Can Boutique Wineries and Small Producers Compete?

Can Boutique Wineries and Small Producers Compete?

Mon, 06/04/2018 - 21:37 -- johnk

                                 (Picture- Courtesy of Russian Ridge)

Today it is pretty clear that beverage to customer business is stacked incredibly so, to the really big wine, brew and spirit industries. Their dominance in the industry leaves little room for so many of those passionate with their dreams and desire to produce quality wines, beer and other spirits.  It can be a lot of work to scratch out a living doing what they love to do best.

Wineries and distilleries lovers that are affluent and savvy beverage lovers prefer the small boutique distilleries and wineries. Still it can be a challenge for the small producers to survive or thieve while carving out their quiet niche.  In addition, with so many hats to be worn, it can be a real challenge to retain members to wine clubs with the huge influence of the giant beverage organizations and their advertising budgets.  Some boutique and micro-breweries do very well, but many others just survive.  With that we have seen a growing number of associations banding together to extend their reach to the customer.  Most of us have participated with the associations via wine walks and passport arrangements that are scheduled during the year to get people into the tasting rooms of their member wineries or vineyards within the association. With the growing number of microbreweries similar efforts are underway as well.

Wine enthusiast and those that are occasional visitors to California wineries. It is not simply a matter of trying and perhaps buying a bottle of wine, spirits or brew.  It is about having a great experience that they share with their friends and family. The opportunity to visit and talk with the winemaker that brought this beverage from vine to the glass. Learning how the winemaker got into his or her passion to produce their version of what a wine should be.  True, some of the giants put out some outstanding wines. That being said, the experience is the real difference the smaller producers can use to help balance out the scales more in their favor.  Some customers will travel distances for the experience. Often their destinations have a number of restaurants, hotels and other places of interest in the area.

But that is not enough!

Individual business owners need to think far beyond "will we have enough visitors today?" 

Yes, winery area associations events draw visitors but that is usually only for a weekend, perhaps several times a year.  Many of us have purchased a passport or some sort of ticket arrangement, joined some friends and had a good time, or you were on the other side of the counter or table doing the pouring.  While a good way to to reach the public, still something more is needed.  This kind of thinking is too limited or, only a facet in gaining consistent and even repeat visitors and members to you winery’s club.

Today consumers are changing, and their expectations are also changing radically. When is the last time as a wine or beverage maker you made a significant change in your business plan? By very nature of a small or boutique beverage business are just that, small.  Not a bad thing at all but it does present some challagnes.  Many hats to be worn, limited by time, resources, and personnel so that the idea of making changes can be challenging too.  Even more so if they try it alone.  Here is a suggestion: the next time a new customer stops in to visits your tasting room sit down and talk with them.  Ask them what they enjoy when visiting a winery or tasting room.  You will likely hear a variety of answers but listen for some things in common.

Once you have taken note of some of the things that your visitors share and the wheels start to turn in search for some new ways to not only get new customers, but keep them, let’s chat.  I would love to share our California Corks Wineries Experience program that requires no out-of-pocket costs and a way to give wine and other adult beverage lovers another reason to visit and do some sharing of their experience with others of they're tasting experience in your winery as well.

Send me an email, I would be happy to share more information with you.

John Krause