Managing a Winery FAQs: Everything You Want to Know About Winery Management

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5 min read

Sep 21, 2022

Managing a Winery FAQs: Everything You Want to Know About Winery Management

Did you know that the United States consumes 1.1 billion gallons of wine each year? That results in $1.4 billion in sales for domestic wineries. Whether you’re already managing a winery or want to enter the industry, there’s money to be made in wine and vineyards. 

What Does a Winery Manager Do?

A winery manager has similar duties and responsibilities as a general manager at a restaurant. Winery managers typically run tasting rooms, communicate with production teams, lead service staff, manage finances and are responsible for ensuring guests have a great experience.

Winery Manager Job Description:

A winery manager is responsible for managing the tasting room at a winery. This role serves as the liaison between management, staff and customers. A winery manager focuses on business operations by keeping track of finances and coming up with initiatives that will make the winery more money. As the staff lead, the winery manager is in charge of hiring and training staff and resolving interpersonal conflicts. In their customer-facing role, the winery manager is responsible for ensuring guests’ expectations are surpassed.

Winery Management Duties:

Leading front-of-house and back-of-house staff members
Hiring and training tasting room employees
Being familiar with the winery’s menu
Delegating responsibilities to team members
Managing inventory
Meeting sales goals
Implementing new marketing initiatives
Identifying opportunities to introduce new technologies to the winery

Winery Management Requirements:

Hospitality management experience
Prior serving experience
Passion for and knowledge about wine and grapes

What’s the Difference Between a Winery and a Vineyard?

The terms “winery” and “vineyard” often erroneously get used interchangeably. So, what’s the difference between these phrases?

A vineyard is where the grapes that become wine grow, while a winery is where these grapes get turned into wine. When you think of fields of grapes growing on vines, that’s a vineyard. A winery houses winemaking equipment, bottles, a taproom and more. 

Some wine businesses are a standalone winery or standalone vineyard, while others combine the two and are responsible for the entire winemaking production process, from growing the grape, to bottling the final product.

How Do Wineries Make Money?

Wineries can make money through one or more revenue streams. These revenue streams are primarily split into business to business (B2B) and direct to consumer (D2C). By diversifying their revenue streams, wineries can establish a more secure business model. 

B2B Winery Revenue Streams

Wineries can sell to other businesses, such as restaurants, event spaces and grocery or liquor stores. Wineries can attract buyers by offering wholesale pricing on large, consistent purchase orders.

B2B revenue streams are often more stable than D2C business models for wineries. They often require less advertising and more networking and referrals.

D2C Winery Revenue Streams

When it comes to selling wine directly to consumers, wineries have many options. A winery’s tasting room is the ground zero for D2C sales. Wineries can turn their tasting rooms into dining destinations by offering comprehensive food menus and wine pairings. 

Wineries can also sell bottles directly to consumers through on-premises or online (where regulations allow). Running a bottle-of-the-month club is a popular way to bring in recurring revenue.

Another D2C revenue stream for wineries is renting their space out for events or hosting ticketed events, such as a celebration for a new wine release or an intimate evening with a sommelier.

9 Tips for How to Manage a Winery

Now that we’ve answered the most frequently asked questions about managing a winery, here are our top tips for making the most of your business.

1. Start With a Business Plan

If you’re just entering the industry, you need to start with a business plan. Creating this document is an important exercise, as it will help you think deeply about your winery and serve as a roadmap for your vision. Your winery’s business plan should cover the following topics:

Executive summary
Business introduction
Market analysis and marketing plan
Technology plan

2. Hire the Right People

Hiring the right people for the job can set your winery up for success. If you’re new to the winery business, lean on people who have experience. This could mean working with consultants and sommeliers or prioritizing hiring servers with lots of experience, rather than looking for the cheapest labor.

3. Introduce New Revenue Streams

If you only have your sights set on one revenue stream, consider adding more to make your sales more predictable and your business more profitable. For example, if you’re currently focusing only on B2B revenue streams, why not start offering winery tours and selling bottles to people who go on the tour? Or, if you already have a tasting room with a full menu, why not expand with delivery and pickup for your food?

4. Let Guests Order & Pay from Anywhere

One way to generate more revenue from your winery is to let guests order and pay for glasses of wine from anywhere on your property. If you have a two-in-one vineyard and winery, why limit sales to just your tasting room floor? By placing QR codes throughout your property, customers can order a glass of wine to be sent to wherever they are on site, such as among your vines.

5. Make Personalized Suggestions

When you know your guests, you can anticipate their needs and turn them into regulars. With a customer relationship management (CRM) platform, your winery can gather data about your guests, such as their wine and food preferences, visit history and more. A CRM like SevenRooms puts this on autopilot by collecting transaction history through your POS to automate guest profiles.

5. Keep Guests Coming Back

Giving guests VIP service may not always be enough to keep them coming back for more. With so many competing wineries and restaurant options, you need to stay top of mind by actively marketing to customers. 

Use an automated marketing tool to make this a piece of cake. With SevenRooms, you can set up and personalize email marketing campaigns for special occasions (i.e., birthdays, anniversaries, etc.) or even dining milestones (e.g., sending a “we miss you” offer after one month).

6. Generate Revenue with Events 

Chances are, your winery would make a great event space. Event production is a big money maker. Whether you rent out your space for private events or host your own ticketed events, like winery tours, technology can help you manage tickets, contracts and logistics. Look for tools that simplify events, like SevenRooms’ Tripleseat integration for ticketed events.

7. Digitize Reservations

Technology can also help you manage a winery by simplifying and digitizing reservations for your tasting room. Instead of taking reservations over the phone, let guests book a table at any time through your website. Plus, with direct reservations, your winery will save money on booking fees from third-party reservations platforms.

7. Make Guest Visits Extra Special

Wow guests on each visit by giving them the opportunity to add a special experience or upgrade to their reservation. For example, you could add a prepaid wine flight to the purchase of a winery tour, or offer an engagement special as a premium add on. Beyond the memories you’ll be creating for your guests, you’ll also be generating incremental revenue for your business.

9. Collect Revenue in Advance

Holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day are lucrative for wineries. Rather than leaving reservations up to chance, and possibly suffering from no shows, collect payment in advance to book a table for these holidays and other peak service days. 

Wrapping Up: How to Manage a Winery

There’s never been a more exciting time to be in the wine industry. Managing a winery is a rewarding way to make your mark on this field. With a strong business plan and technology that can help you do more with less, like SevenRooms, you’ll set your winery up for long term success.

Request a demo of SevenRooms today.

FAQs About Managing a Winery

1. What Makes a Successful Winery?

A successful winery requires a strong business plan and a team of innovative and passionate workers. The wineries that are successful are constantly finding new ways to connect with their customers and provide exceptional experiences for all their guests.

2. How Does a Winery Make Money?

Selling directly to consumers is one way wineries make money. For wineries, this is often one of the best ways to make profits. When a consumer purchases a wine bottle directly at a winery, they typically pay the full retail price for it, and all the sales go straight to the winery.

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