What We Learned at Wine MarCom2015

image1Ben Palos and Elizabeth Caravati recently attended the inaugural Wine MarCom 2015, a workshop hosted by the Wine Institute’s Communications Committee in Sonoma. Here are five things they learned:

Take a Long Term View: Virginie Boone, Napa and Sonoma reviewer for Wine Enthusiast magazine, encouraged communicators to take a long-term approach to media relations. Don’t just reach out with a single announcement; take the time to build relationships with writers over a longer period.

Trendy vs Classic: Wine lifestyle expert Leslie Sbrocco pointed out that while alternative white wines (like Vermentino and Gruner Veltliner) are hot right now, classic wine varietals that have a compelling story will always be interesting. You don’t have to chase the current trend to create buzz around your product.

Don’t Be a Wine Snob: Sara Schneider, wine writer for Sunset Magazine, says as people take a less reverent approach to wine, she is following suit. This approach plays well with Sunset’s audience, many of whom don’t have specialized wine knowledge and are looking for a more fun, lifestyle approach to dining and entertaining.

Find Your Unique Story: Dave Mering, founder and CEO of creative agency MeringCarson, suggested wineries find a unique story by exploring their core values in a new context. As an example, MeringCarson implemented this strategy for Disney Meetings, the corporate conference and tradeshow arm of Disneyland, to position it as both the “Happiest Place on Earth” as well as a serious place to do business.

For Big Memories, Think Small: Barbara Talbott, CEO/founder of GlenLarkin Advisors and former CMO of Four Seasons Hotels, emphasized that being memorable doesn’t have to be expensive. If a guest buys a case of wine, always offer to carry it to the car. Are they heading to lunch? Go beyond recommendations: offer to call the restaurant and make a reservation. With little or no added cost, these small details create big “wow” factors to winery guests.