Q. How are walk-around wine tastings like the weather?
A. Everybody complains about them, but nobody does anything about it.
Institutional wine organizations, participating producers, sponsors, US wine trade, press – nobody seems too happy with the traditional walk-around wine trade tasting format. The wine marketing organizers complain about the lack of measurement, never enough attendance, quality of attendees and usually the weather. Wine trade don’t feel like the time of year is ever quite right for their buying cycles, and they just don’t seem to get the information they really need. Producers never know if they’re talking to the ‘right’ people, the ones who make the buying decisions.
So how to fix it? Here are some ideas:
- Always accommodate the attendees: Time of year, day of week, time of day, convenient location. It’s a buyer / seller relationship and like it or not, the sponsoring organization and the producers are the sellers; the US wine trade and press are the buyers.
- Organization / advance planning: Give attendees enough notice to get on their calendars. Don’t stress the event and distract from the bigger mission because we’re worried about the wines showing up on time. Get information on participating producers to attendees before the tasting. Organize seminars with enough lead time to pitch them to press.
- Ideally, send information about attending wineries to trade in advance: wines, production, varieties, price points (even better, build a simple website that trade can click on to research before coming to the event).
- Education! It’s worth investing in interesting seminars with compelling speakers to draw the kind of quality attendees the producers want to meet.
- Differentiate the set-up and the information for the audiences: Retailers and restaurants want to taste wines they can buy and they want to talk to people who can sell them the wines (so the producers should encourage their distributors to help staff the tables). Importers want to taste wines that are not currently in the market or wineries looking for new representation. Press want news angles.
- Get Social: Even wine trade (not just consumers) are active on social media at tasting events. It’s worthwhile to create a Twitter handle to help promote the event and to encourage tweeting on site (what wines one is tasting, catching up with old friends) as a way to expand the impact of the event.
Easier said than done. But shouldn’t we always challenge ourselves to do better?
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