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Get Serious About Mother’s Day, Wineries

Well, wineries, it’s that time of year again and the countdown is on. So what are you doing for Mother’s Day? ANOTHER wine and cheese event in the ol’ tasting room? How innovative. And for direct sales? Nothing yet, eh? Planning on slapping the words “Mother’s Day” on a regular bottle special and sending something out to your mailing list about a week before the big day? Hm. How’d that work out last year?

Mama Fratelli for Mother's Day

Mama Fratelli loves Mother's Day.

All of this snark is coming from a place of love, wineries. It’s time to get creative if you want to start making money off of these mini-holidays. Take some time to look at what you have planned and incorporate your own genius – or just use some of the ideas below.


If you’ve got a tasting room, I’m praying that you’re doing SOMETHING for the holiday. Instead of the wine and cheese event that everybody whips out when they don’t know what else to do, think a bit outside the box. What is going to make a family get in the car and head out to your tasting room? And how can you execute it on a budget? Some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Pamper ’em. Try hiring a masseuse for a few hours – have them set up a table and offer 15 minute mommy massages as a part of your event. You can also go nuts and offer manicures, but be sure to do so far enough away from the tasting room so that library Cab of yours doesn’t smell like Opi & nail polish remover.
  • Set up playtime for kids. Make it easy for families to attend by incorporating a supervised project for children as a part of the event. Mom and Dad can enjoy the tasting while Junior and Little Missy can create pictures, cork necklaces or the illustrious paper-plate bean-shakers that they can give to mom as a present when the tasting is over. Feel free to be creative and incorporate your branding into the project.
  • Take a hike. If your event is grown-ups only, and if you have the land, make it an adventurous escape. Set up a tasting in a romantic spot in the vineyard and give a guided tour to and from the tasting location. Make it special using your winery’s best features – do you have an amazing spot to view the sunset? On-site crush facilities? A little clearing in the woods or picnic tables in the vineyard? Use it. Feel free to make it a family event with extra supervision and an outside activity for the kids during the tasting.
  • Have a mom at the winery? Let the matriarch lead the tasting. Feel free to put family first – this can be your own celebration that you are inviting your valued customers to attend. If marketed right, there’s an element of “celebrity” that will appeal to some of your mailing list – just don’t let your heads get too big.
  • Look to the future. By the time you have your Mother’s Day event, know what you are doing for Father’s Day – or at least have an idea. If you can provide a wonderful and unique experience for Mom, odds are that Dad would be interested in coming back if you have something to offer him for his special day.  Depending on his or her situation, almost every guest at your event is a potential repeat for Father’s Day, so you best put it in their heads early.


Throwing your white wines in a three-pack and calling it a Mother’s Day special a week before the big day is not the way to take advantage of this holiday for your direct sales. Odds are that the consumers of your direct sale items for Mother’s Day may not be the same people that would attend your event (if you have one), so take advantage of this by creating a DIY Mother’s Day kit for home. All you need to do is to pick some themes and price ranges. Whatever you do, do it now. Get it up on your website immediately.

  • Understand your direct sales consumer. I’m going to assume that any Mother’s Day special/gift item will be up on your website (because it should be if you want to make money). Yes, you’ll be blasting this out to your mailing list and wine club, but understand that if you want to get new customers out of this, it will be people searching online for Mother’s Day wine gifts. Be sure that you use appropriate key words (for SEO) when you are creating the product pages and publish it asap. Also, the people doing online searches for mother’s day gifts may skew younger – hello millennials. Yes, there are plenty of us with kids, but there are TONS of us with mothers – we all need to buy them gifts and will most likely look to the web at some point, if not first. Keep this in mind when you are putting together your kits.
  • Know your competition. No, I’m not talking about neighboring wineries, people. The big competition on Mother’s Day is flowers. Think about this when you are choosing your pricing and marketing strategies. People won’t even blink at spending $100 and up on a beautiful bouquet of flowers for mom – it’s the ultimate go-to long-distance Mother’s Day gift. This is your competition. You can put together a fabulous package for this price (and lower) no matter what the price points of your wines are. Make sure people know this. Make sure that long distance sons and daughters realize that they have a choice between flowers and wine for Mom this year – and make sure they know why your wine package is the right choice.
  • Talk to the moms. If you’ve got moms on board in your staff, reach out to them to see what their ideal DIY Mother’s Day Kit would include.
  • Go outside your own merchandise. Yes, you could put together the same tired gift basket of wine, glasses and corkscrews, but that doesn’t give a whole lot of reasons to buy your particular package, does it? You’ve got a resale license, so USE IT! Grab a wholesale lot of manicure kits, spa slippers, DVDs, gift cards, decor items, etc. and incorporate these into your theme. If your budget is tight, shop first and create your theme around the items that fit your budget.
  • Don’t be afraid to go novelty. Remember these orders will be gifts, which means that people want to say something with them. Making people laugh is a big part of gift-giving, particularly in my family. Don’t be afraid to embrace a novelty approach. If I were a winery, the first Mother’s Day Gift item I would put together would be the Mama Fratelli Gift Basket. (If you don’t know who Mama Fratelli is, go watch Goonies immediately.) I would include a black beret and some fake pearls, as well as perhaps a CD single from the band, The Fratellis. If I had Italian varietals in my wines, I would include those in the basket (remember Zin = Primitivo), or if not, I would find the best wines that fit with her thematically. Find something unique, have fun, be creative.
  • Get the word out. If you do have some creative product packages for your direct sales, find a few ways to tell the world. Contact the local paper, radio shows, the local news – if it’s touching/unique/funny/creative enough, you may get some much needed coverage.

There are many more ways to get the most out of your event and direct sales this Mother’s Day, so grab your team, get thinking, and get put ingenious plans into motion soon to get the best return.

For those wineries that DO put the work in, I invite you to email me at with your new, improved, unique and creative plans/press releases/invites/product links, etc. and I will post as many of your Mother’s Day marketing ideas as I can (most likely the week before Mother’s Day, depending on the response). Be sure to include the links to purchase/attend so I can post them.  If your winery is putting in the work on this, I would love to support you.

Now get to work and go be a genius!


Millennials: Mythical Beast or Wine's Last Frontier?

Tapping into the Millennial consumer market is a priority in ALL industries, not just in wine.  Wine should have it easier, since it is well documented that Millennials are already drinking wine in record numbers, and we are already having a positive financial impact on the industry as a whole. So why is it SO HARD for the wine industry to reach out to us?

Let’s take a quick look at how wine and Millennials seem to view each other.  From my own work with small businesses and huge companies alike, the Millennial consumer group tends to be viewed as some kind of mythical creature that has magical powers to bestow on whomever finds and befriends it, but is almost impossible to reach.  Sound familiar?

The Mysterious, Mythical Beast

The Mysterious, Mythical Beast

Yep, Unicorns. In most of my preliminary conversations with companies that want to tap into this consumer group, you could pretty much switch out the word “Millennial” for “Unicorn”  just about every time it’s mentioned.  As in “Unicorns have come of age in an era unlike any other,” “Unicorns are very savvy, they can sense when people are trying to pander to them, and they do not like it,” “Unicorns have the ability to communicate with thousands of people in just an instant” or “If we could just reach the Unicorns, we would make millions” and my personal favorite “Why do Unicorns drink wine?”

Now, this is not to say that all of the above statements are not true (at least as they pertain to Gen-Y), but what I take away from these conversations is that businesses still don’t understand us. At all.  Let’s take a step back – we are your neighbors, your kids, your co-workers, your interns, your baristas – not some mythical forest creature.  Yes, we stand to be the wealthiest generation in the world, and yes we grew up being marketed to and now the bar has been raised – but think about it: Why do Millennials drink wine?  Because it’s delicious, interesting and fun.  Why do you wine? I’m sure we’ll come up with some things in common, here.

If that’s how the wine industry views Millennials, then how do we view wine?  This is an easy one, folks:

Sorry, Members Only.

Sorry, Members Only.

In this case it’s just that simple – the wine world tends to be a private club to most of us.  And rather than hiking it to the top of the stairs with the rest of the plebeians, then going through the initiation rituals and membership fees, we’d much rather just sneak in with our friends after dark when the security guard is gone and enjoy the club OUR way.  It’s a thrill, it’s fun, and we don’t have to be someone we’re not.  Eventually, of course, this sneaking around loses it’s thrill, and rather than join the existing club, eventually we will build our own.

So what do these charming analogies teach us?  On some level, each party feels that the other is beyond reach. The irony, of course, is that despite this, Millennials want to drink wine (and are) and wine companies want to reach this powerful consumer group (and are trying).

Unfortunately, there is such a wide gap to bridge in this relationship before the wine industry will start benefiting from Gen-Y.  It’s tough to hear, but it’s true: the responsibility for changing both of these viewpoints lies with the wine industry.

Millennials Will Spend the Money – Just Give Us a Reason

One of the most frequently asked questions I get is “Will Millennials spend the money on a $50 bottle of wine?”  Ok, sometimes the price changes, but I’d have to say I answer this at least 2-3 times a week.  The answer is YES, WE WILL.  But in order to spend more money than we normally do on wine (or ANYTHING) there must be a reason for doing so.

This spring, I compiled the data from a survey I conducted online – some of the results from that survey I included in my May 5th post, Where Millennials Are Buying Wine.  I asked over 100 Millennials (mainly residing in Southern California) questions about their wine buying habits.  None of the answers were a big surprise to me, but to many people who are not members of the Millennial Generation, the answers are a real wake-up call.


First we need to know what Millennials normally spend on wine.  From the research based on the informal online survey a baseline was established in terms of the average amount on money respondents spend on a bottle of wine.

Average Amount of Money Millennials Spend on a Bottle of Wine

Almost 60% of respondents spend between $11-$20 on average on a bottle of wine, so we have our baseline.  According to survey results,  giving wine as a gift is one of the main reasons the survey respondents buy wine in the first place (these results to be posted soon).  I know from experience and observation that we tend to spend more money on a bottle of wine when we give it as a gift – and so the question was posed: Just how much are we willing to spend on a bottle of wine – in any circumstance – including as a gift?

Most Money on Wine

Most of us are actually happy to pay $50 and above for a bottle of wine as a gift.  Two thirds of us are willing to go above our typical price range for a gift.  So what does this mean in terms of increasing sales among Millennials?


Seriously. If you are in the position of selling wine to a Millennial, and you get the feeling that it may be more than this young person is comfortable spending on themselves – suggest it as a gift.  Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, Hostess Gift, Birthday Present, Wedding Gift – help them find a reason to spend more money on your wine.  I’ve mentioned this before in the April 3rd post, along with a few suggestions on how to engage young people and build a relationship with them – feel free to take a look and do some brushing up.

Now that the numbers are in, let’s see what we can make happen.

Have you tried this approach with success? Without success?  Are you planning to now?  If you have a related experience you’d like to share with other readers, please feel free to tell us about it in the comments section.  We can all learn from what you are doing.

Where Millennials Are Buying Wine: Some Tough Love For The Wine Industry

Millennials are wine’s next big consumer.  So why aren’t smaller business in the wine industry (boutique wineries, wine shops, wine bars, etc.) seeing much of the action?    There could be several factors at work, most of which business owners have direct control over.  These controllable factors include outreach, branding, marketing, social media presence, brand awareness, accessibility and plain old customer relations.  However, one factor that many people don’t think of – and one that business owners do not have direct control of –  is the current buying habits of this generation.

Somehow (Millennials) have gotten to the point where we’re getting $15 – $20 everyday drinking wine, but we’ve never been to a tasting, never been to a winery, and feel like we have no idea what we’re actually doing. It doesn’t stop us from buying, but it does keep us in our comfort zone of the same familiar aisle at Trader Joe’s.  And there’s the issue.

Though there are some numbers out there that I have found useful for my own use, the details that small businesses need are not available from the huge (and expensive) research firms at this time.  Having all the tools, I decided to take matters into my own hands and conduct my own online survey for my company, Millennier Wine Sales.   This survey was conducted over the internet using direct email and social media tools.  The sample size consists of over 100 respondents within the age range of 21-32.  The percentages that you see are rounded to the nearest 100th of a percent.  The respondents were all located in states where it is legal to purchase wine grocery stores, and mainly resided in California.

Though this information was originally intended only for MWS, I’ve decided to publish my findings in the hopes that people will take notice of the trends and pass on the information so we as an industry can do something about it.  I’ll continue to post the other findings of this survey, but I find it extremely important to all aspects of the industry to focus on this first question:

Millennial wine buying habits as revealed by a recent Millennier Wine Sales online survey

Millennial buying habits as revealed by a recent Millennier Wine Sales online survey: Bars 1.91%, Grocery Stores 45.71%, Liquor Stores 25.71%, Mini Mart 1.91%, Restaurant 4.76%, Wine Shops 17.14%, Other 3.80%

The most important lesson we learn from this chart is that ALMOST HALF of Millennials are buying their wine in a grocery store.  An additional 25% are purchasing wine at liquor stores that include giants like BevMo and others.  With results like these, it is not hard to understand why small businesses in the wine industry are not feeling the positive effects of this Great New Hope called Millennials.

It makes sense really.  As a Millennial, I’ve walked the path than many of us have taken, and many more will continue to do so in the future:  We get our first apartment and realize that with 2 Buck Chuck, we can actually buy wine!  It’s kind of a big deal to even HAVE wine as a 21-22 year old, so I would (swear to God) not drink it myself, but save it for guests (I know, I know).  After we get used to buying wine for $2, we start in on the Yellowtail.  Now we’re experiencing a new varietal or 2 and guess what – this is why we love Syrah!  After some time with the YT, we now know we enjoy wine and are comfortable spending more than $10 on a bottle of wine.  Now we’re serious wine consumers, but the only place we really feel comfortable buying wine is in the super-market.  Somehow we’ve gotten to the point where we’re getting $15 – $20 everyday drinking wine, but we have never been to a tasting, never been to a winery, and feel like we have no idea what we’re actually doing. It doesn’t stop us from buying, but it does keep us in our comfort zone of the same familiar aisle at Trader Joe’s.  And there’s the issue.

Less than 2% said that they purchase most of their wine from wineries or wine clubs (included in the “other” category).  How will smaller wineries that do not have placement or distribution in huge grocery store chains be able to reach this important group?  How will small businesses in all areas of the wine industry benefit from this generation if almost all the money is going through only 2 channels?

The answer is clear.  OUTREACH.  It’s a great sign to see over 17% of this group purchasing most frequently from wine shops.  This is a trend that everyone in the wine industry should encourage.  It could be the only way that non-supermarket brands can benefit from these consumers in the short- and long-run.  I strongly believe that WE as members of the wine industry need to be the ones to get Millennials out of the grocery store aisles and into wine shops & wineries.   Talk to your favorite wine shop, encourage them to reach out to this age group.  If you are a winery and the shop carries your brands, offer to hold a tasting there geared towards younger drinkers.  If you are a retailer,  look into social media – even if you’re intimidated, all it really takes is a Facebook page.  Throw events, reach out to younger social groups in your area, get creative.  I know of a young BOOK CLUB in LA that has all their meetings at a wine shop with a tasting bar.

Though this will be a difficult hurdle to overcome for smaller businesses in the wine industry, it is not insurmountable.  It will take a grassroots approach to create the paradigm shift that is needed, but the first step – identifying the issue – has already been taken.  Please pass this information on to others who are affected by it, even if it’s just something that is brought up in conversation.

If you are a small business in the wine industry and you have already taken steps to get young people out of the grocery store aisles and into wineries or wine shops, leave a comment, share what you’ve learned with others who are looking to start.  If you’re a Millennial, what do you think would regularly get you into a smaller wine retailer?   Share your thoughts and let’s get to work!

The How Series 4: Gen wYne Club – Expanding to Millennials

Many wineries today are concerned with the declining number of wine club members. Wineries with smaller case productions especially need to find a way to grow these repeat customers right now – WITHOUT dropping prices. One solution: Build a special club for the younger consumer.


Take that club shipment down a notch for Millennials

Take that club shipment down a notch for Millennials


With tourist season coming up fast, everyone is going to see younger wine-drinkers walking through their tasting room doors. Unfortunately, many of these 20-30-somethings aren’t the main “target” that wineries are looking at for their wine clubs.  Based on past performance, this is not a group that will spend the money on an expensive high-shipment club. TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THIS.  Now that we all know how to reach out, relate, and create a relationship with Millennials, use it to your advantage and give them the option of joining your wine club at a level that they are comfortable with.  Provide a lighter case shipment option to people 35 and under.  If you normally offer your “smallest” club at 3 bottles 3 times a year, bring it down to 2 bottles twice a year.  

…you are creating consistent sales to a group that is not a part of your current club – that’s growth.

But how does a business owner prevent current wine club members from opting out of their larger shipments and signing up for this new, less intense version?  Limit the club to ONLY young wine drinkers.  Your consumers are only eligible for this if they are 35 years of age or younger.  This is similar to banks and credit card companies offering special deals to students – the terms are more affordable and the payments are more flexible – but only students are eligible.

By doing this, you are offering a solution to an entire group of people that might not feel comfortable spending hundreds of dollars each year at just one winery.  This way you are creating consistent sales to a group that is not a part of your current club – that’s growth.  You are also showing this important consumer group that you are putting in the effort to reach out and cater to their situation.  Odds are that the businesses that offer this will be the first wine club that many young people will ever belong to.  If you can create a life-long customer simply by offering your service on terms they respond to, then you’ve got a good thing going.