Norton Safeweb

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Destination Winery

In the 1970s, just as California wine growth was really taking off, a visitor to Sonoma or Napa had a couple dozen wineries to choose from. Now that number is in the hundreds. That's why visitors often ask, "What wineries should I go to?" It's a daunting task just to pick a few for any traveler interested in wine.

On the other side of this, for the winery owners and managers, the problem is equally daunting. How do you get the visitors to choose you over all the others? It can be name recognition, tasting room location, architecture, views, freebies, etc. Heck, it might even by the wine!

Then once the visitor is there, how do they keep them around long enough to spend lots of money? This is where the destination winery comes in. This is a place where you are going to want to spend a couple hours or even all day. How do they get you to do that? The best example of a destination trip would be Disneyland.

The top destination winery in Sonoma County is Francis Ford Coppola's. Besides the Coppola name to get you in there's a restaurant, a full bar, sometimes there's music, and even a swimming pool! Hang out at the pool, rent a cabana, order some drinks, buy some wine to take home. You get the idea.

Wineries with a smaller budget might do it with things like sit-down tastings, food, live music, and various special events to get you to stick around and spend money.

The latest to enter this foray will be Valley of the Moon Winery in Sonoma Valley. A sort of under the radar winery with a beautiful building and mediocre wine. They were under the Korbel umbrella for many years without much attention from the owners. It was sort of stale. They've been purchased by a local wine executive, meaning a businessman, not a vintner or a winemaker. There are big plans costing a fair amount of money. It all centers around the experience and finding ways to get visitors to hang out for awhile. So far I've only heard about the visitor experience and nothing about the wine so we'll see where they are in a year or two.

Francis Ford Coppola Winery
Come on in! Buy some wine!
Rent a cabana. Hang out at the pool all day.
(Instead of going to other wineries and spending money there)