Hey Napa, You’re UP… a guest post by DTC expert Terra Jane Albee

Hey Napa, You’re UP.

 

It is happy hour at Angele, and I am eavesdropping on the group next to me while I nurse my negroni. Five Wine Industry Professionals are singing the song I have heard echoed throughout the valley for the last year:

 

“There are just so many wineries now.”

“Things are changing, time to abandon the tasting room model.”

“Clubs are so over.”

 

I have been hearing these comments, these questions, everywhere I go in Napa. We’re down, the future of the tasting room is uncertain, we have to prepare for the worst, and on and on.

I started wondering, ARE we down? And if we are, how much?

 

I decided to do some digging, and here is the truth according to Community Benchmark Data:

WE ARE NOT ALL DOWN.

 

In fact, for the average Napa tasting room, Sales are UP 9.1% Year to Date over 2017.

For the average Napa tasting room, Visitation is up 10.1% Year to Date over 2017.

 

Digging deeper into the data, of 54 reporting wineries only 10 wineries are down in BOTH sales and visits.

Of these 10 wineries, HALF of them are UP Year over Year in Club Conversions, and HALF are UP in Sales Per Purchase. Hmm.

 

Looking at this data, it is hard to prove the argument that Napa Tasting Rooms are in decline.

Some are, some aren’t. Looks like a healthy business environment to me.

This deck of information reiterates to me how critical software like Community Benchmark is- giving us real answers in real time that are specific to our winery and our community.

 

I understand gone are the days of easy sales and unsustainable growth, but I absolutely do not agree that the health of the tasting room is in decline- we would not be continuing to open so many if that were the case. Rather, as competition increases a healthy challenge is presented- can you rest on your laurels or do you need to get out there and hustle a little more? Connect a little better? Work a little smarter with some strategy behind your actions?

 

A long time industry veteran told me that since he started his winery in 1973, he has hand sold literally every bottle he has made. No matter how large or small a winery is, that’s how we have to think about our tasting rooms- that we are hand selling every bottle to a new friend. Wine will always do its job- connecting people and sharing experiences. Now it is time for us to do our job. Dive into data, track where the best visitors come from and find more of them. Find weaknesses and try to work on improvements. Look for your strengths, maybe it isn’t actually as bad as you think.

 

These are the things I will be pondering over my next negroni.