The Perfect Cup of Tea

As many of you know, I’m British and because of that I very much value a good cup of tea. Now, getting a good cuppa in the United States can be difficult. With the propensity towards lawsuits, restaurants are cautious about giving customers hot water. The water is usually tepid. Also, I can’t tell you the number of times I have been reminded not to scald myself. I have been drinking tea for many decades and am proud to say that I have never once scalded myself and am not about to start now.

Last Saturday I was at my favorite breakfast spot and the waitress came by to refill my teapot. Before picking it up she asked me, “Do you like the water really hot?” I answered that I did. When she returned she told me that she had filled the teapot from the Espresso machine, because the water that comes from the machine is much hotter than that from regular pot.

As you can imagine I was thrilled. The tea was delicious (the best cup of tea I’ve had outside my house in some time!) and my pleasure was reflected in the tip I left her. I was impressed by that small attention to detail, which resulted in a very satisfied customer (me). When I’m out drinking tea from now on, I will ask if the establishment has an Espresso machine and if so, if they will get the hot water for my tea from there.

It’s such a small thing but it made a big impression. It should be the same in any retail establishment, including wineries. Attention to the minor details is what makes for very satisfied customers. So think about the small things and improve your service and sales, and make your visitors friends for life.

A sua saude! (To your health!), Portugal


A Happy Wine Club Family

While reading winery websites, which I do often, I notice that wineries refer to their wine club members as part of the family. If that’s true, when was the last time you called wine club members without having something specific to tell them?

Most of us like to hear from our friends and family. Are you doing that with your wine club family? Once in a while give your members a call. Let them know that you like to check in with them to see how things are going. You may add that as a wine club member s/he is part of the family and families call each other.

Always identify yourself with your name and the name of the winery before you ask for the person to whom you wish to speak. Once you have the person on the line ask if this is a good time for them to chat. Then let them know that you called to say hi and ask how they are. Ask about their spouse, significant other or pet, if you have that type of information.

You may want to ask if they have drunk any great wine lately, then take the opportunity to ask if they are receiving their shipments in good order. Be ready with a list of the wines that the member particularly likes, in case s/he is interested in purchasing.

Know which events the member attended so you may ask the member how they enjoyed themselves and solicit feedback about the event, what they liked or what they didn’t.

Give them the opportunity to provide you with any feedback they want.

Listen hard and be aware of their tone of voice and demeanor as well as their answers. Let the member guide the conversation if you sense that is what they want. Are the answers short? They may be in a hurry.  If so, bring the conversation to a close.

You may come across a small number of people who don’t want to talk to you, but they will be few and far between. So give it a try – and let me know how it works.

Slainte!  (To your health!) – Scotland

Working in a Wine Wonderland!

Okay, we’re through one holiday and onto the main event for wine sales. It’s a great time to be selling wine as your customers dust off their best wine glasses in preparation for the festivities. In honor of the holidays, I have in my blog today a holiday song for all the people who sell wine.  From the winery and tasting room to the retail stores – this is for you.


A Case for the Holidays

(sung to the tune of Walking In A Winter Wonderland)


Registers ring, are you listenin’

Down the bar, the wine is glistenin’

Visitor’s drinking great wines 

And everything’s fine

Watching cases flying out the door…


Take a look around your tasting room and retail store. Think in terms not only of putting together gift baskets of wine but baskets of non-wine items. Perhaps a wine enthusiast starter kit complete with a good corkscrew, glasses, a drip ring, aerator, a book on wine or pairing and, of course, a couple of bottles of wine.

I am noticing more emails lately from wineries, most of them offering large discounts and/or free shipping.  Instead of always offering discounts (we don’t want to train people to buy only when wine is on sale) what can you offer as a value add?  For example, anyone who purchases two cases of wine gets a free wine tasting with food pairing for four or six people. Naturally it is subject to some restrictions, for instance:

Not good on holidays or holiday weekends.

Date must be mutually agreeable.

The tasting must be reserved one or two weeks ahead.

Expiry date.


The great thing about this kind of add-on is it brings customers back to the winery and they bring their wine-drinking friends with them (Woo Hoo!). There are lots of things you can do that add value to the transaction and bring people back to the winery.

So let’s start singing… Registers ring, are you listenin’…

How many grapes to make a barrel of wine?

Most of us enjoy passing along bits of information that our family, friends and even strangers may not know. It’s fun to be able to say, “Did you know that…” and relay factoids to others, making them more knowledgeable and making us the experts. I have to say that this is something I enjoy. In fact it runs in my family. Most of my cousins are addicted to trivia games and being members of pub quiz team.

It also appeals to many visitors to your tasting room.

Shown below are some trivial wine facts I came across, years ago. I don’t know where it originally comes from, so if you know please let me know too, as I like to give credit to those who deserve it.

I suggest that you have this information available in the tasting room.  If it’s in the budget, have it put onto laminated cards with your logo and winery contact information on one side and the trivia on the other. This is the type of information people tend to keep. Even if it’s stuck away in a drawer, when they come across it, they’ll possibly take it out for a few days before it goes back in the drawer. They will, however, remember their visit to your winery.

Check the Internet under Wine Trivia for more facts to interest your visitors and give them something to remember you by.


One Acre of Land Averages:

Five (5) tons of grapes -10,000 pounds

13.51 barrels of wine at 7,552 oz/ea

797 gallons of wine at 128 oz/ea

3, 958 bottles of wine at 25.6 oz/ea

15,940 glasses of wine at 6.4 oz/ea


One Barrel of Wine Contains:

740 lbs of grapes and 59 gallons of wine

24.6 cases of wine

295 bottles of wine

1,180 glasses of wine


One Case of Wine Contains

30 lbs (approx) of grapes (480 oz)

307.2 ounces of wine

12 bottles of wine

48 glasses of wine


One Bottle of Wine Contains:

750 ml of liquid

2.4 lbs of grapes

25.6 oz of wine (a bottle of wine is 4/5s of a quart)

4 glasses of wine (6.4 oz)


Oogy Wawa! (Zulu) – To Your Health!

From the book “Toasts” by Jennifer Rahel Conover

Tasting With All The Senses

Rather than thinking about your retail area as a tasting room, think of it as a sensory space, a place where visitors can come and use all their senses when enjoying the wine.

Creating a sensory space takes nothing more that you are already using, you merely focus on each one of the senses separately.

Touch: It’s not only the feel of the wine in the mouth, but the feel of a cool bar top or the wine glass in your hand when you come in from the heat. Let’s not forget the different textures and feel of gift items.

See: The look of the space, the shape of the glasses and the color of the wine in the glass all make an impression on visitors.  Keep things neat and clean at all times, especially the bathrooms.

Smell: The smell of the wine is an important component of appreciating the wine so make sure that nothing interferes with the visitor’s ability to pick out the different aromas in the wine.  Some wineries have scented gift items too close to the tasting counter, if you sell those types of items, put some distance between them and the wine tasting area.

Taste: Ask your visitors what they taste in the wine rather than telling them what they should taste. If they get some of the flavors commonly found in that varietal (even if they are not in the tasting notes) congratulate them on their abilities. We want to encourage visitors so they will want to do this again. The easier way to encourage someone is to tell the they are good at it.

Hear: Keep a glass behind the bar filled with water, juice or anything non-alcoholic and when you have poured the first taste, clink glasses with your visitors.  Clinking glasses is a sign of friendship, fellowship and celebration, it connects us to our visitors and makes the feel more at home.

Think about other things you can do to create a sensory space that accentuates the experience through all the senses.

“Dreams give one wings. Dare to soar and succeed.”  Anon


“If we make it, they will come” (to paraphrase a line from the movie, Field of Dreams) is a concept that seems to have been internalized by newer and older wineries in all parts of the wine world. Much as I would love that to be true, it isn’t. There is too much really good wine to be found throughout North America and the rest of the world, for the mere making of wine to entice people into your winery.

Believing that once you have made wine people will miraculously appear to buy it goes hand in hand with the belief that making better wine is a viable Unique Selling Proposition. Unless you follow that up with strong marketing and promotion you will find yourself sitting in an empty tasting room wondering where the visitors are. You might as well relax and have a drink – after all you have plenty of wine.

There are wineries that seem to have been amazingly successful because they make better wine, though in most cases these wineries have had a strong PR company or publicist behind them. Yes there are cult wineries, but it takes a lot of work, patience and guerrilla marketing to get there.

By all means put in place the grapes, winemaker and equipment that will allow you to make outstanding wine, however save some money for marketing and sales. I know most people don’t get into the wine business because they have an overwhelming desire to sell something, but shake a leg, it’s all part of the process. If you don’t want to market, promote and sell you products, hire someone who will.

As Louis Pasteur said, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” So be prepared for success and chances are you’ll get there.

Making the Most of Club Pick-Up Parties

A wine club pick-up party is a great way to get your best customers to the winery. So here are a few tips to make your pick up party even more successful and profitable:

1.  Treat your members well.

  • Give them reasons to buy wine – as many of these people are your best customers and this is one time where you can offer a special price as a thank you.
  • Present information on older wines. Taste through the wines prior to the party and provide tasting notes and age-ability information. Let them know which of your wines are ready to drink and which can be kept in the cellar.
  • A little background music adds to the ambiance.

2.  Many of these people are your best customers so don’t skimp.

  • Offer them food as well as wine.  The food doesn’t have to be fancy, though it needs to pair well with the wine.
  • Let them taste a couple of special wines that are not usually available and offer them for sale.
  • If you use logo glasses that members may keep, don’t charge for them, give them away.

3.  Have enough staff on hand.

  • You don’t want to have long lines of customers waiting in long lines to pick up their wine or to snag some of the wine or food being served.

4.  Organization is the key to success:

  • Make it easy for people to pick up their wine.
  • Members who pick up wine should sign for it to avoid future confusion.
  • Have an order form listing other wines available for tasting or purchase.
  • This is a great time to offer library wines. You may pour them or not depending on inventory.

Your pick up celebration should be a day to remember.

So smile, laugh and have fun – it’s a party!