Can You Hear Me Now?

Can You Hear Me Now? Magical moments happen all the time during WISE Academy classes.  WISE instructors are privileged to hear the hopes and dreams and frustrations of our students.  While we hold these specific confidences sacred (what happens in WISE stays in WISE), we encourage everyone to share the general lessons.  With that spirit we want to share the key requests that we hear time and time again.  It seems sometimes that you all (tasting room team members and winery owners or executives) don’t talk to each other as much as you should to accomplish the goals you have… Read more »

Sink or Swim

Sink or Swim? By now, most wineries are fully staffed with not only year-round staff but also seasonal ‘temp’ staff. It’s a busy time in the tasting room and there are plenty of moving parts. Each one of our team members – whether permanent or temporary – represents our brand. We want it to be presented by different staff the same way, with the same vision or ‘voice’ and standards. Our guests aren’t going to know – and frankly shouldn’t know – what type of staff member they are interacting with. We need to help our staff be a successful,… Read more »


Tours While it might not be brain surgery, being a winery tour guide is still a pretty important and impressive job. Tasting room associates and tour guides are the ‘front line’, the face of the brand and often the first interaction guests have with our brand, wines and winery. A winery tour guide is seen as a professional wine educator and most people are not only in awe of all the knowledge a guide has, but they look to the guide as an expert. A tour guide is tasked with introducing – or reinforcing – the brand and being the… Read more »

Tasting Room Roadmap

Tasting Room Roadmap to Success Do you go to the beach and not bring a towel? We’re ready for summer – are you? After thousands of mystery shops, we’ve learned a lot (and are still learning). Based on our findings, we have come up with some best practices for the tasting room that can be used as a roadmap to success this season. Five tips to tasting room success: 1. Don’t Let Your Backstage Show Backstage refers to the ‘performance’ concept of where the “front stage” is the guest experience – everything the guest sees, hears, touches, smells – and… Read more »

Decrease Hiring Mistakes

Decrease Hiring Mistakes – Get an All-Star Team It’s hiring season in the wine industry and it’s time to get all team members on board and ready for the high season. Ideally every winery wants to have an All-Star team, but how do you hire these superstars? Qualifications You probably have a tasting room associate job description that’s been used for a while. To raise the bar, it’s important to start fresh. Think about the All-Star team you’re trying to build. What do the great staff members have in common? When considering these qualifications, think about them from three different… Read more »

Incentive Compensation Program

Incentive Compensation Programs Often we are asked about tasting room staff incentives for wineries and best practices for a program. An Incentive Compensation Program (ICP) is a tool used to motivate and compensate a sales professional to meet goals or metrics – over a specific period of time – to help achieve business goals. When well designed, an ICP should pay for itself.  Based on the many conversations and our research, here are five tips for designing a program that works. Reward the Right Things – Tie incentive compensation to all the key performance aspects of the Tasting Room Professional’s job. A… Read more »

Down Time

The Lowdown on Down Time Tasting Room Managers all know this drill.  It’s been a crazy busy day up until now, and the staff is finally catching their breath.  Or it’s been a very slow day with few visitors and our staff is simply standing at the bar.  Of course, this is exactly when we will receive a surprise visit from our winery executives. General Managers go crazy when they see staff standing around – they see it as a cocktail party. But the correct perspective is they should be thinking of it as a fire station.  We need our… Read more »

Does Your Team Deal a Win?

Does Your Team Deal a Win? In one of our recent tasting-room-staff onsite training workshops, a “coaching moment” customer-service issue came up: ‘What do you do with a group of 6 to 8 persons who come to the tasting bar and want to share one tasting between everyone?’ First reaction from even seasoned Tasting Room Professionals may be to get a little irritated.  Why? Let’s look at the scenario. A group of 6 or 8 come into the tasting room… Well, that’s kind of a win isn’t it? They want to share one tasting between them, and to make it… Read more »

Phone Sales

Is the Phone Ringing but Nobody is Home? One of the fastest growing DTC channels is phone sales, yet too few wineries are focused on this.  Every time our phone rings – and not just calls to the sales team – it could mean money.  Are we doing everything we can to turn an interested caller into an interested buyer? If not, why not?  Our customers are interested in our wines – they called us! Inbound phone calls can be a real money maker for wineries if we are smart about it. It’s an under-utilized sales channel with many wineries…. Read more »


What’s Your Plan? As the year comes to a close, if your fiscal year also is the calendar year, you are probably knee-deep in planning for 2015. Regardless, we’re about to begin a new quarter and a new year, so let’s plan for success! Remember, when you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Planning is not a job to be left to the winery owner or CEO – every department lead should have a part of the planning process. If you’re on a ship, wouldn’t you like to know where the captain intends to head? If you’re part of… Read more »