paysage vigne Meursault Bourgogne photographie

How to communicate when you are a winegrower?

Posted by Armand Heitz on

At a time when the quality of wines in France and around the world has clearly progressed, standing out in such a competitive environment for a winemaker is no small feat. Today, being a good winemaker is no longer enough, you also have to be a good communicator if you want to see your sales progress. Yes, but how?

You have to start at the beginning, that is to say ask yourself what do people want to know or hear about the estate and the wines? Of course, drunkenness, but an intelligent, human and responsible drunkenness. If we manage to arouse their interest then they will most certainly take action by buying a bottle or coming to the estate.

Producing quality wines is a non-negotiable clause. Consumers are more and more educated about wine, informed and they are not made to drink just anything. Let it be said, good drinking is a militant act!

Beyond the quality of the wine, the challenge is to succeed in arousing emotions when describing the wine and influencing the perception with a story to convince the person. Studies show that today the consumer wants to know what is behind the bottle as well as the human history in the elaboration of wine. It is up to the winegrower to embody his wines, to give personality to his domain by sharing his values, his history and his philosophy so that we come to prefer his brand to another.

Photographie de cave viticole avec jolie lumière

Storytelling or telling your story (let's be proud of our French language!) is the sinews of war. An authentic, true and spontaneous story will take your potential customers into your world. At the same time, showing, explaining and sharing everyday life in the vineyard helps to inform and educate the consumer. This is the best propaganda that we can have in the wine sector to promote responsible, reasoned, fair, just and sustainable consumption.

The objective here is to identify and highlight the uniqueness and specificities of the domain in this ultra-competitive context of the wine sector. Today, working organically, inheriting a family estate is no longer enough to stand out because the neighbor is most likely in the same situation, or even on the same appellations. You have to dig, question yourself, self-analyze to find your strengths... this step is not very obvious and the help of a communication agency or an external referent can be very useful. The personality of the winemaker, the convictions, the future projects, the history will be elements to take into account.

Successful communication is a clear message that arouses interest, which offers the person an interaction with their emotions, which contributes to the construction of a brand image and which triggers sales.

During a takeover or business creation project, the initial investments are significant and the budgets devoted to communication tend to come last... Understandable, but be careful! Implementing a good communication strategy from the start means ensuring a good launch, good visibility and sales. For this step, at the base of any project, either you have the fiber of a strategic communicator, or you can call on a communication agency or a consultant. It is important that this person is immersed in the history, philosophy and character of the estate to define you more precisely.

Pressurage vin rouge vinification photo

In the digital age, communication is fortunate to be a sector where you can find solutions for all budgets !

Here are some tools to communicate your values, history, opinions, projects and emotions to the potential buyer that we all are

Brand Image: is how people perceive the brand. It must reflect the experience and the emotion that the consumer will have with the brand and the wines. This involves creating a logo, choosing a name, creating labels...

For this step, being accompanied by a graphic designer or a communication professional, who can be recruited internally if the needs are great, is crucial. Three options are available to you.

You have the resource internally. Perfect !

You call on a global agency that offers 360° turnkey services. However, this may represent sums that are not within your reach.

In this case, surround yourself with freelance professionals such as communication consultants, graphic designers, photographers… these smaller structures, reactive and free in actions will be able to offer more advantageous prices and also a freshness in the proposals they can offer for the domain.

It is important to choose a partner who understands the values ​​and shares the vision of the domain otherwise the result will lack soul and the domain will be yet another domain to wade through this ocean of bowling. You have to dare, seek inspiration wherever it can be and always stay in line with your personality.

Some sources of inspiration: Vin Noé, a young winemaker starting out in Burgundy, has stood out from the traditional environment with impactful labels that stand out traditional techniques. Marie-Thérèse Chappaz as for her, defends the values ​​of biodynamic viticulture and displays her sensitivity with a coherent range and very recognizable. I have a crush on Roberto Voerzio in Barolo for his magnificent paintings in soft and contemporary colors which give a “work of art” aspect to the bottle. And we can also bet on a family engraving, dusted off associated with the classic codes of Burgundy... a fine example at the Armand Heitz estate.

Roberto Voerzio Barolo wines label

Editorial content: writing the history of the estate, the people and the wine is essential to engage people in the universe of the estate. This story must be authentic, sincere and in line with the values ​​of the estate. Writing about yourself is always a perilous exercise because it is always difficult to talk about yourself! Calling on an outside person will be invaluable in identifying strengths, uniqueness and avoiding the narcissistic pitfall. However, be careful not to go overboard and want to tell stories where there is nothing to tell! You have to be frank and transparent. I really like what Nicolas Audebert from Château Rauzan Ségla in Margaux is doing with photographer Brice Braastad (@episodedeux). They produced magnificent photo reports to tell the story of the château and above all a series of films “A trip back in time to a Grand Cru Classé de Margaux”. A refreshing way to talk about the history and philosophy of a property.

Reportages photos Chateau Rauzan Ségla

Social networks: In France, the Evin law restricts communication campaigns on wine on television.It's a brake but when the rules are the same for everyone, you have to know how to be creative and exploit the material where possible Social networks are an ideal and very accessible playground!

Plus, they're great for engaging people directly and getting them to like your brand. Managing an instagram or facebook account is not about posting a few scattered photos. It is important to have an editorial line, quality visuals, a story to share and invite the reader to interact with the domain.

In times of crisis, as we have seen in 2020, Instagram has been the very creative playground of wine actors by offering live aperitifs (@winepoetry, @rougeauxlevres…) or videos to share daily life.

This tool is easily manageable internally if the winemaker has the instinct to communicate, otherwise calling on a person dedicated to this is a solution. Anyway, if you decide to do something, you have to do it right and to the end. Otherwise you might as well do nothing!

Some inspiring accounts outside the wine universe : @lesothers (outdoor adventure), @mamieboude (photographers), @leslipfrancais (sale of clothing made in France with the creation of a strong community around the brand), @refyld (sale of products to achieve zero waste).

Instagram magazine Les Others nature

Some inspiring accounts in the wine sector : @chateaupalmer for sharing life at the estate with great elegance, @chateaudejacques for in-house management by Cyril Chirouze, the manager with a touch of humor in his writings, @armandheitz for high-quality photos that reflect the daily life of the estate and Armand's commitments.

Direct actions: Participating in tastings or fairs is a privileged moment to have direct contact with potential buyers. It is necessary to target actions that make sense and that correspond to the philosophy of the field. In this period, these occasions are difficult to organise. However, contact with the customer can also be maintained with specific offers by email, contests, tastings by videoconference...

The current context pushes us to be creative with the chance to sell a little happiness in a bottle that symbolizes sharing and conviviality - which is not the case for all sectors!

The major asset for interacting with the customer remains the visit to the estate. Nothing better to share a vision, educate on the terroir, talk about wines and immerse the customer in the universe of the brand.

The website: essential today ! It is the synthesis of all the tools mentioned above. Simple or very complex, you will make sure to have strong visuals, neat and chosen texts, information on the wines and above all give the possibility to the person to get in touch with you.

Photo bouteilles vins vases fleurs Armand Heitz Jib Peter

The site is the image you give of yourself to the public. Just like writing, it is essential to have qualitative photos that are in harmony with your person. The choice of photographer is important. A vine is an umpteenth vine, a bud is an umpteenth bud that we see everywhere. Above all, a photographer must bring freshness, a new, even artistic look and the sensitivity that suits you. At the Armand Heitz estate, Jib Peter was able to seduce Armand and Astrid with images that reflect a soul, which humanize the actions in the vineyard and which express the strong values ​​of the estate.A staging, a harmonization of visuals and all this takes a nice shape We love it!

Having a website also means committing to updating and refreshing it . It seems obvious but in the flow of daily activities, it is quickly forgotten. The advantage of using a communication agency or having a marketing/communications manager is that these tools are kept up to date and allow real use of this media, which represents a significant cost in the administrative management of a domain.

Other projects: it is important to be creative while remaining in tune with these values ​​to exist in this very competitive wine industry. Note that video is the communication medium that is popular at the moment with 25 to 45 year olds. At the Armand Heitz estate, a first film, "Le Blanc", was made with a desire: to talk about the terroir, the winegrower's profession while breaking the codes. We see Armand in a 3-piece tweed suit, leather city shoes in the vines to pull the woods and accompanies his work with a “chic” Burgundy mâchon, white tablecloth, chandelier, exceptional Comté cheese and tempting saucissonade. A successful bias that sticks to the image of the winemaker and above all that comes out of the beaten “ranks”.

Armand Heitz video film Le Blanc

Communicating in wine is a subtle and very subjective art because everything is based on the sharing of emotions. Accompanied by a communication professional or by a person dedicated to this in the field, the advantage is that everyone can find their recipe according to their priorities, their budget and their desires. The key is that all actions are coherent, organized and geared towards the expectations of the potential buyer so that they take action and also have a great tasting experience.

Marie-Pierre Dardouillet / Communication grape varieties


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