Monday, April 11, 2011

What I Learn From My Customers

By Dan Mitchell, Regional Sales Manager

I have been known during my time here at Fox Run to collect and archive some of the unusual comments and questions that come from visitors to our winery. These can come fast and furious when the tasting bar is five people deep. My responses are often of little help.

Customer: "Chardonnay? Where did you get that name?"

Me: "It's the name of our owner's dog."

Over time I hear a lot of the same questions repeatedly, and sometimes during the same tasting. Last week I was conducting a ‘dry’ tasting at a large out-of-state retailer. (Due to a goofy state law, I couldn't actually pour them any wine, so they had to take my word on how it tasted. It’s times like these that it's a good thing Fox Run keeps eye candy like me around.) During my tasting there, fully four individuals asked me, "Have you ever tried this wine?" (Worse yet, one was a staff member.) 

This struck me as odd, if not outright disturbing. Who has been selling these people wine, and can they be trusted? Would you buy your tenderloin from a vegetarian? Your car from a buggy-driving Amish farmer?

Long ago I got in the habit of starting my tastings with the question, "What type of wine do you typically enjoy?" This helps me to narrow the focus, prevents broad tastings of all the wines available, and better helps me find a wine the customer is likely to buy.

This recent experience has prompted me to ask a different question. "What's important to you in the wines you choose?" Price? Region? Practices? Quality? I’m always curious to find out what governs the purchases of wine drinkers.

Sometimes I almost feel that the worst thing for a winery to have is a marketing department. While marketing is vital to the operation of a commercial winery, large producers often use it to detract from the art of winemaking, create overly romantic illusions of wine, and smear the otherwise good reputation of adorable animals such as kangaroos.

The bottom line is that the wine is food, it is there for your enjoyment, and you should seek out the wines that you enjoy the taste of most. I will put together a post on another day to help cut through some of the language on wine labels and dispel a few myths.

And if you want to get the best service and selection from your retailer, make sure that the people who work there actually drink wine. It's literally the least they can do.

Support the local guys. They do the local good.

Music of the Day

David Wax Museum - Everything is Saved: "Born With a Broken Heart"

Support Artists: Buy the Music You Like.

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