At this year’s annual conference we sat down with Emily McRoberts to get some best practices and tips for tasting rooms. Emily oversees the tasting room at Homestead Winery in Grapevine. Homestead started at the Parker family farm in Ivanhoe, Texas and has expanded from there to include two additional tasting rooms in North Texas. Homestead has been in operation for over 30 years, producing award winning wines and a long history of success with their tasting rooms.
Here are some of the tips we learned from Emily:
1 – One Wine at a Time
“We don’t have a set tasting bar; so it’s not five wines only. It’s open. We highly suggest coming in and letting our our staff help you. Because I want you to taste one wine at a time versus selecting all five at one time. Say they start off with our dry Rosé; the harvest Rosé and they find it to be a little too dry for their taste buds – so maybe they should go to our Viognier and so on.”
2- Guide the Taster
“I encourage my employees to always give tips about the wine; not to over explain the wines but give them subtle hints of the wine and get their juices flowing like, ‘This is what you’re going to experience in this wine’. Then when they bring the wine back, to ask questions: ‘How did you like wine? What did you like about it? What did you not like about it? Where do you want to go next?'”
3- Don’t Price Too High
“To draw people in and have them try your wine is what you want to do. So if you overprice yourself people learn that and they won’t come back and continually try your wine. So you want them to continue to come back. If they come in and they don’t experiment, you know – have that great experience, they’re not gonna come back. It’s a trial and error but every tasting room has a set price. You could walk in with us and get five tastings for $7.”
4 – Hire for Personality
“I typically don’t want someone that really knows wine. Because I want them to learn my wine. They really need to have the personality, they need to have an outgoing personality and they need to be willing to have understanding and empathy and communication skills. When you hire in that way there’s more heart in the service and in how they treat the job as part of their–like it’s their business too.”
5 – Ask for the Sale
“Number one is you have to ask them to purchase wine. Because there are people out there that are going to come in and taste wine and if you don’t ask for that sale, they won’t buy; even if they love your wine. So I have trained all my staff members to ask: “Would you like a bottle to go?” They’ll say, “What’s your favorite wine?” They may say this as well, “Would you like a bottle too?” The biggest marketing tool you have is your wine walking out the door.