Necessity and Invention in the Wine Business

closed signMuch has been written during this ongoing pandemic about how it would change the wine industry. Now we are beginning to see the outlines of those changes and they appear to be largely positive.

In a post entitled Lessons from a Plague Year: Seven Ways Covid Has Made Us a Better Business, Jason Haas, Partner and General Manager at Paso Robles’ Tablas Creek reflects on what he’s learned over the past 18 months about how to sell wine.

  • The policies taken to enhance social distancing such as serving wines in flights, restricting the size of groups, and reducing the number of tables makes for a more relaxed and informative tasting experience.
  • Moving to a reservations-only model for winery visits enables a more efficient use of time and resources
  • Bringing wine information to the customer through virtual tastings and on-demand video rather than bringing customers to the winery enables winery staff to increase customer contact
  • Board meetings and meetings with distributors are just as effective over Zoom without all the time and expense of travel.
  • The use of virtual events for Wine Club members, which were necessary during the pandemic, are an effective supplement to in-person events even after re-opening, since many club members live far from the winery.
  • The loss of restaurant and winery sales during the pandemic forced wineries to develop multiple sales channels that will continue to perform moving forward.
  • Virtual technologies allowed wineries to eliminate the middle layers of communication—distributor sales teams, restaurant and retailer wine buyers—allowing for more direct communication between winery and customer.

These are changes that not only allowed Tablas Creek to flourish during the pandemic but will remain in place when things return to normal.

The adage “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” is probably not good advice. It’s easy to become complacent with sub-optimal practices that seem natural because they’ve always been done that way. Even something as horrific as this plague can have a silver lining.

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