Saturday, March 26, 2011

What Drives Your Desire?

I was meeting with my friends Sara, Kevin, and Theresa at Sara Nelson Design yesterday when a great question came up having to do with people purchasing wine off of the internet.

Sara Nelson Design is one of the most cutting edge wine industry designers in the Northwest. They do work for several area vintners, as well as vintners from as far away as New York. Their work on branding, logo and label design, websites, and your social networking persona is fantastic. I’ve had the pleasure to be able to do some really fun work with them over the past few years.

So, getting back to a global version of yesterday’s question: What makes you want to taste and buy a bottle of anyone’s wine?

I’ve found that wine is both a commodity as well as a piece of art. Because of this it is actually a very tricky product. There are reams of paper written on this, and entire courses and degrees available on it from prestigious universities both in the U.S. and abroad.

The first thing that makes you want to drink any vintner’s wine is the winemaker, or the owner’s, personality. A perfect example of this is Charles Smith of K Vintners Fame. Charles’ personality is huge and luckily enough his wines follow that level of persona. Other winemakers such Mike at Coyote Canyon Wines in the Horse Heaven Hills are just so personable and kind. When you drink these wines you feel like you’re part of the family.

The key ingredient to personality driven wine choices are tasting events, tasting room visits, and winemaker dinners. This can carry over into twitter and facebook, but that is just an extension.

Second, the wine gives you a good memory. I have very fond memories of my younger years surrounding Ste. Chapelle winery. I’d buy the Riesling just for that alone.

A third reason to drink a wine is that it looks like something you want to drink. I get at least one or two bottles each week in my studio that I wouldn’t try if I didn’t do this article, and then I get many more that I really want to crack open.

A great example of this was a bottle that I tried this week of a wine with a bright blue stopper and label. The whole bottle was frankly, ugly. Unfortunately/fortunately the wine inside was quite approachable, but I wouldn’t have purchased it otherwise.

Taken to the next step, attractiveness is especially important on the website or store shelf. I can’t tell you the number of really good winemakers who make the mistake of not getting GOOD bottle images. If the wine looks crappy then you will assume that it probably is and not buy it. A website and point of sale materials such as tasting notes that are attractive makes you the consumer really want that $30 bottle over the Three Buck Chuck.

Last, and pretty much the least is the actual taste of the wine. Believe it or not, most people don’t know what a good wine is. I can’t tell you the number of people that tell me wines that I know are hideous are their favorites. One winemaker I know must purposefully intend on making vinegar, but he has a huge following of admiring fans because he does everything else above pretty well.

So, the next time you purchase a bottle of wine, think about what makes you want to make that purchase.



  1. As a former wine buyer I can tell you that customers are very particular with labes and bottles. And frankly telling a winery that their 'package' is not going to sell is like telling them their child is ugly.

  2. I agree. I've done that with a rather famous winemaker in this area and it wasn't pretty.


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