Most wineries dipped their toes into the world of virtual wine tastings in the spring of 2020. For some wineries, these tastings have stuck and continue to be a source of both revenue and new fans and club members. Check out what some Napa Valley wineries are doing.
From a business point of view, I think the virtual wine tasting channel is valuable for many reasons. First, you can isolate the costs of running the virtual channel very easily. The staff is scheduled only when you have guests to entertain, so no more waiting around or guessing how many staff to plan for a weekend.
Second, you can isolate the advertising costs. Your goggle or facebooks ads have tracking codes so you can see the conversion rate and from that calculate the total revenue. There is a direct correlation between a specific ad and the revenue generated from that ad. Back in the 1800’s John Wanamaker said that half of his advertising was wasted, he just didn’t know which half. These tracking codes eliminate that blind spot.
Third, once someone attends a virtual event, you now have their email address and so you can send them news another emails. With CRM tools built into most winery POS programs, you can track the lifetime value of each customer. You can also identify how they became customers of yours. The revenue from the tasting kits should cover the marketing cost, so the added value of future sales either as a fan or as a Club member means additional revenue down the road.
Personally, I think the virtual tasting channel is an exciting opportunity to attract a huge number of wine lovers who just cannot make it to wine country. Those folks would love to be able to “visit” wine country from the safety and comfort of their homes. I also like virtual tastings because the best virtual tastings I have attended were a collaboration among several wineries or between a winery and a restaurant. The wine industry has a long history of being very generous and helpful with their neighbors even though they are technically competitors. The virtual channel keeps that spirit alive.