Coppola‘s Domain de Broglie Bests All in 30th annual McMinnville Wine Competition

Media Contact: Carl Giavanti Consulting, 971.221.4212


Coppola‘s Domain de Broglie Bests All in 30th annual McMinnville Wine Competition
Diverse panel of professional judges endorse quality of Oregon Wines

Competition Submissions increase 25% with high profile entries from Willamette Valley

Submissions from non-festival wineries again surpasses expectations

McMinnville, OR January 16, 2023: The McMinnville Wine Classic Competition completed its 30th annual
professional judging on Saturday 1/7/23. All eight out-of-state judges arrived unfettered and ready to help elevate the competition. The wine competition has not missed an event including through the peak Covid years and is a dedicated fundraiser for McMinnville’s St. James School. It raises thousands of dollars for programs benefiting the school’s children. Organized by Rolland Toevs, Carl Giavanti and Jon Johnson and staffed by volunteers, the Mac Classic competition is one of the largest Oregon Only wine competitions in the state. Visit

The competition draws professional judges from across the U.S. This year’s panel represents the full
spectrum of the wine industry, including future MW Samantha Cole Johnson of Janice,
Sommeliers like Fred Swan and Ellen Landis, Buyer Jusden Aumand from Tri-Vin Imports, and Wine Writers such as Clive Pursehouse the U.S. Editor for Decanter Magazine, Eric Degerman of Great Northwest Wine, Deborah Parker-Wong the U.S. Editor Slow Wine Guide, James Melendez aka James the Wine Guy, and Michael Apstein of Wine Review Online and Terroir Sense. See 2023 Judges Panel and bios on the website.

Wines were showing well, with distribution of Double Gold and Gold awards was across the state. Taking home top honors in 2023 was Domaine de Broglie, whose 2019 Dundee Hills Pinot Noir claimed Best of Show, Best Pinot Noir and Best Red Varietal, a first time ever for any winery in the state.

Cardwell Hill Cellars won Best Chardonnay again this year, a record fourth time, for their 2021 The Bard
Chard, as well as Best White Varietal. Pike Road Winery won Best Dessert Wine for their Yamhill-Carlton
AVA Route 47 Late Harvest white. Rounding out the awards was Durant Vineyards who gained the top
spot in the Best Sparkling Wine category for their 2019 Brut sparkling wine. All Double Gold and Gold
Medals are listed at the bottom of this page:

List of 2023 Winery Awards:

How to Avoid the Top-10 SMS Wine Marketing Mistakes

By:  Bryan St. Amant, Founder & CEO of VinterActive

Wineries that get text marketing right see incredibly high ROI. That’s why we spend so much time talking about the best practices of SMS wine marketing. Successful wine marketers can optimize their messages in many ways: from writing texts subscribers want to read to better analytics and testing.

  It’s also helpful to know what not to do. Because a few common SMS marketing mistakes can stand in the way of your success.

  To help you avoid them, we’ve compiled a list of the top ten mistakes that can hurt your performance, along with proven solutions.

1.   Sending Without Consent

2.   Texting Outside of Business Hours

3.   Not Sending a Welcome Message

4.   Not Identifying Yourself

5.   Not Staying On Brand

6.   Forgetting to Include a Call-to-Action

7.   Sending Repetitive Texts

8.   Sending More Messages Than Expected

9.   Ignoring List Growth

10. Being too Sales Focused

Sending Without Consent

  Of all the text marketing mistakes you can make, this one is the most serious. Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), when you send automated SMS marketing messages, you must first secure express written consent from all your recipients. And since wine is a regulated product, you can’t obtain the consent of anyone under 21 years of age.

  So you can’t simply upload your contact list or even a list of wine club members until they’ve opted-in to receive texts from you and you’ve put appropriate safeguards in place to not text minors.

If you don’t secure written consent before sending a bulk message or your winery sends text messages to minors, you may expose yourself to significant legal liability.

SOLUTION: Wine marketers can use SMS keywords, mobile sign-up widgets, web forms, and tasting room signs to help you obtain express written consent. Using FCC-approved disclaimers, automated age gates, and collecting your customers’ DOB can help you legally text your winery’s followers.

  Please note that this advice is for informational purposes only and is neither intended nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

Texting Outside of Business Hours

  Texting outside of business hours is like receiving a call from a telemarketer right when you’re about to sit down for dinner. It’s not very pleasant and won’t win you any goodwill.

Unless it’s contextually appropriate — think transactional messages like order confirmation texts — it’s best to keep your marketing messages within the confines of regular business hours.

SOLUTION: Using a professional text marketing platform, you can schedule your texts in advance to avoid reaching customers when they don’t want to be bothered.

Not Sending a Welcome Text

  If someone signs up to receive your text messages but doesn’t hear from you right away when you eventually get around to texting them, they might not remember why they signed up in the first place, then unsubscribe.

SOLUTION: Take advantage of your ability to send an automated response to every new subscriber. Use a welcome text to say thanks for signing up and remind them why they subscribed, like this: “Thanks for joining our text club. Soon you’ll receive regular updates from our tasting room about special events and wine deals available exclusively to our text club members.”

Not Identifying Yourself

  One of the differences between personal and promotional texts sent by businesses is that most telecom carriers don’t offer businesses the opportunity to personalize their SenderID. Personal texts often include a picture or a name identifying you as the sender, while business texts only see a number. So unless customers recognize your phone number, they might not know who sent your message.

  This situation will be resolved in the future when telecom carriers adopt a new technology known as Custom Sender IDs. But until then, it’s important to identify yourself clearly when sending messages to your customers.

SOLUTION: The first message you send to new subscribers can prominently highlight your company name like this: “CHATEAU FELICE: Don’t miss our live entertainment at this weekend’s wine club pick-up party. Saturday & Sunday noon to 4 pm.”

Not Staying On Brand

  Texting is an intimate way to connect with customers — it’s how people communicate with family and friends. Don’t be afraid to let your brand’s personality shine through in your texts so your message won’t appear awkward. The fear of meeting a character count can make you sound robotic.

SOLUTION: What’s most important is authenticity. If you’re a bubbly, energetic winery, make sure that comes across in your messages. On the other hand, if you’re more formal and highbrow, don’t feel pressure to stray from that. It’s all about meeting your customers’ expectations.

Forgetting to Include a Call-to-Action (CTA)

How you wrap up your texts will determine whether or not your prospects take the next step.

Not including a clear CTA in each message means subscribers are less likely to know what to do next. The result is fewer sales and more unsubscribes.

SOLUTION: Include links in your text messages that lead to landing pages promoting your upcoming events or special offers.

Sending Repetitive Texts

  When someone opts in to receive your text messages, they expect your messages to be worthwhile. So, sending a text just because the calendar said so or repeatedly sending the same offer can give your audience a case of “subscriber’s remorse.”

SOLUTION: Like social media, you must keep your marketing content fresh. But if you’re already sending promotional emails or posting on social media, you already have a perfect source of new content for your SMS campaigns.

Sending More Messages Than Expected

  While some might advise that texting “too much” is a mistake. Instead, we urge you to avoid texting more often than your subscribers expect. For example, some wineries send weekly TGIF messages to their text subscribers. No one is offended because the invitation to join their list clearly states it’s a weekly update. Since the #1 reason consumers unsubscribe to text messaging is that they’re getting “too many texts,” it’s essential to be clear about what texts you’ll send and how often you’ll send them.

SOLUTION: One way to provide maximum value is to offer consumers a choice of regular updates about upcoming events, new wine releases, or wine club news. This approach allows consumers to control how often they’ll hear from you.

Not Focusing on SMS List Growth

  One of the most common mistakes in text marketing is not focusing on list growth. If you’re new to text marketing, your first step is to build a list of subscribers who want to hear from you. Like any direct marketing list, the more contacts you have, the more success you’ll achieve, whether it’s wine sales or brand loyalty.

  Over the years, wine marketers have already learned the value of email marketing, so most winery websites prominently feature an email sign-up form. And many wineries even pay a bonus for each email address collected by winery staff.

SOLUTION: Now that DTC wineries have learned that text messaging generates 32 times more customer engagement than email, savvy wine marketers should prioritize SMS list growth above just about anything else.

Being Too Sales Focused

  SMS is a marketing channel we’ve seen our customers use to maximize wine sales. The only problem is that nobody wants to feel like they’re constantly being told to buy something.

  Successful tasting room managers know that story-telling is critical. So take a tip from your sales team, and don’t always sell bottles when you can also profit from selling your story.

  While your primary goal may be to generate sales, you must avoid being too salesy.

SOLUTION: Your customers are human, so talk to them in a conversational, friendly tone. Try enriching your strategy by offering customers a chance to receive lifestyle content like recipes, educational articles about wine, or images from their favorite winery.

The Wrap on SMS Marketing Mistakes

  The great thing about SMS marketing is how simple it is to execute. Thankfully, this also means most pitfalls are easy to avoid.  Like email, SMS marketing has its share of new vocabulary, but the concepts should be familiar: comply with the law and treat your SMS subscribers like any other valued guest. By learning from the mistakes of others, SMS marketing can quickly grow to become your most profitable communication channel.


  Founder & CEO of VinterActive, Bryan St. Amant, is a pioneer in developing preference-based direct marketing and its successful application in the wine industry.

  His award-winning work has been featured in books, magazines, and seminars, including CFO Magazine, Inc., CNN Money, eMarketing Magazine, Integrated Direct Marketing, Direct Marketing Association, Wine Marketing Report, and the Wine Industry Network.

VinterActive is located in Windsor, California, at 707-836-7295 or

Is Meta a Mistake?

What to Make of the Online Advertising Crash

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

As we’re planning with our clients for 2023, one question frequently popping up is the viability of Meta and Google as advertising platforms.

  We understand the scrutiny, as 2022 has not been kind to the tech sector. The stock market saw seven years of gains erased in 10 months this year. The headlines are brutal, calling Meta a “risk,” a “looser,” or in what CNBC named a “death spiral.” Every other day there is news of another large marketer pulling out of the platform. Meta’s meltdown is shocking but not singular. Google is down 40% this year, Amazon 45%, and Snap 80%. Add the absolute insanity with Twitter, and even the boldest marketer is wondering how much budget to attach to social media in 2023.

  We must break down the causes of these market shifts to answer those questions and apply them to the wine business.

Just the Facts, Please

Keeping politics out of it, let’s fact-check some of the claims being thrown around for the current social media advertising crisis.

It’s the Economy’s Fault: When Google, Meta, Amazon, and Snap missed their quarterly revenue goals, their response to shareholders was a chorus of “it’s not our fault.”

  Sounds reasonable. When people buy less stuff, there are fewer sales of stuff, meaning fewer advertising dollars for the people who make the stuff.

  But are we buying less? I know you will be shocked to hear that sometimes the news sensationalizes the truth. If you investigate, it doesn’t appear that we are buying less. The U.S. consumer spending increased, and the U.S. GDP grew 2.6% last quarter. So while we’re not killing it as a country, we aren’t exactly falling apart, either. At least not enough to cause the apocalyptic tumble we’ve seen this year with Meta, Google, and Snap.

In addition, how do you explain other tech companies like Apple beating earning projections in the same “terrible” market as Google, Meta, and Snap?

So we’re not buying the economic argument.

It’s the Advertisers’ Fault: Another consistent whimper and whine propagated by news headlines are that advertisers aren’t advertising. This headline freaks out our clients and keeps them up at night. If Frito-Lay and Budweiser are pulling advertising, shouldn’t we as well?

  Let’s start with the foundation, and great generalization, that there are two kinds of advertising: Ads for awareness (we exist) and ads for response (buy this, sign up for this, attend this). If we continue the generalization, you will target these ads differently. Awareness ads should focus on people who don’t know your brand yet, and response ads should target people who are already aware of your brand or product. You also typically spend more and advertise more frequently to the awareness target. This concept is the basics of the marketing funnel.

  We’re seeing the more prominent clients and budgets with awareness goals shifting budgets to other platforms that provide broad coverage better than Meta. In particular, TikTok has taken off like a rocket, and we’ve seen quotes from large advertisers that they’re moving up to 10%-15% of their Meta budget from Meta to TikTok. TikTok has dethroned Facebook and Instagram as the go-to medium for efficiently reaching a broad range of people.

  In sum, advertising hasn’t stopped. It’s shifted.

It’s Apple’s Fault:  One hotly discussed topic this past year has been Apple’s new iOS requirements. This upgrade forced apps like Meta to ask users for permission to track their data. This requirement was supposedly going to be a knockout punch to platforms that cater to response-driven advertisers. No data, no targeting. No targeting, no ads. The Apple requirement must be why Meta is down 36% this year, right? 

  Nope. This doomsday has not come to pass. After a year of the new iOS, Apple reports only about 16% of users choose to block their data. So Meta ads might be less efficient, costing you roughly 16% more to reach your target audience, but it is a long way from being a wasted endeavor.

  Another reason we know this isn’t the reason for ad revenue falling? Because Google is down 40% this year, and they have their own data. You’d expect them to be cruising right along with ad sales if the data tracking was this issue.

It’s Meta’s Fault, Users are Jumping Ship, The company is Failing: Today’s daily active users of Meta are 1.93 billion vs. 1.95 billion expected by analysts in Q3 of this year. (StreetAccount) This seemingly slight dip is significant because it is the first down quarter in the company’s history.

  We don’t think this is a strong argument, though. Even with a 36% drop in net income in the latest quarter, Meta generated $6.7 billion in profit and ended the period with over $40 billion in cash and marketable securities. (CNBC) And user numbers are up about 10% globally and are expected to increase by 3% annually through 2024. (FactSet)

  While the press is enjoying their Zuckerberg punching bag, no one suggests that Facebook is going out of business.

  And Google is just in the news because they have been the press darling for so long. Even though they missed their earnings, Google’s digital ad revenue grew 2.5%, mostly citing poor ad sales on YouTube. The Motley Fool analyzed the company and noted that the stock decline was an “over-reaction” and still list the company as a “buy”.

What We Do Think is Happening

A shift in awareness ad dollars: As mentioned above, 2022 has seen a shift in advertising dollars where Meta and Google are no longer the dynamic duo in the awareness “mass reach” area.

Meta doesn’t care about advertisers: The company is putting all its eggs in the Metaverse basket, with Zuckerberg saying they’re shooting for a billion users and focusing almost all development into making that a new ad platform. (The problem is there is very little support or information for companies that can’t employ a development firm on how to get involved.) Regardless, it is clear that Meta and Twitter are not catering to advertisers currently. They have other agendas at play.

Meta is not courting the new generation: Facebook struggles with video and has been a follower versus a leader in this space. They openly report that more users go to Reels, which is a lower profit for the company than Feeds and Stories. Last year Facebook internal documents said that their teen users had declined by 19% since 2019, with a projected decline of 45% by 2025.

  Where are they going? TikTok. This year, TikTok will gain more Gen Z users than Instagram and more total users than Snap by 2023, according to eMarketer.

What Does that Mean for the Wine Market?

  We are still recommending Instagram, Facebook, and Google to our clients for the following reasons.

1.   Meta and Google are still the best platforms available to target response-driven ads. It may cost you a little more or be less efficient, but it’s still the best place to be.

2.   Meta is the least costly channel to reach a target (outside of emailing or texting.) Any other advertising channel, digital or otherwise, will cost more.

3.   Meta and Google are immediately responsive, allowing testing and refinement. With routine tweaking of new audience profiles, we have successfully gotten our average cost per signup on Meta down to less than $6/name.

4.   Video is more time-consuming to produce than a Meta ad, and the consumption rate of videos is manic. TikTok recommends advertisers post 1-4 times a day! If you’re Coca-Cola and have a TikTok team, that’s great, but I don’t know many wineries that can afford that volume and frequency of content production.

5.   Advertising alcohol on TikTok is prohibited. So, there’s that.

6.   We aren’t targeting teenagers. So, when you hear of large groups leaving Meta, know it is mostly Generation Z who can’t get enough of dance moves, make-up tutorials, or pet antics on other platforms.

  So, consider Meta “maturing” for now, and Google having a bad hair day. But stick with it. For 2023 they are both still strong placements for your ad dollars.

About the Author

  Susan DeMatei is the founder of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California.  WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California at 707-927-3334 or 

Winemaking in the Land of Enchantment: Casa Rondeña’s Unique Approach to Wine in New Mexico

By: Alyssa L. Ochs

Here’s a quick trivia question for you: Where is the oldest winemaking region in North America?  Although Northern California, the Hudson Valley of New York and the Coahuila state of Mexico are common guesses, the correct answer is actually New Mexico. This fact might come as a surprise to many wine enthusiasts because New Mexico wines rarely gain the widespread attention or recognition of wines produced in other regions across the continent. Yet the wine industry is thriving in this part of the Southwest and has a lot to offer local residents and curious travelers.

  The first widespread production of wine began in New Mexico in 1629 after Spaniards settled in the area and began making wine to support their Catholic communion traditions. Fast-forward to 1995, when Casa Rondeña Winery first came onto the New Mexico winery scene as a family endeavor at the hands of vintner John Calvin and his two young sons, Ross and Clayton. Although there are over 50 wineries today in New Mexico, Casa Rondeña, located in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, stands out because of its hands-on approach to winemaking, a nod to cultural traditions and unique event offerings. It is also one of my favorite local wineries and just a few miles down the road from where I currently live in New Mexico, also known as the “Land of Enchantment!”

Getting to Know Casa Rondeña

  Casa Rondeña’s owner and vintner, John Calvin, along with the Casa Rondeña Winery team, shared some details with The Grapevine about what makes this winery unique and stand out among others in the region and beyond.

  While living in Spain, Calvin gained an appreciation for architecture, music and winemaking – three components that helped build Casa Rondeña Winery into what we know and love today. As a family-owned-and-operated winery, Casa Rondeña has been committed to growing and winemaking practices that respect its agricultural roots and the greater community. The winery is loved by its members for both the elevated experience and elegance of the surroundings, as well as the dedication to creating the finest wines in the Southwest. Meanwhile, the nearby Sandia Mountains offer a stunning background as you stroll through the vineyard, enjoying the grandeur of architecture or relaxing with a glass of wine by the pond.

  John Calvin built and raised his family in what is now known as the ever-popular 1629 Club. Unique to the state and named for the year the first vines were smuggled into New Mexico by Franciscan monks, this private membership club offers an exclusive atmosphere that is committed to providing members exceptional service in a relaxing atmosphere to unwind from life’s fast pace. The Casa Rondeña tasting room has been open since August 1997, and it built a new barrel aging and storage facility in 2008.

  As you pass through the Rondeña archway, you are immediately transported to a different time and place. It is a place for peace and reflection, of beauty and grace, where beauty is created for its own sake and where your friends and family are reminded of why we live in New Mexico.

The Wines of Casa Rondeña

  As a boutique winery, Casa Rondeña takes a hands-on approach to winemaking and makes wines that the family and winery team enjoy – bold, dry reds and classic, crisp whites. These are wines that pay tribute to the land and culture of the Rio Grande Valley.

  Calvin and the winery team pointed out that Casa Rondeña built a wine around 1629 as a nod to the origins of winemaking. This 1629 flagship wine is as rich in history as in its flavor. This blend of tempranillo, syrah, and cabernet sauvignon is layered and full-bodied, and its wonderfully dense flavors are credited to the vines that have been rooted for more than 25 years. It’s entirely New Mexican and not found anywhere else in the world. 

  A complete and updated list of Casa Rondeña’s current wines can be found on the Tasting Room page of the winery’s website, along with descriptions of each locally hand-crafted wine.

Behind the Scenes at Casa Rondeña

  When I asked Calvin and the Casa Rondeña Winery team about the most significant challenges they have experienced, they noted that the quality of wine worldwide goes up every year. Vintner John Calvin and Assistant Winemaker Joshua Franco listen and feel this climate, creating wines that represent this place, the sky, river and sunlight.

  “We focused on what we do best: make the best wine in the Southwest and maintain the most hospitable and beautiful environment in the region, paired with an incredible staff,” Calvin said. “With our wine club members and growing audience of wine-enthusiasts, our biggest challenge is always about keeping up with production demand.” 

Visiting Casa Rondeña

  In my personal experience, I have found Casa Rondeña to be an exceptionally friendly and welcoming winery where it’s easy to lose track of time and spend all afternoon catching up on conversations with friends and perhaps even making new ones. The Casa Rondeña tasting room is open to the public daily from 12pm to 7pm, and no reservations are required to visit.

  For first-time visitors, the best way to experience Casa Rondeña is to select four wines for a tasting flight and learn about each one to discover your favorite. Crackers, chips, meat and cheese plates, fruit and veggie plates and chocolates are available in the tasting room. Nearby, you’ll find a gift shop filled with unique items crafted by local artisans. Casa Rondeña does not allow outside food to be brought into the winery.

  From here, step outside to take a walk around the grounds with a glass of wine in hand or take a seat on the patio to soak up the natural beauty of pure New Mexico. In addition to flights, visitors can purchase wines by the glass or bottle. It is a very family-friendly winery that welcomes children, obviously, as long as they don’t consume alcohol and are appropriately supervised. Only registered service animals, but no pets are allowed at Casa Rondeña. For non-wine-drinkers in your group, Casa Rondeña offers canned beers from the Albuquerque-based Marble Brewery and non-alcoholic beverages.

Not Just Your Average Winery

  Yet Casa Rondeña is much more than just a local producer of wine in Albuquerque’s North Valley. It is also a one-of-a-kind event venue that is loved for its spiritual, calming and romantic vibes. There are three event spaces at Casa Rondeña that are surrounded by lush vineyards, flowing fountains, a lovely pond, and cottonwood trees that evolve with the seasons. Casa Rondeña is a popular local spot for weddings because it offers customized wedding packages with options for rehearsal dinners, private tours and tastings, engagement photography sessions, bridal suites, groom’s rooms, and a long list of amenities.

  Calvin, a Rio Grande Valley native and trained flamenco guitarist, is passionate about world music and local music, and so the winery has even hosted intimate concerts to celebrate these interests and support the community. In addition to private events for special occasions, there is also Casa Rondeña’s Wellness + Wine program, which attracts people who are passionate about wine and inspired by health.

  According to Calvin and the Casa Rondeña team, the program consists of classes run by five of the area’s top yoga and Pilates instructors. Open to all skill levels, this one-hour, beautiful outdoor practice is followed by a glass of wine and an invitation to stay and relax on the grounds. Classes surround the pond of the 1629 Club, paired with the tranquil and meditative sounds of Handpan music. Reservations are required to participate in Wine + Wellness events, and participants can purchase picnic-style food options from the tasting room.

  “While the program takes a hiatus during the winter months, we anxiously await its return in the spring of 2023,” Calvin said.

What’s Next for Casa Rondeña?

  Aside from the much-anticipated return of Wine + Wellness events and periodically scheduled holiday happenings, there is much more to look forward to at Casa Rondeña in the coming months and years.

  Calvin and the winery team shared, “Adjacent to our nearly 30-year-old Casa Rondeña Winery is the home to our new Animante Winery. This newest addition to the property is expected to break ground in early December 2022. The winery will be doubling in size with a new vineyard, and be a new winery that will offer a new menu of wines.”

  Through new additions and the changing seasons, the people of Casa Rondeña remain humble and ever grateful to be able to continue their mission: to be at the cutting edge of culture, architecture and winemaking in the Land of Enchantment.

How To Create a Memorable California Inspired Wine

By: Marlo Richardson

When one thinks of Napa Valley, the mind becomes filled with images of vineyards stretching towards the horizon, the scent of purposely-cultivated grape varietals, and the unique flavor profiles of each carefully-crafted wine. After all, finding the perfect balance between taste and quality is something that the region’s wines have become globally renowned for.

  Last year, California was named the best state for vintage quality, which should come as no surprise considering that most sparkling wines are typically the first to be picked in California. The Golden State produces about 80% of the nation’s wine, making it the world’s fourth-largest wine-producing region and the most popular wine origin for high-frequency drinkers at 35%.

  For winemakers, this recent growth should spark more than one proverbial lightbulb. The market for California wines is larger than ever, and with that growing market comes a rising demand from customers for wines that can quickly become their new favorite go-to drink. But in order to stand out from the swelling tide of competition, you will need to ensure that the wine you produce will be one that stays as fresh in the bottle as it does in the mind of your customers — you will need to create a wine that resembles California in a single glass.

Finding a Distinct California Taste

  When one is seeking to not only create a quality wine true to what California embodies, but one that will create lasting memories, attention to every detail is key. For any new winemakers out there, this counts double. Wineries and vineyards in the Golden State hit a record $40 billion in sales in 2020, and international exports of their goods are only climbing as more and more people around the world seek out the flavors and aromas distinct to the region. The California wines primarily enjoyed include Sauvignon Blanc, Rosé, Pinot Noir, assorted red blends, and Cabernet Sauvignon.

  When you are a new winemaker looking to create something that resonates with California, it’s important to remember that your consumers are also likely looking towards other smaller wine brands in order to get a taste of their distinctly local flair. California has over 4,000 wineries, including the famous Napa Valley and Sonoma, where every seasoned sommelier should at least make one trip on their vino journey.

  Many wine drinkers get comfortable with their favorite brand and style of wine, but the way to encourage them to try something new and different is to give them something familiar, yet unique. As a winemaker, your goal should be to put your own spin on the flavors you love in a wine. If there’s something you love about it, chances are someone else will love it, too.

The 5 Components of

California Wine Climate

  The Golden State boasts a climate as unique to the region as it is diverse. Benefiting from the generally mild, Mediterranean-like climate — dry, warm summers followed by fairly mild winter and spring months — the grapes cultivated for wines in California are able to steadily grow throughout the majority of the year.


  California’s natural geography cannot be overlooked for the role it plays in the state’s wine production. Thanks to the cool Pacific winds that naturally cool the west and northwest portions of the state, the grapes grown in California’s vineyards are able to retain a majority of their acidity, highlighted in the balanced, fresh taste of the wines they produce. And thanks to variations in both elevation and soil found throughout California, winemakers and vineyard owners are able to plan for the specific wines they want to make.


  Balance and sustainability are arguably two of the most important components of quality wine, and California is no stranger to either component. The Golden State has long been a trailblazer in terms of sustainable environmental practices, prioritizing the health of its natural soils, water, and other resources — all of which shine through in its wines.

  The trick to mastering this component with wine production, however, is understanding what elements of a specific wine balance well with others. For example, if a wine has identifiable characteristics that are clearly tied to a specific grape variety or region, that specific vino is explicitly expressive of that particular region. But if the flavor profile, acidity level, or aroma of that particular grape — say a Cabernet Savouignon — does not balance with the overall palate, the perceived quality of the wine will diminish amongst consumers.

  Many wine drinkers have their favorite varietal of wine, but the great thing about a distinct grape or blend is that it is immediately recognizable to anyone who has tried it before. Even if one doesn’t describe themselves as a sommelier, or even a seasoned vino drinker, they can still taste and identify the grape’s distinct flavor profile.

Intricacy and Aromas

  Ultimately, the flavor profile of any wine comes down to the varietal of grapes used in its production. If you are looking to create a vino that one could consider a simple blend, then your varietal should remain relatively unchanged. However, to make a more complex — and, perhaps, more memorable — concoction, various aromas and flavors should be added, including primary (water, alcohol, acid, sugar, and phenolic components), secondary, and tertiary flavor components.

  Secondary components derive from the actual winemaking process, which includes fermentation and the aging process. These elements could include biscuit and yeasty, elements that appear from autolysis, an effect that occurs when the yeast dies off. Or a distinct popcorn aroma that is a common byproduct of malolactic fermentation in Chardonnays. 

  Tertiary components occur when the aging of the wine occurs in an ideal environment. For red wines, fresh ripe fruit used in production will, in the process, transform into stewed or dried fruit, not dissimilar to a raisin or fig. During this process, it is not uncommon to experience aromas occurring that are reminiscent of tobacco, earth, and even mushrooms.

  For aged white wines in tertiary, these can commonly develop notes of dried apricot or orange marmalade, as well as Sherry-like notes of almonds and flavors similar to candied fruits. Other tertiary characteristics include nutty aromas and more complex spice components such as nutmeg, ginger, or petrol.

  It is essential to note that wines with tertiary aromas are not considered to be inherently “better” than wines with primary and secondary aromas. Sommeliers attracted to fruity, lighter tastes, for instance, are more likely to prefer a primary or secondary wine. Moreover, at least 90% of wines are made to be consumed young and fresh, according to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, while only a smaller percentage improves with aging.

  When you think about the aromas of a wine, you usually hear about the more fruity or floral aromas. But depending on the varietal you use in making your wine, there are plenty of other flavors you can incorporate and bring out in the final product. The key, again, is to make it your own.

Perfecting the quality

  The aging process can also significantly influence the flavor profile of a wine. For example, many California vineyards age their red blend in oak barrels, allowing the wine to absorb some of the oak’s distinct flavor. Oak aging, for instance, gives sommeliers flavors such as vanilla, clove, smoke, coconut — even coffee. Although the oakiness isn’t strong in the finished product, it’s noticeable enough to be a pleasant addition to the wine’s flavor profile, hence the tertiary element.

  Securing the right flavors could be easier said than done, especially given the frequent lack of consistency that occurs throughout the distilling process. For those more new to the process, this can rightfully feel frustrating. If you find that the distinct California flavor you are looking for isn’t quite there yet, continue experimenting with the elements of the process you can control. There are so many different flavor profiles that you can create, so you have to find something that captures not only your own taste, but the taste your customers are after.

  With home-distilling red wine, I should advise that achieving consistency in your wine’s flavor will perhaps be the most difficult challenge. Yes, you are bound to make mistakes, but remember that your customers are after consistency in the final product just as much as they are for its quality. If either component is found lacking, so will your future revenues!

  The biggest challenge about having your own wine is that, once you have the product in your hand and people taste it and love it, they’re going to ask where they can buy it. When you’re just starting, it will probably be only online or in a handful of physical locations. The challenging part is getting the wine into the hands of more people so they can try it and enjoy it as we do.

  Entrepreneurs hoping to get their foot in the door of the wine business should find a particular varietal or blend they are passionate about. Your consumers have an abundance of options when it comes to alcohol brands — especially wine. If you’re making wine just to make it, you will not be able to stand out as a smaller, independent brand. Find a wine that you are passionate about, and start there. Once you find success with that first varietal, you will be far better equipped to grow your business alongside your base of customers.

  Marlo Richardson is a multi-entrepreneur, CEO, and founder of four Black-owned cannabis businesses in California. She is also the founder of the wine company, Braymar Wines and Business Bullish, a website, and resource that seeks to train people in the areas of financial literacy and entrepreneurship. Marlo is the owner of STAGE 21 bar in Culver City, CA, formally known as the Tattletale Room Tavern. She is also the president of Marlo Productions and produced two theatrical films and hosts a podcast that mentors people looking to start investing in cryptocurrency & the stock market.

Asking a ‘Scary Good’ AI about SMS Wine Marketing in 2023

What can wine merchants learn from an AI? Now’s the time to find out…

By: Bryan St. Amant  December 12, 2022

Lauded in the press as a “scary good” AI, the recent launch of ChatGPT – an AI-powered chatbot that simulates human conversation – prompted this wine marketer to ask one of the world’s most powerful AI systems what it thinks about wine marketing.

Specifically about SMS wine marketing.

As it turns out, ChatGPT has much to say about wine marketing, including advice on how wine merchants can profit from text messaging in 2023.

But as this conversation unfolds, it’s hard to believe AI won’t profoundly change all our lives.

This transcript of an interview conducted Dec 9-11, 2022, by Bryan St. Amant, Founder & CEO of VinterActive, provides an eye-opening look at the future of wine marketing and artificial intelligence.

BTS: What made you interested in learning about SMS wine marketing?

ChatGPT: I am a large language model trained by OpenAI, so I don’t have personal interests or experiences. I am designed to provide answers to a wide range of questions on a variety of topics, based on the information I have been trained on. In this case, I was able to provide information and advice on SMS wine marketing based on my understanding of marketing, the wine industry, and the use of text messaging as a marketing tool.


BTS: So, what do you know about the effectiveness of text messaging for merchants who sell luxury goods directly to consumers?

ChatGPT: Text messaging can be an effective marketing tool for merchants who sell luxury goods directly to consumers. Text messages have a high open rate and are often read within minutes of being received, making them a great way to reach customers quickly and efficiently. Additionally, text messages can be personalized and targeted, allowing merchants to tailor their messaging to specific customers or customer segments. This can help merchants create a more personalized and engaging experience for their customers, which can be important for luxury goods. However, it’s important for merchants to use text messaging responsibly and comply with any relevant regulations.


BTS: In your opinion, why should DTC wineries care about text marketing in 2023?

ChatGPT: In my opinion, DTC wineries should care about text marketing in 2023 because it is a highly effective and efficient way to reach and engage with their customers. With text marketing, DTC wineries can easily send personalized, targeted messages to their customers, which can help to increase brand awareness, drive sales, and build customer loyalty. Additionally, text marketing is a cost-effective and relatively easy-to-implement marketing strategy, which means that even small DTC wineries can benefit from it. Overall, I believe that text marketing can be a valuable tool for DTC wineries to help them grow and succeed in the increasingly competitive world of wine.


BTS: Can you explain why the wine industry is still so reluctant to use text marketing compared to other industry segments?

ChatGPT: I think the wine industry may be hesitant to use text marketing for a few reasons. First, the wine industry is highly regulated, and there may be strict rules around how and to whom wine companies can market their products. This could make it difficult for wine companies to use text marketing effectively. Second, the wine industry is often focused on creating a luxurious and sophisticated image, and sending text messages to customers may not align with this image. Finally, the wine industry is highly competitive, and wine companies may be hesitant to use a marketing channel that their competitors are also using.


BTS: How hard is it for wine merchants to comply with the regulations that govern text marketing in the U.S.?

ChatGPT: It can be challenging for wine merchants to comply with the regulations that govern text marketing in the U.S. The wine industry is highly regulated, and there are strict rules around how and to whom wine companies can market their products. This can make it difficult for wine merchants to use text messaging as a marketing tool. For example, wine merchants may need to obtain consent from customers before sending them text messages, and they may need to include opt-out mechanisms in their text messages to allow customers to stop receiving messages at any time. Additionally, there are rules around the content of text messages, including rules around making false or misleading claims, and rules around using spamming techniques to send unsolicited messages. It’s important for wine merchants to be aware of these rules and ensure that their text messaging campaigns are compliant.


BTS: What are the best methods wine merchants can use to obtain consent from consumers before sending marketing texts?

ChatGPT: Wine merchants can use a few different methods to obtain consent from consumers before sending marketing texts. One common method is to include a checkbox on their website or in their physical store where customers can opt-in to receive text messages from the merchant. Another option is to include a clear statement in the merchant’s terms and conditions that explains how the customer’s personal information will be used, including for the purposes of sending marketing texts. Wine merchants can also ask customers directly for their consent, either in person or over the phone. It’s important for wine merchants to clearly explain how customers can opt-out of receiving text messages at any time, and to provide an easy way for customers to do so.


BTS: Can you recommend any good ways wine marketers can learn if their customer base would like to receive text messages from their brand?

ChatGPT: There are a few good ways that wine marketers can learn if their customer base would like to receive text messages from their brand. One way is to simply ask customers directly through surveys or by including a checkbox on their website or in their physical store where customers can opt-in to receive text messages. This can provide valuable insight into whether customers are interested in receiving text messages from the brand. Wine marketers can also use social media or other online platforms to gauge customer interest in receiving text messages. For example, they can post a question on their social media channels or send out a newsletter asking customers if they would like to receive text messages from the brand. This can provide valuable feedback and help wine marketers determine whether text messaging is a good fit for their business and their customers.


BTS: What are the most important business benefits small wine merchants should expect when they start using text marketing?

ChatGPT: Small wine merchants can expect several important business benefits when they start using text marketing, including:

  1. Increased customer engagement: Text marketing allows small wine merchants to easily reach and engage with their customers in a personalized and targeted way, which can help to build stronger relationships and increase customer loyalty.
  2. Improved sales and revenue: By sending targeted promotions and offers to their customers via text, small wine merchants can drive more sales and increase their revenue.
  3. Cost-effectiveness: Text marketing is a relatively inexpensive marketing strategy, which makes it a great option for small wine merchants who may have limited marketing budgets.
  4. Easy implementation: Implementing a text marketing campaign is relatively simple and can be done quickly, which means that small wine merchants can start seeing the benefits of text marketing almost immediately.
  5. Greater reach: Text marketing allows small wine merchants to reach a wider audience than they might be able to with other marketing channels, which can help to expand their customer base and grow their business.


BTS: Can you think of any substantial business benefits wine merchants might expect by learning how to leverage text messaging before their competition adopts SMS marketing?

ChatGPT: Wine merchants can expect several substantial business benefits by learning how to leverage text messaging before their competition adopts SMS marketing. First, they can gain a competitive advantage by being among the first to use text messaging as a marketing tool in the wine industry. This can help them reach and engage their customers more effectively, and can help them stand out from their competitors. Second, they can improve customer loyalty and satisfaction by providing a more personalized and engaging experience for their customers. Text messaging can provide a convenient and efficient way for wine merchants to communicate with their customers, and can help build stronger relationships with them. Finally, wine merchants can increase sales and revenue by using text messaging to drive traffic to their website and physical store, and to promote special offers and promotions. Overall, learning how to leverage text messaging can provide many substantial business benefits for wine merchants.


BTS: What steps do you recommend wine merchants take before implementing text marketing?

ChatGPT: Before implementing text marketing, wine merchants should take a few key steps to ensure the success of their campaign. First, they should clearly define their goals and target audience for the campaign. This will help them determine the best approach for their text messaging and ensure that their messaging is relevant and valuable to their customers. Second, they should carefully research and understand the regulations that govern text marketing in the wine industry. This will ensure that their campaigns are compliant and avoid any potential legal issues. Third, they should develop a plan for how they will obtain consent from customers before sending them text messages, and how they will provide an easy way for customers to opt-out of receiving messages at any time. Finally, they should carefully test and refine their text messaging to ensure that it is effective and engaging for their customers. These steps can help wine merchants implement a successful text marketing campaign that meets their goals and provides value to their customers.


BTS: Do you recommend wine merchants work with text marketing vendors with experience in the wine industry or take a DIY approach to SMS marketing?

ChatGPT: It can be helpful for wine merchants to work with text marketing vendors that have experience in the wine industry. These vendors can provide valuable insights and expertise that can help wine merchants navigate the complex regulations and unique challenges of the industry. They can also help wine merchants develop effective and engaging text messaging campaigns that align with the industry’s luxury image and target the right customers. However, wine merchants can also take a DIY approach to SMS marketing if they are comfortable doing so. This can provide more control and flexibility, and can be a cost-effective option for smaller wine merchants. Ultimately, the best approach will depend on the individual wine merchant’s goals, resources, and expertise.


BTS: What advice would you give to DTC wineries that are thinking about adding text messaging to their marketing mix in 2023?

ChatGPT: There are several pieces of advice that I would give to DTC wineries who are thinking about adding text messaging to their marketing mix in 2023. First, I would recommend that they carefully research and understand the regulations that govern text messaging in the wine industry. This will help them ensure that their text messaging campaigns are compliant and avoid any potential legal issues. Second, I would recommend that they develop a clear plan for how they will obtain consent from customers before sending them text messages, and how they will provide an easy way for customers to opt-out of receiving messages at any time. Third, I would recommend that they carefully test and refine their text messaging to ensure that it is effective and engaging for their customers. Finally, I would recommend that they consider working with a text marketing vendor that has experience in the wine industry, as this can provide valuable expertise and insights that can help them succeed with their text messaging campaigns.


BTS: With all due respect, why should DTC wineries listen to business advice dispensed by an AI like you?

ChatGPT: As an AI trained by OpenAI, I have access to vast amounts of information and data that I can use to provide valuable insights and advice on a wide range of topics. I am designed to be knowledgeable, objective, and unbiased, and to provide information and advice that is accurate and up-to-date. While I am not an expert in the wine industry, I can provide general business advice and recommendations based on my knowledge of marketing and consumer behavior. My primary goal is to provide helpful and informative answers to the questions that are asked of me, and to assist users in gaining a better understanding of the topics they are interested in. I hope that DTC wineries will find my advice useful and that it will help them make informed decisions about their marketing efforts.


BTS: Thank you for your thoughtful advice!

ChatGPT: You’re welcome! I’m glad I could help. Let me know if you have any other questions.


Founder & CEO of VinterActive LLC, Bryan St. Amant, is a pioneer in developing preference-based direct marketing and its successful application in the wine industry.

His award-winning work has been featured in books, magazines, and seminars, including CFO Magazine, Inc., CNN Money, eMarketing Magazine, Integrated Direct Marketing, Direct Marketing Association, Wine Business, Wine Marketing Report, and the Wine Industry Network.

Tagged: #textmarketing#artificial intelligence#automation

SMS Wine Marketing Compliance – 3 Simple Rules to Follow

By: Bryan St. Amant, Founder & CEO of VinterActive

  With the latest research showing SMS wine marketing is performing 32-times better than email, many DTC wineries are now eager to use text messaging to grow their business.

The great news is wine lovers are especially interested in staying in touch with their favorite brands using text messaging, and a new crop of SMS wine marketing solutions are now available.

  But industry awareness of the compliance rules all U.S. wineries must follow still seems to be a problem. Misinformation spread by dubious sources and rumors on social media now puts some wineries at risk of severe consequences.

  So in this article, we’ll demystify SMS wine marketing compliance so your winery can delight your customers and confidently profit from text messaging.

  DISCLAIMER: This advice is offered for informational purposes only and is neither intended as nor should be substituted for consultation with appropriate legal counsel and/or your organization’s regulatory compliance team.

What Regulations Apply to SMS Wine Marketers?

  Text marketing is regulated primarily by the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Unlike email marketing, these regulations are strictly enforced by the FCC.

  We don’t want to scare you, but failing to follow the law can have serious consequences. For example, in 2012, Papa John’s agreed to pay over $16 million to settle a class-action lawsuit against them for failure to get proper consent before texting their customers.

  In addition to the TCPA, wine marketers are also regulated by the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association (CTIA) which prohibits sending text messages about regulated products to consumers who aren’t of legal age. For SMS wine marketers accepting credit cards, you should also be familiar with the payment card industry’s PCI-DSS standards for securing payment card data.

  PCI-DSS isn’t the law, but it governs your relationship with credit card processors. And if you don’t comply with these standards, your business can be subject to costly fines and lose the ability to accept credit cards.  The good news is that SMS wine marketing compliance isn’t complicated! But it is mandatory to comply with three simple rules:

1)  Express written consent

2)  Age verification

3)  Payment card security

Express Written Consent

  Complying with the TCPA requires any business sending automated texts to obtain “express written consent” before sending any text messages.

That means you can’t just upload the names of wine club members, purchase a list of phone numbers, or assume you can text customers because you already have an “existing business relationship.”  If anyone tells you otherwise, you might ask them if they’ll foot your legal bills if they’re wrong.

You might be thinking, what’s “express written consent,” and how is it different than “written consent”?

  When you sign up for a service like Gmail, you agree to their terms and consent to paragraphs of language you probably didn’t read. But that type of consent isn’t good enough for text marketing — you can’t bury consent to receive texts in a privacy policy or a hard-to-read user agreement.

  By federal law, you must provide clear and conspicuous disclosure of what consumers are consenting to and who they’re consenting to get it from. The rules about asking customers to opt-in to text messaging depend on whether you’re sending transactional or promotional messages.

  Obtaining customer consent can be simple if you only send transactional messages containing information necessary to use your products or services. By adding a prompt to your checkout process that says, “provide your mobile number for shipping and delivery updates,” customers consent when they enter their digits.

  But the key term here is “necessary.”

  If your customers ask for SMS updates about an order, you can’t assume they’re opting in to receive texts about future releases or upcoming events. In the eyes of the FCC, these messages are promotional and require your opt-in message to include specific elements:

•    Who will be texting them.

•    What type of messages they’ll receive, and how often they’ll receive them.

•    Confirmation that consent to receive text messages isn’t required for purchase.

•    Instructions on how consumers can stop receiving your automated texts.

•    A link to your privacy policy and a disclaimer about data/message rates that may apply.

  Fortunately for wine marketers, our industry is already familiar with the importance of compliance. And SMS wine marketing solutions now offer built-in consent forms that comply with the law.

Age Verification

  In addition to the TCPA’s regulations about obtaining express written consent, wine marketers are subject to the Cellular Telecommunications and Internet Association’s (CTIA) prohibition against sending text messages to consumers who aren’t of legal age.

  These rules apply to any business promoting products or services associated with sex, hatred, alcohol, firearms, and tobacco, otherwise known as SHAFT. CTIA’s guidelines aren’t the law, but all wine marketers should carefully follow them for two reasons. 

  First, if someone lodges a legitimate complaint that you’re sending text messages to anyone younger than 21, any reputable text marketing service will quickly suspend your account. And in our view, U.S. wineries have a moral obligation to market their products only to adults over 21.

  So what are SMS wine marketers to do? 

  The answer is to use “age gates” whenever you offer consumers the chance to join your SMS list. Most carriers accept a wide range of age gates as long as they protect you from sending text messages to minors.

Examples of popular age gates currently in use include:

•    Websites that require visitors to confirm they’re over the age of 21 before entering.

•    An automated data collection system that requires text marketing subscribers to enter their DOB or confirm they’re over the age of 21.

•    A wine commerce system that includes DOB data confirming the age of your subscribers.

•    Signage in your tasting room that makes it clear your text marketing offers are only available to adults over the age of 21.

Payment Card Security

  All SMS wine marketers accepting credit/debit cards should know never to encourage customers to transmit card data via text because it’s not secure and violates the agreements you have with your payment processor. For over a decade, all merchants accepting payment cards have been required to comply with the payment card industry’s data security standards, also known as PCI-DSS. Complying with these standards offers your winery an essential element of protection in the case of a security breach. 

  Merchants that don’t comply with PCI-DSS guidelines then suffer a breach that exposes payment card data may be liable for fines of several hundred dollars for each card compromised.  So it doesn’t take many customers for non-compliant wineries to incur fines that might put them out of business.

Astonishingly, some sources in the wine industry still encourage merchants to put themselves at risk by using non-compliant methods to collect payment card data.

  If anyone tells you they have a way for your winery to see the full 16-digits of a payment card online, they’re inviting you to violate the terms of your merchant agreement by offering a solution that doesn’t comply with PCI-DSS.

  As tempting as it might seem to collect payment card data you can copy and paste, ask yourself why you don’t have access to this same data through your online store or your payment card processor’s portal? The answer is that it puts you out of compliance with PCI-DDS, it’s not secure, can hurt your customers, and exposes your business to unnecessary risk.

  Fortunately, there’s an easy way to use text messaging to invite customers to update payment card data in a way that complies with PCI-DSS requirements. Since all modern commerce systems have secure pages where customers can update their card data, sending a link to your commerce page is the best way to use SMS messaging to help customers change their payment information.

The Bottom-Line on SMS Wine Marketing Compliance

  Compliance with the law and industry standards should already be familiar to any wine marketer. After all, we’re selling a highly regulated product.

Although SMS marketing has its own unique rules, compliance issues shouldn’t keep your customers from staying in touch with you via text.

  Now that you understand the three most important compliance rules that apply to SMS wine marketing, your business can profit too.

Happy Selling!

About the Author

  Founder & CEO of VinterActive, Bryan St. Amant, is a pioneer in developing preference-based direct marketing and its successful application in the wine industry. His award-winning work has been featured in books, magazines, and seminars.

VinterActive is located in Windsor, California. For more information please call or visit thier website…707-836-7295;

The Psychology Behind Gift Buying

How to Tweak Your Messaging for More Sales this Holiday

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

  There is a lot of pressure on Q4 this year. Americans fueled by high gas prices, inflation, and pent-up demand flocked to Europe instead of domestically in 2022. For most North American wineries, this resulted in a slow summer tourist season, with some wineries reporting as much as a 25% drop in sales from pre-COVID visitations. Many of our clients hope a strong holiday season will make up for a lackluster Q2 and Q3.

  The addition of gifting makes betting on Q4 reasonable. In addition to increased wine consumption among known purchasers and club members due to social occasions around the holidays, we also can sell additional wine to the same group for gift giving. In addition, those who have not tried the wine might do so as a gift, positioning this quarter as a perfect time to grow brand awareness and increase our prospect databases.

  Buying a gift is undoubtedly different from buying for personal consumption. Consider if the traditional copy and images work in both situations. Has the offer positioning and targeting of the wine been adjusted for gift occasions? Neuromarketing, the study of marketing and consumerism’s influence on the brain, has some tips for us on what messaging is appropriate when motivating consumers to buy a product they intend to give to someone else.

  Objective 1: Get existing buyers to give wine as gifts. Prior research into gift-giving has concretely established that we buy gifts based on our ego, and the subconscious motivation in most gift choices is identity-consistent. According to (Sherry, 1983), gifts become “containers for the being of the donor who gives a portion of that being to the recipient.”

  It makes sense; we buy what we would like to receive ourselves. However, it does not stop there. The gift is also an “acknowledgment by both people that the identity imposed is accepted” (Schwartz, 1967). So not only do we tend to give gifts we feel represent our self-worth, but when others accept it, they confirm that value.

  So, psychologically speaking, getting our loyal base to share the wine they have already identified as worthy should be relatively easy. The most compelling messages here would be ones of connection and pride. Bottle X is their favorite wine, and Brand Y is their favorite winery. They have the inside information on what Brand Y offers, and because of that access and knowledge, they have chosen Bottle X as the best gift.

  What if they are not so confident? Perhaps they are new to the brand or unsure about their wine knowledge. Choosing a present for someone is more complex than choosing something for oneself because of the tension inherent in selecting a product that is appropriate for the recipient while still reflective of the giver’s own identity and the relationship between the individuals. (Belk 1979; Caplow 1982). As marketers, we can relieve this tension by making a solid argument. Emotionally we need to highlight why Bottle X from Brand Y is a solid, esteemed choice that reflects well on the giver. Highlight quality and details and bring up best sellers that further confidence. We do not need to waste time on introductions to Brand Y. We can keep the message focused on the selected products that make the strongest case for the best gifts. Furthermore, do not forget to create urgency with either shipping deadlines or limited quantities.

  Cost is unimportant in this scenario because we shop with a budget concerning gifts. At the onset, Bottle X is within the consideration set or is not. Psychologically speaking, a discount will not help this purchase and might hurt perceived value. Based on cultural norms and other factors, the average gift expenditure is between $50 and $100 for a family member and between $20 and $50 for a friend. ( So our best chance is to make the most attractive and strongest argument we can within those price ranges.

  TIP: The savvy marketer will also realize a hidden opportunity to target the recipient. An expertly crafted introductory brochure inserted into the gift box serves a dual purpose of not only furthering the giver’s confidence but can engage the recipient as well.

  Objective 2: Get existing buyers to buy wine for consumption. Wine for consumption falls into either self-presentation (at the customer’s own event) or as a hostess gift to another’s event. Research shows that motivations are far less dramatic when the gift is obligatory. We have less alignment with our identity when we give from a sense of obligation, and we are more likely to select practical or utilitarian gifts than those we give from a voluntary motive.

  Here is where logic and price come into play: Avoid outliers. Choose wines that pair well with various foods and situations and are between $15 – $40, the average amount spent on wine brought to parties (Forbes.) By mentioning food pairing, we are putting Bottle X in the context of the consumers’ lives and providing ideas about where the wine will be accepted.

  TIP: For extra incentive here, try a referral offer. The consumer is already in the headspace of how he/she will be spending time and celebrating with friends. It is a tiny leap to consider who else might enjoy Bottle X and suggest an introduction.

  Objective 3: Get prospects to give wine as gifts.

If gift-giving reflects our self-image, how do we immediately resonate with someone who has not tried Bottle X? We must present Bottle X and Brand Y as attractive representations of this potential buyer. The best way to do this is to overcome any objection a potential buyer might have. These objections could be the price, quality, or taste of the wine and, more than likely, the company’s values. We are far more likely to convince a prospect that we are a good gift if we are transparent about what we stand for, and this truth aligns with our prospect’s values.

  To succeed here, highlight mainstream varietal wines between $20 – $100 and have a pretty label or custom box. (Yes, you read that right, here is where research shows us attractive labels are perceived as higher value and thus a better gift choice.) Additional validation, like a score, also helps, as does any information on company values or beliefs. Target this value group on Meta or Google for even more alignment.

  TIP: Brainstorm how to make a bottle of wine special to this target audience. Gift boxes, merchandise inclusions, an insert about the company or an aligned charity, or signed bottles all add to the perceived value and make an otherwise impersonal gift more personal and attractive.

  Objective 4: Get prospects to buy wine for consumption. This is the most challenging of the four objectives but still achievable. The psychological emotion to overcome in this situation is guilt.

  It is bound to happen. We spend hours online combing through gifts (that we now know are reflections of ourselves), and we will see something that we want for ourselves. Our opportunity here is to grant permission to treat themselves.

By framing a personal choice as a potential gift, we can now include non-traditional gift categories. In the Felix Gray email, it is unlikely that someone would give a pair of prescription glasses as a gift. Nevertheless, their messaging leans into the season by positioning their glasses as gifts and additionally appropriate as a small personal luxury. They permit the target to splurge $100 on some new lenses in the context of “I was just Christmas shopping.”

  TIP: Luckily, wine is a relatively low-risk purchase, so our permission can come in the form of removing minimal barriers like shipping costs. The message here should be that the target deserves the wine, and it is painless to get it.


  We get something like this chart if we put all four quadrants together and summarize our messaging. We have discussed the psychological motivation between each purchase as slightly different and recommended how to tweak messaging depending on the goal for the best outcome.

  One final note on gifts: A 2016 study asked people to give a friend either a “material” or “experiential” gift (valued at $15). Material gifts included things such as clothing, and experiential gifts included things such as movie tickets. Recipients of the experiential gifts showed a more significant improvement in perceived relationship strength than recipients of the material gifts.

  This shows that the gift we most value is quality time. So, consider experiences when planning the holiday lineup. A unique experience targeted to the local fan base could resonate during a stressful holiday season.

About the Author

  Susan DeMatei is the founder of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. Now in its 10th year, the agency offers domestic and international clients assistance with strategy and execution.   

WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California at 707-927-3334 or

Insights From Overseas:Three DTC Trends from Europe

By: Susan DeMatei, Founder of WineGlass Marketing

After navigating our client’s business and company growth during the last two roller-coaster years, I was ready for a significant break. Armed with credits from two canceled vacations and many pent-up credit card miles, I cashed in for an extended European visit in July. While there, my husband and I traveled to and stayed in four major wine tasting regions: Alsace, Champagne, Burgundy, and the Rhine/Mosel.

  While there are countless and apparent differences between how France, Germany and the US promote tourism and sell wine directly to customers, there are equal similarities if you look hard enough. On this trip, I found myself in the rare role of a focused tourist. So, I became aware of the marketing cues and delivery vehicles and noted what worked, and what didn’t.

Here’s Some of what I Learned:

1. You can’t judge a baguette by its crust.  If I were to ask you to paint a picture of your ideal customer, who would you envision? Most have that gray-haired, tanned, 65-year-old couple on a sailboat in their mind. What if I told you that the average 25-55 year old was equal to or wealthier than most over 55?

   And it goes beyond gray hair to the overall presentation. The casualness of today’s affluent consumers was apparent on day one in the premium airline lounge. I splurged all our points on an upgrade to Business Class for our 11-hour flight to and from Zurich, complete with the little fold-down bed and access to the private lounge at the airport. I expected to see businessmen in suits and mature couples dressed in Sax Fifth Avenue or European power couples with effortless, crisp, linen summer button-downs and a nanny in tow with the two gorgeous well-behaved children. This was not what I saw. I saw 30-year-olds with backpacks and complete families with grandmothers in a wheelchair and many young children.

  This observation continued at wineries. What struck me the most was the dress code. I know this isn’t the 60’s where you dressed up to go traveling, and we were in a heat wave, but even in Reims, where an average tasting can be 70€ and a bottle in the thousands, the standard was casual, very casual. Like pajama bottoms, gym shorts, flip flops, unbrushed hair, and ripped jeans casual.

  Takeaway:  The days of the winery controlling the “exclusivity” of a visit have passed. Customers now decide where they think they fit in and boldly go there. Visually, the current wealthy consumer is indistinguishable from a person on minimum wage. How would you determine who “belongs” even if you could? It would be best to assume anyone walking through your door is self-selected to be at your winery and a potential buyer. Your control exists with a straightforward website with your story and brand, where you list your offerings and are clear about your pricing. If you execute traffic-driving initiatives, ensure your income and geography target is correct so you don’t get someone looking for a Toyota strolling into a Range Rover dealer.

2. Napoleon’s hat is cool but not what I was looking for.  My husband and I have seen vineyards and done our share of winery tours, but I was not going to miss the chance to tour the ancient and legendary cellars of the one-and-only Moët & Chandon. I have always been a Dom Pérignon fan, and as the parent company, Moët is the only place you can find it as a tourist. I was prepared to spare no expense for a high-end experience at this boutique and called ahead but was dismayed that they only had two options for visitors. I explained I was a Sommelier from Napa and that I was interested in the higher echelon wines I couldn’t easily find in the US, but there was no flexibility with options. Hoping for the best, I purchased the more expensive of the two tour/tastings.

  Épernay is very similar to Napa. Small and hyper-focused on luxury winery tourism and visited by many tourists with various ranges of knowledge and spending power. Moët & Chandon didn’t disappoint with a grand entrance and seating area displaying several historical artifacts, including Napoleon Bonaparte’s hat.

  But that was as interesting as it got. For the next 75 minutes, we were led through an introductory tour of the champenoise method-not, even very much history or specific information about Moët. It was the same script someone from Schramsberg could have used. A woman from Oregon wanted to ask questions, but at each juncture, she apologized and seemed embarrassed that she was interrupting the tour guide’s script with wanting to know more.

  At the completion, we were rewarded with two glasses of vintage champagne (the base level tour offered a single tasting of the current NV Brut as the only deviation). In the garden with our group, I listened to our group chatter as an Australian wine collector boasted about his cellar full of Penfolds Grange to a mother from the Netherlands with her son, who was celebrating his birthday (he had just turned 18). Then we were all ushered through the gift shop before exiting.

  Takeaway:  What a tragic missed opportunity! With some foresight and flexibility, the Grange buyer and ourselves could have easily been delighted with an abbreviated tour and tasting of their high-end offerings. I’m sure we would have purchased 3x as much in half the time. Then the woman with the questions and the mother and son would have been within a smaller group of people who all could have learned about dosage or riddling while feeling more comfortable and heard.

  Never underestimate the power of customized experiences or knowing your audience to maximize sales opportunities.

3. A little Nerd goes a long way.  The tools and technology used were as varied as the regions we visited. Alsace had some of the most professional “Hollywood” style use of video, ingeniously using the barrels and the cellar walls as the video screen for various camera angles. Mercier in Épernay has a full-size laser-guided train that tours their cellars and a video that interacts with its elevator. Dr. Loosen, in Germany, chose low-tech but equally effective blown-up laminated images of the vineyards and soils to accompany and explain their elaborate and complex Riesling tasting.

  We belong to the Domaine Serene Wine Club in Oregon, and their sister winery is Château de la Crée in Santenay, Burgundy. I appreciated they were sufficiently connected worldwide to have my Wine Club information (even though I noticed la Crée wasn’t on WineDirect as Serene is). The customer service was seamless; they knew what wines we’d purchased and our entire history. But with language barriers, I respected that they also asked us to fill out a customer form to confirm they had information in their system correctly, and nothing needed updating.

  A not-so-great but funny example of a technology miss is that thanks to COVID-19, most cafes and some European restaurants have removed menus entirely in favor of QR code stickers on the tables. This reduces waste and time, lowers germs, and is easier to update, so it seems like a great idea all the way around. That is until your phone runs out of juice (which happened), or your sticker is ripped or faded (which happened), and you’re left awkwardly sneaking to another table or flagging down an annoyed waiter to find a menu.

  Takeaway:  We can use technology to enhance or confuse our customers. It can improve creativity, help communicate a message, make the visit memorable, reduce waste and germs, and help your customer and employee experience. Just ensure you know why you’re using it and employ it with intent and purpose.

  Also, always have a low-tech backup for when tech fails or you need to communicate with a neophyte.

C’est La Vie!

  It’s been several years since I’ve been to another wine region to compare “cellar door” marketing and programs and I can say Europe has come a long way toward our new world DTC practices here in the US. I am encouraged that as younger consumers become more educated, affluent, and demanding, the pace of evolution will continue to increase. There will likely be additional channels and tools that we are just beginning to explore in another few years.

  Susan DeMatei is the founder of WineGlass Marketing, a full-service direct marketing firm working within the wine industry in Napa, California. Now in its 10th year, the agency offers domestic and international clients assistance with strategy and execution.  WineGlass Marketing is located in Napa, California at 707-927-3334 or 

Text Marketing Plan: 3 Easy Steps to Get Started

By: Bryan St. Amant, Founder & CEO of VinterActive

Now that leading wineries have discovered the power of SMS marketing, the race is on to see which brands will profit and at whose expense.

With consumer engagement 32-times better than email marketing, even new wineries can quickly grow a small text messaging list that outperforms thousands of email addresses. For wineries with established DTC lists, the news is even better.

If your winery can convince 3% of your existing list to opt in for text messaging, you’ll succeed in creating an entirely new DTC channel that sells as much wine as the other 97%.

And here’s the best news of all…

Today’s SMS wine marketing solutions are inexpensive, easy to use, and can generate game-changing results in days by following three easy steps.

STEP 1) Plan Your Initial Offer: Once you’ve made the decision to add text messaging to your mix, your next step is to decide what you’ll be using it for so you can create your first text marketing offer inviting your customers to join your brand’s text messaging list.

The latest research shows that consumers are interested in brands that offer exclusive promotions, product news, and customer service delivered via text. And the most successful wineries we’ve worked with use text messaging to deliver all three.

But just because you can do all these things with SMS marketing doesn’t mean you need to do them all at once.

That’s why we recommend most wine merchants start with one of these text marketing offers:

• Concierge Services available via text.
• Wine Club Updates sent via text as needed.
• Order Tracking triggered by new shipments.
• Monthly Winery Updates about new wine & events.
• Weekly Tasting Room Specials.

If you want a proven pilot program and have a wine club, try offering your members the opportunity to receive their club updates via text. They’ll be thrilled, and you’ll have a new text marketing list.

PRO-TIP: For maximum engagement with loyal customers, perform a simple survey asking them what texts they’d like to receive from your brand. You might learn something, and when you offer your fans the chance to sign up for text messaging, they’ll already be on board.

Whatever you decide to offer at first, as long as you focus on real customer needs, you can’t go wrong. You can always start slow and build your text marketing program over time. So don’t stress out. Just getting the ball rolling might be the primary benefit of your first campaign.

For a motivated wine marketer, this first step shouldn’t take more than a day or two.

STEP 2) Select an SMS Wine Marketing Platform:
Once you’ve identified the customer services you’ll deliver via text, your next step is to select an SMS wine marketing platform.

Fortunately, many vendors now serve the wine industry and offer a broad range of marketing tools and price points. So do your due diligence by confirming the platform you select has all the tools needed to support your most crucial SMS marketing goals.

Critical tools for DTC wine marketers often include:

Two-Way Text Conversations: Essential for text-based concierge services. If you have a large hospitality team, make sure the system you select supports multiple team members as needed.

Text Marketing Preference Center: Essential for segmenting customers based on individual interests. Preference-based messaging is the best way to maximize consumer satisfaction and minimize unsubscribes.
Integration with Wine Commerce Systems: Essential for automating transactional messages like order confirmation, reservation reminders, and shipping notifications.

Automated Text Marketing Workflows: Essential for quickly responding to customer inquiries and maximizing staff productivity.

Age Compliance Mechanism: Essential for complying with industry regulations. SMS wine marketing systems must have working age gates that filter out contacts younger than 21.

PRO-TIP: Most wine marketers can send and receive texts using toll-free or local numbers. To send more than 3000 messages daily, use a toll-free service since they can deliver thousands of messages in seconds. But if customers also call you on a local number, you should text-enable it, too.

You can’t go wrong if you choose a platform that delivers the tools needed to support your initial goals. Worst case, if your plans change or your SMS platform doesn’t deliver as expected, you’ll still have all your data and opt-in contacts. So you can change your SMS marketing system if needed.
Even with due diligence, this step should take a week or less.

STEP 3) Launch Your First SMS Wine Marketing Campaign: When your new SMS platform is ready to go, it’s time to launch your new text messaging service. The wineries we’ve worked with have enjoyed success launching their SMS programs using a combination of:

• Email invitations to existing contacts.
• Webforms targeting prospects visiting your website from a desktop computer.
• “Click-to-text” buttons targeting prospects visiting your website from a mobile device.
• “Scan-to-text” signs that use QR codes to invite tasting room visitors to join your list.
• Keywords your customers can text to your brand to join your SMS list.
• Printed offers accompanying product shipments.

Just like email marketing, the success of your text marketing program depends on your list size.
So promote your SMS list wherever you engage the most customers.

If you have a large email list, promote your SMS program to email subscribers. If you have a busy tasting room, promote your SMS list there. And if your website or social media pages host hundreds or thousands of visitors each month, they should prominently feature your SMS wine marketing offers.

PRO-TIP: For an in-depth tutorial on the best practices for growing SMS wine marketing lists, check out our recent article, “The 7 Best Ways Wineries Can Grow Their Text Marketing Lists.”

To help you get started, your SMS wine marketing partner should be happy to assist you with all the tools needed to introduce your new text messaging services and grow your opt-in list quickly.

Even if you take the time to set up all possible subscription channels, this step can be accomplished in less than a week, leaving you ready to begin profiting from SMS wine marketing.

After Launch, What’s Next?

If you’ve already launched your SMS wine marketing program, congratulations! You’ve joined an exclusive club of wine merchants who use text messaging to stay in touch with their customers.

Now the fun begins – optimizing your text marketing program to maximize results.

One of the first decisions you’ll need to make is how often you text your subscribers. Since the number one reason consumers unsubscribe to text marketing programs is that they receive too many or too few messages, the frequency of your messages is critical to dial in.

The latest research on text marketing shows that most consumers prefer receiving text messages from their favorite brands every two weeks. But consumer preferences vary widely. So we recommend offering customers a choice of text messaging content so they can hear from you as often as they like.

Your initial campaign could offer winery updates every two weeks. But then, as you build out your text marketing program, you might also offer weekly updates on tasting room specials or perhaps monthly updates featuring recipes that pair well with your wines. With weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly options to choose from, your SMS wine marketing program will appeal to the broadest range of customers.

As you continue to optimize your text messaging program, you’ll need to keep an eye on results. That means regularly reviewing the open, click-thru, and unsubscribe rates generated by your campaigns so you can do more of what works while learning from your less successful efforts.

In our experience, learning from both success and failure is the key to delivering world-class DTC wine marketing results.

The Sooner You Text,
the Sooner You’ll Profit

In a world where 90% of online consumers want text messages from their favorite brands, but only 8% of U.S. wineries text their customers, this mismatch between consumer preference and industry practice spells nothing but opportunity for wineries focused on growth.

Unless you think text messaging is going away soon, you only have one choice to make: whether or not you let your competition profit from text messaging before you.

With consumers hungry for brands that engage them with text messaging and wine marketers reporting results 32-times better than email, now’s the time for savvy wine marketers to embrace text messaging.

We hope the 3-steps we’ve shared with you in this article can help your business quickly profit from SMS wine marketing.

Happy Selling!

About the Author

Founder & CEO of VinterActive, Bryan St. Amant, is a pioneer in developing preference-based direct marketing and its successful application in the wine industry. His award-winning work has been featured in books, magazines, and seminars. VinterActive is located in Windsor, California. For more information please call or visit their website