Bottling the Winery Experience for Social Sharing

I love to visit Napa Valley. One of my greatest fascinations about wine is the intersection of complex new technology with the simplicity of centuries-old agriculture. At the Hall Wines Rutherford facility (@hallwines), I awed at the hexagonal stainless fermentation tanks with temperature controlled by smart phone apps then stepped outside to behold the perfectly coiffed rows of vines just starting veraison.

Hexagonal Fermentation Tanks at Hall
Hexagonal Fermentation Tanks at Hall

As a social media enthusiast, my instinct was to try to share these amazing experiences with my social circles. Great fun for my friends and followers to peer in on our trip and great branding for the wineries we were visiting. Yet, I found it so difficult to capture and share the experiences, that I posted the following to Twitter:

Ugh. #Napa #wineries invest so much in a great experience for guests, but have no clue how to make that experience socially shareable. #wine

Indeed, wineries spend so much time and money building great experiences but frequently miss opportunities to make it easy for visitors to share those experiences on social media. Most wineries have a Facebook page and perhaps even Twitter and Instagram accounts. But, just having and posting to an account isn’t enough. Why? A brand can only reach a limited number of people through its own social accounts. In social media, the real magic happens when the brand enables customers, vendors, visitors and others to help spread its message to their connections on their personal social media accounts. When a brand can bottle its experience in a way that is easily shared by friends, followers, and strangers on social channels, it can significantly increase awareness and reach without paying for media. It was this level of social media that was clearly missing in Napa.

Here are two examples of missed digital/social opportunities I observed during the trip:

Hall Rutherford is absolutely amazing. The facility, the grounds, the views, the art and the wine all blend perfectly to form a world-class experience. At the end of our tasting at Hall, we were handed a card with wine club information. On the card was a QR code that I assume directs visitors to a web page with more information on the club — a web page that the visitor could bookmark for later reference or, more importantly in marketing the wine club, share with friends. I would have loved to have known what the QR code linked to, but they didn’t have wifi in the cave and, like most caves, cell signals weren’t getting in. I couldn’t use the QR code when it was most convenient: while I was immersed in the experience. These cards are most likely also used in situations where a data connection is available and there is a level of assumption that some visitors will take the cards with them and scan the code later, so the QR code isn’t completely wasted; but, for me, and I am sure thousands of other visitors who don’t take the time and effort to go back and scan later, this was a missed opportunity. Hall had a captive audience where the guide could have instructed visitors on how to scan the QR code and share the wine club link with others…if only there had been wifi in the cave.

In Sonoma Valley, Kendall-Jackson (@KJWines) has developed really cool sensory gardens that grow the fruits, herbs and plants that are typically associated with different wine varietals. As wonderful as these gardens are, we stumbled on them on our own. For Kendall-Jackson, the uniqueness of these gardens could be a big draw to the winery if they were better publicized. The opportunity? Make each of the varietal gardens a separate check-in location on platforms like Facebook and include relevant insider information on the gardens found nowhere else except within the check-in. Then, provide in each garden an integrated sign that tells visitors how and why to check-in. Providing these check-in options and communication about them would broaden the number of points of discovery for the winery and its gardens, make the gardens (a very unique selling aspect in deciding to visit the facility) easily shareable by visitors to their friends and followers, and provide a fun insider experience as a reward for those who help spread the Kendall-Jackson brand on social media.

I wish I could say these were the only two missed opportunities to promote social sharing we observed within wineries during the trip, but the truth is it was more of the rule than the exception.

Features Image: Family at Scribe Winery by Justin Schuck on Flickr.com. Used under Creative Commons 4.0.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Two really interesting examples, yes. It always amazes me when wineries don’t make the effort, especially those who don’t even have social media accounts. If you’ve got a great wine or an amazing winery visit experience people want to share it and talk about it. So why not make it easier for them? Great thoughts.

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