News and marketing for California's coastal vineyards, wineries and food producers.
I write blogs and manage social media for small wineries and artisan food producers in California's beautiful Central Coast region. I have 20 years of experience in wine hospitality and sales. I create customized marketing plans, and provide copywriting, marketing, and media outreach to wine and food artisans. I love my job.
If you'd like to find out more about how to become part of Central Coast Wine Blogs, feel free to contact me any time. My email address is [email protected] I'll look forward to hearing from you soon!
Central Coast Wine Blogs provides a full spectrum of services from management outsourcing to individual marketing tasks.
Although I specialize in artisan food and wine accounts, I also engage with a variety of clients and tasks. I've done everything from working on a website about semiotics to drafting an e-book for a former NFL star.
Fermentation Tom Wark's wine industry blog is THE lodestone for common sense reporting, opinion, controversy, legal battles and public commentary.
The Winery Web Site Report Mike Duffy's FREE advice on how to improve your customers' website experience, sales conversion, and loyalty.
Think Wine Marketing The best blog out there for wineries (and food producers) to learn how to market, blog, innovate, and mine social media
ViralVines Wine, wineries, and social media ... how to communicate with customers, industry, and sales channels, and have fun doing it!
Wine Berserkers More industry participants than any other wine forum, with dedicated sub-forums for wine production and wine sales discussions. Registration is free. Industry links encouraged. Use your real name, please.
Wine and chocolate? There are two sides to the issue. On one hand, chocolate should be avoided when doing serious wine evaluation because the sugar and oils in the chocolate coat one's palate and interfere with perception.
On the other hand, chocolate is just plain fun and totally yummy with red wine. So for many people, chocolate is a welcome treat on a wine tasting weekend, when our weekday button-downed rules are meant to be broken, or at least ignored.
As wineries, we are always looking for the next great branding item to give away or sell in the tasting room. So why not edible images on chocolate? The party favor square pictured above is just the right size for a label image. Tasty Image, a chocolate company that prints images (including photos) on chocolate can also print your label or winery image on business cards, lollipops and hanging ornaments.
Branded chocolates are a nice addition to gift lines, and they're also great as a thank you gift for big buyers, loyal wine club members, wholesale clients, and sales reps.
Tasty Image is a client of mine, which means a little sumpin' sumpin' extra for you! Use the links provided here and use code SOLID10 on checkout to receive a 10% discount on your order.
If you are interested in placing larger orders (like, after the first order of chocolate disappears in about a day) let me know and I will set you up with affiliate/wholesale pricing.
Imaged chocolates are delivered by FedEx in protective, insulated packaging.
Now this is marketing! It's fun, edgy, satirical, and the name of the wine is mentioned over and over again. Check it out!
Congrats to everyone on the cast and crew. I thought Whitney was great, so lovable. Austin rocks, and it was clear that everyone was having a good time. But I have to say my favorites are Jorge and Cesar. They crack me up.
Visit Dina Mande's site Juice Ideas for behind the scenes photos and more creative ideas on how to market your wine.
In fact, I may occasionally take you outside of your comfort zone and show you the possible.
For instance, when I met New York cookbook author Brigit Binns, who is also known in culinary circles as roadfoodie, I was instantly charmed. Who hasn't heard of roadfoodie, the sassy vixen who has documented her culinary travels across the US and around the world? Brigit is the author of 23 cookbooks, including some gorgeous Williams Sonoma selections. When I met her last month she was working hard on a couple of cookbook drafts and taking a month-long hiatus in Paso Robles to relax and finish her recipe testing. But her current dream is to write a cookbook inspired by the central coast, where she spent many glorious summers as a child.
To help her achieve that goal, I introduced her to some wineries and local food artisans. But I really wanted her to experience our culinary connection to the land, so I even went so far as to set up a boar hunt for us. Dubost Ranch Winery kindly hooked us up with professional guide Matt Tupen ([email protected]) and we had the time of our lives.
"I am standing underneath a scarred, ancient oak tree on an isolated ranch far to the west of Paso Robles, in central California, with a dead body, a blond woman, and a strange man—I first laid eyes on him five minutes ago—who is holding a very, very sharp knife. 'It’s a surgical blade,' he says, with disarming cheer."
"The dead body is a 200-pound wild boar, the man is a hunter, and the blond woman is Mary Baker, of Central Coast Wine Blogs; she has opened doors for me in this wine community that I might otherwise have spent months—if not years—knocking on."
You might think that sliding around in the mud in an ATV and learning to skin a boar with a surgical knife is not a typical woman's idea of fun. And you'd probably be right. But we loved it And the boar (pictured above) was parceled out lovingly to local foodies. In Brigit's hands, he became a delicious and robust cassoulet, which she proclaimed a 'Passoulet', and it was served with Paso Robles syrah and cabernet.
So when you ask me what Central Coast Wine Blogs does, my reply would be . . .
I help you realize your dreams. Whatever you want to achieve, I can take you there and beyond.
I am delighted to announce the publication of our first in an upcoming series of wine industry eGuides and eBooks.
This 14-page eGuide provides a complete Ten Step Marketing Plan for vineyard owners. It is a brief and to-the-point distillation of over 20 years of experience working with both vintners and vineyard owners.
Coming soon, I will also be publishing an eGuide for cellar rats, an eBook on tasting room management, and another eBook on brand building!
Sign up for email updates or follow us on Facebook to receive news about new CCWB publications as soon as they become available. (Just look for the email signup and Facebook boxes in the right column.)
Have you ever wished you had help marketing your vineyard?
Do you want a complete marketing plan specifically designed for your business?
Have you ever wished you had a waiting list of back up buyers?
This 14-page eGuide provides a complete Ten Step Marketing Plan for your vineyard.
I have distilled 20 years of experience into a Marketing Plan for Vineyards that addresses YOUR needs. For little more than the cost of a grande cappuccino you can purchase a plan that will lead you through a full year of activities that take your timing, your energy, and your needs into account.
Have you ever wished that your source vineyards were better at communicating?
Do you wish they had a plan and a protocol for dropping off berry samples and requesting wine samples?
Has communication about harvest timing, quality, or contracts ever been a problem?
This inexpensive eGuide makes a great handout for your current sources. I highly recommend it as an addendum to new and renewed grape contracts.
We asked Mike: What are the 5 most important things a winery website should have?
In no particular order:
1. A clear call to action
Although I've said that you need to make it easy for people to do what they came to do (visitor effectiveness), you should also tell them clearly what you would like them to do: buy some wine, visit, sign up for the newsletter, or join your club. Pick one or at most, two actions, and be clear about the benefits for a visitor if they take that action.
2. An easy way to update and change information on the site
This encourages freshness and experimentation. If you don't experiment, you can't make your site better or take advantage of the moment. For example, it's still the case that the websites of the Harvest Fair Grand Prize winners generally don't get updated for several days after they win, which misses the chance to sell to visitors who come to the website on the day the winners are announced in the paper.
3. A webtender
The best winery websites have someone who spends a lot of time thinking about how to make them better. This is hard for small wineries, where there are almost never enough people, and it's largely considered irrelevant at large wineries, where the impact of the website is tiny compared to the importance of good distribution.
4. Interesting copy
Can we just lose the marketing-speak on winery websites? You don't believe it when you read it on other websites, why do you expect someone to believe it on your winery website?
If you can't measure what's going on, then it's nearly impossible to improve your site. How many people visit your site each day? How many of them are return visitors? Where do most people start their visit to your site? (It's not necessarily the home page, thanks to modern search engines). What pages are most popular?
Google Analytics is free, and helps to answer all of these questions.
Of course, I could add a bunch of basic things like "the winery phone number at the top of every page" and "a good picture of your bottle or label on your home page."
The following article is the second of a three-part interview with Mike Duffy, author of The Winery Web Site Report. Mike's impressive career spans design and development of successful software companies (and their products) and equity venture firms.
We asked Mike: What are the five top mistakes that wineries make in web design?
Mistake #1: It's all about me.
Probably the #1 mistake is making the site all about the winery (look at me!), and not all about what a visitor wants to accomplish when they visit (how can I help you?). Visitors arrive at your website with a goal already in mind. The harder you make it for them to achieve that goal, the less satisfied they will be, and the less likely you will establish a relationship with them. You've got to think like a visitor.
My premise is that there are four types of visitors to a winery website: 1. Someone who wants to buy wine right now (buyers) 2. Someone who wants information about your wines (browsers) 3. Someone who wants to sell your wine (distributors, retailer, restaurants—the trade) 4. Someone who wants to tell others about your wine (the media)
In each case, your primary site navigation needs to get them to the right place—a page focused on addressing their specific needs—with one click. Most sites tend to ignore (3) and (4), although I've seen slow progress in the past couple of years.
Mistake #2: Stagnant as an old pond
The #2 mistake is neglecting the site. Most winery webssites are only updated when there's a new release. People search the web for information, and that makes your web presence key. It's annoying to visit a site which doesn't look like it's been updated in 5 years. For example, ConnValley Vineyards has the exact same home page as when I evaluated the site in 2005. The front page of your website should always feel fresh. One pet peeve I have is a winery home page that trumpets an event two weeks in the past.
Part of the reason that wineries neglect their sites is that they don't have an easy way to make modifications to the site.
Mistake #3: Lack of useful information
Lack of comprehensive information. Ideally, you should have a product page about every wine your winery has ever released. If a visitor can buy it, a big "Buy Now" or "Add to Cart" button should be visible. If it's not available, "Sold Out" does no harm. If you make wines to age, it's useful to place results from your most recent library tasting of the wine. If you have library wines available, this is a good place to capture e-mail addresses from people who might want to order them.
Mistake #4: Awkward e-commerce
# 4 goes to all the crappy e-commerce experiences out there. How can you expect people to buy if you make them register first, or you make it unattractive, or generally get in the way of people who actually want to buy wine? People obsess about the Flash intros to their site, but then theysettle for a clunky third-party shopping cart. If you care about selling wine online, the add-to-cart-and-check-out experience must be close to perfect. This is not rocket science.
Mistake #5: Kissing your customers goodbye
Failure to capture an e-mail address for follow-up contact. Of course, you may need to sell this request—people won't willingly give up their personal information without some incentive. Do they get a newsletter? Special deals? Be specific. If there's a newsletter, let them look at the last issue (or better, all of the past issues). Some wineries don't manage list-building in their tasting rooms very well, either.
Distributors, brokers and sales reps are crying out for informative sales materials from their wineries. Retailers want to see technical information on the wines, not just sales hyperbole. Restaurants want to know if the wines have been reviewed, and if the style will fit their menu. And by 'style' I don't mean marketing-speak—these are buyers who want to see TA and pH figures, and an explanation of your oak regimen.
It's important for wineries to realize that, no matter how much you love your broker or sales rep, there are many buyers who are astute and want to measure your wine against their own palate. And they want to see your data. If the wine and the data back up the salesperson's hype, then that account will begin to trust you and it will confirm their trust in your sales rep. It's a win-win scenario for everyone.
Your wine profiles (or technical sheets, if your prefer to call them that) and a well-done shelf talker should be part of every winery website. Attach these wine media as .pdf files so your sales reps and customers can view and download them with any program.
PDF stands for Portable Document Format—a universal file format developed by Adobe that preserves the fonts, formatting, graphics and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it.
Unfortunately, very few wineries are recognizing what other industries have long known—providing your brand and product information online in .pdf format increases sales!
PDF software is extremely affordable and can be used for a variety of tasks—you can convert financial documents for emailing to your bank, or graphic design pages for emailing to media contacts. PDF software costs only $10 to $75 for a basic program that will be more than sufficient for your needs; most have free 30-day trial periods. If you plan to get into designing your own labels and media materials, excellent suites are available for $100 to $400.
The software is also extremely easy to use. All you are doing, basically, is converting an existing document into a universally readable format. My software takes just two clicks, and I'm done.
Here is what sales professionals on Facebook have to say:
"Very important . . . Especially if you are dealing with small wineries."
A successful press release convinces a writer or editor to write about your product and business.
What actually happens to your press release when it arrives at the publication? I’ll tell you. An intern or editorial assistant downloads all the morning emails. Then she sorts them into piles. Then she picks up the biggest pile and walks it over to the advertising department. "Here you go," she says as she plops the stack on the advertising intern’s desk. "A hundred or so product pitches thinly disguised as press releases."
Print publications are in the business of selling advertising space to businesses like yours. This is the main source of their income. Therefore, if you approach the media with a message that you have a product to sell, your message will go straight to Advertising. Or worse—into the wastebasket.
"But I have wine to sell," you say. "New releases! I’m a new brand. I’m the hottest thing out there since Brad Pitt and they should be interested."
Um, sorry. They’re not. The wine industry churns out new labels like a Gallo bottling line. The fact that you exist and are anxious to sell product is not a story.
But you CAN capture a writer’s interest with a well-crafted press release, and there are only three things you need you do.
1. Identify a unique angle.
2. Position yourself as an expert.
3. Write a professional release.
Step 1: Identify a unique angle about your business.
It could be the start of a new trend, an unusual farming technique, experimental packaging—anything truly new or different. Here are some ideas:
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