By Drew Baker
Value-added Agriculture is the future of farming. Especially for small, local farmers who find creative ways to use their resources to create new brands and revenue streams.
Value-added agriculture is the transformation of a basic farm product into something more valuable.
Some examples include dairy farmers diversifying into artisanal cheese and ice cream production; or ranchers making new designer clothing from raw wool; or grain farmers buy a still to make spirits; and of course, my favorite: grape-growers producing great wine.
If a farmer can transform a raw agricultural commodity into a marketable product or brand and sell directly to the end-user then the entire value-chain is captured.
But farmland is expensive. Many small family farms struggle with cash-flow. This is scary for their future.
Despite these daunting challenges, I believe the future for family farms is bright. Particularly in Maryland.
Millennials seem to recognize the value in locally farmed and thoughtfully produced products. Yes, their innovative products and brands may cost a bit more than their counterparts (those farmers who profit from basic agricultural products in high volumes) but the value of emerging new trend-setting brands and products is there for the taking. It just takes creativity. And often… cooperative resources.
That’s why we’re here.
Maryland Wine Cellars was created to help grape-growers transform their grapes into delicious wine.
The barriers to entry in the wine industry are high. Without getting into specifics, establishing and managing a vineyard, equipping a state-of-the-art winery, and building a beautiful tasting room are expensive.
But the resources are now within reach.
By Mark Scott
I’ve visited hundreds of vineyard and winery websites. I’ve scanned the landscape from Italy, France and New Zealand to California, Virginia, and yes, Maryland.
If there’s any one niche in business that requires robust branding and a web presence with function and feng shui, it’s the wine business. To be seen as serious, wine culture demands beauty and excellence of its winemakers -- and its webmasters.
One bad wine can ruin a winery’s reputation. And a bad website doesn't help matters either. In order to lose every negative stereotype that plagues Maryland wine, we’ll need to be full-package players. We’ll need to step up our game to make a name for Maryland wine.
This means 3 essentials for Maryland Wine websites…
The rules are always changing. And perhaps the single most important change in web development is the demand for sites to be “responsive” which simply means that a website must be functional across all devices: desktops, tablets, and phones.
The number of people seeking businesses on smartphones has topped 60%. Websites that aren’t navigable (and beautiful) on smartphones may never get a second look. Not to mention it hurts your standing in search.
There are many other elements of function, and for that I encourage business owners to read my article on “7 Elements of a Great Business Website.”
The production of great wine is a delicate, nuanced, and complex artform. It only makes sense that a vineyard’s website should reflect that. If any industry should lead the way in aesthetic beauty, it’s wine. Like it or not, people will judge the quality of your wine before it even hits their noses if the website that represents it is dated and substandard.
The subtext of every ugly website is, “This can’t be a serious business.” On the other hand, the message that every beautiful site sends is, “This place gets it.” Digital marketing is the new traditional marketing and your brand deserves the best. A website is to wine what body language is to speech. It’s telling.
Andre Agassi famously said, “Image is everything.” But.. is it? Everyone concedes that “branding” a businesses is about image in some ways. But the best brands aren’t solely relied on beauty. They are built on substance.
This means that the content of a winery’s website should be as excellent as the wine it seeks to describe. And that means well written pages and a blog that is filled with authoritative information about product, process, trends, and events. And let’s never forget story.
Let’s Raise the Bar
The big idea here is that for Maryland wine to make its way onto the world map, it’s going to take a thoughtful and artful approach to our wines -- and our digital impressions. It’s yes/and.
If you'd like to talk about it, feel free to reach out to us at Maryland Wine Cellars. We love to help Maryland wineries and vineyards. We believe all ships rise with the tide! Let's put Maryland wine on the world map.
Wine & Business
The Cellar Blog is your authoritative guide to creating, sustaining, and growing a successful wine business. Discover the best practices and trade secrets needed to build and grow a robust enterprise.
Drew Baker will help you navigate through the rugged terrain of the wine industry.
We're putting Maryland wine on the world map.