Small Wineries and Marketing

By Kori ~ June 25th, 2008.

“I couldn’t help but think if we’d spent more time researching the business of winemaking, we would have known that success isn’t totally dependent on the quality of the product. As with any other industry, marketing, luck, connections, politics, and—in this case—personal preference can influence any winery’s status in the marketplace.” –Linda Kaplan, My First Crush

The people who make money in the winery business are not necessarily the people who grow or contract for the best grapes and they are not necessarily the people who make those grapes into the best wine, but they are the people who have developed and executed a top notch, consistent program for marketing their product, selling out every vintage before the next one is ready to come to market.

For smaller wineries, most of them cannot sell their wines for enough per bottle to make a profit unless virtually all of their wine is sold direct from the winery through their tasting room, wine club, and website. They probably cannot attract a good distributor nor can they really afford to give up half of the retail price right off the top for distribution.

If you want to see a small family winery operation that understands hospitality and marketing, visit Icicle Ridge Winery in Peshastin, Washington, just east of Leavenworth. Louie Wagoner, the Wagoner family patriarch, is a well-known and respected pear farmer who ventured into the winery business about seven years ago. Son-in-law Don Wood is the winemaker and the entire family is involved in the operation.

They have a very unique tasting room setup in the dining room of Louie and Judy Wagoner’s log home at the winery. You’ll never feel more at home anywhere else than at Icicle Ridge. They have established a very successful wine club that is built around a myriad of special events held at the winery throughout the year. Our favorite Icicle Ridge events are their summer Jazzamatazz Concerts, featuring popular regional artists such as Darren Motamedy.

A couple years ago, they opened a second tasting room on Front Street in downtown Leavenworth, a popular tourist destination that gets hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. While no winery can make the absolute best wine every year, Icicle Ridge is a good example of a winery that understands that you can be number one in hospitality and marketing every year.

Filed under: General Wine Information

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