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Wednesday, November 7, 2018

Who Are Wine Tourists

Wine tourism is big business. Here in Sonoma and Napa counties we count on it to keep our economies healthy. There are, of course, studies and surveys of the visitors and why they come. I think you can break them down like this.

Heavy into wine and coming for a specific event

There are very high-end events like wine auctions to $150 weekend events to a winemaker dinner that may draw them. This is likely an event they attend every year or at least semi-regularly.

These folks spend more money on wine than most and tend to spend it at prestigious (expensive) wineries. Occasionally, a couple of the "regular" wineries will get a visit and they'll leave with a case of wine.

They've visited the area lots of times. They may even have a second home here.

Big into wine and coming to buy and stock up

They may visit every year of two to replenish. They join wine clubs. They may already be in a half-dozen clubs. Wineries love them. They've come to a specific region for a reason.

Wine knowledgeable and come for wine and to do other things

Beginning here, and on down this list, are people combining winery visits with other activities.

For this group the other things could be sightseeing, beer tourism (it's a thing!), museums, beaches, and often a visit to San Francisco. A typical itinerary I see from these folks is something like a couple days in Sonoma, a couple in Napa, a few days in San Francisco then a drive down the coast.

They enjoy hanging around wineries and wine knowledgeable people. They're not afraid to tell you if they don't like something. They'll ask questions like, does this Chardonnay have malolactic? They do buy wine. They might already belong to a couple wine clubs.

Curious about wine

They didn't come here just for wine. It's often a side excursion with their focus being their California vacation. Or maybe they're just driving through on their way to a relative's home. They wanted to take the time to stop and see what this wine thing is all about.

Have a very basic knowledge of wine as they know the difference between a Chardonnay and a Pinot Grigio (but may not know that Zinfandel is red, not pink). They will do some tasting and will look for complimentary tastings or at least 2-for-1 tasting coupons. They ask a lot of questions. They buy a bottle here or there. Occasionally they may find something they really like and join their first wine club. It's more likely they'll get home and reflect on their winery experience then start buying more wine at the store. Maybe in a year or two they will take a vacation that includes a few days of wine tasting.

Not interested in wine

A SO dragged them here. They are bored. If it's a 30-something guy with a beard I'll direct them to the nearest brewery. If it's someone from a family with small children I'll tell them about the Charles Schulz Snoopy Museum. One out-of-state family group with bored teenagers I'd tried to direct to In-N-Out Burger for dinner. The kids got all excited, but mom didn't look happy I'd mentioned a burger joint. Hey, do something for the kids!