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How to sell wine at a cellar door

How to sell wine? After working in The Hunter Valley for more than10 years, I’ve now watched 100’s of wine tasting presentations and so it may come as no surprise to hear that some are better than others. There are absolutely brilliant wine presenters and beautiful cellar doors in the Hunter Valley and from a tour guides perspective, it’s a pleasure taking groups to see them knowing they will be looked after.

But what makes a great wine presentation? Well, I have broken this down into a few parts. It should be clear, that the whole point of cellar doors opening to the public and exhibiting their wines is to sell their wine. If you want to sell wine, this is how.

 

Hunter Valley Wine ToursThe Cellar Door

 

First impressions. It’s cliche but it’s so important. Be ready. Arriving with a group only to discover the cellar door is not ready is not a good start. Groups are booked in so the table should be ready, glasses set up and the presenter free to welcome them. The best presenters always have a smile and acknowledge them, sometimes individually, as the walk in.

 

On the other hand, arriving to dirty tables with no staff greeting, and having to, myself, clean up and get things ready for the tasting is not a good look. It happens, of course it does, even to the best as cellar doors who can unexpectedly get slammed. However those times should be an exception to the rule.

 

Further, create a nice space! You don’t need a million dollar architecturally designed cellar door to impress. In fact, they can often be a turn off. In my experience, visiting guests favour the smaller simpler, rustic places with character. It may require an eye for interior design, however no matter how small your budget is, you can do it right.

 

I’ll add separately that the best tastes are given sitting down. Having your visitors standing at a bar will result in far less sales. Give the group their own space and sit them down, comfortably. 

 

The Presenter

 

You need to love what you are doing and obviously so. The number of grumpy presenters who obviously don’t want to be there surprise me. People want to buy off people they like and a smile with enthusiasm goes a long way. So you must love engaging with people. All types. Including the annoying ones! 

 

Know the wines. Seems obvious however again it surprises me how little some presenters know. You will be asked a huge amount of questions from many different people and although it’s not expected that you know everything, there is certainly a level of knowledge you should know. Where were the grapes grown? What type of oak barrel was used and for how long was it oaked? What type of grapes are used (not always obvious)? Who is the wine maker? When will it be drinking at its best? 

 

Take your time!! Don’t rush. Talk about the wines in detail. Read your audience. Visitors are there to learn about wines and appreciate efforts to teach them so. Don’t ever make them feel rushed. We don’t drink wine in a rush so it makes no sense to sell it in a rush. You also develop a stronger bond with your visitors if you spend quality time with them. They will, as a result, want to buy wine off you.

 

Get personal! Have favourites. Suggest a food match and double points if you can talk about a recent pairing they experienced with the wine. Talk about the wine maker so they can get to know him/her and develop a connection through the wines. Try to talk to each visitor or family or friend group individually at some point. Eye contact. 

 

Never give a hard sell

 

I’m giving this it’s own section as I can’t stress enough how important this is. Visitors know you sell wines, they don’t have to be constantly reminded on this. 

 

Visitors will have decided, by the time the tasting is finished, on which wines they would like to purchase. NOTHING you say in the last 30 seconds will persuade a non buyer to buy wine HOWEVER plenty of presenters in the last 30 seconds have persuaded a buyer NOT to buy wine due to the hard sell at the end. 

 

I’m not talking about mentioning discounts, offers and packages. I’m talking about telling the group things like: ‘business has been slow and could really use your help’, ‘please support us as we rely on people like you visiting our cellar door’, ‘this is the only place you can buy our wines so if you don’t today you will miss out’, ‘how many bottles can I sell you today?’…

 

If you have any offers on particular wines, mention these as they are tasted, not all at once at the end of the presentation. You should never end with a sales pitch.

 

The best way to end a presentation is to thank them for their time and let them know that ‘if anyone is interested in buying some wine I’ll be over here, otherwise, have a lovely day and we hope to see you again’. That’s it! Any more is too much. All the best presenters who sell the most amount of wine have a soft end to their spiel.

 

Read more here

 

The Wine

 

Believe it or not, this can be underestimated. There are cellar doors that consistently don’t sell much wine because people simply, as a whole, don’t like it.

 

You must know how to make good wine, particularly in a premium wine area like The Hunter Valley, if you want to be able to sell it. Tour guides generally ask their tour guests for feedback after each tasting and over the years there have been a number of vineyards I’ve stopped taking groups to because the wine isn’t good. If you are constantly not selling wine despite having a lovely cellar door and great presenter, then you need to look to your wine.

 

It’s not rocket science. Be friendly, put in the effort, have a good product and it will sell!

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