Author Archives: Sue Straight

Happy Wine Club Members

Ten Ways To Grow Your Wine Club

I’ve been managing wine clubs for wineries for many years. The memberships have ranged from start-ups to over 4000 members. Following are my favorite tips for growing and maintaining wine clubs:

Provide excellent customer service to retain your club members:  This is my cardinal rule. These are your best customers and they should be treated as such. Respond to emails and phone calls the same day and don’t be afraid to bend the rules a bit to keep your club members happy. A little extra effort goes a long way!

Write compelling bi-monthly emails to your non-club list with special offerings: These folks already know and love you and your wines. Let them buy some and share it with their loved ones.

Offer “members only” wines and make sure all club wines are top quality: Do not use your wine club just to move inventory. Customers will eventually catch on to that and will quit because of it.

Create a loyalty program: If a member stays for a year, offer one of the above spiffs.

Do “pick-up parties” for your will-call members: This is an opportunity to sell even more wine to your club members and their guests. Make sure that the parties are unique and fun.

Do quarterly “we want you back” email and postcard campaigns for past members: These are proven customers and people leave wine clubs for a multitude of reasons. Why not make an effort to get them back?

Create a referral program: If a member brings in a referral, offer a gift certificate or special discount.

Use social media to promote your club: Do special offers for club members via social media – use the same offers as emails to stay consistent and take pictures of club members and club-related events and post on your social media channels.

Do customer surveys: (one for club and one for club prospects) twice a year – find out what your customers and your club members want

Make sure that all club-related materials are consistent with your brand image: The content needs to be relevant and interesting.

Managing wine clubs can be very challenging and also very rewarding. Please feel free to contact me if you’d like a little extra help.

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Passion In The Tasting Room

Passion In The Tasting Room – How To Inspire It In Your Staff and In Your Customers

Wine inspires passion, or it should, anyway.  Any wine lover will tell you about lovely, wine-drenched conversations that they have enjoyed with colleagues, friends and loved ones. In my wine circles, we have solved the world’s problems many times over glasses (OK, bottles) of wine.

Now, let’s talk about passion (or lack thereof) in the tasting room – how many times have you visited a tasting room (or maybe even in your own tasting room) and heard a staff member doing a somewhat robotic introduction to the wines that they were pouring? By robotic, I mean spewing facts like clonal selections, type of oak used, malolactic percentages, awards/points garnered in major wine competitions and publications, etc. All of this information is valuable, but it must be discussed within context of the customer’s experience – he or she must be engaged first and actually interested in that type of information.  Hint – if the customer’s eyes are glazing over and cobwebs start extending from her/his nose during a factual soliloquy, the customer is not engaged and is not likely to buy.

In order to inspire passion about your wines in your customers, you must first inspire passion in your tasting room staff. Thorough training is essential, so your tasting room staff has your unique story and wine information down, but the more you get them involved with your winery, the better. Nothing beats learning by doing! Encourage your them to go out and sample sugars, work the sorting tray (if you have one), taste through blends and whatever else you can get them involved in.  The goal of exposing your tasting room staff in the day-to-day operations of the winery is to give them an understanding of what goes into the wines you produce. Feeling included breeds enthusiasm that you will never get from “how to sell” workshops or training manuals. Let them get their hands dirty and it will pay you back in spades.

Once your tasting room staff is fully trained and passionate about your unique brand, encourage them to share their passion with your customers. Along with being well educated about your wines and winery, successful salespeople are very observant, intuitive and flexible. For some this skill seems innate, others need careful guidance on recognizing the different ways your customers can be approached. Regardless, staff members need to have the skills to size up a customer within a few seconds and be able to engage them at a level that neither bores nor intimidates. This is most often done by asking leading questions, like, “Have you had our wines before?” “How did you hear about us?” “Where are you visiting from?” “What wines do you enjoy at home?” Once the customer is engaged, they can enjoy a two-sided conversation, where each party learns something. If your staff members are successful in fully engaging your customers, they can gently educate about your wines and winery as part of the conversation. This approach converts your customers into passionate brand ambassadors. And it sells wine.


Welcome to DTC Winery Coach

Are you happy with the volume and profitability of your tasting room? Are your wine clubs growing? Are your Direct-to-Consumer (DTC) outreach programs generating the sales you want? Are your events profitable?

If you answered “no” to any of the questions above, I can help you.

Hi, I’m Sue Straight, DTC Winery Coach, also known as “The Wine Wench®,” and thank you for visiting

I have a track record totaling nearly thirty years of helping wineries achieve their DTC goals. I have worked in and managed tasting rooms, started and developed profitable wine clubs, and implemented other DTC programs, resulting in sales increases on an order-of-magnitude scale. Whether your winery is large or small, I can tailor DTC approaches to become more efficient and more profitable. Please check out the rest of my website to learn more about how I can help you with your DTC programs.

As a thank you, I’m offering a free consultation just for visiting my website. You can schedule an appointment by using the contact link, or call me at 707-477-3779.

I hope to talk with you soon.