Our first Wine show....

Discussion in 'Commercial Winery Forum' started by Hokapsig, Jan 27, 2016.

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  1. Jan 27, 2016 #1

    Hokapsig

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    Well, this past Sunday we did our first wine show. The show was at the Convention center in downtown Pittsburgh and was featured as a "Women and Wine" show. The promoters told us that they had presold 8000 tickets and that there would be 14 wineries and about 70 other vendors catering to women.

    Based on this information, I called other wineries which would be going to this event. I was told (by reputeable winery owners) that, based on this information, we should bring about 100 cases and be prepared to sell out that day. Tempering my exhuberance, we took about 80 cases (sell out early and go home). The event was to run from 11 am to 5 pm.

    However, this event was a day before the Nor'easter snow storm that shut down much of the east coast. 4 wineries could not attend as they couldn't get through the snow. I'm thinking, "great, less competition should equate to more sales for us".

    I took along my best, though untested, crew (all heros in my eyes). My wife would run the square for processing sales, my co worker would get bottles ready for the bottle check, ffemt and my son and I would be the pourers.

    We were not prepared for the onslaught of 8000 thirsty women, all which had been promised "unlimited wine sampling". The problem we soon encountered began to add up. The wifi connection would not work, meaning the credit cards would need to be keyed in manually instead of swiping the square (costing more and slowing down the process). We were soon inundated with women 8 deep at our table, all demanding wine tastings with only a few buying. We were told our wines were good, but the expectation was for the women to drink and taste, not to buy. We ended up giving out 8 cases in samples, though we did sell about 15 cases of wine.

    Thank goodness for the Angel known as ffemt. He saved the day by offering his truck to transport the 50 cases of unsold wine back to our winery (even after being in the trenches and slinging wine for 6 hours). Remember, we were to sell 100 cases and wouldn't have to transport any wine home.

    Women soon became unruly and surrounded our table and wine supply. We did experience some product shrinkage due to the unruly crowd. For any new wineries getting ready to do thier first show, let me post some of the lessons which we learned the hard way. Other professionals are encouraged to post thier lessons for us newbies too. Trust me, we could use the lessons.....
     
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  2. Jan 27, 2016 #2

    AZMDTed

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    I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. Direct sales, in any field, are very very hard and full of emotional ups and downs. At least you tried, and you no doubt learned things that will help you plan your future sales actions. I wish you the best.
     
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  3. Jan 27, 2016 #3

    Hokapsig

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    Lesson 1 - we brought 11 wines to introduce and sample. This was too many. women that wanted to taste all the wines took too long and got confused as to what they tasted and liked. Many had thier free fill and moved on without a purchase. Next time, we will limit our line up to 6 or 7 wines (one dry, 2 sweeter/semi sweet whites, 3 sweet reds/blends).

    Lesson 2 - serve only the people in front of you. The women surrounded our table and those on the sides demanded to be served, causing us to rush back and forth and spread the pouring staff out too much. Next time, we only serve those in front of us. Those women on the side will either move to the front or move on. We don't want to sacrifice our gameplan for tasters demanding our attention and spreading us thin.

    Lesson 3 - we had one square for processing payments. This was not enough and I have no doubt we lost sales due to not having our equipment work properly (even after testing frequently the night before). We will procure another square for faster processing.

    Lesson 4 - more equipment. while trying to provide a positive experience to the tasters, we bagan to empty bottles from the tastings and needed to uncork and put the pouring spouts back in. We soon had multiple bottles opened using up all our spouts. also, we only had two wine openers (one which took a chuck out of my thumb). At least 2 openers with additional openers as a backup.

    Lesson 5 - half pours. Although we are allowed to pour an ounce per tasting, we cut back to half or quarter ounce tastings. We learned that REAL fast....

    Lesson 6 - private space. Our wine supply was located behind us, but we didn't have tables to enclose the 2 front tasting tables. The women were almost in our pouring area due to the uncontrolled crowd. the next time, 2 more tables will be taken to enclose our space. No more shrinkage for us.

    I'm sure there will be more, but I'll let others impart thier wisdom......
     
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  4. Jan 27, 2016 #4

    Hokapsig

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    Thanks Ted, but don't feel sorry for us. We learned, albiet the hard way, about doing a wine festival. If we wouldn't have learned, then you could feel sorry for us. We learned an experience and will be better for it. We don't want to sound whiney, but it was a baptism by fire for sure....

    PS. thanks for the good wishes....
     
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2016
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  5. Jan 27, 2016 #5

    GreginND

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    Great information. Thanks. Lessons learned are mistakes not repeated.

    1. 11 wines! Yes, that is way too many. I will be sticking with no more than 5. This is great advice.

    2./6. - Thanks. I wasn't thinking about this problem of controlling the crowd, space and focus.

    3. I have learned to make sure my cell phone internet sharing is always available in case there is no wifi. I use my phone as a wifi hub. Having more is always good.

    5. Yes - not possible to provide full pours for that many people. Did the event provide glasses for the ladies? If so, you don't have much control over their glass size. If you are providing tasting cups - I have found that using those small plastic shot glasses rather than a larger cup to help limit oversampling. That and those simple plastic slow pourers work well.
     
  6. Jan 27, 2016 #6

    JohnT

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    I have worked some events like this for my buddy's micro brewery.

    One thing we did was to structure the fences and barricades so that a single file line forms. Once a person reaches the front of the line an usher can then direct that person to one of five "tasting stations". As soon as that "tasting station" frees up, the next person in line is directed there. This forces the crowd away from your tasting tables.

    When you say "shrinkage", are you saying that there was out-and-out theft of your wine? If so, what kind of women were these people????
     
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  7. Jan 28, 2016 #7

    Hokapsig

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    Although the inventory is not done yet, we did experience the theft of some wine. I like the idea of a que line and we may try to do that.

    We supplied the 1 ounce shot glasses and only filled them half way. The next two shows supply tasting glasses.
     
  8. Jan 28, 2016 #8

    Runningwolf

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    You cannot control or stage lines at most wine events. You have to work around that. Having one person that does nothing but opens bottles and returns empties back to the cases helps a lot to keep things running smoothly. Keep the empties so you know what you sold and what you sampled. A large cooler with dry ice is beneficial for keeping sweet wines cold until opened. I personally don't enjoy working wine festivals (drunkfest) compared to working a tasting room. A festival people are there to drink in the tasting room they are there to taste and hear your story. With that said, some festivals are very profitable.
     
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  9. Jan 28, 2016 #9

    Chanel1975

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    Runningwolf, you write that there are many interesting exhibitions, can give some examples?
    thanks Chanel
     
  10. Jan 29, 2016 #10

    Runningwolf

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    Chanel I don't see where I said there are many exhibitions. But with that said in the area that Bill and I live in there are wine tasting events throughout the year. You just have to pick and choose which one fits your winery best. Some may be too far away to see return customers or too big that you would not be able to keep up. There are fantastic events for every winery in this state. With you being in Italy I'm not sure what you have available.
     
  11. Jan 29, 2016 #11

    Boatboy24

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    Sorry to hear it didn't go as planned.

    Many of the winery owners I've talked to either don't do festivals, or only go because they feel they need the exposure. As Dan mentioned, it's usually a ton of people looking to get as much as they can for the price of admission and the crowds are huge. I know that's exactly why I avoid them. :D I'd prefer to have the time to talk with the owner/winemaker/pourer to learn more about what I'm drinking.
     
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  12. Jan 29, 2016 #12

    Floandgary

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    Congrats Bill! At least you didn't title it "Our last Wine show"!! Working with crowds is tough enough,, a mob is a nightmare. Enjoyed your samples and hope to get over your way soon..
     
  13. Feb 16, 2016 #13

    Hokapsig

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    Wine show #2 was MUCH BETTER. With 1200 tickets sold, the crowds were steady and much better behaved. We sold about 17 cases and only used up 4 cases for tasting. We limited our selection to 7 wines and I am learning what to say in order to sell the wines. The crowds allowed time to do some small chit chat with the customers and we got very good feedback about our wines and sales presentations. We used 2 side tables for the sales and an extra square allowed us to process and move customers faster. We only served people in front of us which pulled the customers from the side to the front and kept the sales areas clear. One unfortunate item was when I loaded the van on Sunday morning, it was 4 degrees below zero, which caused some of the wines to produce diamonds (we cold stabilze, but not down to minus 4). The slow pour filters we used took care of the diamonds when pouring (we highly recommend these). the promoter gave us the internet password and our squares worked flawlessly. I have to get some table lifters for the testing tables as bending over for 6 hours can be a pain on the back. We also got some table coverings that almost matched our burgundy sign spot on. we looked more professional and it showed on our sales and feedback. We will be selling at our alma mater this weekend, with less tickets sold. We will take 20 cases and leave when we sell out.
     
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  14. Feb 16, 2016 #14

    ffemt128

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    Good deal and take 30.
     
  15. Feb 16, 2016 #15

    JohnT

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    glad things worked better this time.
    Do you have any pictures you can post? I'd love to see them.
     
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  16. Feb 17, 2016 #16

    Hokapsig

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    [​IMG]

    Here's my wife, me and my son at our first show, before the mayhem hit....
     
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  17. Feb 17, 2016 #17

    JohnT

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    That is just so darn coooool!
     
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  18. Feb 17, 2016 #18

    Hokapsig

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    I'll have to get a new updated photo this weekend. We've changed some things as we've learned how to play the game.....
     
  19. Nov 11, 2016 #19

    Hokapsig

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    well, after our first year of a license, we can look back and reflect.

    We have done WAY more than I had ever imagined and have had our wines well received. We have benefited from immeasureable help from ffemt (Doug), Julie, and of course my family, some college friends as well as some of the other wineries who took us under their wing and helped us along (George from Juniata Winery). Even my wife, who was VERY skeptical, has now quit her job to work at the winery full time. It is definitely fun working with friends and family.

    Another big thing to do is ALWAYS keep your tanks full. We are looking in every nook and cranny in the winery to find bottles to sell. This weekend will be our last show for almost a month, which should give us time to get our tanks bottled, refilled and bottled and refilled again. Thank goodness for young wine.

    We will be expanding our production by purchasing some extra stainless VC tanks. The winery has generated some cash so we can purchase some extra equipment and begin to pay back the family checking account that had been fronting the cash to operate the business. I am seeking an experienced CPA to do our taxes as I have reached the level of my incompetence when doing taxes.

    All in all, it has been a great learning experience and we seek to go into 2017 in a much stronger and wiser position.....
     
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  20. Nov 17, 2016 #20

    JohnT

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    Thanks so much for all of your posts! I am sure that I am not the only one living vicariously through you.

    I wish you all the success in the world! Congrats on a successful year and may each year exceed the last!:db:sm:try
     
    Last edited: Nov 17, 2016
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