The Business Journal asked the four members of the Direct Sales and Social Media panel for the upcoming Wine Industry Conference 2011 about trends in sales of wine directly to consumers and use of social media in that endeavor.
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Ron Denner owns Denner Vineyards in Paso Robles. He uses direct-sales tactics and social media to keep a loyal following for the more than $50-a-bottle wines.
Lawrence Dutra is president and chief executive officer of Westlake Village-based Adams Wine Group.
Hahn Family Wines President Bill Legion is a sought-after expert in wine marketing through social media.
From four years at St. Helena-based luxury wine marketer Wilson Daniels to her current position overseeing communications for the past two years at high-end Jordan Vineyard & Winery in Geyserville, Lisa Mattson has been a big advocate of video as a wine marketing tool as well as use of social media.
Providing background for Ms. Mattson's comments is John Jordan, son of winery founder Tom Jordan, has served as chief executive officer of the nearly three-decade-old Alexander Valley winery since October 2005. He also is a partner in the Santa Rosa-based law firm Smith Dollar.
What is the focus of your wine business and your approach to reaching that goal?
Ron Denner: Like everyone else, we want to say make great wines. Making great wines is the cornerstone, but the other great task is being able to sell them and how you sell them.
Wine tasting is where the “rubber meets the road.” If the tasting experience is OK but not great, then that is how the wines also taste.
What means a great deal are “first impressions are everything” and a friendly, engaging staff who seem to welcome your visit.
Bad service makes a bad meal. It all happens in the tasting room environment.
Lawrence Dutra: We tend to focus on businesses that can be vertically-integrated with our other businesses or ones that we can add value by syndicating overhead and deploying existing assets.
We are fairly unique in that our wine market companies operate in different tiers: three of our six are producers (Adler Fels, White Cottage Ranch and Roblar wineries), two are retailers (Vinesse and our retail store, The Winehound) and third-party logistics (Pack n’ Ship Direct).
John Jordan: At Jordan, we focus our passion on three things: cabernet, chardonnay and hospitality. My parents fell in love with the artful cooking and gracious hospitality of France — sensibilities we focus on honoring in our wines. The little details separate the good from the great. True luxury means attention to detail by everyone every day.
Building an adaptive, thriving work culture filled with highly skilled professionals who are very passionate about their respective crafts is the foundation of our success. My philosophy is that I work for my employees -- and I give them the tools they need to excel at their respective crafts. And I am very serious about rewarding employees for greatness.