I am often asked the question “what do you do exactly?” as a follow up to “where do you work?” Most people know we exist but don’t actually know what we do. “It must be nice being in your slow season” is another favored statement we hear a lot. The truth is, we are never slow.
We are probably most known for our map, a leading favorite among wine tasters to get an idea of where to taste. Including an extensive amenity and varietal key. Published twice a year, we edit, re-edit, and extensively review and re-review the map again before going to print – twice a year! (July and February tentatively)
And in a close second, our events, especially our longest running event, which had just celebrated its 36th annual celebration: Barrel Tasting.
photo by Sonja Langford
Wine & Food Affair is always the first weekend in November, but we have been prepping for this event since July and still have a long way to go with ticket launching, program printing, supply order, supply organization, and supply hand-out. And in the midst, overlapping Food & Wine Affair, we will be preparing for Winter WINEland in January and Barrel Tasting in March.
We Lay Down the Law
In addition to event logistics, I have implemented my own project for this year: Supply Return. In years past, Wine Road relied on the honor system without keeping exact supply outtake/intake. This year, the iron fist is coming out of hiding. With extensive excel spreadsheets and a carbon copy supply hand out invoice, everyone should be shaking in their boots: theirs a new sheriff in town.
The mysteries of a wine tourism marketing company baffles even our own members. So what does Wine Road do during the event off-season? Well, more events. And advertising. And constantly creating a presence in wine-lover organizations.
photo by Tiago Gerken
For the last few years, Wine Road had conducted its own traveling series of Wine Road on the Road where Wine Road traveled to potential market cities (those that could easily fly into Santa Rosa) to market Sonoma County wine tourism. These tours would happen in February, April, June and November.
I had the pleasure and felt the stress of one of these wine event series in Seattle last April.
This year Wine Road launched a new event to celebrate Wine Tourism week celebrated in May: Wine Tourism Day. A relaxed event where customers can buy a ticket to waive tasting fees at all the participating wineries and enjoy a tour or educational tasting. To promote local tourism and exploring your own backyard – this new event really hit the ground running and we are excited to continue next year.
In our own initiative to enhance advertising we do an annual summer promotional campaign. Last years, Pin It: Wish U were here. This years, the daVintner’s Code: find it, shoot it, share it.
In lieu of all the events, promotional campaigns, and editing, we are also a non-profit business. Most of our donations are made to the Redwood Empire Food Bank and our most recent donation put us over the $300,000 mark.
In spring we pick a few students to receive our $1000 scholarship, started an SRJC scholarship, and gave the SRJC a $1000 to go toward their Hospitality Endowment.
We are contacted for many donations and winery participation in fundraisers like Make-A-Wish Foundation, James Beard Foundation, March of Dimes, and San Rafael Film Institute which exposes us, our market, our members, and our county’s tourism.
We Never Get Sick
Now, with all of those things on the calendar and constantly trying to get a hold of and manage over 300 members, that doesn’t leave a lot of downtime. As a paid employee at the Wine Road you are required to sign your life away during the months of September through April. No vacations during this time. You can’t even get sick – no, don’t even think about it! To guarantee this promise, we sign in grape blood.
We Wear Many Hats
Top hats mostly. We also act as our own custodians, secretaries, lunch ladies, photographers, analysts, researchers, campaign managers, advertisement seekers, and more. We don’t have departments. My job title might be the Social Media Superhero but it is also All Of The Above.
We are Minimalistic
Did I mention there’s only four of us? Did I mention that not so long ago there was only one? Her name is Beth and she just about does it all.