Archive for the ‘tasting rooms’ Category

Instruct your sales team that they must ask for the sale with every visitor. Sounds simple but in my experience it is a rare occurrence. How to ask? Its not as hard as some would think. Have your team try this Added Value Informational Technique.

Adding Value IMG_1735

Ask your guests to compare two wines that you have poured for them. “Did you prefer the Chardonnay or the Sauvignon Blanc?” After they answer confirm their choice with some details that have already be offered and add some new information to continue the conversation. Discuss what food the wine would pair with or a detail about that block of the vineyard being superior for that particular grape, or why the winemaker wanted to cold soak the fruit longer than normal. Your adding value when you add details and information on how to use the product. You wrap the conversation up when you ask for the sale.

“Yes I think the Chardonnay with its nice subtle apricot flavor is a good choice. The part of the vineyard where the fruit is harvested is a little cooler and develops more intense varietal character. The winemaker adds to this varietal intensity by not rushing the fermentation. There are a lot of dishes this would pair with including many good seafood recipes, poultry or just a good block of cheese. Would you like me to get a couple of bottles for you to take home?”

Your presentation of course needs to be authentic and in your own words directed to your own wines. Tasting room visitors want to come home with souvenirs with a story from their tasting experience. Provide them what they want.

For more sales tips and tactics see our video library at WineryAdvisor.com


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Villa San Juliette Owners Ken & Nigel

Villa San Juliette Owners Ken & Nigel

We were buzzing about the wine country in Paso Robles recently and headed off northeast from town to Cross Canyons Road. Lots of grapes and a few wineries out in this area including, Silver Horse, J. Lohr, Ranchita Canyon and Locatelli Vineyards.

There is a new guy in town (actually two guys) that are in the process of putting up an impressive facility on a 168 acres vineyard property. Brits Nigel Lythgoe and Ken Warwick, both involved in highly successful Hollywood careers partnered together to create the winery and vineyard of Villa San-Juliette.

As producers of the TV hit American Idol, and many other projects (So You Think You Can Dance & America’s Got Talent), the two men took the time tested path of spending their hard earned cash to buy into the wine lifestyle and create a first class destination winery. Originally the purchase of the vineyard was planned as a consortium of buyers including collogues Ryan Seacrest, Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell and Simon Fuller, but one by one the investors pulled out leaving Nigel and Ken to live the dream.

(Their adventure of buying the vineyard and learning the wine business was chronicled in the 2006 FOX reality series “Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes”. The series follows Nigel and Ken as they negotiated with local farmers and winemakers, cursed the wild boars and vineyard pests and are welcomed into the community- while Nigel gets locked in the Hoosgow during the Paso Robles Pioneer parade.)

Villa San JulietteThe winery property is magnificent with rolling hills and a new vineyard that was recently replanted with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc grapes. A grand visitor center, winery, and barrel room are in various phases of construction, with a timetable to finish it all by summer of 2009. The facility will have excellent spaces for wine country weddings, wine events and of course, wine tasting.

Since Nigel and Ken lead rather busy lives in Los Angeles, they needed to hire a hands-on winemaker to run the show and move the brand forward. In comes the flamboyant Adam LaZarre who is coming off a tremendous run of creating successful new wine brands. He and wine partner Paul Clifton created the HRM Rex Goliath brand in 2002, which grew from 19,000 cases to 300,000 cases in just three years. The team was also responsible for starting Cycles Gladiator a popular brand at Hawn Estates.

With the success and fame as a winemaker and brand builder, Adam seems to be the perfect match for this new label. He is experienced, self confident, perhaps a bit brash and a “mad scientist” when working in the wine lab. With his movie star looks and strong winemaking resume he is also considered a “rock star” in the wine world.

Nigel’s and Ken’s long held dream of owning a vineyard had been reached and has grown into an ambitious project- not unlike many of their successful TV productions. Expect tremendous wine from this estate with distribution reaching upwards to 30 states by 2010. Already the raves are coming in on their first releases. Soon the urbane, childhood friends from Liverpool will have the chance to live their wine country dream.

To see the episodes from the series check out “Corkscrewed: The Wrath of Grapes

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Bottle Shock is a temporary condition of wine characterized by muted or disjointed fruit flavors usually caused by wines that have been shaken in travel. 

Bottle Shock the movie is an entertaining, albeit not completely factual look at the events leading up to the famous 1976 “Judgment in Paris”, where California wines beat out their French counterparts in a blind tasting putting California wines firmly on the wine map. It is a good romp in the vineyard and shows us what the Napa of old was like and how things have changed since.

As a young college student traveling through Napa Valley in 1976 I found it hard to understand how this event transformed the California wine industry. The grand estates of Inglenook, Beringer, and Krug shared the stage with newer names of Grgich, Stags Leap, Mondavi and Sterling and were producing world class wines. Didn’t the Europeans know that? Well a trip to Europe in the late 70’s showed that the wines that made it across the “pond” were not the names mentioned above but were the jug wines from the vineyards of Modesto, Bakersfield and Fresno. Good marketing had trumped good wine.

Back to the movie…The story is told alternating between Napa Valley and Paris as it follows Jim Barrett (played a bit stiffly by Bill Pullman) a lawyer who followed his dream by ditching the suits, purchasing a winery (Chateau Montelena) and striving to make the world’s greatest Chardonnay. Like many a winemaker then, as now, his business is struggling and is applying for his third bank loan.

In Paris Steven Spurrier (played wonderfully by Alan Rickman) is a priggish British wine merchant with a struggling wine shop who has the idea of a staging a blind tasting between French and California wines. Rickman is some 28 years older than Spurrier was at the time and plays the Brit as a classic wine snob. Once Spurrier arrrives in Napa the juxstoposition of him against the backdrop of rural Napa is often hilarious.

Spurrier has denounced the film for many mistruths and embellishments throughout and endorses a different version written by George Taber who witnessed the actual tasting.  The new film “Judgment in Paris” is due out later this year. Others have questioned why Mike Grgich, who actully made the winning wine for Chataeu Montelena, did not get a mention in the film. Also is it true the grapes for the winning wine came from…Sonoma!

Both Bo and Jim Barrett, and plenty of other old hands in the valley helped out with the story which was written by Jody Savin, Ross Schwartz and Director Randy Miller. Hollywood writers can sometimes improve a story or ruin it depending on your taste and proximently to the actual events. This movie is certainly entertaining and is worth seeing. For a more factual account check out George Taber’s book, Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine, or wait for the new movie.

Bo (Chris Pine) the hippie son of the winery owner only has ambitions for a good time. Gustavo Brambia (Freddy Rodriguez)  the more earnest and skilled “cellar rat” has visions of becoming a great winemaker. Sam (Rachael Taylor) the love interest is fictional but opens a window into Bo’s development from loser party animal to winery promoter. The film follows alternately and a bit clumsily, Spurrier as he makes his way through Napa Valley tasting, swirling, spitting and recognizing the quality of California wine and Jim and Bo Barrett sparing (literally) as the father and son with different work ethics and goals.

The movie is shot with sweeping vistas of the wine country and certainly reminds us of how beautiful Napa Valley is. Many scenes are shot in the vineyard with the actors poking about the vines very gingerly. (The fruit hanging from the vines looks like it was close to harvest time and no doubt the vineyard owner had instructed the crew not to touch anything!) 

The winery scenes are a bit staged but the film works and the story is true enough to be important and pleasant enough to be entertaining. The story finishes as the wine finds its way to the Paris tasting– and the rest as they say is history.  The film has a great 70’s era sound track dominated with lots of Doobie Brothers setting the tone. Also stars Dennis Farina and Elia Dishku.

As a ironic footnote in late July of this year Bo and Jim Barrett announced that Chateau Montelena will be sold, pending government approval, to Michel Reybier, owner of Bordeaux chateau Cos d’Estournel, a famed French winery.



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