The history of wine is rich and dates back to around 6000 B.C, originating along the borders of Georgia. Wine is an alcoholic beverage made from grape juice (through fermentation) in a way that crushed grapes are fermented using certain types of yeasts, which in turn consume the sugars in grapes which are converted into alcohol (Aruvian, 2008). Wine was very common in ancient history, in Greece and Rome and has also played an important role through put history in religion, as the Roman god Bacchus represented wine, while it is also used in Christian and Jewish ceremonies like Kiddush and Eucharist (Aruvian, 2008).
Keeping in mind the historical aspect of wine, we realize that wine was and is an important part of our societies historically and at present and therefore one need to take special interest in its manufacturing and marketing, as the market for wine is vast and can be successfully tapped upon.
Today wineries are getter bigger and more competitive and thus the risk involved is also increasing. Considering the huge potential in the wine industry, we will look at certain important aspect to capitalize this opportunity, through variety in wine products and services, diversification and the importance of branding in wine products and services.
Traditionally most wineries offered only one basic kind wine and a less costly second product; it was on this wine that their reputation rested. For example for most of its time Chateau Margaux in Bordeaux offered only a single kind of wine. However with the inception of wine tourism, a single winery started offering a wide range of products in order to satisfy the tastes of large visiting public or wine tourists as we call them.
These products ranged from red wines to white or off dry white wine, rose or a dessert wine. In recent trend it has also been observed that most wineries have devoted themselves to offer a single style or varietal of wine. For example dedication to Italian variety can be seen in the Mosby Winery in the Santa Barbra County in which one is treated with wines unlikely to be found easily anywhere else. Most wineries are also devoted to Rhône-styled wines (Tablas Creek, Rideau, Alban) and Pinot Noirs , which are superior products produced by specialty wineries (Boehmer, 2006).
The products offered by wineries can categorized into different types depending on the time they are meant to be served, the flavors, fruits and so on. We will briefly look at some of these types.
Wines which are served before meals generally fall in the category of Appetizer wines or Aperitifs. Traditional Aperitifs are champagne and Sherries and also light white wines in some cases (Wine types and Varietals, 2006).
For full body and low tannin levels, we have Barbera, which is a red wine grape which is found in Italy’s Piedmont region. As a result we get wines which are crisp and come in deep ruby colors.
Then we have Blush wines or Roses as they are known, which are light pink in color and usually sweet and light. A type of red wine known for its aroma, depth of flavor and ability to age is Cabernet Sauvignon, it is intense and also comes in herbal flavors (Wine types and Varietals, 2006).
We have effervescent wines like Sparkling Wines and Champagne which range from dull to sweet and can also be classified according to the type of grapes they are produced from, for example Blanc de Blancs (white grapes) and Blanc de Blancs (red grapes).
Another type of wine served in place of desserts or even with desserts is known as the Dessert wines. Their alcohol content ranges from 17 to 21 per cent and they can be either sweet or dry, for example sherry wines (Wine types and Varietals, 2006).
A wine popular for its grassy herbal flavor is called Fume Blanc, it is a white wine and is also popular for shell fish and fish dishes. To compliment meals which are rich in meats we have Petite Sirah which is firm red wines with peppery flavors. One of the most challenging wine grapes is Pinot Noir which produces a red wine which is delicate, smooth and rich (Wine types and Varietals, 2006).
Although there are other varieties of wine depending on the richness, flavor, sweetness etc, I have tried to describe most of them in broad terms. The four major categories of wine are white, red, rose and champagne, from where different categories emerge. Popularity of wine varies among regions, where people might prefer intense wines over light or fruit flavored (like strawberry or French wines) wines.
The emergence and the importance of wine tourism globally have attracted many researches and tourism business towards this industry. During the past couple of years research in this area has accelerated to investigate the link between regional development, wine tourism, wine touring demographics and wine marketing (Jack Carlsen, 2006).
According to the literature definition wine tourism involves all business in tourism, wine and industries with wine region. This includes wine festivals, visiting vineyards, wine shows, wine tasting and so on. To tap the growing wine industry research should be aimed at wine consumers, marketing effectiveness, wine tourists and success factors of wineries (Wine Tourism Overview, 2006). It should also include house accommodation, tour operators and gift shops.
We need to understand that wine products and wine services are at two opposite ends. While wine productions is characterized as being supply led, price taking and cost minimization activity, wine services is demand driven, price making and profit maximization activity. Hence we need to understand their convergence on certain geographic, cultural and vocational factors.
Wine tourism is attracting more and more tourists to specific regions, therefore the need is to understand the needs of these potential customers and market your product to specific target audience.
An important area to focus on to meet customer expectations is to integrate wine with quality food, although most wineries are don’t appreciate their importance in the tourism industry, irrespective of the definition of tourism, it is after all a “people’s industry” and therefore delivering a unique wine experience (or any other field) to match their expectations and aspirations.
Today winery cellar doors are providing complete tourism experience, such as recreational facilities, restaurant accommodation, tours, picnic facilities, where consumers can interact first hand with the product and experience the diversity the wine region has to offer. (Winemakers Federation of Australia).
From a marketing perspective the winery cellar by passes all intermediary channels and provides an interface between the brand and the customer, hence forms a direct relationship between the two aimed to meet or exceed customer expectation. Other important considerations are regarding the location of winery cellar, it should be part of a strong tourist region, near the tourist route and preferably closer to other wineries.
Branding also plays a very important role, there should be brand consistency all through the signage and buildings, professionally presented and clear point of difference should be present. Apart from that a strong entrance statement can entice visitors to stop and a good directional signage is also necessary throughout the property.
We should also focus on some additional selling point to get an advantage against other by providing a parking space for visitors, family-friendly facilities and a range of activities that qualify as “total tourism experience” (Winemakers Federation of Australia).
With all these marketing aspects under consideration we should also emphasize on product diversification. We all understand that needs and wants vary from person to person. The desires vary from individual to another. Expectations of customers from a product vary from one another. Customers can have different needs from a particular type of product. They might use a product for different purposes or want a different kind of product to suit their needs. One type or variety of product cannot cater to the needs of all the customers and when the customers are not satisfied, businesses are affected.
So in order to be more successful, the smart thing to do is to move towards customer satisfaction. This can be done by evaluating the needs of the customers and what they want from a particular product type. After evaluating the needs and analyzing them, different kinds of products can be created and manufactured to suit the particular needs and desires of a particular group or segment of the potential customers. This is known ad product diversification.
This phenomenon of product diversification is also a successful strategy in the wine business. To cater to the different needs and desired of the wine drinkers, one universal kind of wine is not manufactured. Instead, different kinds of wines are manufactured such as red wine, white wine and many more. This shows that different customers have different needs and in order to capitalize on that, different kinds of products are made available in the market.
As we are talking about wine “services”, it should be emphasized that the people factor is very important and your staff and their attitude combine to form your winery’s “walking talking ambassador”. Therefore they should be people friendly and should have high level of wine tourism knowledge. Lasting memories is one of the keys to successful business operation as positive word of mouth is one of the most reliable means of marketing.
Examples of wine tourism are not hard to find, the first wine tourism attract in Marlborough was in 2000 with the opening of Montana Brancott Winery, it offers guided tours to learn about the wine making process, sampling the latest ones, stylish restaurant dine inns and the option to buy according to their likings and tastes (Peyre, 2008).
Wine marketing is closely aligned with tourism marketing as they are both rely on creating awareness and brand loyalty for their brands and both operate in a highly competitive and challenging business environment, therefore it is not surprising to see so much importance give to wine tourism marketing research. Also wine tourism cannot flourish without considerable amount of wine tourist; therefore customer research plays a crucial role.
Lastly we need to understand that although wine tourism is perceived as a mode to increase profit margins, mainly through cellar doors, and mostly this is the sales objective which forms the basis of wine marketing. However, new opportunities of wine distributions can also be created through wine tourism, building a positive brand image and identity for small wineries in a crowded market.
As far as electronic marketing through websites is concerned, it is important that the websites are as informative as possible throughout this virtual visit by the customer, which can lead to a competitive edge for wineries through electronic marketing.