimes a text may be an alert that something has shipped or that a wine club offering needs to be picked up. Other times, it may be marketing new releases or end-of-vintage specials. Gilbert acknowledges the effort personalization takes and insists, “DTC teams need automation. It’s a real bear to try and do it all by hand.”
This should be a lively session with strong opinions on stage and from the audience. Regardless of your incoming biases, this is your chance to learn how and why to use texting effectively.
Another session, “Boosting Profits with Technology: Connecting the Dots,” will discuss how to streamline the flow of information between winemaking, sales and accounting teams. When effectively employed, wineries gain access to the data necessary to answer key costing questions while maximizing profit margins. If managed correctly, “connecting the dots” allows a better use of resources, time and money.
New packaging perceptions
Another session not to miss will delineate Jason Haas’ ingenuity at Tablas Creek Winery. In “Minimizing Your Carbon Footprint: New Approaches to Packaging Driven by Eco-Responsibility,” you’ll hear directly from the Paso Robles winemaker about his choice to forego bottles and package his biodynamically farmed wines in boxed format. Haas has actively looked for packaging alternatives and will guide attendees through the decision-making that has him kegging several Tablas Creek wines and led him to his latest foray.
Motivated by a desire to drastically reduce his winery’s carbon footprint, Hass says, “We diverted 100 cases of wine to make 350 3-liter boxes of wine that I hoped to sell within a month.” He continues, “That first wine, a rosé, sold out in four hours. Then I had to spend the next week fielding calls from consumers who had missed out!”
Now an enthusiastic proponent of alternate packaging, Haas will discuss his choices and share his reasoning in this presentation.
As far as the consumer reception to premium wine served from a box, Haas simply responds, “How can things change if wineries don’t at least attempt to change perceptions of how a wine is delivered?”
Since the first boxes were released, Tablas Creek has boxed both a white and red blend and has had no problem selling through its stock. Perceptions are changing, so come try the wine and judge for yourself.
Heather Clauss of Free Flow Wines, which provides turnkey kegging services to wineries (including Tablas Creek), knows a thing or two about alternate packaging. Echoing Haas’ comments, she says: “Traditional glass packaging is the biggest contributor to CO2 emissions for wine, and packaging in reusable steel kegs is the single most impactful way to reduce carbon emissions for wines sold on-premise. Our business operations mirror these goals, as we continue to try to reduce our impact throughout our operations.”
Clauss will take the stage as part of “Tech and Sustainability: The Wine Industry’s New Power Couple,” a Leadership & Strategy track presentation that offers more proof that WIN Expo is a leader in thought-provoking ideas, new technology and business advancements in all facets of the wine industry as well as other industries.
The panel will also feature Michael Alley, product manager of Crafted, an enterprise resource program (ERP) for wineries, breweries and distilleries at Doozy Solutions, who says using technology to enhance sustainability is just good business practice. He’ll be on stage, making his case, at this early session.
Tech solutions let companies examine their use of resources to generate results and make informed decisions that will improve sustainability, whether that’s adhering to established standard good practices or presenting data to a governing body on a business’s current sustainability and future goals. Ways to enhance sustainability while enhancing the bottom line — or at least limiting loss — should be a key motivator for every enterprise.
“Crafted has helped to streamline Free Flow’s cellar operations and integrate all of our bulk wine movements into our ERP system,” says Free Flow’s Clauss. “The tracking is now seamless from wine receipt to PO, which greatly improves our efficiencies and impact.”
Panelist Josh Prigge, head of Sustridge Sustainability Consulting, has been managing sustainability for more than 12 years, first in higher education, then as head of sustainability at Fetzer Vineyards and now as a consultant for sustainability accountability in businesses of all types. Prigge’s greenhouse gas emissions calculator became the standard for International Wineries for Climate Action (IWCA) and its global winery membership, which shares the goal of carbon neutrality by 2050.
Prigge’s latest project is cloud-based software for wineries and other business types. Using data that (for the most part) already exists, his program aggregates all efforts, big and small, to show where changes can be made. Winery owners can learn exactly how their business is performing in their quest for sustainability.
You’ll also hear from Tyler Klick, partner and viticulturist at Redwood Empire Vineyard Management, who uses technology to measure sustainability on a daily basis, including monitoring his vehicle fleet “to collect data to increase efficiency of maintenance and reduce vehicle downtime and carbon emissions,” he says. “We also use soil moisture probes to monitor and conserve vine water.”
In this session, you’ll learn why every action counts when it comes to reducing the industry’s impact on climate change.
More to learn
Other topics to be covered in WIN Expo’s Sales & Marketing educational track include using technology to boost profits and examining new DTC trends.
And definitely make time to catch the “State of the North Coast Wine Industry and Bulk Markets,” presented by Mark Cuneo and Christian Klier of Turrentine Wine Brokerage. As we head into 2023, begin the year armed with information to maximize your current status and be prepared for opportunities as they come.
It’s sure to be a day of discovery and dialog. We’ll see you at the Expo.
Use promo code WINexpo2022 for a Free Trade Show Pass or a $35 discount on conference sessions. Conference tickets include a Trade Show Pass.
Barbara Barrielle was a longtime publicist in sports and wine before going to the other side as a wine, travel and entertainment writer. She also produces films and has a documentary “Crushed: Climate Change and the Wine Country Fires” releasing in 2021. Current publications Barbara writes for are AARP Magazine, Northwest Travel & Life, East Hampton Star, Napa Valley Register, Oregon Wine Press as well as Wine Industry Advisor. She lives in Healdsburg, travels extensively and studies wine and languages.