Archive | Uncategorized RSS for this section

Dear Wine Industry Members: Reflections being the Penn State Extension Enologist

By: Denise M. Gardner

While I know this has reached many of you, I would like to announce that my last day with Penn State Extension will be on September 1, 2017. After 6 and half years with Penn State Extension, I have decided to start a new venture and open ‘Denise Gardner Winemaking,’ a wine consulting business for wine producers and consumers.

While I had the opportunity to speak briefly about this decision at the 2017 PWA Annual Conference, I wanted to take some time to reflect upon my time at Penn State and my perspective on what I’ve seen change since I joined the Extension team in 2011.

Most of my interest in wine grapes and enology is affiliated with the mentorship provided by Mark Chien, Penn State’s previous Extension Viticulturist, and Joanne Levengood from Manatawny Creek Winery. The two of them worked a lot with me as a young high school student interested in the wine industry. Eventually, they helped me execute a research project pertaining to red wine color stability, and my success affiliated with that project provided me with an opportunity to work for Lallemand as a student intern in Toulouse, France the summer before I started college. Mark wrote about this story in one of his many newsletters in 2003. However, I will never forget the shock and disbelief I felt when I opened up a letter from Mark with an attached check containing a list of the Pennsylvania wineries that had financially contributed to support my travel costs associated with the internship. This act of kindness and support from so many local wineries that did not know me made an everlasting impression on me, and it had been my goal from that day forward to return to the Pennsylvania wine industry.

Mark Chien teaching me how to balance prune at Manatawny Creek Winery. 2003. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

I share this story now to remind everyone how impressionable young adults are and the impact we can make on shaping their careers and futures. As I leave Penn State, I recognize that one of the greatest awards affiliated with this position was the opportunity to work alongside so many talented young adults while they were students at the University. Their involvement with Extension not only helped me manage the five year NE-1020 variety trial research project, but it also gave me an opportunity to expose many students to this industry. While many of them may not know their final career destination, I truly believe they have all been worth the grant funds, the introductions, the internships and co-ops, and the time that many of us have allocated towards developing their professional careers. Mentorship will definitely help shape our industry if we take the time to make it a priority, and I am excited to see where these young minds eventually lead us if they continue to integrate back into the wine industry. I hope many of them stay in the field, as I truly believe that in order for the industry to grow, stay competitive and progress, we will need their education, experience and application.

Undergraduate students experience a grape harvest a local winery on a Saturday morning. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Erin and Virginia mix up yeast inoculations. 2012. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Jen, Allie, and Abby crush incoming fruit. 2013. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Stephanie was the master at running VAs. 2014. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Taking regular Brix and temperature readings with Gary. 2015. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

 

An early morning harvest… when team work means everything. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Everyone learned how to wear proper clothing for processing and how to properly clean up after processing was complete. It was a dirty job, but everyone enjoyed themselves. Crushing with Marlena and Laura. 2015. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Virginia teaches industry members about her experiences during a harvest-hop opportunity in Australia as an undergraduate student. 2013. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

I am also proud of the educational workshops that have been developed since 2011 to address wine production and quality issues. While wine quality starts in the vineyard, its quality ends in the winery, and I am overjoyed to have been a part of the educational process that has assisted several winery operations within the state. The Wine Quality Improvement (WQI) Short Course, originally started by Dr. Stephen Menke and managed in interim by Mario Mazza, has reached almost half of the wineries in Pennsylvania through its attendance. It has always been a pleasure to hear about how this program has influenced those that have participated, and I would like to publically thank all of the previous students, both undergraduate and graduate, that have contributed to the success of the short course, as well as my industry volunteers: Mario Mazza, Jamie Williams, and Virginia Mitchell. Without their contributing time and patience, the success of the WQI would not be where it is today.

Alain Razungles provides tasting feedback to industry members. 2012. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

The Wine Quality Improvement (WQI) Short Course takes a lot of preparation and volunteer hours to run smoothly. Here, industry members and students volunteer time to prep for the WQI. 2013. Photo by: Michael Black/Black Sun Photography

 

We made efforts to add lab demonstrations and activities to our workshops. 2013. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

Finally, there is undeniably a wonderful team of individuals here at Penn State that works very hard to address industry questions and needs. Dr. Michela Centinari, Dr. Ryan Elias, Bryan Hed, Dr. Helene Hopfer, Dr. Kathy Kelley, Andy Muza, and Jody Timer, as well as Dr. Rob Crassweller, Mike Masiuk, and Dr. Michael Saunders are all committed to the success of making the wine industry and Penn State a lifelong collaboration. It was not an easy decision to leave this stellar group of people. I hope that you, as industry members, will continue to support them as the program should only evolve and grow from here. As the enologist in the group, I was fortunate enough to have a supportive and thought-provoking advisory committee. I hope that many of you will consider supporting the next enologist by serving on their own advisory committee in an effort to keep this growing program a part of Pennsylvania’s industry and academic communities.

Vineyard walks with Michela, Andy and Jody. 2014. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

 

Michela, Kathy and Denise tour Dr. Amanda Stewart (Virginia Tech) through some Pennsylvania wineries. 2014. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

 

Our grape group in Erie County: Andy, Bryan, and Jody with Denise and Michela. 2017. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

 

The first PA Wine Marketing and Research Board Symposium. Vineyard walk with speakers and industry members. 2012. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

Between the growth of our academic team and the involvement of students in industry-related research, Pennsylvania has shown well within the research spectrum. I have been very proud of all of the Penn State students that have taken their research and presented at state-wide, regional, and national conferences. Additionally, the research executed by our faculty is top notch. While the benefits of research may not always be immediately apparent, the caliber of research and outreach associated with students and faculty has helped make Pennsylvania’s industry recognizable at a national scale. Sometimes that recognition is small and other times it is monumental. With the financial support of the PA Wine Marketing and Research Board, I hope that we will continue to see the collaboration between industry and academia continue, as well as witness the growth and seriousness of the state’s industry and academic programs. After all, no great wine region has ever succeeded without the arms of science, education, and research coming together.

I have learned that research helps us grow and get better as an industry. It can be slow, yes, but it shows us that we do not know it all after all, and it allows us to adapt to changing conditions like new pest integration in the vineyard or high pH winemaking practices. I hope I see many of you at the American Society of Enology and Viticulture – Eastern Section (ASEV-ES) Conference in Pennsylvania next year. This conference is a forum for regional research, but it also creates networking opportunities, highlights the wine quality affiliated with the hosting state, and includes a focused workshop on an industry relevant topic. For the 2018 conference, we believe the focused workshop will be related to high pH in the vineyard and cellar and how to address those problems. For the number of Pennsylvania wineries that contribute financially to support ASEV-ES scholarships, I thank you for supporting so many of our students, especially those at Penn State that I have seen benefit from these awards. No contribution – large or small – goes unnoticed.

Research from when I had the opportunity to work in Dr. Elwin Stewart’s lab in 2005.

 

Phylloxera research when working with Dr. Taryn Bauerle (now at Cornell University) and Dr. David Eissenstat (Penn State).

 

These 2 graduate students spent a lot of time on enology research in 2013. Marlena went on to study red wine color and stability for her Ph.D. thesis. Photo from: Denise M. Gardner

 

Gal is the master of wine oxidation and a brilliant chemist. His Ph.D. wine oxidation research has taken him all over the world. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Laura presents her undergraduate research at the national ASEV Conference. Her research was associated with co-inoculation of yeast and MLB in Chambourcin wines. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

 

Penn State and student volunteers to help conduct a rose wine sensory descriptive panel to complete an undergraduate student research project. 2013. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

For those that are concerned about the nature of the position, Penn State Extension is committed to the position, and the current job opening it is already posted on the Penn State jobs website. Please support the next hire! I know the team will find an amazing individual to fulfill this role, and I’m looking forward to all that they accomplish with the position.
My last day with Penn State Extension will be on September 1, 2017, but I hope I will not lose touch with many of you through the transition. I will continue to run this message through the next few V&E News email distributions, but you can also find the generation of Denise Gardner Winemaking on Facebook (www.facebook.com/GardnerDeniseM/) until the website’s (www.denisegardnerwinemaking.com) launch in September and reach my by email: denise@dgwinemaking.com. This new venture will definitely be unique, and I hope many of you will consider exploring it in the coming months ahead as I am staying focused on Eastern, Southern and Midwestern production practices. Despite this transition, I will continue to work out of Pennsylvania and am hopeful that this new venture will be applicable for many of the local and regional wineries.

Again, it has been a pleasure working alongside many of you and I thank you for making me a valuable part of this industry. I wish you all a fruitful growing season and a successful 2017 harvest.  I can’t wait to taste the vintage!

Denise

Advertisements

Is it Possible to Control These Insect Pests?

By: Jody Timer, Entomology & Lake Erie Regional Grape Research and Extension Center

Over the last ten years there have been an inpouring of newcomers to the insect community of Pennsylvania’s grape vineyards. These pest, combined with the numerous indigenous pest, have created an ever evolving challenge for the area’s grape growers. In this blog, I will briefly review the grape pest which I feel are becoming ever increasingly problematic for grape growers to control.

The Spotted wing drosophila has become a progressively severe problem in blueberries raspberries, and grapes. Recent research has shown that they are attracted to all cultivars of grapes that we tested. Spotted wing Drosophila, Drosophila suzukii, Matsumura (Diptera: Drosophilae) (SWD) is an invasive vinegar fly of East Asian origin, that was recently introduced into the United States. It was first found in California in 2008 and is now found in all major fruit-growing regions of the country including Pennsylvania. It was first discovered in Pennsylvania’s Lake Erie grape growing region in the late fall of 2011. The potential infestation rate of spotted wing Drosophila differs from other vinegar flies because the female possess a serrated ovipositor that cuts into healthy fruit to lay eggs. Consequently, spotted wing Drosophila (SWD) larvae can be found in fruit that is just ripening: https://youtu.be/dPr61VC2gyo

During egg-laying, it is believed that sour rot and fungal disease can also be introduced, further affecting the fruit quality. During peak temperatures, a female can lay more than 100 eggs a day. Such a high reproduction rate indicates the SWDs’ high potential for fruit infestation and their potential for spreading rapidly through a field or a vineyard. Because of this prolificity it has become increasing important to protect wine grapes starting at veraison.  A good YouTube video on how to identify SWD damage is: https://youtu.be/DLNDnMMfWfs

In our research we have seen SWD showing up earlier in the spring each season and their numbers increasing yearly. SWD do attack injured grapes before non-injured, they tend to wait till veraison before attacking grapes, and they will reproduce in fallen berries.  For this reason it is important to keep your vineyards as clean as possible and to maintain coverage of these wine grapes through harvest. Trapping and forecasting can lead to improvements in grower’s capability to optimally time pest management decisions which should reduce both the direct cost of pesticide treatments and the indirect cost to wineries.  Information can also be found at:
http://extension.psu.edu/pests/ipm/agriculture/fruits/spotted-wing-drosophila

The brown marmorated stink bug (BMSB) is currently a very serious pest in tree fruits and vegetables, and can be a nuisance when they overwinter in houses. Although BMSB prefer other fruits and vegetables to grapes, they do feed on grapes. Their damage can cause ugly scars on table grapes and grapes grown for sale at fruit stands. This type of damage is not important to wine grape and juice grape growers, however, the holes open pathways for fungal and bacteria late season infections. This season, in the Lake Erie region, we have begun to see a small number of BMSB damaged grapes. BMSB may also be easily harvest with the grapes. The insects tend to move to the interior of the cluster when disturbed and are hard to see. When they are killed they give off a foul odor – which is how they got their name. Our research has shown that this odor and resulting taste do survive the pasteurization of juice grapes, but disappears after being stored for longer periods of time. There is conflicting research on whether this taint transfers to wine, more research is ongoing. There are traps commercially available to trap these insect, but their efficacy is very low. BMSB have been found in both grape foliage and grape clusters; they seek the moisture, sugar, and warmth on the inside the clusters (especially overnight) and they often migrate to the cluster’s interior close to harvest. This makes the possibility of BMSB inside the cluster very likely when these grapes are mechanically harvested and transported to the processor.

Brown Marmorated Stink Bug in a Grape Cluster

With the yearly increase of numbers of BMSB in the Pennsylvania vineyards, it is very important for growers to scout for the adults and the presence of the eggs on the underside of grape leaves. There are one to two generations in Pennsylvania. A compilation of research can be accessed at www.STOPBMSB.org

Life stags of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug. Photo from: http://www.mda.state.mn.us/plants/insects/stinkbug.aspx

 

The newest invasive poised to become a major problem to grape growers, the spotted lanternfly (SLF), Lycorma delicatula, (Hemiptera: Fulgoridae) is native to China, India, Japan, and Vietnam and has been detected for the first time in the United States in northeastern Berks County, Pennsylvania. This approximately one inch long insect with piercing-sucking mouthparts has the potential to impact the green industry, grape growers, tree fruit growers, and the forests and wood products industries in Pennsylvania as well as the United States. The host plants of the SLF in its native habitat include grapes, pines, stone fruits, and up to 50 other hosts. Early detection of the SLF is critical for effective control and protection of Pennsylvania’s agriculture and its related businesses. SLF group feeds on grapevines in numbers great enough to cause destruction of the entire grapevine. Grapes are listed as a primary host in its native regions. To date this insect has been confined to areas of Berks and Bucks counties in Pennsylvania. The PDA has issued a general order of quarantine for these areas over the past few years, however this insect is slowly increasing its range.

The following is a link to the PDA’s information on the SLF: www.pda.state.pa.us/spottedlanternfly. You may find a link to a pdf copy of the SLF Order of Quarantine, a PowerPoint on Lycorma Inspection Tips, and the SLF Pest Alert at this website.

What to do if you:

  • See eggs: Scrape them off the tree or smooth surface and place the eggs in a tightly sealed container with 70% alcohol or hand sanitizer to kill them.
  • Collect a specimen: Send the adult/nymph specimen or egg mass to the PDA Entomology Lab for verification. The mailing address for the lab is: PDA, Entomology Room-111, 2301 N. Cameron St., Harrisburg, PA 17110. First, place the sample collected in 70% rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer in a leak proof container. Complete the PDA Entomology Program Sample Submission Form. This sample form can be found in the PDA SLF website www.pda.state.pa.us/spottedlanternfly.
  • Report a site: Call the Bad Bug hotline at 1-866-253-7189 with details of the sighting and your contact information.

The most destructive insect pest in the Lake Erie region remains the native Grape Berry Moth (GBM), Paralobesia viteana.  This insect is becoming increasingly harder to control as result of shorter residual time of insecticides, resistance to insecticides, and abandoned vineyards. GBM larval burrow into the grape berry soon after hatching, making precise timing of spray applications a critical component of control.  This insect has four generations per year.  Each generation increases in number exponentially if control measures are not applied to the early generations. Spray timings can be calculated by following the NEWA model recommendations (see earlier posts). Growing seasons with large populations of GBM, will require a second spray in July and/or August to control the populations, and to prevent them from moving farther into the vineyards. Scouting for GBM damage often during the season is a critical component of control, as the pheromone traps capture only the males and are not a good indicator of infestation after the first generation.  More information can be found on extension pages and on the LERGP Podcasts on Youtube.

An American (Wine Marketer) in Paris

By Dr. Kathy Kelley

I have been fortunate over the past few years to co-lead groups of Penn State undergraduates on a two-week experience in Paris, France, with the goal of comparing U.S. and French agriculture and food systems.  The students learn about U.S. systems from Penn State experts during the spring semester and then they learn about the French systems when abroad in mid-May.   Grape and wine production happens to be one of the topics they study, and they get an opportunity to not only visit a vineyard and winery in Pennsylvania but a couple of operations in the Champagne region.  On my time off I visit wine shops and look for wine-related “things” that may be of interest to you, our blog readers.  What follows is a bit of what I have seen so far on my trip.

Learning about Wine in High School

One of the stops we took the Penn State students to in the Champagne region was an agricultural high school (Lycée Agroviticole – Crézancy; http://bit.ly/2qyL40l).  The school was founded in 1870 and is just one of several schools that teach students about farm management.   Some of the students who have an interest in becoming winemakers, along with high school graduates who seek viticulture and enology training, are responsible for the vineyards and grow the three main wine grapes used to make Champagne (Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier). Screenshot 2017-05-19 16.23.55

In addition to learning about grape production, the students also learn the multi-step process of making Champagne and are involved in all steps of the process.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 19.16.35

Screenshot 2017-05-25 08.40.05Under the direction of a cellar master, the students’ final product is labeled and available for purchase.  Selections, with the price in U.S. dollars, include Brut Tradition ($15.00), Brut Blanc de Blanc ($16.30), Brut Rose ($16.75), Demi-Sec Tradition ($15.73), and Euphrasie Millesime 2008 ($21.35) (http://bit.ly/2rljEMQ). A product that is now available, but was not in 2015 when I last visited with a group, is Brut Terroir – their organic option ($19.11).

Champagne can be purchased online as well as from the cellar at the school.  A building is currently being converted into a retail space that the students will operate.  Students interested in Champagne production also attend conferences, participate in judging events, and co-host events for the industry.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 08.39.40

A 20,000 Euro ($22,474.74) Bottle of Wine

I am drawn to retail establishments and really enjoy observing how products are displayed, how the space is used, and the overall “feel” of the store.  While Paris has many wine shops and places to buy wine (even a wine shop where no French wine is sold/served (http://soifdailleurs.com), I enjoy visiting La Cava at the Lafayette Gourmet near the Opera Garnier in the 9th Arrondissement (http://bit.ly/2rkwriQ) because it is in the midst of a supermarket in the basement of a department store and it is staged as if it were a museum.  It is roomy, security guards are staged at the entrances, and the lighting highlights certain pieces (wines).

Screenshot 2017-05-25 13.52.35

There are approximately 2,500 labels, of which almost half are from Bordeaux.  Each time I visit I look for the most expensive wine available for purchase.  Though I found a few bottles that were priced over 2,000 euro (approx. $2,250 U.S.), I also found a few 750 mL bottles that were just a bit more: a 1945 Chateau Latour (Bordeaux), which Parker awarded a 90/100 and Wine Spectator a 100/100 (http://bit.ly/2rTOKs6), that sells for 12,900 euros (approx. $14,500 U.S.) and an 1899 Chateau d’Yquem (Bordeaux) for 20,000 euros (approx. $22,500), which Wine Spectator awarded a 91/100 (http://bit.ly/2qjseYs).   However, if those prices seem a little steep, do not forget that you can request a VAT tax refund when you leave the country, which for the Chateau d’Yquem is 2,400 euros (approx. $26,900 U.S.).

Screenshot 2017-05-25 14.30.35

Lavinia

Another shop that I visit when in Paris is Lavinia (located in the 1st Arrondissement, http://bit.ly/2qnVah7).  The business was established in 1999, has over 6,500 labels (including selections from the U.S.), and is often referred to as the Europe’s largest wine store.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 17.27.37

“La Cave” is in the basement level and houses rare and expensive wines.  In order to access the wines in this section, you will need to ask a staff member to open the door with a code, after which they will accompany you while you make your selection, and then they will bring the bottle to the cashier.  This is the one section of the store where it is forbidden to take photos of the bottles in an effort to minimize any exposure to excessive light from a camera’s flash.

After walking around both floors you may be interested in having a meal in the restaurant.  If you are interested in learning what wines pair with items on the menu you need only look at the display outside the dining room, find the particular food item (e.g., salad, cheese, a specific entrée), and refer to what wines are positioned in the column under the photo.  If you would like to taste a particular wine, ask for a card (deposit of 3 euros), load 10 euros or more onto the card, and insert it into one of four machines that will dispense a select number of reds, rose, or white wines, all for 1.10 euro to 9.60 euro per 3 cl (1 fluid ounce).

Screenshot 2017-05-25 17.25.58

As you can imagine with a city the size of Paris – the number of options for getting a glass or bottle of wine is immense.  If Paris is on your list of places to see, or if it is time for you to visit again, be sure to investigate what bars, restaurants, shops, and tastings you would like to experience.  While many establishments are well known and marked there are also a number of speakeasies in the city that deserve a visit, one of which is Lavomatic (https://www.lavomatic.paris).

Lavomatic is a working laundry mat with a secret door hidden behind one of the dryers.  After you push the “start” button on the dryer and pull the door to open it- you will find a dark staircase that leads up to a small bar with a few small seating areas including a few swings that hang from the ceiling.

Screenshot 2017-05-25 19.05.08Screenshot 2017-05-25 19.01.42

Until next time…

Using Social Media to Engage with Customers

By Jennifer Zelinskie and Dr. Kathy Kelley

Did you log into Facebook, send a “snap” via Snapchat, post a photo on Instagram, or send out a tweet on Twitter today?

There is no doubt that social media has a presence in our daily lives.  In 2017, 88% of the U.S. population had Internet access and 66% of the population actively used social media (http://bit.ly/2nCUEiC). From January 2016 to January 2017, the number of active social media users increased 21% and active mobile social users (those who use social media on their mobile devices) increased 30% (http://bit.ly/OeHf9K).

It may not surprise you that Facebook is the most widely used social media platform, but did you know that 68% of all U.S. adults use the platform?  Additionally, 76% of American users visited the site daily in 2016 (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy).

What about some of the other networks? Twenty-eight percent of all U.S. adults used Instagram, the second most “engaging” network after Facebook, and 51% of all Americans visited the site daily.  Slightly fewer, 21%, of U.S. adults used Twitter, with 42% of Americans reporting that they visited the site every day (http://pewrsr.ch/2nJd5Oy).  It is expected that there will be 66.6 million U.S. Snapchat users in 2017 (http://bit.ly/2nD5yVE).  While the audience tends to be a little bit younger, the number of users age 25 and older grew two times faster than users under the age of 25 in 2016 (http://bit.ly/2mDL7TP).

Importance of Social Media for Business Marketing

Social media can be an effective marketing tool and wineries and tasting rooms should consider how they might include select networks into their promotional strategies.  Or, if they currently have a presence – what they can do to encourage more engagement with followers. There are several benefits associated with using social media, which include:

  • increasing website traffic,
  • raising brand awareness,
  • creating a brand identity and positive brand association, and
  • “improve[ing] communication and interaction with targeted audiences,” (http://bit.ly/19OJ6KN).

Overall, social media is used to engage consumers; however, each network has its own purpose.  Some of which, from an article written by Justin Scah (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y), include:

  • A Facebook business page can be used to “connect with your prospective customers all around the world” and “allows for the best possible targeting…especially through Facebook Ads.”
  • Twitter allows businesses to “post recent news, updates, and articles” and the number of Twitter users reached can increase significantly if others retweet your message.
  • Instagram is an excellent tool for sharing photos of events held at a tasting room, your wines, the beautiful setting that surrounds your tasting room, and visitors enjoying their experience as you pour samples. It is common for businesses to host contests on Instagram. Participants post photos, based on specific criteria, and include a specified #hashtag that organizers can use to identify entries.
  • YouTube, the second largest search engine, is also owned by Google so “videos are more likely to appear in search results than other websites” with video.
  • Yelp allows customers to review your business and can persuade potential customers to either visit your tasting room – or decided to pass you by. This platform is “critical for businesses today” and “asking your customers to review your business prevents any negative reviews from standing out” (http://huff.to/2buWp8Y).

Social Media Use and our Mid-Atlantic Wine Consumer Survey Participants

In a March 2016 Internet survey, we included questions about social media use.  We asked our participants (New Jersey, New York, and/or Pennsylvania residents who drank and purchased wine at least once the previous year) if they used social media networks and/or review sites at least once during an average month.

Of the 714 survey participants, 84% responded “yes,” and then these 600 participants were asked to select, from a list of networks and sites, which ones they actively used at least once during an average month. Based on which social media and/or review sites they selected, they were then asked to indicate if they used the particular network(s) and site(s) to engage with and/or learn about wineries and/or tasting rooms (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Percentage of survey participants who used social media and/or review sites at least once a month and, based on the networks and sites they used, the percentage of these participants who used each to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms

Screenshot 2017-03-22 11.47.19

An earlier survey, conducted by former graduate student Abby Miller in September 2013, asked wine drinkers and purchasers in the three states to select which social media outlets they “felt were mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement to connect with customers” (Figure 2) (Miller, 2015).  Additionally, participants were asked to select which social networks they used to connect with companies.  Although the survey did not include as many options as the March 2016 survey, and we most likely had a different pool of consumers participate in each survey, it does provide insight as to which networks survey participants felt were important for wineries and tasting rooms to use to engage with them.

Figure 2. Social media networks that 2013 survey participants: 1) felt were mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 2) they used to connect with companies

Screenshot 2017-03-22 11.56.53

Also, when compared to the 2016 survey data, you will notice that the percentage of participants who used the networks to engage with and/or learn from wineries and tasting rooms was greater than the percentage of the 2013 participants who used the select networks to connect with companies.

  • Facebook: In 2013, 55.4% of survey participants felt that Facebook was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 26.9% used Facebook to connect with companies.
    • In 2016, the majority of participants who used social media (94%) used Facebook at least once a month and 64.5% of these participants used the platform to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
  • Twitter: 18.7% of participants in 2013 felt Twitter was mandatory for wineries and/or tasting rooms to implement and 12.8% used the network to connect with companies.
    • Slightly less than half of 2016 participants, 44.2%, used the network and 35.6% of these participants used the network to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
  • YouTube: 17.3% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 10.9% used the site to connect with companies.
    • Over half of the 2016 participants, 66.5%, used YouTube and 31.7% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
  • Pinterest: in 2013, 12% felt it was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement a Pinterest account and 6.6% of participants used it to connect with companies.
    • In 2016, 39.9% of participants used Pinterest at least once a month and 34.5% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.
  • Instagram: Only 10.4% of participants in 2013 felt Instagram was mandatory for wineries and tasting rooms to implement and 6.4% used Instagram to connect with companies.
    • In 2016, 45.7% of participants used Instagram at least once a month and 41.4% of these participants used it to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms.

Tips for Creating Social Media Networks for Your Winery and/or Tasting Room and How to Increase Engagement

Based on the data presented above, it is evident that our survey participants used certain social media networks and review sites to engage with and/or learn about wineries and tasting rooms. The number of social networks and review sites can be intimidating, especially when choosing which networks to invest the time and effort needed to successfully engage with followers.

Here are some tips to help you create an engaging social media presence:

  • Posts with videos and photos are more engaging than posts with just text (especially for Facebook and Twitter) (http://bit.ly/2iFFBBe).
  • The Facebook News Feed algorithm recently changed and text-only status updates will now need to include an embedded link. The link needs to be mobile friendly and of “good” quality, which is based on how long Facebook users remain on the “linked” site.  The longer a user spends “reading an article away from Facebook” the “higher” the link quality (http://ly/2mDvjQU).
  • Be sure to use social media to engage followers in a “two-way conversation” by commenting on their posts, asking them questions, and answering the questions they post.
  • Contests, promotions, and offering prizes and discounts is an effective way to generate interest and engagement – especially if participants have to post an image or comment on a post in order to be considered for a prize. Also, include offers that either need to be redeemed in the tasting room or require consumers to follow to receive offers or gain access to a special event.
  • Always add links on your website, business cards, and tasting room displays that lead to your social media accounts.
  • Don’t publish the exact same post to each of your accounts. Create unique posts for each social media account to motivate consumers to follow your business on more than one network.
  • Follow your competition to learn how they are interacting with wine consumers and how many likes/shares/etc. their posts generate.
  • Mention complementary businesses in your posts to build important linkages and increase the number of social media users who see your message and learn about your wines and tasting room experience (http://bit.ly/2nwUhBS).

It is important to remember that social media “is about building trust as well as relationships – and that comes from not selling” (Dave Brookes, Sales and Marketing Department, Teusner Wines, http://bit.ly/2nDgCSm). This is why, no matter which platform(s) you use for your business, your overall goal should be to “connect” with your followers and provide information that will help them enjoy wine.

To determine which social media networks you should have an active presence, ask your customers and tasting room visitors:

  • If they use social media and, if yes, which accounts they use,
  • which ones they use to follow businesses and which they would prefer to use to connect with your business, and
  • what information they would like you to share on via social media (e.g., new wines, promotions, events, pairings, and recipes).

Once you’ve developed your social media presence, analyze each network to learn if your followers find you posts engaging. This can be done through documenting clicks, likes, shares, comments, retweets, coupon use, tasting room visits, etc. A more thorough way of investigating engagement is through network-specific tools such as Facebook Insights, Instagram Insights, and YouTube stats. There are also multiple social media analytics tools, both free and paid, that compile all your platform engagement stats into one report (e.g., Hootsuite, Klout, Simply Measured) (http://bit.ly/2ee4Sg4). These and other tools can be easily found on the Intent by searching for “Social Media Analytics Tools.”  We hope you are encouraged to grow your business’s social media presence and engage with your customers.  We will continue to share ideas and examples to help you with this important task!

Reference:

Miller, A.L. Developing Wine Marketing Strategies for the Mid-Atlantic Region. Thesis. The Pennsylvania State University, 2015.

screenshot-2017-01-26-08-59-39

Connecting with wine consumers and tasting room visitors via mobile devices

By Dr. Kathy Kelley and Jen Zelinskie

You could be reading this blog post on a desktop, on your iPad, or your Samsung Galaxy smartphone.  As the number of devices available to read what we and others post increase so do the best practices associated with creating and posting relevant content.

This post provides information to supplement what we have shared in the past about using technology to connect with customers and tasting room visitors.  Content describes our participants’ cell phone (basic and smartphone) and tablet ownership, the percentage who installed a mobile wine app, and interest in mobile wine app features and receiving text messages from winery tasting rooms.

We will continue to ask participants about their smartphone, mobile app, and other relevant technology use in future surveys.

Smartphone use in the U.S.: Current ownership and forecast

 The very first phone that “meld together the functions of a cell phone and a PDA (personal digital assistant)” was introduced in 1992, although it was not until 1995 that the device was referred to as a smartphone (http://read.bi/2kNBfXa).   As you can imagine, with a retail price of $899 in 1992, consumer adoption was a bit slow at first.

In 2015, 68% of U.S. adults owned a smartphone, and, as might be expected, younger consumers were more likely to own one than more mature consumers.  Smartphone ownership at that time was:

  • 86% of survey participants age 18 to 29,
  • 84% of 30 to 49-year-olds,
  • 58% of 50 to 64-year-olds, and
  • 30% of participants age 65 and older (http://pewrsr.ch/2lo7PCV).

There’s no denying it, many of us consider our smartphones to be essential to our everyday life.  We use these devices to communicate with others, keep our calendar, be used to deliver presentations, and manage our finances.  The capabilities seem almost limitless.

Then it should come as no surprise that these devices are never far from our reach.  In a separate 2015 survey, 81% of U.S. adult smartphone owners responded “yes,” to the statement, “I keep my smartphone near me almost all the time during my waking hours…” and 63% reported that they kept their smartphone “near them at night even while sleeping” (http://bit.ly/2lo0Ae).

Furthermore, we are more likely to turn to our mobile devices than our desktops to “get online.”  In June 2014, the number of “unique visitors” who accessed digital content on mobile devices “passed” the number of unique visitors who accessed digital content on desktops.  In June 2016, the number of unique mobile visitors was “double” that of desktop visitors (http://bit.ly/2lwrldh).

It is estimated between 2014 and 2020 the number of U.S. smartphone users (all ages) will increase by 50.1% (171 to 256.7 million users; http://bit.ly/2kNL5Io).  During this same time period, the U.S. population is expected to increase by 5.0% (318.7 to 334.5 million consumers; http://bit.ly/2kNI5f2).

Mid-Atlantic wine consumer mobile phone and tablet ownership

In a March 2016 Internet survey, we included questions about mobile phone and tablet ownership and asked our participants, who resided in New Jersey, New York, and/or Pennsylvania and who drank and purchased wine at least once the previous year, how they used these devices.

Of the 714 survey participants, all but seven reported owning a basic phone, smartphone, and/or tablet.  Of those who owned at least one of these devices, 93.6% owned a smartphone and/or tablet and the remaining 6.4% owned a basic phone (Figure 1), with 41.6% of these participants responding that they owned a tablet.

screenshot-2017-02-15-15-16-16

Though we did not ask about participants’ mobile tablet or smartphone plans, it can be assumed that some of these participants had a mobile data plan for their tablets.  In 2015, 31% of tablet owners had such a plan (http://bit.ly/2kyLbCS), and some cell phone carriers now offer unlimited or free data plans.  It is projected that by 2020, 66.2% of Internet users will use a table “at least once a month,” a 10.4% increase from 2012 (http://bit.ly/2kyLRYS).

What do smartphone users do on their devices?

Responses to an August 2016 survey involving adult smartphone users, age 18 and older, indicated that on a weekly basis they used their phone to:

  • “access the internet” (93% of participants),
  • “take photos/videos” (71%),
  • “receive SMS/text alerts” (68%),
  • “look up directions” (58%), and
  • “research products” (47%) (http://bit.ly/2lo3lft).

Pertaining to shopping and using a smartphone to make a purchase, there was a nearly equal split between the percentage of respondents who made a “majority” of their smartphone purchases using a mobile app (51%) and who used a mobile website (49%) (http://bit.ly/2lvo65J).

Segmenting data based on demographics reveals:

  • 3% of participants in one survey responded that they made a purchase using a smartphone in 2016, with slightly more female participants making a purchase than males (45.3 vs. 39.9%, respectively) (http://bit.ly/2lvo65J).
  • In 2016, Over half (63%) of Millennials shop on their smartphones every day but fewer, 39%, actually make the purchase on their phone (http://bit.ly/2loGXmh).
  • In 2015, 55% of Gen X shoppers used their smartphones to “locate store/hours,” 54% to “browse products,” and 44% to “get text offers” (http://bit.ly/2lnPS7h).

When asked what prompted them to make a purchase on their smartphone, 21% responded that they made a purchase after receiving a “marketing email about” the product, 18% a “marketing text,” and 17% a “marketing push notification” (http://bit.ly/2lvo65J).

Mobile Apps

Mobile app usage “accounted for 80% of all growth in digital media engagement” between June 2013 and June 2016.

Adults, age 18 to 44, spent more time accessing the web using a smartphone app than they did all of the following options, combined: desktop web browser, smartphone web browser, tablet app, tablet web browser.   How long did these survey participants spend using apps?  During an average month:

  • Smartphone users age 18 to 24 years spent an average of 93.5 hours using smartphone apps,
  • users age 25 to 34 years spent an average of 85.6 hours, and
  • users age 35 to 44 years spent an average of 78.8 hours (http://bit.ly/2lwrldh).

If we take the number of hours in a year and divide that number by 12, there are approximately 730 hours in a month.  So, these consumers were spending between 10.8% and 12.8% of each month accessing content via smartphone apps.

Our participants’ mobile wine app usage and what winery and tasting room app features appeal

One component of our second March 2016 Internet survey focused on whether our participants installed wine apps (e.g., Delectable, Hello Vino, Drync, Wine Enthusiast’s Tasting Guide) on their smartphones and/or tablets and used the app(s) to learn about wine and/or winery tasting rooms.  As is shown in Figure 2, below, 26.7% of smartphone and/or tablet owners responded that they did have an app installed on their mobile device.

screenshot-2017-02-15-15-16-27

 

All participants who owned a smartphone and/or tablet, regardless of whether they had a mobile wine app installed on their device, were also asked to look through a list of features commonly found in wine apps and select up to five they felt would be useful to incorporate into a winery tasting room app.

Responses are ranked based on the number of participants who selected each, with “location, service, direction, and/or map to the winery tasting room” selected by the greatest number of participants (Table 1).  “Detailed list of events held at the winery tasting room” along with details specific to the occasion (date/time, performer, entrance fee, etc.) and “tasting room sales announcement/digital coupons for tastings and/or purchases” were ranked second and third, respectively.

screenshot-2017-02-18-08-46-20

Even through 73.3% participants indicated that they did not have an app installed, we included responses from all of our smartphone and/or tablet owners in Table 1.  It is possible that one of the reasons why participants had not installed a mobile wine app was because they didn’t like the features.  Hence, we feel it is of value to provide all the data as their responses pertained to features that could be incorporated into a winery tasting room app, rather than an app offered by a corporation, magazine, etc.

While the data is specific to mobile app features, knowing what features appeal to mobile device owners could be useful when developing or revamping a mobile website.  Responses may help tasting rooms identify content that they had not considered for their website or help with prioritizing content.

So, should you develop an app for your winery tasting room?

With data showing that smartphone and tablet ownership and app usage is increasing, is it time that you invest in your own winery and tasting room app?  While it may seem that an app would simply duplicate what your mobile website does, according to one expert “mobile apps…are best suited for user retention and engaging with clients.  They’re not aimed at random people finding a company’s website, but are more about rewarding loyal customers” (http://bit.ly/2kXrxUp).

Benefits a small business may experience if they develop their own app include:

  • an additional way to communicate with customers, another channel for them to make purchases, and gather user data (depending on the app’s capability and features) such as “visits, checkouts, purchases, searches, and more” (http://bit.ly/2kXsxI9);
  • being able to reward users, be the method for recording purchases, and display loyalty program status and level (http://bit.ly/2kXmW4G); and
  • serve as a point of differentiation from other winery tasting rooms that do not have their own app (http://bit.ly/2kXnHdS).

One of the biggest cons, if not the biggest, is the cost of building an app.  The costs to build an app depend on what options are selected.  Some of which include:

  • if your app be available to Android or Apple iOS users of both,
  • if and how users login to the app (no login, using their email, or using a social media account),
  • if users will have to create a personal profile,
  • if the app will be free, for a fee, and/or allow in-app purchases (http://bit.ly/2kXrecm).

Also, you will need to determine if you should develop a:

  • native mobile app (written specifically for Android and/or Apple iOS and is downloaded from the App Store or Google Play and are opened by “tapping their icon”),
  • a hybrid mobile app (which is downloaded like a native app but runs off a web browser and can be cheaper to build than native apps), or
  • a web app (a “mobile version” of a website and “loads within a mobile browser” (http://bit.ly/2kXv5X1, http://bit.ly/2kXsZWY).

Perhaps you are not ready to build an app, but is your website mobile-friendly?

While you may be considering the benefits of developing an app for your tasting room, you really need to learn directly from your customers about their interest in downloading your app and what features appeal to them.  Until you have collected data from your customers, developed the app, tested it, made improvements, etc., your tasting room visitors will likely turn to your website to learn about your winery and wine.

In September 2013, we asked Mid-Atlantic wine consumers to indicate what social media networks, email, and online resources they felt were mandatory for winery tasting rooms to implement.  Over half of our participants felt that a “website for promoting the winery and wines produced” was a “mandatory” component (http://bit.ly/2kNy7dI).  Hence, you not only want a website (according to one survey, 46% of small businesses do not have a website; http://bit.ly/2kNPwTE) but you want one that functions properly and is mobile friendly.

A website that is not mobile-friendly not only frustrates visitors – it may also negatively impact your Google mobile ranking (http://tcrn.ch/2kWN4ws).  Since 2014, Google has been focusing on the importance of having a mobile-friendly website, and that having one provides the consumer with a better experience (http://bit.ly/2kX1YmB).   So, if your website is already mobile-ready then it may “appear higher on search results” (http://bit.ly/2kWUEaI).  Keep in mind that a mobile-friendly website is just one factor than can impact Google mobile rankings (http://bit.ly/2kOhhLK) and that the algorithm pertaining only to Google searches on mobile devices (http://bit.ly/2kX3PrB).  Based on analyzing their customers’ websites, Hubspot.com estimated that the 2015 update resulted in “a 5% drop in traffic,” (http://bit.ly/2kWX0pK).

Fortunately, there are several websites and online tools that identify issues that make a site less mobile friendly.

We tested these tools/sites to see what type of assistance they provided.  We used an URL from a winery that had just updated their website design and that was well designed for desktop viewing.  While we only mention a couple of tools, you will find more online by searching for “mobile ready website tests.”

The first tool we used to check if the website was mobile friendly was developed by Google: (http://bit.ly/2loAxmX).   To test a web page, simply copy and paste the URL into the textbox on the site, click “run text,” and wait.  You will then be directed to a page with your results.

Although we got a message that “this page is easy to use on a mobile device,” and it looked great when we compared the mobile version to how it looked on my desktop, there was an alert.  Two of the resources on the site were “blocked,” which are “external resources­–such as image, CSS, or script files” (http://bit.ly/2loHFzP).  A blocked resource could have minimal impact or if it is a “blocked CSS file [this could] result in incorrect font styles being applied…[which] affects…Google’s ability to your page” (scan your web page and create an index of all the words on the page, which then determines the order in which web users see them; http://bit.ly/2lXtaQq).

If your web page is not mobile-friendly, you will be alerted to whether the errors pertain to Flash usage (“content, animations, or navigation” not being displayed) the content not sized to viewport (the viewer would need to scroll horizontally to see all the content on their mobile device), and/or others (http://bit.ly/2lXN3qG).

We also tested the website with another mobile-friendly tool, mobiReady (http://ready.mobi/), and learned that though 23 of the web page components (e.g., cookie size, applets, and image resizing) “passed” the test, nine had “minor fails” (e.g., popups, JavaScript Minimize), and six were “major fails” (e.g., caching control, JavaScript placement).   After clicking each minor and major fail I learned why the component was considered a failure and I learned “how to fix it.”

Click on the following link to learn how “not being mobile friendly” can cost you: http://bit.ly/2kWOIOS.

A little bit more about texting customers

While basic cell phone owners have limited access to some applications and mobile websites, they still can be used to communicate with wineries and tasting rooms and receive promotional messages, shipping notifications, and other communications that tasting rooms send via text.

In a January post, Kathy provided information about why you might want to consider using text messaging to connect with your customers (http://bit.ly/2lktAma).  While the data discussed in that post were based on consumers in general, we asked in our March 2016 survey if Mid-Atlantic wine consumer were interested in receiving texts from wineries and tasting rooms.

With nearly all (95.3%) of participants owning a smartphone and/or basic phone, and proposing that these phones can accept text messages, over half (53.2%) of participants would be interested in receiving text messages from a winery tasting room that contains information about events, wine tastings, new wine releases, etc. (Figure 3).

screenshot-2017-02-15-15-16-41

Take a look at the post to learn why consumers were interested in communicating with businesses via text and how to use texting to engage with tasting room visitors.  If you need some ideas as to what to include in the message, a simple Internet search for “sample text messages to customers” can lead to several sites with examples and templates (e.g., announcing that your website is mobile-friendly http://bit.ly/2kXnKqj  and asking visitors to comment about their recent tasting room experience http://bit.ly/2kX5uxi).

screenshot-2017-01-26-08-59-39

 

Reviewing YAN and Hydrogen Sulfide: Part 2

By: Denise M. Gardner

In a previous post, we discussed ways in which nutrient management during primary fermentation can affect hydrogen sulfide formation and the overall “health” of the wine.  This week, we’re going to explore how to mediate hydrogen sulfide aromas and flavors in a finished wine.

Sulfur-Containing Off Aromas

In general, many wine sensory scientists and wine experts will agree that is relatively a bad habit to use the term “sulfur” to describe off-odors associated with hydrogen sulfide or “stinky” aromas that are usually described by the term “reduced.”  One of the main arguments for avoiding “sulfur” as a description term for an aroma is due to the fact that there are actually several forms of aromatic sulfur-containing compounds found in wine, and they can have very different aromas (smells, odors) associated with that one compound.  The most common groups of aromatic sulfur-containing compounds in wine are:

  • Sulfur dioxide (SO2)
  • Hydrogen sulfide (H2S)
  • Mercaptans or Thiols
  • Disulfides

Additionally, many sensory experts will advise further to avoid using the chemical names as descriptors for describing an aroma found in wine (e.g., using the term “hydrogen sulfide” to describe the hard-boiled or rotten egg aroma).  It is typically recommended to use an actual descriptor when describing an aroma (e.g., using the term “rotten eggs” when that smell exists in wine).

Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)

Sulfur dioxide is an antioxidant and antimicrobial preservative frequently used in wine production.  However, it is also produced by yeast during primary fermentation, which is why wines (and other fermented products) cannot be sulfur dioxide-free (commonly referred to as “sulfite free” in the mass media).  The aromatic descriptor commonly associated with a high concentration of sulfur dioxide is termed “burned match,” but a high concentration of sulfur dioxide can also cause a nasal irritation that many will describe as nasal burning.  For more information on sulfur dioxide and managing its concentration in wine, please refer to this Wine Made Easy Fact Sheet produced by Penn State Extension.

Hydrogen Sulfide (H2S)

Hydrogen sulfide is an aromatic compound that is commonly described as having a “rotten egg” or “hard-boiled egg” aroma.  Like many sulfur-containing compounds, hydrogen sulfide has a low sensory threshold (<1 – 1 part per billion, ppb), indicating that about 50% of the population could sense this compound at that concentration without being able to identify it, specifically, as hydrogen sulfide.

As we saw in our previous post, hydrogen sulfide development can result as a component of poor nutrient management during primary fermentation.  Residual elemental sulfur from pesticide sprays has also been linked to latent development of hydrogen sulfide in wines.  In a 2016 edition of Appellation Cornell, Dr. Gavin Saks’ lab provided a detailed and practical report on how hydrogen sulfide can be a problem for winemakers post-bottling and the potential links to hydrogen sulfide development as a function of residual sulfur from the vineyard (Jastrzembski and Saks, 2016).

Occasionally, winemakers may also experience hydrogen sulfide formation during a sur lie aging period; a time in which the finished wine remains on the lees when lees are stirred in the wine.  It is also common for sparkling wines, produced in the traditional method, to exhibit a small perception of hydrogen sulfide when the bottle is first opened.

Mercaptans/Thiols and Disulfides

Finally, mercaptans or thiols, sulfur-containing compounds that contain the functional group –SH, and disulfides, sulfur-containing compounds that contain a S-S bond, can also be problematic for winemakers when found at high concentrations.

The presence of sulfur-containing volatile compounds is not always considered detrimental to wine quality.  For some wine grape varieties (e.g., Sauvignon Blanc), these classes of compounds can make up their varietal aroma.  In very small concentrations, sulfur-containing compounds can also be aroma enhancers, indicating that their presence can actually make the wine smell fruitier than if they were not present in the wine.  However, when at substantial concentrations, volatile sulfur-containing compounds can also produce various “stink” aromas that mask a wine’s fruitiness, freshness, and make the wine generally unappealing.  This is phenomena is dependent on the concentration of the sulfur-containing compound and the chemical makeup of the solution (i.e., wine) it is in.

Mercaptans or thiols and disulfides have a variety of descriptors associated with them, and their perception is largely based on concentration.  When we’re discussing the negatively-associated descriptors, common terms include: garlic, onion, canned asparagus, canned corn, cooked cabbage, putrefaction, burnt rubber, natural gas, and molasses amongst others.

Are There Sulfur-Containing Off-Aromas in Your Wine?

To identify if hydrogen sulfide, mercaptans/thiols, or disulfide-based off-odors exist in your wine, it may be best to use a copper screen as a bench trial.  While analytical identification of these compounds is possible, it is often expensive and leaves the winemaker guessing on what to do next.

For a quick assessment of a wine’s aroma, winemakers can drop 1-2 pre-1985 copper pennies into a glass of wine to see if the aroma freshens.  The freshening aroma is due to the fact that the copper from the penny is reacting with the sulfur-containing compounds in the wine and making them aromatically inactive.

The "penny test" is often used to quickly determine if a wine is suffering from reduction, the presence of several types sulfur-containing off-odors. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

The “penny test” is often used to quickly determine if a wine is suffering from reduction, the presence of several types sulfur-containing off-odors. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

A technical copper screen takes a bit more work and should be conducted in a quiet and aromatically-neutral environment.  It is recommended to do this outside of the cellar.

Copper addition, in the form of copper sulfate, is often used to remediate aromas/flavors associated with hydrogen sulfide. One-percent and 10% copper sulfate solutions can be purchased through your local wine supplier.  The basic protocol associated with a copper screen is as follows:

  1. Add 50 milliliters of wine to two glasses.
  2. Label one glass “control” and the other “copper addition” (see image below).
  3. Add 1 mL of 1% copper sulfate to the “copper addition” glass.
  4. Cap both glasses for 15 minutes.  Sniff the aroma of each wine.
Setting up a copper screen can help determine if a wine is suffering from aromas caused by sulfur-containing compounds. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

Setting up a copper screen can help determine if a wine is suffering from aromas caused by sulfur-containing compounds. Photo by: Denise M. Gardner

Sniff (smell only!) both glasses. Most people start with the “control” and smell the treated wine (wine containing copper sulfate) second.  If the aroma/flavor of the “copper addition” glass has improved, or the hydrogen sulfide aroma has subsided, then a copper addition trial should follow to determine the exact concentration of hydrogen sulfide needed to clean up the wine in question.  Remember that the legal limit for copper allowed in a finished wine is 0.5 ppm.  For a full protocol on how to run a copper addition bench trial, please refer to this Penn State Extension Wine Made Easy Fact Sheet.

Treatment of Sulfur-Containing Compound Off-Aromas

Sulfur-containing compounds are quite reactive, which can make dealing with them fairly difficult.  Many educators agree that the best way to treat sulfur-containing compounds, especially those that stink, is to prevent their existence as best as possible.

In the Appellation Cornell newsletter that focused on sulfur pesticide residues, Jastrzembski and Saks (2016) recommended that sulfur residue concentrations should not exceed 1 mg/kg at harvest in order to avoid latent hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-aromas later in processing and storage.  Additionally, many experts recommend appropriately treating fermenting musts with nutrient management strategies based on the starting YAN concentration to minimize the incidence of hydrogen sulfide formation during primary fermentation.  This topic was covered in a previous blog post.

As described above, winemakers may also opt to treat the wine with copper sulfate to try to reduce the perception of hydrogen sulfide or other sulfur-containing aromas.  It should be noted that aromas caused by disulfides cannot be mediated with a copper sulfate addition.

There has been more conversation in the academic community regarding the reemergence of hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-aromas after a wine has been treated with copper and post-bottling.   The theory around this appears to circulate around residual copper initiating reactions in the wine that lead to more sulfur-containing off-odors.  This continues to be an ongoing discussion amongst researchers and will likely be a hot topic within with the wine industry.  For now, it is important for winemakers to understand that there may be a risk of off-odors reemerging post-copper treatment and post-bottling.  This topic will also be discussed to some degree at the 2017 PA Wine Marketing and Research Board Symposium on March 29, 2017 in State College, PA, and winemakers are encouraged to attend.

Some hydrogen sulfide or sulfur-containing off-odors can sometimes be mediated with use of fresh lees stirred in the wine or the addition yeast lees-like products.  Winemaking products like Lallemand’s Reduless, yeast hulls, or some cellulose-based products can help reduce or eliminate the intensity of these off-odors.  As with any other product additions, it is recommended that wineries always do bench trials first and before adding to the entire volume of wine.  Additionally, Enartis USA (Vinquiry) has previously distributed a fact sheet to help winemakers troubleshoot reduced wines and determine how to best treat a problem wine.

 

The incidence of reduction, sulfur-containing off-odors, or hydrogen sulfide can be a frustrating circumstance for winemakers.  However, adequate vineyard care and proper nutrient management during primary fermentation can help minimize the incidence rate of sulfur-containing off-odors from occurring in their wines.  Of course, problems with wines do occur, and we hope that the recommendations above will help winemakers solve wine problems pertaining to sulfur-containing off-odors.

 

Resources

Jastrzembski, J. and G. Sacks. 2016. Sulfur Residues and Post-Bottling Formation of Hydrogen Sulfide. Appellation Cornell, 3a.

What Drives Mid-Atlantic Wine Consumers to Visit Local Winery Tasting Rooms

By Jennifer Zelinskie and Dr. Kathy Kelley

Whether you work in the wine industry or are just a wine consumer who reads the Wine & Grape U. Blog, you have probably visited many different winery tasting rooms. Reflecting on these visits, you probably remember instances when you had an exceptionally good experience and times when your visit might not have been all that delightful. We are pretty sure that you made the decision to return to the facility while tasting the wines or just after the door shut upon your exit.

If you are a winery tasting room owner or operator, you want all of your customers to have a memorable positive experience and have no doubt that they will visit again. This blog post presents data collected from our Mid-Atlantic wine consumer participants as to what had a positive influence on their willingness to visit again.

The Impact of Customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is critical to the success of any business. Miguel Gomez, a faculty member at Cornell University, shared five factors that drive customer satisfaction, builds loyalty, and encourages repeat winery tasting room visits. These include:

  • ambience – cleanliness, ambiance, lighting, sounds, view, etc.;
  • service – staff friendliness, knowledge, appropriate appearance, and helpfulness;
  • tasting protocol – variety, amount served, cost, and number of wines tasted;
  • tasting experience – flexibility in choice of wines, space (crowdedness), waiting time to start and between samples; and
  • retail execution – presentation of wine for purchase, quality, prices, discounts, and ease of locating the winery (http://bit.ly/2jy3v2C).

According to data collected as part of the Northern Grapes Project, funded by the USDA, the average number of bottles study participants purchased increased as customer satisfaction increased. Participants were asked to rate their “level of customer satisfaction” in tasting rooms on a scale of 1 (lowest level of customer satisfaction) to 5 (highest level). Participants that rated their tasting room satisfaction level a ‘4’ out of ‘5’ purchased an average of 2.8 bottles of wine, but those who rated their tasting room satisfaction level a ‘5’ out of ‘5’ purchased an average of 4 bottles (http://bit.ly/2k5gG7L). Average amount of money spent at the tasting room also increased as level of customer satisfaction increased. Those who awarded ratings of ‘4’ out of ‘5’ spent an average of $40 and those who awarded ratings of ‘5’ out of ‘5’ spent an average of $60.

How far did our participants travel to winery tasting rooms during an average year?

In our March 2016 survey, participants were asked if they visited and/or purchased wines from winery tasting rooms that were located within 100 miles from their home during an average year. Of the 1,038 participants, 505 (50.1%) responded “yes.” These 505 participants were then asked a series of questions regarding their winery tasting room visits.

Why might purchasing wine from a tasting room be more appealing than purchasing wine from a retail liquor store?

As a winery tasting room owner you want your customers to come and visit your location, taste your wine, and make purchases on a regular basis. Yet one of your major competitors is the local liquor store, which can be more convenient (e.g., hours of operation) for consumers and provide them with a greater selection of wines (e.g., type, origin, price) than you offer.

Hence we asked our participants who visited winery tasting rooms within 100 miles of their home to react to factors that may have influenced them (positively and negatively) to travel to a tasting room, rather than a liquor store, for a visit and/or to purchase wine. Data presented below (Figures 1 through 3) are for the 95.6% of participants who indicated that at least one factor influenced them in a positive way to travel to a winery tasting room to visit and/or make a purchase. We will discuss factors that had a negative influence in another blog post.

Factors that Had a Positive Influence on Participants’ Visits and/or Purchases

As you can see in Figure 1, below, nearly half of the 505 participants selected “prefer to purchase directly from the winemaker” (48.6%) and that “purchasing wine directly from the winery tasting room provides more support to the local economy” (47.9%) as having a positive influence on why they traveled to a tasting room within 100 miles of their home to make a visit and/or purchase wine, as opposed to a retail liquor store. We chose the 100-mile distance as 64% of participants in one study responded that for a food to be “local” it had to be produced within a 100-mile radius “of the store” (http://bit.ly/2jxi1VO), and there are reasons why you might promote your tasting room as being a local wine source.

screenshot-2017-01-26-10-42-27

Individuals who buy wine from local wineries may do so because they feel a sense of community when they make the purchase. Others may purchase local because of economic benefits. For example, when $100 is spent at a local business “roughly” $68 stays in the community while only $43 “stays in the local economy” when $100 is spent at a non-locally owned business (http://bit.ly/12cRrXn). Or, they may feel that local foods and local wines are a natural pairing. According to David Page of Shinn Estate Vineyards, though it may take decades or longer, “the wine of a region and the food of a region creates the cuisine of the region” (http://nyti.ms/2kcdVBt).

How can you, as a winery tasting room owner or operator, use the “buy local” trend to engage your customers?

  • Promote your business as being local, that you make your wine locally, and/or that the grapes and other ingredients used in the wine are from local sources. The Hive Winery, located in Layton, Utah, states on their website that their “wines are crafted using fruit and home from local farms as much as possible” (http://bit.ly/2kwO47H). If you look through their website you will learn that the local theme is not just mentioned once, but they discuss why consumers may want to buy local, indicate the ingredients in each wine that were sourced locally (e.g. “11 pounds of fresh Utah black cherries [are used] per bottle” of their Black Cherry Brandy, http://bit.ly/2kx2K6F), and link to other local businesses. Discussing why local, as well as other environmental practices, is important to them helps convey to readers that they are not merely using “local” just to drive sales.
  • Find a “buy local” association, build a relationship with other local businesses, and work together to promote your businesses and the community. In 2013, 14% of independent businesses located in Michigan “Local First” communities indicated that the effort had a “significant positive impact” on their business, 28% reported a “moderate positive impact,” and 33% “a little positive impact” (http://bit.ly/1gcOesa). These businesses reported a greater percent change in revenue in 2013 over 2012, a 7.0% increase compared to 2.3% for independent businesses in communities without a Local First initiative, and a greater positive change in 2013 holiday sales compared to 2012 (http://bit.ly/1gcOesa).
  • Register your business as a “Small Business Saturday” participant (http://amex.co/1JdleC6). This campaign, hosted by American Express, is held on a Saturday after Thanksgiving and encourage shoppers to buy from local businesses. Now approaching its eighth year, 112 million consumers shopped and dined at small businesses on Small Business Saturday 2016, a 13% increase over 2015 (http://bit.ly/2koxVRI). Not only do consumers focus on purchasing from small businesses on this shopping holiday, but 77% of consumers who participated in 2014 survey responded that “the day makes them want to shop local year-round” (http://bit.ly/2jxFO7q). One winery that utilizes Small Business Saturday is North Folk Winery, Harris, MN. Thewineyhosted a wine pairing with local cheese and chocolate and offered attendees a 20% discount on bottles when they purchased cheese and chocolate gift boxes (http://bit.ly/2jxdAKH).

Offering discounts in your winery tasting room can help attract new customers, encourage undecided customers to make a purchase, and prompt those who have not visited your tasting room in a while to stop in and see what is new.

Pertaining to discounts and programs that would provide incentives for purchasing multiple bottles, 40.1% of our participants indicated that such a discount had a positive influence on their decision to travel to tasting rooms, as opposed to a retail liquor store (Figure 2).

screenshot-2017-01-26-10-42-38

Ron Lykins, a wine tasting room associate, suggests in a blog post that offering a discount on purchasing multiple bottles of wine is a reasonable strategy and encourages up-selling. He provides an example where a customer is purchasing four bottles of wine and is then presented with a modest discount if the customer purchases an additional two bottles.  He stresses that the policy needs to be clearly defined and that all tasting room staff must know when it should be offered (http://bit.ly/2j9BLhe).

But why do discounts work in attracting customers to your tasting room?

 The psychology behind discounts is to create urgency. Which can be achieved by:

  • Using phrases such as “get $10 off your case purchase” or “get 5% off a case purchase,” which specify what is actually being discounted, are more likely to motivate people to buy compared to using less direct statements like “save $10” or “save 10%.”
  • Limit the amount of time you offer the discount, preferably no more than a couple of weeks to encourage customers to buy before it is too late.
  • Inform customers about the discounts when they are if your tasting room and through all modes of communication (http://bit.ly/2jA0Cho).

Of the 505 participants who visited and/or purchased wines from winery tasting rooms that were located within 100 miles from their home during an average year, few participants (14.7%) indicated that being a member of the winery’s wine club and earning rewards by making purchases was a positive influence. This low response may be due to the fact that only 20.8% of these 505 participants reported being a club member or subscriber.

Although this is the case for our survey, as a winery owner or operator, you have the ability to customize your reward system and offer benefits that motivate your customers to become members and renew annually. Keep in mind that it is not just the discount that encourages customers to join a wine club, but there are also “intangible” benefits. You have the opportunity to make your club members feel special, whether that means hosting private events or getting to know them by name (http://bit.ly/2j9BLhe), both of which help members feel truly connected with the winery and tasting room staff. You can read more about our participants’ interest in wine club membership benefits by clicking here: http://bit.ly/2iCoulc.

Whether you are offering discounts to all customers or just members of your wine club, consider the following to make sure that your discount does not have a negative impact on your business:

  • Calculate the best discount price that will still generate a profit by understanding your gross margin, markup, and breakeven figures.
  • Know that you will need to increase your sales volume, which differs based on the discount offered, in order to maintain the desired gross margin. According to the example on the Business Victoria website (http://bit.ly/2jIa96k), if your gross margin is 40% and you offer a 5% discount then you will need to “increase your sales volume by 14.3 percent in order to make a profit.” If you change that 5% discount to a 10% discount you will need to increase your sales volume by 33.3%.
  • Become familiar with what discounts other winery tasting rooms in your area are offering. Though your operations may not be identical, this can at least give you some guidance as to what type of discount you might offer, amount of discount to provide, and frequency which to offer the discount.
  • Review last year’s sales and identify times (days of the week, seasons, etc.) when your sales were low and that, perhaps, running discounts during these times could increase foot traffic and boost sales (http://bit.ly/2jIa96k).

Figure 3 shows survey participant responses to the remaining three factors that could have a positive influence on their likelihood to travel to a winery tasting room, as opposed to a retail liquor store, within 100 miles of their home. Over half, 56.6%, of participants indicated that they like to be able to taste all or most of the wine before making any purchases. Half (51.0%) indicated that they like the taste and/or quality of the wine they purchase directly from the winemaker and approximately a third (31.2%) reported that being able to buy wines made with grapes native to their area (e.g., Niagara, Catawba) were reasons why they traveled to the tasting room.

screenshot-2017-01-26-10-42-48You know how wine tastings influence your visitors’ purchasing decisions, and that if you can get a reluctant visitor to try a wine that they are unfamiliar with – you might just get a sale. Whether you currently make wines that are less known or are contemplating doing so, you should consider encouraging as many visitors as possible to sample them.

In 2012, Michigan State University researchers investigated consumer awareness and perceptions of cold hardy grape wines (e.g., Brianna, Edelweiss, La Crescent, Marquette). According to their results, slightly more than half (55.5%) of Michigan tasting room visitors responded that they were not familiar with cold hardy wines, while 65.3% indicated that they had tasted them. An additional mail/email survey was implemented in six Mid-Western states. Awareness was even lower among these wine consumers, with 70% responding that they were not familiar with the wines and only 26.8% responding that they had tasted the wines (http://bit.ly/2jKwLC).

Although awareness of cold hardy wines was low, consumers who had tasted cold hardy grape wine reported to like them “a lot” (41.9% of the MI tasting room visitors and 39.3% of mail/email survey participants) or “a little” (29.9% of the MI tasting room visitors and 31.1% of mail/email survey participants; http://bit.ly/2jKwLC).

Educating your staff about these wines and guiding them as to how they can encourage customers to taste “unknown” or “less familiar” wine is crucial.

Of note….

We recognize that percentages of respondents who indicated that these factors had a positive influence on their winery tasting room visits were not as high as might have been expected. None of the percentages were greater than 56.6%. In the future, we plan to investigate other factors that may have a positive influence on winey tasting room visits.

screenshot-2017-01-26-08-59-39