As of this Saturday, July 5 I have been in business as In Short Direct Marketing for twenty years. It’s hard to believe that it’s been that long. It’s also hard to believe how much the wine industry has changed in the last twenty years.
In 1994 there were only 1,772 wineries in the United States and Canada; in 1997 (the closest I could come to 1994) had upwards of 110 wineries. In some states and provinces there were no wineries at all. Direct-To-Consumer marketing ran a very distant second to the three-tier system. Many of the wineries that sold wine directly to customers were merely using the tasting room way to sell wines that hadn’t been sold by their distributors. Winter in the tasting rooms was so quiet that tasting room employees were thrilled to see the UPS delivery person, as s/he may have been the only person they saw that day.
There were very few events around in those days and no winery expected that they were going to get a lot of attendees at those first events. In fact I can remember being on event planning committees for various organizations and doing absolutely everything possible to make sure that consumers showed up. We spent the night before worrying about whether any one would show up or not.
And what about wine clubs? I haven’t been able to find the winery that had the fist wine club and when it started, but I don’t remember any of these now ubiquitous engagement and sales tools. Though to say that wine clubs have grown exponentially in the last years is at the very least an understatement.
So this Saturday I am going to crack open a bottle of bubbles and drink to the wine industry. I am pleased to have been a part of it over the past twenty plus years, and hope that I have contributed, in some small way, to its over all success.