Last Updated on November 14, 2023 by Troika Gellido
The world of wineries has evolved beyond just producing fine wines.
It has transformed into a realm of unforgettable experiences and captivating destinations. For winery owners, distributors, and marketers, this evolution represents a golden opportunity—the chance to market your winery as a travel destination.
In recent years, wine tourism has surged in popularity, with travelers seeking more than just a sip of their favorite varietals. They crave immersive experiences, picturesque landscapes, and a deeper connection with the winemaking process. This article will help you identify the winning strategies that will not only set your winery apart, but also make it a sought-after travel destination.
Why Turn Your Winery into a Travel Destination?
In the landscape of the wine industry, the concept of wineries doubling as travel destinations has gained tremendous momentum, and for good reason.
Let’s take an expert’s perspective on this. In a Legends Behind The Craft episode, Gail Sherman, CEO and founder of Wine Lovers Travel talked about how wineries can use the experience of travel to help them retain more customers: “If you’re constantly having to acquire clients, it could be very expensive, but if you’re able to retain them by giving them this kind of travel activity, it can really help to grow your business and you’re building a reputation as not just a winery, but sort of an experience– and people want experiences.”
Turning your winery into a travel destination allows you to share your passion for winemaking and provide visitors with unforgettable experiences, all while contributing to the growth of the wine tourism industry and your local community. It’s a win-win situation that opens the door to a world of opportunities. Here’s why you should consider it:
Enhanced Brand Visibility and Recognition
By positioning your winery as a travel destination, you gain exposure to a wider audience of wine enthusiasts, tourists, and even potential distributors.
Visitors who experience your winery firsthand are more likely to become loyal customers and brand ambassadors, sharing their positive experiences through word-of-mouth and social media.
Diversified Revenue Streams
Wine sales alone may not always provide a steady stream of income. Expanding your offerings to include tourism-related activities, such as tastings, tours, and events, can create additional revenue streams.
Exclusive wine clubs and merchandise sales to travelers can further bolster your bottom line.
Deeper Customer Engagement
Travelers who visit your winery are not merely customers; they become engaged participants in your story. They witness the winemaking process, explore your vineyards, and interact with your team.
This deeper engagement fosters a sense of connection and loyalty, making visitors more likely to return and become long-term supporters of your winery.
Stronger Relationships with Distributors
Distributors often look for wineries with strong brand recognition and customer loyalty. By becoming a travel destination, you enhance your reputation and appeal to distributors seeking partnerships.
Distributors may be more inclined to represent wines that have a dedicated and growing customer base.
Local Economy Contribution
As a winery travel destination, you can become a significant contributor to your local economy by attracting tourists who spend money on accommodations, dining, and other local businesses.
This can foster positive relationships with the local community and garner support from local authorities.
7 Winning Strategies To Market Your Winery As A Travel Destination
Whether you’re a family-owned vineyard or a sprawling winery estate, these strategies will help you uncork the potential of your winery, enticing travelers to explore the world of wine in a whole new light.
1. Develop a Thematic Experience
Define Your Unique Theme. To set your winery apart, consider crafting a distinctive theme that encompasses the entire visitor experience. Whether it’s historical, cultural, or centered around sustainable viticulture, the theme should resonate with your winery’s identity.
Create Immersive Environments: Design your winery spaces to align with the chosen theme. The tasting room, vineyard tours, and event areas should reflect the narrative you wish to convey. For example, a winery with a historical theme might incorporate vintage decor and storytelling displays.
Educational Components: An integral part of any thematic experience is education. Offer guided tours and interactive activities that provide visitors with insights into the theme. This can include historical reenactments, sustainability workshops, or cultural presentations.
2. Create Exclusive Wine Clubs
Tailor Membership Benefits: Develop wine clubs that offer exclusive perks to members, such as access to limited-edition wines, private tastings, and discounts on wine purchases. Customize club tiers to cater to various preferences and budgets.
Foster Community: Beyond wine, emphasize the sense of community among club members. Host members-only events, gatherings, and online forums where enthusiasts can connect and share their experiences.
Personalization: Utilize data from club memberships to personalize recommendations and offers. Tailor communications based on members’ preferences and purchase history, ensuring a more intimate and engaging relationship.
3. Host Signature Events
Unique Event Concepts: Create distinctive events that align with your winery’s identity. Whether it’s a grape stomping festival, a barrel tasting experience, or an art and wine soirée, ensure that each event is memorable and representative of your brand.
Collaborate for Impact: Consider collaborating with local artists, chefs, or musicians to enhance event offerings. These partnerships can bring in new audiences and provide diverse entertainment options for visitors.
Effective Promotion: A successful event begins with effective promotion. Leverage social media, email marketing, and partnerships with local media outlets to generate buzz and attract attendees.
4. Diversify Tasting Experiences
Tasting Menu Variety: Offer a range of tasting experiences to cater to diverse preferences and budgets. Options may include standard wine tastings, premium tastings with food pairings, or vertical tastings that showcase the evolution of a particular wine.
Staff Training: Ensure that your staff is well-trained and knowledgeable about your wines. They should be able to guide visitors through the tasting experience, providing information on the wines’ characteristics and the winemaking process.
Seasonal Specials: Introduce seasonal tasting specials or limited-time offers to create a sense of urgency and encourage repeat visits. For example, a summer rosé flight or a winter port tasting can pique interest.
5. Invest in Visual Content
Professional Photography and Videography: High-quality visuals are essential for capturing the essence of your winery. Invest in professional photography and videography to showcase the beauty of your vineyards, tasting rooms, and events.
Engaging Social Media: Utilize platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube to share your visual content. Regularly update these channels with captivating imagery and videos that tell the story of your winery.
Virtual Tours: Consider offering virtual tours on your website or through social media platforms. These interactive experiences can engage potential visitors and provide a preview of what they can expect when they visit in person.
6. Leverage Local Partnerships
Collaborate with Restaurants: Partner with local restaurants to create wine and dine packages. Visitors can enjoy a meal paired with your wines, enhancing their overall experience.
Accommodation Packages: Explore partnerships with nearby hotels, bed-and-breakfasts, or vacation rentals. Offer package deals that include accommodations and winery visits, encouraging travelers to stay longer.
Tour Operators: Work with local tour operators to include your winery in their itineraries. These partnerships can bring in groups of tourists looking for a complete wine experience.
7. Offer Behind-the-Scenes Tours
Transparency in Winemaking: Take visitors behind the scenes to witness the winemaking process firsthand. Showcase the cellar, fermentation tanks, and aging barrels, explaining each step of the journey.
Meet the Winemakers: Provide opportunities for guests to interact with winemakers and cellar staff. Q&A sessions, tastings led by winemakers, and even winemaking workshops can offer a deeper connection to the craft.
Educational Materials: Create informative materials, such as brochures or video presentations, that explain the winemaking process. Ensure that these materials are accessible during tours for a comprehensive educational experience.
As for Sherman, offering these behind-the-scenes experiences to your customers benefits your winery. She explains, “It’s making the customers feel more aligned with the winery, that they don’t just see that as a wine, but it’s a whole relationship that they’re having with the winery, the people that work there.”
Marketing your winery as a travel destination can be a lot of work, but it sure is worth all the effort. These strategies can transform your winery into a compelling travel destination that leaves a lasting impression on visitors.
Sherman believes that wineries should start doing this, if opportunities arise: “There’s really no downside to it. And the upside is that you, well, first of all, you’re going to get to travel. And number two, you’re going to have this amazing experience to offer your club members and other people who visit your winery.”
With these winning strategies, you can create a holistic and immersive experience that attracts travelers, near and far.