Trade tasting season is upon us! The OWB recently hosted the Oregon Wine Trail event in Los Angeles, WVWA has a Pinot in the City up their sleeves in Chicago in a couple weeks and Oregon Wine Month has inspired distributor trade tastings around Oregon and across the country. While trade tastings offer great exposure for your brand in front of key buyers, they are also very time consuming and expensive. Creating a structured plan in advance of the tasting can result in a better return on investment and help you convert sales leads into wine placements.

How to Prepare for a Trade Tasting

Produce a one-sheet detailing in-market pricing and distributor information for your wines.

Set up an easy system for you to organize the notes and contact information you collect at the event. This could be a fancy Customer Relationship Management (CRM) database like Salesforce or a simple Excel spreadsheet, whatever works best for you.

Schedule in-market account visits and winemaker dinners before and after the tasting day to maximize your visit. You can work with your distributor on this, as well as do some outreach on your own.

Game On: How to Shine at a Trade Tasting

Display pricing and distributor information at your table.

Collect business cards/emails from every buyer you connect with and take detailed notes about your conversation and their interests. Enter information into your database as soon as possible so conversations are fresh in your find.

Loosen up! Not every conversation needs to be about your wine. Trade tastings are a great opportunity to meet important buyers face-to-face and develop a rapport. Ask them personal questions to better understand their general wine interests, professional goals and hobbies.

You Poured Your Wine at a Trade Tasting, Now What?

Follow-up personally with the contacts you made at the tasting. Thank them for coming and recap your brand story, wines, and pricing.

Ask to schedule tasting appointments with interested buyers.

Stop by restaurant accounts for a meal. While dining, ask if the buyer is around to say hello. If they aren’t there, leave your business card and wine (if you have it available).

Enter all trade contact emails into your database and include them on a quarterly (or more often) trade newsletter to keep them up-to-date on new offerings, impressive scores, harvest updates and more.

What other trade tasting tactics have you found successful? Share your expertise with your colleagues in the comments below.