Grow More Than Grapes: Email List Building For Wineries

Wine sales have slumped with the economy, and only slight recovery is predicted for 2010. Wineries are dipping into a vat of ideas to increase sales, and email marketing is bubbling to the top.

As a winery, business email marketing lets you reach your regular visitors, area restaurants and retailers and even consumers separated by distributors. And it’s worth noting that millenials, the newest generation of wine drinkers, prefer their wine promotions online.

But to email these groups, you need them to subscribe first. Try these techniques for some creative list building that can make your emails just as popular as your gold-medal merlot.

Plant Seeds To Harvest Subscribers


  • Have a name-that-vintage contest. Announce it on your bottle labels for a few months. Require an email subscription and send the entry form as an autoresponder. (Broadcast the form to your existing list so they can participate, too.)
  • Rent a booth at a state fair or farm show, like the Pennsylvania State Farm Show. Offer tastings – for free or for a fee – and ask those who participate to sign up for your emails.

Club members

  • Web-savvy wine drinkers are turning up on cork’d, a social networking site for oenophiles. Create a profile, connect with users in your area and clearly display a link to your sign-up form on your profile. (Note: If you don’t have a web site, you can now create a web form and AWeber will host it for you.)
  • If you sell gift baskets, add a card inviting the recipient to join your club by subscribing to its emails. Direct them to a web form specific to club members.
  • Wine expos happen both online, like Wine 2.0’s New York Expo, and in person, like the Boston Wine Expo. Show up with some solid wines and a way to collect email addresses – try raffling off a premium bottle as an exchange.

Area Retailers & Restaurants

The ones who stock your wines:

  • If you take orders over the phone, simply ask them. (And keep a list near the phone so you don’t ask twice.)
  • If you use a printed order form, include a place for their sign-up information.
  • If you use an online order form, host a web form on that page.

The ones you would like to stock your wines:

  • Make sure your web site includes updated contact information, lists your wines and has sign-up forms (on every page – you never know where site visitors will land).
  • Bring them samples. And while you’re there, ask if they’d like to get your emails. Explain that you’ll inform them when you have new releases, so they can consider carrying them.
  • Join networking sites like Global Wine & Spirits. Include a web form in your profile.

Want to Learn More?

For more information on email marketing for wineries, view our complete Email Marketing for Wineries Guide.

Uncork Your Thoughts

Uncork Your ThoughtsAs a winery, how do you grow your email lists? Do you email each of the groups above?

If you aren’t a winery, which of these techniques can you translate to your business?


  1. Lori Titus

    3/2/2010 1:19 pm

    We use a lot of signup forms at fairs and festivals we attend. We may get anywhere from 10-1,000 names from any given event. I have had two problems:

    1. Our signup lists are handwritten. We then have to transcribe that handwritten list and import it into aWeber. There are inherent errors, both in translating someone else’s handwriting, and in typos. We have been a customer of aWeber for years, but recently have had problems with aWeber not allowing us to import these handwritten lists because of the error rate. I can understand the need to keep the error rate low, but direct entry into a terminal is not an option at these fairs, and we receive a huge percentage of our email list customers from these lists. How can this problem be addressed?

    2. When we do import these lists, I find the actual subscription rate is only around 30%. Is this normal for a handwritten list? (We use the double opt-in method.) I personally think it is low, considering that we have a privacy statement on the signup sheet, and people know they are signing up for an email list when they leave their name and email address with us. And yet they don’t follow up?

  2. Grant

    3/2/2010 2:07 pm

    Very thorough article! Thanks!

  3. Marketing to Your Existing Customers | Scott Showers

    3/2/2010 9:31 pm

    […] Grow More Than Grapes: Email List Building For Wineries […]

  4. jim cockrum

    3/3/2010 11:48 pm

    I’m curious to hear what the ‘best practice’ suggestions are from aweber when it comes to collecting email addresses at a live event or in a booth etc. There’s probably a good article on that topic somewhere on the site already – could you tag it for us here?

    I know that using import will generate an opt-in confirmation message, but what is an expected opt-in rate when doing that? Are there any tips we should be aware of to make the opt-in confirmation rate as high as possible?

    Anyone using mobile devices to grow a list? Seems like a good option for restaurants, booths etc.

  5. Justin Premick

    3/4/2010 10:42 am

    Lori and Jim,

    I’ve seen confirm rates all over the map when it comes to collecting subscribers offline. It varies from company to company because no two companies do it at the same speed, or set the same subscriber expectations.

    I think the key elements to getting in-person subscribers confirmed are speed (how much time elapses between when someone signs up and when that confirm email arrives?) and how well the content of the confirm email matches what you told people to expect (you are telling them to expect the confirm email, right? 🙂 ).

    One possible way to collect subscriber data easily and accurately in those situations would be to use a web-enabled smartphone. For example, I can easily create and add data to a spreadsheet on the fly in my iPhone using Google Docs, and then open that spreadsheet later when I’m at my computer.

  6. Vance Sova

    3/16/2010 10:44 pm

    Hi Amanda,

    I enjoyed your post because of the nice pictures and creative ideas.

    I wasn’t aware that AWeber allows people to input emails from hand written forms and such.

    I’ll have to read more about that. For some reason I’ve always been told that it can’t be done.

    Wine tasting sounds great and I imagine that if people like the wine they’ll give their email quite readily.

    Confirming their email may be harder for them if they tasted the wine for far too long and their memory becomes clouded.

  7. Irene

    3/31/2010 12:52 pm

    This article was a surprise to me. As someone who’s a wine blogger, I am in the "biz" somewhat peripherally, but have a lot of people who look to my experiences as a way to find out what’s going on in wine country and Las Vegas. Now that I’ve recently updated my site, I haven’t known what to do with the pile of email addresses from people who wanted to know when that update took place. I, too, had been under the impression that hand input email addresses weren’t allowed in Aweber.

    Because just like everyone else, growing my list is important to me AND I have no interest in purchasing lists, this information is very valuable. So I can send out an email with hand input email addresses? I just want to be absolutely sure!

  8. jim cockrum

    3/31/2010 2:51 pm

    Justin said: "One possible way to collect subscriber data easily and accurately in those situations would be to use a web-enabled smartphone. For example, I can easily create and add data to a spreadsheet on the fly in my iPhone" (and import it all into aweber later)

    Alternate/related idea for possibly better results: Encourage walk up patrons to use THEIR OWN WEB ENABLED PHONE to pull up your simple squeeze page while they are on site. You don’t need a website to do this. Here’s a video that shows you how to use DOMAIN FORWARDING along with AWEBER to create a short memorable domain name and gathers subscribers from a great looking aweber hosted squeeze page tied to your cool domain name…all WITHOUT building a website.

    It doesn’t get an easier than this:

    You could even offer them a prize or gift when they show you the "welcome" email AFTER they’ve clicked the confirmation link.

    (Aweber team : I hope this is ok to post here. It’s purely content and I think readers will find it very helpful.)

  9. Amanda Gagnon

    4/1/2010 3:10 pm

    Vance and Irene ~ Yes, you can import lists gathered by hand, as long as everyone on the list has signed up for your emails. After you import, they’ll get an email asking them to click on a link to activate their subscription.

  10. 11 Email Marketing Ideas for Wineries

    6/10/2010 9:01 am

    […] you build up a solid list of subscribers, you’ll need some creative ideas to spark your customers’ memories and bring them back […]