Putting Your Heart Into Wine PR
While my intuition and survey of the industry tells me that a smaller percentage of wineries these days are committed to engaging in a robust program of sending wines out to critics and magazines for review, I’m of the belief that this form of marketing one’s wine is quite sound and should be pursued in many a case.
However, I’m equally of the belief that a bottle of wine that shows up at a magazine’s or critic’s door that only has a bottle in the package long with a simple product sheet is really a wasted opportunity. Rather, wineries should consider sending along with that review sample a full range of materials…and STUFF.
It’s common practice, as well as essential, that every bottle of wine sent out for review at least have with it information on the suggested price of the wine and the amount of the wine produced. This is, however, the least that can and should be sent out with the wine.
Some critics and reviewers out there may not like my suggestion that the box the wine comes in be filled with more than just wine and an easily retrievable piece of paper that gives the basics on the wine. This is probably especially true of those who received hundreds or thousands of samples each years. To those critics who are reading this, I offer my apologies.
Consider first the reason for sending a bottle of wine out for review: You are first hoping the wine will be positively received, but then you are hoping that positive reception will make into print or 1’s and 0’s. One thing to keep in mind about this is that it is the very same goal every other winemaker has when they send out their wine for review. This leads to an interesting question: Your wine is very likely to appeal to the reviewer equally as well as MANY other wines they review. That is to say, your wine is likely to be assessed with a very respectable 88 or 89 or 90 points—just like many (a hundred?) other wines they receive. Yet, the reviewer or publication only has so much room their publication or web site devoted to reviewing wine.
Why yours and not another’s?
The point of the package you send to a reviewer is not merely to get your wine reviewed, but to get that review into print. Put another way, the point of sending a wine out for review is to create a compelling case that readers should know about his wine.
Does a simple bottle with a price and production numbers on it do this? I don’t think so.
So here’s the thing: When putting together the package into which your wine will be placed and sent off to the reviewer or magazines, consider what could accompany it that will make a compelling case for the wine; that will make it more interesting than the others they receive; that will suggest the wine tells a larger story.
What kinds of things might doe the trick?
Consider going with full disclosure. That means a product sheet with ALL the information. And I mean ALL INFORMATION. I’d put the following on your information sheet:
Vineyard, vineyard location, Google map link or image, vineyard size, age of vineyard, name of vineyard manager, soil composition, growing season history, trellising method, date pruned, date of verasion, date harvested, brix and pH at harvest, average tons per acre, average pounds of fruit per vine, clone, rootstock type, etc, etc.
And we haven’t even gotten to winemaking methods and post bottling analysis of the wine.
Why so much information? Why full disclosure? Remember, the idea is to tell a story, not just deliver a wine to a critic. It’s true the information may be discarded by some. But each each of these details tells part of the story of the wine. Each of these details has the potential to spur an intriguing thought or idea in the mind of the reviewer. Each of these details gives the reviewer more information to translate for their reader. In the end, all this is done in the service not just of celebrating your wine, but of getting it reviewed AND into print.
Save for the potential expense, I can think of few reasons not to include this kind of information along with your wine as well as a myriad of other information…and items.
What else could be included to help tell the story of your wine to a reviewer you hope will turn around and re-tell the story? What about…A portion of a pruned cane, a leaf, a canister of dirt from the vineyard. What about photos of the vineyard? What about a block by block map of the vineyard? What about photos of the vineyard crew? The list goes on and, again, we haven’t even gotten to the winemaking part of the story, let alone the items and information that might address the character of the wine.
This advise is probably most appropriate to those wineries that don’t always see the wines they submit for review actually show up in print. That, I suspect, is a very large percentage of those that send their wines for review to different reviewers and publications.
I can’t tell you how many winemakers and marketing types have explained to me that they’ve simply given up on sending wines for review to the media. Yet it is undeniable that a positive review can be extremely helpful in selling the wine as well as getting those who sell your wine interested in it. But if you are going to use samples as part of your marketing activity, doesn’t it make sense to put your heart into it?