“Slow Season” … Landed, NOT Parked

And so we’re here.  January, after the holiday rush.  Things, a little slow.  “But what can you do?” someone might ask.  Good question.  In the minds of some, there’s not a lot you can do.  But, as my sources indicate, it’s not an excuse to become idol, stationary, or lazy.  Many wineries, depending on size, are reaching out to their loyal customers with specials on bottles or advantageous bundles for the cellar, or on a 2012 dinner table.  A six pack, mixed case, or some vertical arrangement.  There’s always a way to generate activity, someone in the industry, part-owner of Sonoma Country winery, told me today.  True, tasting room traffic won’t be what it is in Summer’s chunky flurry, nor will internet tickets, or DTC, but there’s still revenue awaiting capture.

If one visits a winery, any winery pretty much, right now, you’ll see the vines bare.  Exposed like circuit boards, canes every direction, extended.  Almost as though something’s over, something’s passed.  Life lack, literally.  This doesn’t have to be the case, it’ll be found.  If you have wine, it can be sold.  True, you don’t want to accumulate expenses in the slow season for the hope of generating a sales slew.  But, you have to leap.  Again, I’m told.  And not too many secrets were disclosed in my exploration of this slow stretch in wine’s ever-enigmatic compass.  All wineries, reserving their own formulas to engage this recurring situation.

And the economy of late, 2012 no less…  Times, hard for many, all over the country, world.  Taxes just around the corner, it’s a bit unreasonable to expect consumers in, on a large scale, to be in a collective blitz to restock their cellars.  But some do, and those are the loyals to whom wineries should be reaching out.  For consumers, it couldn’t be more opportune.  Sales in so many sectors.  Many wineries are reluctant to do so, thinking it cheapens their brand.  So how does this factor into this slow season’s permeation?  Just that, it’s part of the reality.

Another source I spoke to said he makes no adjustments in his model, sales & marketing program.  Yes, he accepts the fat fact it may get a bit slow, maybe even thin with income, “but things just have to keep goin’,” he said, taking some money from the register, stuffing it into an envelop he kept somewhere behind the bar.  He, too, acknowledges this is how it’s always been.  It’s not a shock.  That’s pretty much expected, part of the game.  So, “that’s when you put your gear, start playing,” he added.

Yes, for the consumers seeking their wine, this is their time.  Discounts, incentives, how ever one wants to moniker it, there’s appealing invitation for the collector, or casual buyer.  The vines may be bare, but the wine industry’s motivation platter is not.  And, as someone told me the other day, “this is what you have to do right now,” get inventive with your selling.  “How much do you love your brand?” they said.  Valentines Day, Spring, the Summer before you know it.  This lull, short-term.  It always is, every year.  And some wineries don’t even experience a stall in their receipts, so it’s entirely locational, situational.  People on both sides of the table–purchasers, proprietors–should know that the “slow season” has landed, and there’s a number of ways in which to forward.