On a recent wine tour, I had the opportunity to sample a wide range of wines from a number of boutique wineries. Beyond the opportunity to judge various examples of the nectar of the gods, it turned out to be a fascinating contrast between the different personalities of those presenting and selling their wine.
First up was the industrial chemist turned winemaker. This engineer took us through the machinery used to create the wine and the lab that he used to measure and analyse his product. It was quite clear that he had a very deep understanding of the chemical makeup of the wine he sold, and while no one on the tour really understood the equipment he was explaining, most found the tour interesting.
Next was the guitarist. His tweed jacket, charm and british accent won over most of the tour, and the wine was pretty good too. Our host obviously knew a thing or two about wine, but the wine itself was made by a winemaker in his employ. But none of that mattered once he brought out his guitar and serenaded us with some blues. People were happy, tipsy, and ready to spend.
The next stop was to a funky little wine cellar run by two women behind a bar. They quickly set down some ground rules. First, you can only sample those wines highlighted on the wine list. Second, please ask for a wine taste, as we prefer not to just pour samples for all. It was organized, if impersonal.
At the final stop, we all sat down at tables with a glass, a pen, and a list of wines. Our host stood up the front, explained the wine, and then provided a sample for all. Everyone seemed to appreciate the opportunity to sit down, and while a few rowdy travelers were more interested in the free drinks than the presentation, more than enough listed patiently as the inspiration for each wine was explained before each pouring.
So we had the engineer, the entertainer, the manager, and the presenter. And of the four wineries we visited, people bought a reasonable quantity of wine from only three.
By (not incorrectly) identifying a bus load of free loading wine tasters as a source of lost inventory, and treating these people as a problem to be managed and mitigated, the managers of the third winery had irritated those on the tour. There was no personal touch, no memorable interaction, and as a result no one was particularly interested in buying the wine on offer.
How ironic that those who adopted the most business-like practices ended up with the worst business outcomes.
I’m trying to come up with a nice way to wrap this story up, but I’m struggling to summarize my thoughts as my mind drifts while I finish off a nice glass of wine bought as part of this wine tour. The winery’s website is subtly listed on the bottom of the label, giving me an easy way to purchase more from the comfort of my own home. I actually can’t even remember which of the three wineries this particular bottle came from, but I have bookmarked their online order form. It turns out all they needed to do to secure a repeat order was not alienate me when we first met, and provide a reasonable product that I wanted to buy again.
Anyway, I wish those managers looking to reduce their wastage all the best. Although maybe you should have sung us a song instead of reading out the process you put in place to minimize the amount of free wine you waste on people like me.