Thursday, July 21, 2011

Winery Websites in Need of Help

Sean Sullivan - Washington Wine Report

Why Most Winery Websites Stink


There has been a lot of talk in the last couple years about the importance of Social Media, and it is important. However, for wineries, having a website that is attractive and provides useful information to consumers is equally important if not more critical than Social Media. Unfortunately, 90 to 95% of winery websites stink.

Before I go into why so many of the sites I see are so terrible, let me first make the argument for why I believe it is important for wineries to have a good website. If you work in a winery, think about the ways that people interact with your brand. Generally people either 1) see your bottle on the shelf 2) hear about your winery through a review, Social Media, etc or 3) try your wines at the tasting room, event, or through some other channel. Unfortunately in two of those three cases, the next step many consumers will take is to go to your website.

Let’s say a person sees a bottle of your wine on the shelf and knows nothing about the winery. Where are they likely to go for information? Better yet let’s say that a person decides to buy a bottle of your wine either on a whim or on a recommendation and, lo and behold! They like it! Again, what is a logical next step? Or let’s say someone has been hearing a lot of buzz about your winery. Perhaps they have heard people talking about the winery or perhaps they have heard you talking about the winery on Twitter or Facebook. Again, where are they likely to go? To your website to try to find out more information about the winery and see what other wines you make. And this is where the vast majority of the time things get ugly.

90-95% of winery websites stink because they say little about the winery and even less about the wines.
 They provide largely generic information rather than specific information aboutwho you are and what differentiates your winery. Here is example of what I often read. I apologize in advance if this reads verbatim from someone’s site. It was not intentional I assure you.

“(insert your winery name here) is a small family winery. We are dedicated to producing super premium wine from Washington’s finest vineyards. We believe that wine is made in the vineyard and strive to express each of our sites in our wines.”


Why is this so bad? “We are a small family winery…” All right. You’ve told me you’re not a mega-corporation, but why should I care? Many of these sites subsequently go on to say nothing about the family or the people involved. Some don’t even give their names! The site might as well says, “We are a small family winery but please respect our privacy. We do not like to give out information about ourselves.”

“We are dedicated to producing super premium wine from Washington’s finest vineyards.” First, almost no one knows what super premium means. Second, you’re in luck! Everyone else is looking to make plonk from vineyards that are producing 20 tons an acre! Again, some sites talk up their vineyards and then don’t say what these vineyards are or why they are special.

“We believe that wine is made in the vineyard…” Yada yada yada. I wait for the day I read, “We strive to make Frankenwines that are created in the winery and have nothing to do with the place that they came from.”

Don’t get me wrong. Each of these ideas is important. However, to throw them out there without providing further information to make them relevant to the reader is completely worthless. Worse, it just sounds like everyone else which is exactly what you don’t want to do.

All right, so we’ve gotten past the gobbledygook on your website and for some reason we are still with you. We’ve decided to move on to looking at the wines themselves. Here things are going to get even worse.

The vast (vast) majority of winery websites are not up-to-date. Here’s brief series of examples from the past week:

- Go to winery website looking for a bottleshot. None to be found/picture is of low resolution.
- Go to winery website looking for prices on current releases. Current vintages not listed and/or prices not listed.
- Go to winery website looking for prices on current releases. Links to external site that does not work.
- Go to winery website. Click on ‘Enter’ and goes to dead link.
- Go to winery website looking for information and it says 'Under construction.' It's said this for years by the way.
- Go to winery website looking for contact information. None found.
- Go to winery website looking for blend and technical information. None found.

Some of these issues may be less important to most consumers than they are to me, but most of them are not. You want to hear the worst part? Many of the sites that had these issues were considerably better than most of what I come across. These are the guys who are doing well!

Again, all the talk these days is about Social Media and with good reason. Social Media can be an important tool. However, part of its strength is wasted if you engage with people and then they disengage because your website either a) says much of nothing or b) looks like the winery went out of business several years ago and no one turned the lights off because the information/look and feel is so out of date.
Want to do a better job? Make your website say something about you and your winery, not generic boilerplate information. Talk about what makes you unique from the other 700 wineries in the state. Talk about why you started the winery in the first place. And for goodness sake, keep the information up to date!

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