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.
by Lisa Hinton
A locavore is a person interested in local food. Naturally, as a small family farm, we love the concept. Old Westminster Winery was built on our family’s efforts to preserve our land and work together. We are deeply rooted in our community and we love to be a meaningful part of the local marketplace.
We founded our brand on a commitment to growing world class wines on our Maryland farm. Our customers love our product because it’s delicious. The fact that all of our grapes are grown within the bounds of the Old Line State is a bonus to the conscientious locavore.
Because we are solely focused on crafting wines that speak for themselves, we don’t have much of a marketing budget. We rely on word-of-mouth to spread the gospel of the new Maryland wine. But this also presents some natural challenges. We’re off the beaten path. There are no neon signs. We're on a farm tucked away along a rolling landscape.
We like it that way. This makes it adventurous for Maryland wine lovers to discover Old Westminster Winery.
Of course, this kicks against everything that traditional marketing teaches: Be front and center. Be louder than the competition. Being hard to find isn’t a good thing. Get neon signs.
We’re challenging this notion. I love that the typical person visiting our tasting room is intentional. They didn’t just follow a sign.
To us, marketing isn’t a priority. Delicious wine is our neon sign.
I also love that our brand is growing organically. There’s something about knowing that our friends, family and customers are sharing our wines and our story at the dinner table. This is what the locavore movement is all about. We focus on growing and producing great wines and providing visitors with a memorable experience. That’s it.
We simply work hard to produce wines that reflect the land and are a joy to drink.
Wine & Business
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