Using technology and social media for marketing purposes is not new, but the way they are being employed is quickly changing as many wineries increase their use of the latest technology to reach consumers and maintain control of branding -- all across the U.S.
[caption id="attachment_29663" align="alignleft" width="363" caption="Jordan Vineyard and Winery gives lovers of its wine a way to keep in touch on the go, such as restaurant wine lists accessible via mobile devices like Apple's iPad shown here."][/caption]
With the implementation of tools such as the iPad, phones with barcode scanners and Facebook applications along with Twitter, Four Square and different video platforms, the reach of wineries is expanding.
This month, Bouchaine in Napa started offering shelf talkers, bottle-neckers and wine list stickers printed with digital tags for point-of-sale display.
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Consumers who download the Microsoft Tag Reader application to their smartphone devices can scan these tags using their cameras, immediately linking to information about the wine, winery, varietal and recommended food pairings.
After the initial program launch, Bouchaine plans to print digital tags directly on bottle labels, beginning with the 2010 vintage.
"Over the years, many tools, digital and otherwise, have been developed to assist wine consumers in making purchasing decisions. Some of these tools did not really offer anything of substance,” said Greg Gauthier, Bouchaine’s vice president of wine production and sales. “We are embracing digital tags technology because it allows us to put valuable decision-making information at your fingertips.”
They like the fact that whether a consumer is a casual wine drinker, a connoisseur or someone who has just made a wine discovery, the application can make it easy to share with friends.
Dry Creek Vineyard will use the tags technology beginning with the 2011 Fume Blanc, which, like Bouchaine, will be on the label.
“Right there in the supermarket the prospective buyer can watch a video of the winemaker talk about that vintage,” said Bill Smart, marketing director.
Jordan Vineyard and Winery in Healdsburg is also using tag technology, but not on the labels themselves.
“I think video integration is a great way to get the rich media to someone who is holding a bottle,” said Lisa Mattson, Jordan’s communication director. “But I don’t think there is a benefit to putting a QR code on a label for us. The technology is moving too fast. Maybe for a sauvignon blanc that will sell out in a year it will be beneficial, but with the fast change in technology, I am staying away from putting it directly on the label.”
Jordan is putting the QR code on tasting notes that can be picked up at an event or, if there is a winemaker dinner, the thank you note could have a barcode that goes to a video of a personal thank you.
Jordan is focusing a lot on the trade tool development as well.
“We are working with restaurants that use iPad wine lists to develop content,” Ms. Mattson said. “We launched our in house videography studio in February of 2010 an now we are developing content to share with consumers what our chef, event planner and winemaker are doing.”
Jordan is also reaching out to sommeliers around the country with videos for staff trainings. With the iPad and video content, Jordan can control the message.
“Content is king,” Ms. Mattson said. “We can tell our story directly. Having that tool that makes it easier for the sommeliers, but we can tell the story ourselves because while Jordan is an established icon … the videos are a reminder of the passion and the people involved.”
In addition to its utilization of barcode tags, Dry Creek Vineyard has been on the forefront of the blogosphere since 2008 when Kim Stare Wallace, owner of Dry Creek, started blogging about winery life. Her blog, Wilma’s Wine World, talks about being the owner of a family winery, a Sonoma County resident and a mother and wife.
“The blog is Kim’s voice. … But I think this year my big focus is video,” Mr. Smart said. “We can walk the winemaker out in the vineyard, sit down in a tasting room and just talk,”
The blog is linked to the winery’s Facebook page where the winery has close to 1,000 “likes” and offers deals to their fans like two for one tastings.
“I see Facebook as an opportunity to share up-to-date content, information, photographs particular casings utilizing Facebook to put information out there.”