While satisfying your inner wine connoisseur in a tasting room, you’re doing more than indulging in a delightful afternoon at a winery — you’re also playing a crucial role in the winery’s research and development efforts.
There are nearly 8,300 wineries in the United States, and most don’t distribute their products in all 50 states. This means small wineries must get creative with their marketing techniques, and chief among these is the tasting room.
The tasting room gives wine producers the chance to glean insights from a captive audience of wine consumers. And by communicating directly with wine drinkers themselves, winemakers don’t have to produce wines on a whim. Instead, they can concoct exactly what oenophiles want.
At St. James Winery, the tasting room is our product development laboratory. This is where we collect feedback from customers and perfect our wines. But the tasting room isn’t about giving wineries what they want; the ultimate objective is to provide winery visitors with the most personalized and memorable experiences possible.
Wine Tasting and R&D: The Perfect Pairing
Sophisticated wineries across the world are shifting toward personalization in the tasting room so they can better gauge customers’ wine expertise and deliver more relevant experiences. For example, some U.S. wineries now offer special wine seminars in private tasting rooms for “serious customers.”
Wine clubs also support this practice, and they can identify a winery’s most committed (and thirstiest) customers so they can then be targeted for invitations to special events.
For an even more intimate experience, some wineries limit the number of visitors and enforce advanced tasting reservations. Many top European wineries have adopted this practice. For wine tasters, this means a smaller crowd and allows winery staff to be more hands-on in the wine-tasting experience and attentive to crucial customer feedback.
In many cases, wineries focus on delivering a unique experience by giving visitors an exclusive opportunity to taste wines only available at the facility.
Wineries want to make you feel like a part of the experience — because you are. Some wine blends are a shot in the dark or simply a product of experimentation. By allowing customer feedback to shine through the glass, winemakers can confidently produce wines that customers crave while leaving room to inject their own creativity in the wine-creation process.
Although you might not fancy yourself a “wine expert,” to winery staff, every palate matters.
Raising the Bar on Feedback
Because wineries depend on customer feedback to concoct the best products possible, wine tasters need to be specific about their preferences. And in this wine-drinking experience, it’s OK to be blunt. In fact, it’s encouraged. The best taste testers provide their honest opinions and clearly articulate their likes and dislikes.
That doesn’t mean you need to study up on your vintages before visiting a winery; tasting room employees are trained to ask the right questions to delve into the specifics of customer preferences.
With so many tasting room upgrades, wineries are ideal tourist stops for wine enthusiasts. These trips are both productive for the winery and memorable for you.Because wineries depend on customer feedback to concoct the best products possible, wine tasters need to be specific about their preferences.
But if you’re eager to take part in the R&D process, it’s important to note that wineries generally don’t conduct product research during large events. During wine crawls or festivals, they often don’t have the manpower to serve crowds of thirsty attendees and record their feedback. However, social media pages and winery review pages are packed with useful information that can help you map out the perfect wine-tasting tour.
As a winery visitor, you aren’t just quenching your own wine cravings. You’re also a valued research participant. Wineries are rolling out the red carpet to keep their clientele coming back — and to gain intel in order to make a truly delectable product. So grab a glass and spill your honest opinions. Who knows: you could inspire your new favorite wine.