81: Wine Marketing in a Pandemic with Rob McMillan

The average winery sells 30 percent of their wines out of the tasting room plus another 20 percent to restaurants. That means 40 to 60 of annual sales are impacted by COVID-19 with closed tasting rooms and take out only restaurants IF shelter in place were to continue all year. But, Rob McMillan, EVP and Founder of the Silicon Valley Bank Wine doubts that will be the case.

We were already experiencing a market correction before COVID-19, so what can wineries do now and in the future to connect with their consumers and sell wines? For production; preserve cash, work with vendors and employees to cut costs, and push bottling out. For marketing, start a phone campaign with your customers, offer drive through pickups or deliveries, and use this time as an opportunity to cross train your team.

The good news is people drink wine. During prohibition alcohol consumption actually increased. It is time to get creative; meet your consumers where they are. Figure out new DTC tactics via digital channels. Market to the health-conscious consumer by talking about ingredients, calories, values, and sustainable practices.

Previous market corrections have ended with an increase in demand. Today’s wineries need to get to the other side of this slump prepared with new marketing campaigns to connect to their consumers.


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