Making Barrel Tasting Weekend Work for You

As I sat down to write this blog I realized IT’S BEEN A YEAR!  It’s hard to believe that it has been that long, the year went fast.  So, what have I been doing this last year?  For the most part I’ve been taking care of a new baby.  Matteo was born in July.  He’s a wonderful little boy, who has also been very needy.  But, now that he’s 8 months old, it’s time for me to go back to work.  I’ve missed it.

So, here is the first installment of the New Year.

Russian River Barrel Tasting Weekend is upon is once again, this weekend and the next.  The next two weekends will bring scores of wine tasters to the area, rain or shine.  They come to sample the new wine in barrel, taste the new releases, get sloshed, party and hopefully even purchase.  It’s always a question for wineries – Is barrel tasting weekend worth it?  On the one hand sales are up during the event.  People do come and buy wine, both current releases and futures.  For some wineries this will be the sales peak for the winter.  But, it comes at a price.   Even the smallest winery will pour though several cases of wine each weekend, food will be provided, extra staff will be on hand, barrels will be opened.  And, as always happens, at the end of the day there will be a barrage of fairly toasted consumers looking for that last place to land for a final drink.  So with all the cost and frustration involved is it worth it?


Barrel tasting weekend is a great time to reconnect with consumers you haven’t seen in a while.  For some consumers this is the seminal event that brings them back to wine country.  So, this is the time to reestablish those relationships that keep your customers coming back time and again.  It’s also the time to make new relationships.  If ever there was a time to get emails and sign people up for your mailing list and newsletter – this is it!  So, how do you do that with the scores of people coming in?  Have a raffle!  Everyone loves to win something, so raffle off one thing every day.  While it is a bit tricky to raffle off wine (technically you can’t give it for free) you can be creative.  Have a designated greeter at the door and hand a raffle card to every person that comes in.  The card needs to ask for their name, email and phone and should include a box to check if they want to receive emails from you and your newsletter.  Don’t use this as an opportunity to spam.  You will be surprised how many sign ups you do get.  Then, and this is really important, FOLLOW UP with an email after the event.  Send an email thanking people for coming to your winery.  Send them a special discount for wine and start building the relationships that will turn them into long term customers.

Yes, you can make barrel tasting weekend work for you but you have to be creative and put in the extra work for the long term rewards.

Published by Genevieve Rodgers

I'm an engineer turned, winemaker, turned winery consultant.

Leave a Reply