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 ( 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



They’re just two, little initials. But fewer than 300 people worldwide have earned the right to add these prestigious letters after their names. In fact, only 100 of them are outside of the U.K. And only seven of them are women.

A “Master of Wine” has truly reached the most towering of achievements in the wine industry. To earn the right to use the abbreviated form, “MW,” after one’s moniker, is a testament to untold hours of study and practical understanding of the art, science and business of wine.

Women for WineSense’s very own Dr. Liz Thach has earned the right to add the coveted letters after her name:

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

[Round of well-deserved applause and ovation!]

The Institute of Masters of Wine recently conveyed this esteemed qualification and title on Dr. Thach and will formally induct her into the institute in its annual awards ceremony and reception at Vintners’ Hall held in London in November of this year.

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

Dr. Liz Thach, MW

Are you curious about the rigors of the exam? The first part is four, separate exam papers on viticulture, winemaking and wine business. Then (presuming you progress) you’d face three blind tasting exams with no less than a dozen wines each. You’d have to write up extraordinarily detailed analyses of each of the wines tasted before moving on to phase three of the examination. Last up would be your dissertation.

We’ve reduced the exam requirements to a rather cursory summary above, but when the exams were first given in 1953, of the 21 candidates only six passed. While the exam has changed a bit over the years, the difficulty of achieving the honor remains highly challenging. The first female MW, Sarah Morphew Stephen, passed the exam and was awarded membership into the institute in 1970.

Dr. Thach, WWS’ outgoing Director of Education just this month, was also recently appointed Sonoma State’s Wine Business Institute’s Korbel Professor in Wine Business.

You can learn more about Dr. Thach’s milestone achievement here and her recent appointment to the Korbel Professorship here.

Congratulations, Dr. Liz Thach, MW!