Annual Member Meeting – NOTES

Beth Costa on Dec 15, 2018

Hello to all Wine Road members.
We just hosted our annual membership meeting at the Vintners Inn. We tried a new format this year with an early morning breakfast, we invited a few vendors to join us, along with an outstanding keynote speaker, Paul Mabray. We started by showing a video/photo recap of our 2018 accomplishments. Watch the 4 minute video here

Details from the presentation

I’ll start off by announcing, last week we dropped off an $18,000 donation to the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
This represents $1 from every ticket sold during 2018.
We have now donated over $400,000 in the last 10 years.

Some numbers for 2018
Wine Road supported members at 3 festivals; Rancho Mirage, Monterey and VinDiego.
Wine Road took 22 wineries on the road to Cleveland in June.
Wine Road mailed/distributed 300,000 maps.
Wine Road now has nearly 50,000 followers on various social media platforms.
Wine Road’s combined social, paid advertising, press articles and website provided us with over 30 million impressions.

We produced: 27 podcasts, 20 blog posts and 12 newsletters.

We were featured via paid advertising, sponsored posts or articles in…
Wine Spectator, Decanter, VinePair, 7×7, Chicago Tribune, Sunset, Omaha Magazine, Beyond Alaska Airlines, Biz Bash…to name a few.

As a leader in wine tourism, Wine Road connects with consumers in a variety of ways to help drive traffic to our members; the website, podcast, newsletter and our social connections. Additionally we connect with visitors by attending festivals, organizing events and coordinating “on the road” tastings and targeting our marketing/advertising dollars.

Wine Road is a gateway to discovering exceptional wine experiences, via our printed and online maps, our personalized concierge service and through our website. We are excited to say that our website is about to undergo a complete re-do. For the first time we will be featuring our three AVAs as a main focus on the site, each with maps, links to wineries and lodging within that AVA, and we will introduce itineraries. For any member who has itinerary suggestions, please email them to We intend to launch the site with 5-6 itineraries per AVA, then add more until we have around 50-60.

For those members who do not think Wine Road helps get people in their door, in 2018 we had over 230 concierge requests. We are sending people to our members all day long…every day.

For journalists, Wine Road is a key resource for memorable stories and exclusive access to our members. When a writer has an idea they need to flesh out for an editor, we are their first contact. We direct writers to our members every week. We work hard to build those relationships, writers have grown to depend on us to get them quick access to our winery and lodging contacts.


We then shared the goals put forth by the Board of Directors. At the Board’s yearly retreat, all Wine Road programs are evaluated to determine if they are providing a benefit for our members. At that time, the Board outlines goals going forward, determines where our energy should be spent.

The top three areas that rose to the top are:

Reenergizing Barrel Tasting
Whether members chose to participate or not, we ask that everyone be supportive of the event.
It is in fact the most unique tasting event we offer.
Getting into the cellar which is often something that only VIPs or club members are able to experience. The chance to meet winemakers, sample wine still in the barrel – something which typically only winemakers are able to do.
This event is an incredible opportunity to learn about winemaking. We need all of our members to support this event, even if only in their comments to visitors.
If customers comment the event is too crowded or too much of a party, please help change their perception. Yes, it was too crowded and too much of a party, but now the crowds are down, and there are no buses. People should re-consider attending again. We see this is the “must-do” event is wine country. Customers can get into the cellars, buy futures and meet winemakers.
If you have signed up to participate, encourage your staff to be supportive of the event. It does not help any of us if tasting room staff tell customers they dread working Barrel Tasting, or drone on about how awful those weekends are. Champion a successful event.
To bring in buyers, we have outlined a focused advertising plan which is targeted toward wine lovers (Wine Spectator, Decanter, VinePair, Food & Wine Magazine).
To elevate the experience, we have developed a new Friday night reception we’re calling Toast the Future. This is a bigger ticket event, limited to 30 people at 3 wineries per weekend.
To promote it, we have recorded 14 winemaker “interviews” to share on YouTube and social, saying what THEY love about Barrel Tasting.
To encourage attendance, we will be launching a consumer video contest in January, so our customers can say what THEY love about Barrel Tasting
To help you succeed we offered a seminar on Event Best Practices, presented by 4 of your winery peers. Wineries that have fine-tuned their event set up in order to successfully sell wine during events. Download notes from that seminar HERE
Scheduled Surveys
The Board feels that a significant benefit of membership is the ability for us to survey members to share actual data, not opinions or anecdotal comments.
In developing the surveys we will work toward finding the perfect level; asking enough questions to be useful, yet not so many questions no one takes the time to respond.
Tentative topics; salary survey, wine club survey, tasting fees, and of course event follow-up surveys.
Associate Memberships

With dwindling event ticket sales, we need to find another avenue to generate revenue. With that goal in mind, we are launching an Associate Membership program. We will be reaching out to businesses that would benefit from a connection to our 250 members and/or our 50,000 consumer list.
This would generate revenue.
These businesses would be brand ambassadors for the area and our members.

Beth reminded the attendees that we currently have one pending survey from Wine & Food Affair weekend. We would like to see ALL wineries respond. We need a way to analyze the success of the event, in terms of wines sales at our members. Answer Survey Here

Two other surveys wrapped up about a month ago. We are working to crunch those numbers and send that information out to all of you. Beth shared a few slides with some of that data…more to follow.


After our presentation, our speaker Paul Mabray shared his consumer insights; how to improve your interactions online, where people are shopping, how you can reach them…and SO MUCH MORE. Download Paul’s presentation HERE.


Vendors at the meeting:

Priority Wine Pass
Market Your Craft
American Solutions for Business
Harvest Card
Ving Direct
Debbie Douglas Designs
The Posh Privy
Capabunga & Tote+able


We provided a printed recap highlighting our accomplishments for 2018.
A copy of this recap has been mailed to all of our Wine Road members as well.


Click HERE to download notes as a PDF File

Posted by Beth Costa