Get answers to frequently asked questions about selling more wine and spirits
Most importantly, leverage the 80/20 rule in everything you do
The best way to promote your winery is to use a combination of digital advertising, social media, and email marketing. Having a very large email list of engaged subscribers allows you to communicate with and build relationships directly with consumers and trade buyers.
Yes! The keys are pricing your products competitively but profitably, avoiding low-ROI sales & marketing tactics, and being able to generate your own demand so you do not have to depend too much on outside agents such as distributors. It helps to have a mentor who has done it before!
Producing great wine is not enough. A winery's success is tied to its ability to sell all the wine they make as profitably as possible while still staying competitive. It is important to budget funds for sales and marketing but avoid spending too much on agencies and partners.
Successful wineries sell as much as they can themselves via their tasting room, wine clubs, and website before venturing into the 3-tier sales channel.
It takes much more than wine knowledge to sell wine successfully. The key is to bring value to the business relationship beyond just the products you sell. Building relationships with restaurants and wine shops takes time and the focus should be on how to help your customers be successful.
It is possible to sell both wine and spirits online in the US. However, there are 44 states that allow wine shipments directly to consumers but far fewer states allow spirits to be sold online. It is important to learn the rules for shipping alcohol on a state by state basis.
Distilleries need to generate as much foot traffic as possible to their facility in order to optimize their on-site sales. This can be done by hosting events. It is also important to leverage your organic website traffic, run digital ads designed to enroll new email subscribers (both consumers and trade), and use expert email marketing to build relationships directly with consumers and trade.
Yes, it certainly can be a profitable business. But it takes time to build up the sales and the competition is fierce. The key is knowing how to optimize your sales while keeping your costs low. A distillery is a very capital intensive venture with a lot of up-front costs so it takes a few years to make a profit.
Some spirits such as vodka and gin can be sold soon after production for immediate cash flow while others, such as whiskey, require several years of aging.
While you cannot sell wine on Facebook you can certainly run ads on both Facebook and Instagram that invite people to visit your website where they can place an order. It is important to restrict the audience of your ads to the legal drinking age of 21 and older.
Before venturing into the 3-tier channel of trade, it is important to first sell all the wine you can via your tasting room, wine clubs and website (e-commerce). Only then should you seek a qualified wine distributor. You will need one for each state you plan to sell to and it is critical that you understand you are still responsible for finding retail and restaurant customers yourself.
Each state in the US has their own distribution rules for selling alcoholic beverages so it is critical that you learn about and research each state where you plan to sell your products. Wine, beer, and spirits each have their own rules. In the US, this is called the “3-tier system.”
There are two ways to market wine on social media: organic and paid. Organic is when you “post” content on your social media feeds. Try to post engaging content that people want to like, comment and share. You can also leverage paid advertising on platforms like Facebook and Instagram to put your content in front of new and larger audiences.
Instagram is continuously evolving and leaning towards video. Wineries should use the “stories” feature as much as possible in order to help followers “experience” life at the winery. Having a consistent posting schedule is important. Post frequently (say, twice per week) but not too often. Try not to be too self promoting.
Restaurants typically have a much smaller selection of wines than a grocery store or wine shop so they try to offer something for every level of knowledge and budget without tying up too much cash in inventory. The key to selling wine to restaurants is to help them make a nice profit margin by bringing them wines with very little board-market distribution.