I traveled this week to Hawaii for a few short days on vacation. Of course I tied in a little bit of work and met with a distributor on this trip. Luckily the distributor owner was insanely cool (he even took us stand-up paddleboarding one day), so my husband didn’t give me grief about the fact that I have a tendency to somehow mix work with all of our vacations.
In any case, I thought I would talk a little about the importance of resort markets. I see a lot of small wineries focusing on large markets like New York City, Chicago, etc. but I rarely hear about anyone targeting resort markets. By this I mean areas that may have small populations, but have large influxes of tourists from many major US and international cities.
Getting distribution in resort markets may not result in huge depletions for your brand, but they are extremely valuable for your winery because of one huge reason. People go on vacation, and they dine at restaurants, sometimes for the entirety of their trip. I’ll assume they are there to enjoy themselves and relax. Pair that with a great dining experience and delicious wine, and you’ll have someone who goes home and is a repeat buyer of your wine.
For example, a few years ago I was skiing in Vail, CO. I went to dinner at Lark with my husband and a friend of ours who used to run their children’s ski school. We drank a few bottles of Kunin “Pape Star,” which my husband absolutely loved—whether it was that the wine was good, or that we were having great food and spending time with a dear friend, either way, he was hooked. To this day, we buy a couple cases a year, and whenever we drink that wine, we always fondly remember the fantastic meal we had in Colorado years ago.
Here are a list of a few places that are awesome spots to showcase your wines:
- Ski towns—think Vail, Aspen, Jackson Hole, Park City
- Cultural towns—Charleston SC, Savannah, Asheville NC, Lenox MA
- Coastal/Beach towns—Portland ME, Nantucket, Martha’s Vineyard (anywhere on the MA Cape, actually), Rehoboth DE, the Florida Panhandle
Talk to your distributors and find out if they have areas of the state with “tourist seasons.” Then, about a month or so before those seasons start, see if you can get into a couple of those markets and make some key placements. You may just see some residual depletions in markets that tie to the resort areas—for example, many people who visit Cape Cod during the summer months try your wines there and then go home to Boston, Providence or even further afield, and will be more likely to buy a bottle or more at restaurants or wine shops whenever they see it again.