If there’s a category thirsty (sorry) for some branding help, the wine industry is it.

Tom Dougherty, CEO – Stealing Share

16 March 2010

Don’t leave having your wine preferred to the experts

For those of us who enjoy a glass of wine (I see you out there), the notion of following a wine expert’s advice would seem reasonable. But taste isn’t objective. Let’s say Wine Enthusiast says: “Tasted three times, and better each time, a seriously good sign and potentially a perfect wine.” If it does, it doesn’t mean you will like it. Taste is just too subjective.

Being a brand guy, it got me thinking about all the wineries in the Napa and Sonoma Valley that do not have the luxury of obtaining a rating from one of the major wine magazines. On a recent trip to Napa, I made it to two wineries: Peju Province Winery and Rubicon Estates. (I stopped the latter because it was owned by Francis “Leave the gun and take the cannoli” Coppla. How’s that for a brand face?)

Both wineries offered tasting by very knowledgeable hosts and I found both to have excellent wines. I was so impressed with Rubicon Estates that I am now a member, which entitles me to wine shipments three or four times a year.

But how do all the 300-plus wineries in that area get noticed when you are not fortunate enough to get a rating? For those of us not as knowledge about wines as we would like, we tend to rely on these ratings more that we should. After all, what makes Wine Spectator or any other of these wine magazines the expert on what I think tastes good?

At any large wine store, decoding that is mighty difficult. Yet the individual wines could make it easier by providing a brand face that truly reflects me, the wine consumer.

The competition is so fierce that wineries must do everything they can to get the attention of the consumer.

For one thing, with today’s tech-savvy consumers, it’s imperative that they have a web presence. But a web presence alone is not enough. I visited several websites of wineries and found that many were similar in design and messaging, while others were embarrassingly amateur. There was nothing that I could emotionally connect with.

So, therefore, it leaves wineries to get strong ratings from “experts” to get attention. There’s a better way. If there’s a category thirsty (sorry) for some branding help, the wine industry is it.


See more posts in the following related categories: Napa Valley wine brands wine marketing


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