The Science Behind a Successful Tasting Room
The wine tasting experience is not only about the quality of the wines sipped, but also the quality of the tasting room itself. There is no one size fits all. Each guest may walk in looking for something different, which highlights the associates' responsibility to master an adaptive and inviting environment.
Although the experience is entirely situational, there are a few foundational items to follow when attempting to run a successful tasting room.
Maintain a safe and clean environment
With consideration for what has happened in the last couple of years, maintaining a crisp and clean environment is a crucial part of making your guests feel comfortable. By making their safety a priority before they have even entered the room, you allow them the opportunity to freely enjoy themselves, you establish a standard for the experience, and ultimately you leave an impression of being secure which will likely be noted and shared.
Choose tasting room associates that are educated, passionate and personable
This is key to not only developing connections with customers and maintaining relationships with existing members, but also increases the chances of achieving the primary goal of any tasting room: sell wine. Your tasting room staff should be able to meet a guest or group of guests and immediately begin gauging their needs, expectations and desires with the goal of exceeding them. Guests should leave feeling as though they are part of more than just the tasting experience; they should feel connected to the growing and winemaking aspects, as well, almost as if the wine in their glass was made just for them.
Define your tasting rooms approach
Managing busy days and assigning responsibilities based on the skills of your team is always an important component of running a successful tasting room. On a busy day it can become challenging to have personalized experiences between groups, so having a plan on how to reallocate skills and anticipating these occasions is important.
Implementing a reservation system that allows management to assign groups in advance can ultimately ease overwhelming points of the day. If reservations are not possible, assign positions. If you have a team member that is very knowledgeable, allow them to talk with groups at the halfway point of a tasting experience and allot enough time to answer any questions or provoke interest. If you have someone that is quick on their feet and witty with short impressions, make them a receptionist or a runner as it will not take long for them to connect with guests. If you have someone diligent and collected in high pressure situations, have them close your sales. This will ensure no tastings go unpaid for and bottles are sold. All in all, know your team, know their skills and know how to utilize them.
Ensure served wines are up to standard
Although drinking on the job is never recommended, assessing wine quality throughout the day is important to ensure the standard of the tasting room is being met. Whether the wine is red or white, there is a general system that should be followed.
- Unused wine should be gassed upon the final pour of the day to prevent spoilage.
- Wines should be saved for only the amount of time recommended for that variety.
- Wines with any sort of contamination or foul quality should be discarded immediately
- Wines from older vintages should always be visually and orally inspected before ever being served.
The wine is the star of the show, so it is important to let it shine.
The science to running a successful tasting room comes from defining your core goals and creating clear expectations. As we know every interaction may be different, knowing who you are as a winery or tasting room will allow you to stretch your skills and impact people in the way you hope. The above 4 items are foundational and are great areas to focus on for anyone trying to elevate their tasting room experiences.
Tasting rooms are great opportunities to explore a winery's selection, but if you're interested in trying a variety of wineries, a wine club may be more up your alley! A wine of the month club, like Gold Medal Wine Club, features wines from unique wineries each month that offer a tasting experience with less limitations on region or varietal.
Still desiring the in-person touch of a brick and mortar tasting room? We recommend Corks 'n Crowns in Santa Barbara if you're ever in the area! It incorporates the extensive selection of a wine club, while still highlighting local wines, as well. It truly is the best of both worlds! Cheers!