Annual Member Meeting RECAP

Beth Costa on Dec 11, 2017

To all Wine Road members –
If you joined us on Tuesday for our Annual Member Meeting, thank you. If you were not able to attend, this is a recap of what was presented.

Our meeting started with a Caryn Mali from the Redwood Empire Food Bank.
Wine Road has partnered with them for nearly 10 years, donating $1 from every event ticket sold through the years. Our recent donation of $25,000 brings our total donation to $375,000.
The first two weeks of the fires, they distributed over one million pounds of food to evacuation centers, partner organizations (food pantries etc) and directly to people coming to the food bank. Their need is obviously greater than ever.
Check THIS LINK for their latest news and updates.

Claudia Vecchio the new President and CEO of Sonoma County Tourism gave an update on how Tourism responded immediately after the fires and how they are making plans to move forward. YOU should all be receiving a survey soon from Tourism. They need to understand how your business is now, compared to this time last year, so they know how to address the fires, who needs help, what is needed – they want data to form their plan.
She encourage you to be involved – get their newsletter HERE update your listing on their website HERE add your events to their online calendar HERE

We invited Claudia to explain how we work to support THEIR efforts. Our budget is limited, we focus on our members and what we can do to promote our area. Sonoma County Tourism promotes the area with a bigger brush and then to go a step higher Visit California promotes the state. Since the fires, Visit California has directed $2,000,000 – yes two million dollars to promote CA Wine Country, starting with new TV ads and the recent Grateful Table – dinner for 500 people with the table set right on the Napa/Sonoma border.

We then showed our highlight reel from the past year – this is the link on YouTube

Take Aways…

Since the fires we have given;
1200 FREE tickets to Wine & Food Affair to Sonoma County First Responders
10,000 FREE Wine Road Tasting Passes to 10,000 first responders from “everywhere” who helped – pass good though 2018
4000 FREE tickets to Winter Wineland to employees of Sutter, Kaiser, Memorial and Healdsburg Hospitals
NOW we are working on an Online Auction to help OUR OWN – folks who work for Wine Road members and lost their homes.
We have a list of 63 names. This auction will be funneled through the United Way of Wine Country.
Our goal is $60,000 but of course we would love to double or triple that – if you know someone that may be interested in matching our funds or making a contribution, please let us know. The donation letter and form is attached to this email.

Be involved.
Wine Road programs are not one size fits all, instead we offer a variety of options, so there is something for everyone.
Stay informed, then participate in the programs that work best for your winery or lodging.

Attached you will find a calendar for 2018 of the main event dates, sign up deadlines, supply days etc.
Stick it on the wall above your desk – it’s a GREAT reference. We have also uploaded it to the MEMBER section of our website.

We also had copies of a Barrel Tasting flyer for all of the attendees. This flyer has also been mailed to every member. The purpose of the flyer was simply to ask that whether you participate in Barrel Tasting or not, please be supportive of the event. This has been a signature Wine Road event for 42 years. So much effort has gone into improving the event, lessening the crowds and putting out a clear message about buying futures. We’d love to see everyone spread that positive message.

By the Numbers – 2017
3 annual events, 20,000 attendees, over 100 wineries participated in each event.
5 Breakfast With the Winemakers, 100 attendees, 15 winemakers
4 Magical Mystery Tours, 80 attendees, 16 wineries
400,000 maps distributed

What’s Ahead
Jan. We will be launching; Access Wine Road – a consumer club – details to follow
Feb. 16-17 – Rancho Mirage – trade and consumer tasting. We are sponsoring a seminar on Rhones with 4 winemakers
April – Cleveland Rocks – trade and consumer tasting, working in partnership with Ohio Wines and Ohio Tourism
May 18-19 Esprit du Rhône – new event for our members that produce a Rhone varietal – even just 1. Details to follow.
Check the MEMBER section out.
There is a link that says Weekly News – there we upload all of our Member Memos and all emails that we send to members regarding pouring opportunities, scholarships, compliance news, monthly highlights – EVERYTHING.

Online Event Calendar
We share the link to our online event calendar twice a week on social media. One of our lodging Board members sends that calendar out to 100 concierge contacts in San Francisco EVERY WEEK. If you are having an event and not posting it to our online calendar you are simply missing the boat! We have a massive reach – we are here to help you get the word out.

Stay Informed
Wine Road sends out a weekly Member Memo every Tuesday morning at 9:00am. If you are not getting that email, let the office know. If you miss that, you will miss just about everything we do.
A monthly recap is also emailed on the 1st of every month at 9:00am – it highlight the 4-5 most important accomplishments of the prior month. Giving ourselves a pat on that back each month – we rock!
Both of these notices are also posted in the MEMBER section of the website under Weekly Notice.

Press Inquiries
We often send out inquiries from journalists working on specific topics; Italian Varietals, 2nd or 3rd Generation winemaking families, Winemakers who grew up in XZY Cities. We need you to respond. We cannot guarantee the writer will use your information, but you will never be included if you don’t submit the information. It is always best to give it a try.
If enough people respond, along with sending it to the journalist, we often take that information and turn it into a blog post, which we then share on social media. Our blog posts get thousands of eyes on them. EXPOSURE for you.

How We Promote Wine Road
We have a variety of ways to connect with press. Wine Road partners with SF Travel and attends their two big press events in New York and Los Angeles. This gives us an opportunity to sit with 30+ journalists to give our newest press pitches. Beth has worked with Sonoma County Tourism to meet with journalists and influencers out on the road as well. We have hosted bloggers, freelancers and influencers who we take around the area, host at our lodgings and try to give a broad overview of our area and all that we have to offer. We were a sponsor of the recent Wine Bloggers Conference and the Wine Marketing and Tourism Conference – both providing great connections of us. Throughout the year we also have writers that want to visit the area and explore on their own. For those folks we try to connect them with one of our lodgings and then arrange an itinerary for them, based on what they intend to write about, we may or may not provide ground transportation and meals – every situation is different. We typically have about 12-15 of these a year.
• We produce a monthly newsletter for consumers with over 50,000 subscribers. It goes out the 1st Thursday of every month.
• We produce a blog “Along the Wine Road” which posts twice a month. We would LOVE to have members be guest bloggers, and write about personal stories, you can see examples of guest bloggers here.
• We also have a podcast which gets about 1000 downloads a month – we upload two episodes a month, every other Thursday.
ALL of these are shared on social to get additional reach. Every member that is mentioned is sent a link to share (so don’t just thank us for the link…share it).
As an example: We were able to do a live podcast when we were at a conference in Orange County, so we did a show on Orange Wine. Clearly there is no connection, other than to be cleaver. Then we wrote a blog about that orange wine, shared photos of it (we had 5 members who produce an orange wine and brought us a bottle). We shared the link on social, the wineries mentioned shared it. It’s like our very own pyramid scheme…you tell a friend, and they tell a friend – then everyone wants to know about orange wine. At the Annual Meeting a lodging member shared her amazement when a guest asked her about orange wine. She didn’t know anything about it, took a chance and searched our website and the blog post showed up – so she had a GREAT answer for her guests, who went out and bought some…Orange Wine!

Ideally you get the idea that we have a huge network and we know how to work it. We write one piece and share it 10 different ways. If you jump in the mix and help share, it’s just that much better for all of us.

Right on the homepage of you will see boxes that link to: Newsletter, Podcast, Blog,

Social Media
We post on Facebook once a day, Instagram 1-2 time a day depending on what’s happening, twitter throughout the day and we’re currently working on a plan to integrate Pinterest into more of our promotions. Those sites all seem to change the rules of engagement every month, so we depend on our PR Manager Mysty Stewart to keep us on top of the changes and post accordingly. Video is stronger than ever, so we will be creating a new YouTube channel, collecting all of our videos and relaunching that. We created mini videos to promote Winter Wineland and we are already seeing great results, with high engagement numbers. We will continue to build a plan around video.

We encourage you to take advantage of the many seminars Wine Road offers throughout the year. They are typically $10 per person, but they are not “cheap” seminars. Wine Road simply pays for the speaker – the nominal $10 fee is just to hold your seat so to speak. Last year we had “How to Sell More Wine” and “Modern Day PR” from Paul Wagner – a GREAT speaker. Also building your wine club, social media best practices, responsible hospitality – just to name a few. Don’t miss out.

Printed Maps
They are not obsolete and meaningless. We continue to distribute 400,000 maps a year. People still enjoy taking a printed map, circling where they are going, or where they have been. Members distribute them, visitor centers, they go into wedding guest packages and we continue to have people requesting them to be mailed all over the world.
We are making an update with this next printing. Wineries that are appointment only will have a different shaped icon on the front of the map, making it easier to distinguish them, helping YOU help your guests as you are pointing out options for them to visit.

Post Fire Advertising
With careful planning and mindful spending, Wine Road has always maintained a fiscally responsible budget and we have set aside funds for disaster situations. Since the fires, we have been able to go above and beyond our planned budget to promote the area, assuring visitors we are open and eager to see them. This amounts to an additional $35,000 in promotion. We have done this and at the same time, we remain fiscally sound for our future needs.
• Post fires, we increased our ad budget for Wine & Food Affair by an additional $10,000.
• We have run 2 full-page ads in the SF Chronicle since the fires, with beautiful NEW photography post fire.
• Photography also adds up, this was another expense we had not planned, but we did incur.
• We added a package of radio buys on Cumulus Radio, a collection of San Francisco stations.
• We bumped up local radio ad buys.
• We ran a full-page ad in Capture Magazine.
• We will have a full page ad in the next Sonoma Magazine – we usually run 1/4 page ads
• We produced a “we’re open” video which reached 54,000 people, viewed 22,450 times and shared 184 times.
– In October, November and thus far into December we have spent over $2000 boosting posts on Facebook

As a final feel good Wine Road connection, we want our members know how we give back to our community. This past year we were able to award 3, $2000 scholarships to students who’s parent or guardian is employed by a Wine Road member. Additionally we have made cash donations to Corazon Healdsburg $1000, Health Care Foundation of Northern Sonoma County $1000, Redwood Empire Food Bank $25,000, North Bay County Services “ A place to call home” $250, Be Safe Community $150


Posted by Beth Costa