How to Run a Winery: 8 Tips to Drive Sales & Wow Guests

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5 min read

Mar 18, 2022

How to Run a Winery: 8 Tips to Drive Sales & Wow Guests

While most U.S. wine production happens in California, the industry has expanded beyond Napa Valley to every corner of the country. There are winemakers and vineyards growing all kinds of grapes and producing unique bottles from Arizona to Maine and Washington to Florida. 

In fact, the number of wineries in the U.S. has grown by 50% since 2009. Wineries have become a top destination for day trips, bachelorette parties and other celebrations. With wine consumption increasing by 33% in the United States over the last two decades, there’s never been a better time to open a winery. 

If you want to get in on this growing industry and are looking for tips for how to run a winery, you’ve come to the right place. Planning your vineyard or partnering with local grape growers is the first step to starting a winery. However, you can’t overlook what comes after you’ve made your first wine bottles. 

We’re sharing actionable strategies for how to start a winery business that will help you boost revenue and keep guests coming back for more. You’ll learn eight tips, including:

Offer prepaid bookings
Use events to draw crowds and collect guest data
Wow visitors with reservation upgrades
Delight guests with tailored recommendations
Generate revenue from anywhere on the property
Expand your reach with pickup, delivery and subscriptions
Cross-promote sister properties
Stay top of mind with marketing

1. Offer Prepaid Bookings

Tasting room sales are a major revenue stream for wineries, but reservation no-shows can really hurt business. When no-shows happen, you may not have enough notice to fill these empty tables.

Instead of offering bookings for free, implement prepaid reservations to capture revenue in advance. Look for a reservations platform that lets you collect card information upon booking for a seamless experience for guests and your operations team.

Alternatively, implement no-show fees for your most popular time slots, like over the weekend or on major holidays, to mitigate revenue loss.

2. Use Events to Draw Crowds & Collect Guest Data

With picturesque surroundings and unique spaces, wineries are attractive backdrops for events of all kinds. Rightly so, consumers are increasingly looking for experiences from wineries. Offer tours, yoga among your vines and grapes, horseback riding, event rentals and more at your winery. 

Events and experiences are great marketing and revenue-generating tools. Use a ticket platform like Tripleseat to manage events with ease and collect guest data to inform your marketing efforts. Keep reading for our winery marketing tips.

3. Wow Visitors With Reservation Upgrades

If you want to know how to run a winery business, you probably already know that people choose wineries for special occasions, like vacation outings, bachelorette parties and girls’ weekends. Maximize profits during these celebrations by offering reservation upgrades that make each visit even more special for visitors.

Build add-ons and upgrades into the booking process, collect payment in advance and automate confirmation emails to streamline operations. Not sure what kinds of upgrades to offer? You could let guests pre-purchase bottles of wine, opt in for a toast upon arrival, add a picnic basket lunch to their vineyard tour or even book a proposal package. 

4. Delight Guests With Tailored Recommendations

Your sommelier knows your wines inside and out. When your winery uses a customer relationship management (CRM) platform that’s equipped with guest profiles, your somm and staff can also know each and every guest just as well.

When you use an integrated reservations platform and CRM, guests’ preferences surface when they check in. Profiles build themselves out in several ways: visitors can make reservation requests, or your system can add automated tags (big spender, white wine, etc.) based on purchase history with the help of POS integration.

Your team can use this data to recommend the perfect grape, offer the right bottle from the start, upsell premium pours and increase sales.

5. Generate Revenue from Anywhere on the Property

Wineries are vast. Guests want to have a glass in their hand at all times as they roam your grounds, but ensuring they never run empty requires assigning a server to each and every guest, right? 

Not necessarily. Instead, you can let guests order and pay from anywhere on your property through QR codes. By scanning QR codes throughout the property, guests can place orders and pay from their smartphones. Since every QR code is tied to a specific location at your winery, your team will know where to find guests to deliver drinks. 

With mobile-order-and-pay technology, guests get the wine they want, when they want it and your winery maximizes its revenue potential. Now that’s what we call a win-win.

6. Expand Your Reach With Pickup, Delivery & Subscriptions

Generate revenue even when guests aren’t on-premises with pickup and delivery. This is a great option if your winery serves food, but it’s also a good way to sell bottles. You can make local deliveries of bottles, or ship them further afield, such as to visitors who want to restock on favorites they bought at the vineyard or who sign up for your wine-of-the-month club.

Food and drink takeout and bottle subscriptions provide additional revenue streams and help you expand your reach to customers who may not live nearby.

7. Cross-Promote Sister Properties

Wineries are popular destinations, which means if guests don’t make reservations in time, your winery could book up. If your business books up solid and has sister properties, send guests to these nearby venues to ensure the revenue stays in the family, instead of going to the competition.

Set up your online booking platform to show availability at your sister properties if the winery guests are interested in is sold out.

8. Stay Top of Mind With Marketing

Leverage automated marketing to stay top of mind. Send emails that thank first-time visitors, reminder regulars to reorder their favorite bottles, or invite guests to events focused on their favorite wines. 

Guest profiles and automated marketing help you segment your email list and send the right guest the right offer at the right time, without lifting a finger.

Wrapping Up: How to Run a Winery Business

Becoming a winemaker is an exciting decision. With wine consumption and interest in wineries rising, there’s never been a better time to learn how to start a winery business. After you’ve planted your grapes or partnered with a local vineyard to produce wine, there’s a lot of work to do to ensure your passion becomes a viable business. 

Expand revenue streams with events, upsells and experiences that you can collect revenue for in advance. Make technology an integral part of your operations and marketing to read guests’ minds and keep them coming back for more.

SevenRooms’ guest experience platform is equipped with the tools you need to help your business grow. Request a demo today.

FAQs About How to Run a Winery Business

1. How profitable are wineries?

The average yearly profit a winery makes is between $80-100k. However, there are many factors that impact profitability. Size is one of the most significant contributing factors. Larger wineries that can host tastings and have the capabilities to produce wine on a larger scale are typically more profitable than smaller wineries that rely on direct distribution to bars and restaurants. Wine taste and quality are other contributing factors to a winery’s success.  

2. How long does it take for a winery to be profitable?

It can take a few years for winery to become profitable. Different types of winery production models become profitable within different time ranges. For example, estate wineries that grow everything in their vineyards typically take five to eight years to show a profit. If you plan to run a full production winery (also known as a micro-winery) that does not rely on owning a vineyard, you can expect to produce a profit within one to four years.

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