How the Newest Wine Drinkers are Shaping the Industry – Part Two

Part Two: Established Brands Reach Out to Millennials

Aggressive use of multiple social media platforms, robust interactive websites and special tasting events seem to be the common thread in how savvy, established brands are courting and winning the business of millennial wine drinkers. Personalizing the brand’s history, ideals and people through online videos and interviews; the one-to-one intimacy of Facebook, Instagram and other social media interactions; as well as special events helps build a bridge between customers, prospects and their wines.

Walla Walla Vintners (WWV), a Walla Walla, Washington winery specializing in affordable premium red wines, uses that strategy to try and build relationships with a wide range of customers and potential buyers, many of whom are millennials. As to many of the different attitudes about wine attributed to millennials, Todd Bernave, Walla Walla Vintners Assistant Winemaker and Media Marketing manager believes many are because their taste preferences are still evolving. According to Bernave “at 21, I could have cared less about drinking a 92-point wine that also received a couple of gold or silver medals….but now I know a wine that receives awards from multiple sources will never disappoint you. This is something that you learn over time. You become intimate with the things you love and learn what attracts you and what doesn’t.”

At WWV, states Bernave “we use Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest to interact with our existing customers and introduce ourselves to new ones. They all are versatile and communicate effectively, but in different ways. My favorite is Instagram, because I’m a right-brained artist at heart. It’s image driven, so you can really show people how you see the world as a winery, through the images you post. Facebook allows you to target posts based on people’s interests, cities where they live, age, and gender, so that’s helpful when promoting many special events.”

According to Bernave, social media allows us to build a personal relationship with prospective customers by “sharing our love for growing grapes and making wine. We like talking to our customers when they visit the winery, so the use of social media is really just a high-tech extension of a hand shake and a hello. If you follow us you see our grapes progress from bud break, to bottling and all the stages in-between. We don’t try to sell people, we just want to show them who we are and what we do. If we can engage with our audience they may want to try our wine and at that point it’s up to the wine, not us, to make the sale.” While direct sales to customers via their website are important, WWV tries to balance this with their distribution. Many customers try their wine for the first time at restaurants, so maintaining some wholesale distribution is important in developing new customers.

In addition to its website and social media interactions, WWV also introduces their brand to new prospects at special events throughout the Pacific Northwest. Bernave states “some events are just naturally geared toward a younger group. The music, the venue, the setting, all shape who is likely to attend a specific event. Event organizers are very aware of the millennial demographic and are doing all they can to make their events attractive to this age group. Personally, I think the best events are not focused on one demographic group. An event that offers a mix of wineries and wines, to tasters of all ages is the best possible event in my eyes. People enjoy differences and experiencing new things. That’s the real fun of tasting at special events.”

Part Three of the series takes a look at some new wineries that target millennial wine drinkers as their primary audience. Look for Part Three soon.


About the Author
Jack enjoys wine and visiting wineries whenever he can and wherever he is. If you read any of his posts, it's obvious he has no formal training in wine appreciation or viticulture. Despite numerous tasting experiences guided by experts, he still struggles to taste the appropriate notes of "vanilla and huckleberry" in his cabernet sauvignon. It is still a journey he enjoys.

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