WWS Member News

The Napa | Sonoma chapter of Women for WineSense has moved its blog to its new website!

Come visit us at: http://wwsnapasonoma.com/

We will no longer be posting anything to this site as of April 2013.


We’re so thrilled to announce two new additions to the Napa-Sonoma WWS board! Tracy Lynne Parker and Stacy Su join us as Program Director and Events Director, respectively. Both are extremely well-experienced in event creation, planning, management and more. So expect the bar to be raised in our upcoming events. Read on for details on their backgrounds. Welcome aboard, ladies!

Stacy Su, WWS Events Director; Owner of Stacy’s Wine Tours

From Stacy: “Since becoming a member of Women for Winesense in 2010 I fell in love with this non-profit organization. It is such a wonderful opportunity for women in the wine industry to connect, share information and make life- long friends. My involvement with non-profit organizations for over the past 16 years will serve me well in Women for Winesense.
With my abilities to bring people together to work for the greater cause, set short and long term goals, implement annual calendars, coordinator large and small groups of people, working with budgets, contacts in the industry, marketing experience and understanding that a great event only is great by strategic planning, marketing and getting everyone involved has provided me with the skills needed to help lead the Events Team.”
Stacy currently offers palate-driven wine tours in Napa and Sonoma. Each client is interviewed; and then she sets up a custom wine tour based upon their palate preferences and the experience they’re looking to have.
Reach Stacy at Events_napa@womenforwinesense.org or cell: 707-322-3837.

Tracy Lynne Parker, WWS Program Director; Wine Club Coordinator for Foley Family Wines

Tracy Lynne is currently responsible for coordination of all aspects of a multi-brand wine club, including Kuleto Estate Wine Club and Chalk Hill Estate Wine Club. Her work includes everything from increasing customer service levels and member satisfaction to managing club wine shipments, events, databases and more.
Tracy Lynne has earned her Tasting Room Management and WSET Level 2 Intermediate Certifications, as well as trained in numerous wine education, marketing and hospitality programs throughout the local wine degree college programs (to whom our scholarship funds are awarded each year!) and specialty wine training firms, such as the WISE Academy.

Reach Tracy Lynne at Napa_Program_Director@womenforwinesense.org or cell: 415.305.9111.

Welcome aboard, Ladies! We’re looking forward to some fabulous events with you.

Erica Rosasco!

You may recall in our last newsletter a call to complete your online WWS profile. Several members submitted their profiles in hopes of winning the prize (a lovely, hand-selected bottle of wine, of course!) Some terrific submissions came from several members, including Jackie Egidio, Controller at Rudd Wines, and Kathie Barclay, President of Barclay Marketing Solutions.

Now, if you just tried those links to Jackie or Kathie’s profiles, you’ll have discovered that you must be logged in as a Member of WWS in order to view their wonderful biographies. The privileges of membership!

Here’s the cincher to making the most of your membership: Was one of the reasons you joined WWS to network and connect with other wine enthusiasts and industry representatives? Perhaps you hope to make a connection to your next, great career move in the wine biz? I, myself, have received a few phone calls and emails from interested parties for new business specifically because of my WWS profile! This is exactly what membership in WWS is all about.

And yet, the vast majority of members either have not filled out an online profile or have not made that profile available for view by other members!

Are you now wondering whether or not the profile you so carefully filled out is viewable by your co-members? Here’s how you find out:

  1. Go to the Membership Directory on our website.
  2. Select the Search By Last Name (default) field and type your last name in the Search For field. Press Search.
  3. If your name displays in the results list with the View button shown to the right, you can click on View to see the profile. If the View button does not display, no one can see your profile—only your name information shown in the results list.

To make your profile public for viewing:

  1. From any page on the WWS website, click on Profile to the right of the Logout button above the left column menu. (You must be logged in for this to work!)
  2. Now edit your Biography page and make this selection here for full viewing:

  1. Save your changes on this page.

The Visibility field offers many options. You don’t have to show everything. Click on the drop down arrow to see all the options for viewing (or not).

Just remember: no one can learn about you unless they can SEE your information.

If you’re flummoxed by the technical hurdles in our website to create your profile, easy-to-follow instructions for How to: Complete Your Profile in a Snap! are available on our blog, printable or downloadable as a PDF.

Oh, and Erica? She’s a whiz-bang litigation attorney in the Sacramento area. She comes from a cattle ranching family, is married and has a little girl. And, yes, she loves a nice glass of wine after a hard day at court! Congratulations, Erica, in winning a lovely bottle of wine to celebrate another victory in court with your winning profile.

We’d very much like to feature other member profiles in future issues. But even those of us on the Napa-Sonoma board of directors cannot see your profile to do so if you haven’t chosen a public visibility option!

Here’s a guest post from WWS Member, Ann Reynolds, on the confusion and craziness of winery compliance. Ann is offering an online compliance course, beginning in July, to aid staff in managing this complex staff. Take a look:

Course Summary: upcoming online training for winery production staff who are managing day to day winery compliance tasks and want to stop pulling their hair out about them, develop systems to manage them and feel more on top of their compliance.

 The winemaking process has many steps that need to happen in order to transform grapes into wine.

Perform these steps out of the right order and the result is a flawed finished product.

The same logic applies to another very specialized area related specifically to winemaking and that is compliance tracking.

The same undesirable end result often applies here.

That is, if the day to day compliance tasks (work orders, monthly reports permit & license updates) are being done incorrectly the finished product means frustrated staff, fines and late notice mailings from government agencies and valuable time wasted.

What is the missing ingredient needed to clear this up?

Effective training specific to their compliance needs!

Just such a training is coming up next month. Starting Monday July 9th a course designed to help wineries fix their compliance messes is being offered.

“From Chaos to Clarity”

 6 week course, Monday’s July 9th through August 13th

This course is being offered online via tele-conference calls on 6 consecutive Mondays starting July 9th through August 13th. The calls will be from 1 til 2:30, Pacific Time. (All calls are also recorded)

This program will walk participants through each piece of their winery production compliance and cover specific how-to’s related to:

  • Winery permits- specifics to know & when updates are needed
  • Winery records such as work orders, bills of lading & weigh tags
  • Winery reports to the TTB such as the monthly report & excise taxes
  • In addition participants will receive:
  • Handout materials including examples of completed winery compliance records covered
  • Templates to fill for their own site’s compliance specifics
  • Guides for interacting with federal and state agencies & details about their online resources
  • A chance to ask questions specific to their site’s needs
  • A great opportunity for networking with fellow winery staff also working in this specialized area of the wine industry. (Great contacts to have for future use!)
  • Access to recordings of all class calls

This course is being offered by Ann Reynolds of Wine Compliance Alliance who is an expert in the area of wine production compliance with over 20 years of winery background.

Ann has developed entire compliance systems for several wineries ranging in size from 500 to over 500,000 cases in annual production, among them Napa Valley College Estate Winery, Sterling Vineyards, Caymus Vineyards and Conundrum Winery.

If you have more questions, please contact Ann at (707) 320-8575, or to sign up, please go to:


By Leah McNally

Did you join us for the 2012 Women for WineSense Grand Event in Napa Valley May 4th -6th? This year’s line-up officially started with The Grand Tasting at Mondavi Winery on Friday Evening. Fifteen individual wineries, Volcanic Mineral Refresher of Ashland, Oregon and a selection of Washington wines presented by Washington winemaker, Judy Thoet were featured along hors d’oeuvres and chocolate. Grand Dame Margarite Mondavi welcomed us in conjunction with National President Rebecca E. Moore. The evening was mild and the wines were fantastic, and the colorful light-up rings, compliments of Stella and Dot Jewelry that came with the welcome bags made everything more glamorous.  There is nothing like a group of women, dressed to the nines with glasses of wines and twinkling lights on their fingers to set the mood.

Some members took advantage of Friday morning as well for pre-event tours and tastings and those lucky ones (who didn’t have to be at work like I did on Friday) visited some of the most exclusive wineries in the valley- Harlan Estate, Peter Michael, Rudd and Joseph Phelps. Saturday was devoted to more winery tours, and vintner dinners at Idell Family Vineyards of Sonoma, Linked Vineyards in Santa Rosa and Domaine Chandon in Yountville.

Sunday featured the Grand Event Educational Seminars. I attended three that focused on wine and food pairing, including a chocolate tasting and an overview of the wines of Texas. There were two panel discussions – Making Wine a Women’s World that focused on the new generation of millennial women winemakers and Career Ambitions/Career Transitions: Making Wine Your Industry.

My favorite moment of the day was the luncheon and an inspiring awards ceremony. The WWS Hall of Fame award went to Ramona Nicholson of Nicholson Ranch in Sonoma, who spoke to us about the challenges and rewards of raising a family and a winery at the same time. The Rising Star awards featured several notable women. Kathleen Inman is the winemaker and owner of Inman Family Wines in the Russian River Valley, and creates Pinot Noir from her vineyard and winery which is entirely powered by solar energy. Kathy Johnson and Stacy Lill created O Wines in Woodinville, Washington. O Wines gives 100% of its net profits to fund educational scholarships and mentor low income youth. We also recognized our own Professor Liz Thach of Sonoma State University, who was awarded the title Master of Wine in 2011- one of only seven women in the U.S. who hold that title. The Lifetime Achievement award recognized Lorraine Helms of Rochester, New York. With 30 years in the wine industry and as a certified Sommelier, Lorraine founded the Rochester WWS chapter and is currently the head of the Wine Education department at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Thank you to all the volunteers and sponsors who put so much effort into making The Grand Event a reality. You did a great job! If you didn’t attend this year, I hope you can make it in 2014 for the next Grand Event. Cheers!

Roundtables conjure images of high ideals, swords raised in pledge and lots of chain mail. Some of those characteristics from the ‘old days’ remain remarkably similar to ours today.

We do have high ideals and expectations in the conduct of our members. (“What happens around the round table stays at the round table!”) We raise filled wine glasses instead of raising swords. Our wardrobes at the table can vary dramatically, from direct off the crush pad to major wine event chic. (But you’ll not find any chain mail in sight.)

Similar to King Arthur’s Round Table, Women for WineSense’s round tables are steeped in a bit of mystery. Information shared at table is frequently labeled, “Not to leave this room!” Of course, this isn’t due to some NORAD missile defense system sensibility of ‘it’s us or them!’ It’s far more attributable to sense of sanctuary at the round table.

Like any industry, topics arise of a sensitive nature. Proprietary programs and knowledge are key to business success, from sales to viticulture. We’re here to help – not create a Cuban Missile Crisis!

On that note, I think you’ll understand when I say the following recap of one round table’s meeting would read like a heavily redacted document from the C.I.A. (the Big Brother agency—not the culinary training center Upvalley)!

Making Sense of a Sales Strategy for both DTT (Direct-to-Trade) and DTC (Direct-to-Consumer)

The Marketing/DTC Round Table was recently lucky enough to get Scott Forrest, National Sales Manager for Three Sticks Wines in Sonoma, to speak about developing and working various sales strategies both to the trade as well as to consumers. Scott brought his DTC specialist, Prema Behan, to the meeting as well to discuss some of the strategies she has employed for her target market.

While we didn’t have a round table, per se, at Jacuzzi Family Vineyards, the discussion around the heavy, rectangular European table was lively. Scott indicated some of his first strategies upon joining Three Sticks was to determine which states to distribute to and how many cases to allot as target sales goals across the country. (This was concurrent to developing a direct-to-consumer strategy that dovetailed with the master plan.)

Though Three Sticks Wines is a relatively new label, Scott thought it was essential to make long-term plans (and subsequent action steps) to gain market penetration in key states early on in its development. Why? The marketplace gets more and more crowded. You can’t wait until your brand has a stellar reputation years down the road and wide visibility to begin pushing open the crack in the door.

Questions he put to the attending marketing and direct-to-consumer members included:

  1. If your goal is to sell 5,000 cases in Texas next year, how are you going to get there starting from zero case sales?
  2. How many accounts do you need in any given state to sell X number of cases there?
  3. What is your point of difference from the other brands that will help to gain distributor sales as well as restaurant sales?

Fortunately, he didn’t leave us with a cliff hanger. The questions weren’t intended to stump anyone or put them on the spot. Scott’s point was simply that it’s crucial to map out your strategy to distribution step-by-step. Start with your sales goals and then begin figuring out how you’ll attain them.

Build Solid Relationships with Distributors

From all the information Scott imparted about dealing with distribution management on down to their sales staff, it was clear he could have written a multi-volume manual on how to do it successfully. Therefore, highlights here will be extremely abbreviated.

Here are some of his recommendations and observations:

  1. It’s all about the relationships. Build them for the long-run. Nurture them frequently. This business runs of the strength of relationships from the top down.
  2. Do your homework and be very organized! Do all your research; know your competition; know their other accounts’ margins, markups and so on before you begin dialing for appointments.
  3. Above all, be courteous and respectful of their time. It’s possible you may be shut down on the first phone call simply because you called at the wrong time. Hone your approach at every step by asking if it’s a good time to talk or meet. Give them recognition for taking time out of their busy day.
  4. Don’t be discouraged. If you get shut down on the first try, work on how you can get that door back open. Perhaps you weren’t clear in your delivery of the Point of Difference.
  5. Remember distributors and their sales teams are driven by quotas. They’re focused entirely on numbers and often don’t get to sample products. You’ll have to think on your feet and quickly adapt to shifting attention spans.
  6. Think twice before promoting the most original and clever marketing idea you’ve ever come up with – they’ve heard it all before, truly.
  7. If you get to ride with sales staff or managers to retail or restaurant accounts, be very respectful of their time and space. If you’re getting into their car, remember you’re invading their space. Acknowledge their generosity. Turn off your phone completely. The best way to kill a relationship at this time would be accepting an outside phone call. (That includes shutting off all email on your smartphone.)
  8. Working with distributors can be similar to working with shifting sands. Just when you get good rapport going with one branch you could find the entire team has been replaced, and you must start from scratch. Surprises abound.

Scott emphasized focusing on the factors most important to distributors:

  1. What is the profit per case you are offering? An average profit per case can be $30 – $35. If your brand offers a much greater profit margin, make this crystal clear to management and the sales staff. Their attention will perk up.
  2. What are key points of differentiation between your brand and everyone else’s? If you try to convey your wine’s quality is superior to everyone else’s you are unlikely to make headway. (Everyone has great quality wine!)
  3. Can you offer sales incentives? If so, be creative and offer an ‘in demand’ carrot. Cash prizes may work, but often they don’t. Competition is stiff to create adequate drive for a prize. Can you consider offering a trip to wine country? Electronics?

Target Comparable Restaurant Accounts

Scott’s recounted experience made it very clear successful restaurant sales are a combination of skill, timing and resilience. (I should note that while I’ve reduced the discussion to a short list on each topic, there was a great deal of discussion between attendees, telling of amusing stories, and rounds of Q&A throughout.)

Restaurant sales are the wine business’ equivalent to getting your music played on the radio. Restaurants are a fabulous conduit through which much of the public first learns about a new wine. And once enjoyed, that consumer will be off to her local wine shop to purchase it for home consumption. Therefore, the ability to gain the right balance of restaurant sales in various geographic areas can shape public perception and sales volume in that area. Nurturing these accounts may be a critical component of your overall marketing strategy.

Scott’s own ideas on gaining restaurant wine list space were multi-faceted. Here are a few of his observations:

  1. Gaining space on a prestigious restaurant’s wine list may be a coup. But, if the list is pages long, it won’t result in many case sales. However, it may be possible to leverage that position to obtain other accounts in that geographic area.
  2. Determine your key competitor brands and your strategy to position yourself next to them. Scott mentioned several luxury wine brands (withheld so I don’t get in trouble with him) he specifically seeks out on restaurant wine lists to determine if he should pursue the account. If he finds them there, he works on tactics to get his brand on the same list.
  3. Do your homework (again)! Know a restaurant’s wine list and style. Will your wine pair well with their food? Do they offer similar brands as yours to their guests? What do you know about the restaurant’s relationship with their distributor? (You don’t want to walk into an ambush if they’ve just chewed out the account manager for a problem with replacing someone else’s corked wine.)
  4. Target short wine lists. Your sales volume will be much higher than on the ‘extensive’ wine lists.
  5. Have a meal there. Get to know some of the staff when possible. Take interest in what is or isn’t working for them so you can determine if you can help.

After our lengthy discussion it left little time for Prema to offer some of her winning DTC strategies. But several were built around key principles of hospitality: Thank your biggest customers generously. Prema mentioned carefully reviewing her DTC sales results for the year and sending Christmas gifts to her best customers (who were most grateful for her extra recognition of their patronage).

We could have gone on for hours with this round table discussion, but there are only so many hours in the day. A big ‘thank you’ and round of applause was given to Scott and Prema for their insights and expertise (and is repeated here)!

Post event I ran into several recent blog posts relating to DTT and DTC sales you may find of interest:

  • Franchise States provides an excellent summary of the effects of ‘premature distribution.’ Rather, the author recommends you do considerable homework on each state in which you wish to sell your wine and on each distributor you consider doing business with since it is often an undivorceable relationship.
  • In The Biggest Challenge to a Winery Jeff Miller discusses what happens when your broker decides to close up shop and how this affects sales and your relationship with one or more distributors.
  • Paul Mabray looks at wineries’ relationships with their customers (and exactly who are they?) in Direct Through Trade – Social Media Redefining The “Customer”.
  • Alder Yarrow has a few words to say on where wineries are missing marketing opportunities in Social Media and the Wine Industry: A New Era.
  • Wrapping it up, Leah Hennessy Matteson offers commentary on some very interesting fresh sales statistics from the Wine Market Council in Millennier, Millennial Wine Buying Behavior Mirrors High End Consumer. In her analysis find that wine reviews are important to consumers for determining what to buy to drink at home and that folks are more than willing to try new luxury brands.

Please add your observations and comments by clicking on “Leave a Comment” at the top of the article here or at the bottom with “Leave a Reply.

Our evening was a prime example of the wonderful benefits of participating in one of our professional roundtables. These meetings provide in-depth expertise on a specific topic either requested directly by the round table’s members or fit within the round table’s category of focus.

My participation in the HR Roundtable facilitated a job offer from Silver Oak only six days after my position was eliminated at Jackson Family Wines. I credit landing on my feet to my active participation on the roundtable which afforded me visibility as an HR professional and allowed me to build relationships with other winery colleagues and provided immediate access to networking when I personally needed it, and luckily, securing new employment.

Linda Higueras
Employee Relations
Silver Oak & Twomey Cellars

For all eleven roundtables each meeting provides ample opportunity to network with others working in the same field (or related field). Share ideas, brainstorm, and build new relationships to continue your career development.

We are currently looking for an Education Director to oversee the roundtables as well as our scholarship program. If you know anyone who may make a terrific match for this position and would like to dig deeper in their Women for WineSense participation, please contact Chris Mueller, Chapter President, for details.

Do you have some great stories about what you’ve learned at a recent roundtable meeting? We’d love to publish your blog post about the event. Please send them to Marcia Macomber, Communications Director.

By Liz Thach, MW, WWS Communications Committee

On Thursday, May 26, 2011, nine members of the WWS Wine Technology Roundtable carpooled to Google headquarters in Mountain View, California to learn about new tools and methods to sell wine online, as well as new technologies to run a small wine business more efficiently.

The day began with a tour by hosts Joe Rosenberg and Danny Navarro.  The first items that caught our eye as we entered the Google campus were the many rainbow colored bikes that employees were encouraged to ride to connect to multiple office buildings.  Brightly colored umbrellas, tables and lounging chairs, outdoor gardens with herbs and vegetables, sculptures, and fountains could be found throughout the complex, as well as an employee swimming pool, volleyball court, nap pods and the famous Google slide.  The site is home to 8,000 of Google’s 25,000 global employees.

Google Headquarters, Mountain View, CA

Google Headquarters, Mountain View, CA

After the tour, we had lunch at Charlie’s, the largest of many Google restaurants.  A cafeteria style establishment, it offered choices of Mexican, Italian, Japanese, Thai, and many other delicious foods.  Probably the most amazing aspect is that all of Google’s restaurants are completely free to employees and guests, and they are open for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, including some meals on weekends.

After lunch, we were treated to a 2-hour presentation on some of the methods Google has available to increase wine sales (see list below), as well as an introduction to Google Apps Premier Edition.  This is based on cloud technology and is an inexpensive method ($50 per year per employee) for small businesses, such as wineries, to place all of their working documents on a secure Internet server which can be accessed from any device, including mobile phones.  It includes customized website, email, calendar, document storage, and the opportunity to work collaboratively on any document (e.g. MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint, or other platforms) from any location in the world.

Methods to Increase Online Wine Sales

Joe, Danny and colleagues also offered the following methods and tools to either enhance or increase sales:

1)    Set Up Proudct Search – identify someone on your marketing staff to place every SKU on Google Product Search (a free service).  This includes taking a photo of your wine bottle/label, using unique product identifiers, such as SKU, and updating often according to inventory depletions.

2)    Invest in Google Ads – provide a monthly budget for online advertising and appoint a marketing rep to monitor ads.  This allows your wines to be placed in the top or side bars of search pages, but you only pay for advertising if someone clicks on the link.  You can easily track ROI, and for as little as $100 per month can drive much traffic to your website.

3)    Target Cell Phone Users – invest in Mobile on the Go, new mobile apps, and other methods to target cell phone users who are geographically near your winery.  Adopt QR codes and other methods to allow consumers to review and purchase wine via cell phone.

4)    Get on YouTube – film a short and interesting video about your wine, winery, vineyard, or a brand related event and place on Youtube.  This doesn’t have to cost much or be professionally filmed.  Wineries with larger marketing budgets should consider purchasing their own Youtube channel as many spirits companies are, e.g. Gray Goose, Captain Morgan

5)    *Connect the Social Media Dots – have an authentic social media presence on Facebook, Twitter and other platforms to drive traffic to your website, but more importantly adopt the new Google +1 Button when it becomes available (http://www.google.com/+1/button/). This will allow consumers to give their stamp of approval to your wines and website, and will show up on search engines so your friends/family will know the wines you recommend.

6)    Adopt Google Wallet – set up your winery retail room to accept the new Google Wallet technology which allows consumers to load their credit cards onto their cell phone. 

Before departing the Google campus, we took a group photo (see below) and made a quick visit to the Google store to purchase souvenirs for family and friends.  Definitely a fun field trip, and a great way for the WWS Wine Technology Roundtable to gather for its second meeting.

Technology Roundtable Members with Google Staff

Technology Roundtable Members with Google Staff

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