DTC Secrets: Success in the Slow Season

DTC Sales Strategies to sell titanic amounts of wine all year-long


What should a winery be doing in the winter? Selling wine of course! So how can you drive DTC sales in the months after Christmas, with your customers’ pocketbooks still recovering from the holiday buying-spree? Now more than ever you must use sound DTC Sales Strategies:

Sell the Memories, not the Savings

Promotions can be a great way to drum up incremental wine sales, but after the bombardment of specials during the holidays it’s important not to rely on discounts to sell your wine. Most of your customers have either visited your winery or had a spectacular experience with a bottle of your wine. Success in your sales conversations often depends on bringing your customers back to that moment that they fell in love with the wine. Ask your customer questions about their first visit to your winery, or their first experience drinking your wine. If you are a longstanding brand, remind them of the winery’s legacy that they as a patron get to be a part of; if you’re new to the market or a smaller producer talk about the exclusivity and limited availability of the wines available. The best sales conversations rekindle a passion in your customer first, before asking them to purchase.

Come prepared to handle objections

There may be a lot of reasons NOT to buy your wine at this time of year. Your job is to know these reasons, and to address them confidently. Here’s a few common winter objections to prepare for:

  1. I’m not buying wine right now: If your wines are selling well you should start to run low on the current vintage releases during the winter months. This can create urgency; “I understand, but I wanted to give you a call as we’re nearly out of stock of the 2012 Cabernet Reserve”
  2. Can you send me an email? If your customers keep asking for emails they are either blowing you off or are overwhelmed with the amount of information you’re giving over the phone. Only talk about one wine at a time, and have at least three “favorite things” memorized for every wine in your portfolio to prepare you to talk about any and every wine in depth.
  3. I picked up some wine over the holidays already: Frame wine shopping in the winter as “Replenishing their cellars” after the holiday celebrations. Ask about what wine’s they’ve enjoyed over the last few months, and see if you can use those experience to recommend wines stock up on. As their “wine guy”, it’s important that you hear about their holiday wine experiences while they’re still fresh, and use that knowledge to make thoughtful recommendations.

By selling based on benefits, not price, and preparing for common objections you can continue to move wine DTC in the winter and all year-long. For more DTC sales tactics and strategies find me @WineRelay or email Michael@WineRelay.com.


  1. Michael

    October 16, 2016 at 9:56 PM - Reply

    Great post – enjoyed the read. I think it’s interesting that you focused on phone calls and expect a customer to buy on that call. For me, wine is something to be savored, the drinking and the buying, so I can understand the objections you mention. I want to have a strong relationship with the winery, as you clearly emphasize in Memories section. Totally agree. I would love to see an additional post about how to use email to improve the relationship with the customer. What content should be included? Should it be all wine-focused, or include history or provenance of the winery? What about wine-related topics? How should email be best leveraged to improve relationships and make sales? I think that objection where the customer asks to receive an email is gold. Put them on your email list. That’s a more scalable, flexible channel when executed well.

    Thanks again for a great post.

    1. Michael Haas Post author

      October 17, 2016 at 1:06 AM - Reply

      Hi Michael- thanks for the thoughtful reply. I think making it clear that you ‘savor’ your customers loyalty is an easy was to improve the relationship. There are a lot of way to do this- send holiday cards that mention your wines and contact info, but don’t cheapen the gesture with a call to purchase. Segment your customer lists based on what you know about them so your emails, calls, and mailers are relevant and specific, not ‘blasts’ that go out to everyone and speak to no one.

      Ask your customers, and use your open and conversion rates to guide your email content. A winery like Sterling Vineyards should probably include ‘wine 101’ educational topics- thousands of tourists who are just learning about wine ride the gondola up the hill to their winery each weekend. However, if your tasting room is off the beaten path and you make ultra-premium wines, your customers likely won’t need emails like ‘wine 101’, ‘what is tannin, really?’, or ‘cherish your wine- store it properly’.

      PS: I agree that your email list is your most valuable asset, but most of the customers that ask me for an email on the phone are already on the list. If you look at their records you’ll usually see 1 yr+ without purchases, and an email open rate of <20%. Gathering emails is important, but in my experience sending one more email to someone without purchases or email opens has a success rate under 2%.


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