CLIENT PROFILE: Basel Cellars Estate Winery

Basel Cellars Estate Winery in Walla Walla Wine Country website by Vinette

Basel Cellars Estate Winery website by Vinette

Everyone who has been to Basel Cellars in Walla Walla wine country has vivid memories filled with ‘oohs’ and ‘aaaahs’. It is truly an exceptional property producing exquisite Washington State wines. When the Basel team found themselves in need of a new website, we wanted to create something that provided visitors online the same feeling–filled with ‘ooohs’ and ‘aaahs’ and projecting the team’s fun, friendly, open-arms attitude while remaining serious about wine.

Basel Cellars Estate Winery website by Vinette

The website projects a fun, friendly, open-arms attitude that is serious about wine

The new site needed to have rich content about their wines for their enthusiast customers around the world. It needed to have great information about all of their fun events, and show great detail about the place for visitors planning their trip, stay, or special event at the estate.

We knew that to visit this place is something really special, so we made sharing meaningful information via social networks really easy. It was important to everyone that they be able to edit EVERYTHING, and the system needed to be easy to use and navigate without requiring a bunch of updates and fixes all of the time. They were already using QR Codes from Vinette and naturally we included the QR Code management system so they could confidently incorporate these quick response tools into their bottle packaging and get every bottle out there “telling their story” for them.

Basel Cellars' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon QR Code by Vinette

Scan to see the experience and learn about Basel Cellars' Estate Cabernet Sauvignon

We are thrilled with the end result–a fully responsive, beautiful experience for both the consumer (frontend) and internal users (backend).

We don’t just work with Basel on their website, we also work with their travelling team members on a program to deliver valuable trade materials with each new release. We continue to work with them to provide information that is relevant, and easy to access and share from anywhere, helping their trade accounts sell more of their wine and tell the story of Basel Cellars to consumers out in the market.


CLIENT PROFILE: Northwest Cellars

1st INQUIRY: June 17     LAUNCH: July 15     # OF WINES: 10 12

VINETTE DELIVERABLES: Defined challenges and objectives. Analyzed and revised content to meet objectives by adding personality, providing value, and focusing on key concepts. Provided QR Codes and mobile pages to make each wine bottle a dynamic communication tool: delivering valuable information to recipients, enabling sharing (on-line and off), and cross-selling other wines.

TRACKING SUCCESS: scans, traffic, shares, referrals, and sales from recipients of custom-labeled wines.

QR Code on wine, wine marketing

Malbec from Northwest Cellars with a QR Code


When he got our suggested edits to his content: “Wow, you’re good at this :) Really good work here.”

When he got our suggested posts for Facebook and Twitter: “Seriously you are really good at this :) These are GREAT!”



Northwest Cellars believes that a custom-labeled bottle of wine makes a memorable gift and leaves a special mark on a milestone occasion–but the wine in the bottle should be good! In 2002, proprietor Bob Delf, then CEO at a northwest software company, received a custom-labeled bottle of wine as a gift. It was disgusting!! He decided he could do better and since 2004, he has been working with consulting winemakers Robert Smasne and Dave Moore to produce award-winning Washington wines that are available with their own Northwest artist label or with a personalized label.



Bob, who has a website (even mobile!) came to Vinette because he thought a QR Code on his bottles could help overcome some of the challenges he was facing. After sitting down to discuss, these were the objectives we defined for our marketing efforts:

  1. Get recipients to drink the wine and change their perception that wine in a custom-labeled bottle might not be very good.

  2. Become known for producing high-quality wine available with or without a custom-label.

  3. Turn recipients of custom-labeled wines into customers and referrals.

  4. Introduce recipients to other wines available from Northwest Cellars.

  5. Communicate with recipients of each custom labeled bottle of wine without “selling”. Bob really wants to respect that each bottle is a gift.



While our platform is built to make deploying QR Codes and mobile easy for wineries, simply having them doesn’t build referrals. Vinette is really a marketing company focused on using these tools, coupled with powerful content and guidance on marketing, to engage users and get them talking and sharing.

Bob entered his content into the Vinette marketing platform creating online marketing pages for his winery, himself, and ten of his current release wines. Then we sat down at his winery and talked about his goals, the wines, and dug a little deeper into the challenges he was facing. We outlined the five marketing objectives above. We then took all of that insight and analyzed the content through the lens of a recipient (see the difference in content). We crafted fresh, articulate content and developed a label for each bottle that invites recipients to learn something about the wine that will help them increase their enjoyment.

Wine QR Code and Mobile content for Northwest Cellars AdagioOnce recipients scan to learn about the wine, they can also learn about the winery, Bob, and other wines available from Northwest Cellars. If they want to buy, or are interested in their own custom-label project, getting in touch is just one click! If they love the wine and want to share with their networks, that’s just one click too.

Since Vinette’s mission is to help food and beverage brands harness the power of referrals to tell their story and grow, our wine marketing platform makes it really easy to insert the best message that we want to travel the web when a fan shares our clients’ content. Thus, we made sure that the content that would be shared by a Facebook “Like” or Tweet on Twitter was set up to communicate the right things–especially the fact that the wines were award-winning and high-quality, and available for custom-labeling. Fans can still add their own message, but our platform makes sure there’s good info from the winery too. Give his Petite Verdot a “Like” or “Tweet” to see what we’re talking about!


How Bob found us: Offer flyer included in the Seattle Wine Awards award delivery mailing.

Offer Flyer

Offer Webpage

Mailing Sent: June 10, 2013


Lessons Learned Profile: Northwest Wine Academy Spring Release 2013

It was great working with the Northwest Wine Academy Wine Sales and Marketing students as they put theory into practice and carried off a great spring release event. We first brought up the idea of working together on May 3. We presented the concept of Vinette to the class on May 6 and by their Spring Release Weekend starting June 6, they had professional marketing materials, a QR Code and mobile information for each of their 7 wines, the school, and winemaker Peter Bos.

Northwest Wine Academy Spring Release with 7 wines, mobile and QR Codes

Shelf talkers and tech sheets from Vinette

Each wine being poured/presented at the event was well merchandised with tech sheets and shelf talkers. At the recap following day 1, students realized how many attendees had asked if there were extra shelf talkers that they could take home. They decided a quick solution was to simply print more shelf talkers and make them available. Day 2 result? People were carrying shelf talkers to the retail counter and placing their orders. The school had a fantastic sales weekend generating $13,000 in sales over the 2-day event.


LESSON LEARNED: Printing shelf talkers for consumer events is a low cost, low effort, high value way you can improve your events, and help your customers buy wine and remember you.

Scan with your mobile phone to see the online experience.

Northwest Wine Academy Baywatch Baxter Rosé Wine on Vinette

QR Code for 2012 Baywatch Baxter Rosé





The Store of the Future

There’s something sensual about shopping in a store that online browsing just can’t replace. The touch. The focus. The ability to try things on for size. But there is also something about the convenience of technology. The ability to have whatever our heart desires–on demand.

This weekend a new concept store, Hointer, opened in Seattle which aims to blend all the benefits of in-store browsing with the convenience of technology, to enhance the shopping experience.

Hointer shopping by QR Code

At retail store Hointer, shoppers select clothing they want to try on using their smartphone and QR Codes or NFC


It’s interesting to think how this concept could be applied to wine and spirits shopping–the ability to see the packaging, possibly have a taste, and scan the QR Code (or swipe using Near Field Communication) to read and place a mixed order of your choosing that is ready to be picked up on the way out the door. No more crowded isles with shelves full of breakable bottles (ladies with handbags, you know what I’m talking about!) or carts full of bottles rattling around.

Here in Seattle, this concept seems like a perfect fit for bigger stores like Esquin and Wine World, but it might also suit small bottle shops like McCarthy & Shiering and West Seattle Cellars with their precarious stacks of library-esque wine shelves.

Will QR Codes stick around?

Technology changes at the blink of an eye and it’s increasingly becoming difficult for companies to decide what to commit to because so many seemingly awesome new technologies are here today and gone tomorrow (sometimes to return again later as we’re seeing rumblings of with cassette tapes!).

The Cassette Tape - an example of older technology making a comeback

The Cassette Tape (Source: Wikipedia)

Like many other marketing professionals, here and abroad, we like the QR Code because it signals to our audience “hey, there’s something here you might find interesting!” and then provides an instant connection from the offline world to online. QR Codes make print materials alive and dynamic. When working in a space like the food and beverage industry where packaging “real-estate” is very limited and full of government required text, the ability to bridge from print to online is tremendously valuable. Online we can provide layers of additional detail about the product; we can tell the brand story, and introduce the people that give the brand heart; we can keep information current with updates about new awards, drinking recommendations, and a new taste profile, or a new favorite pairing as a wine ages and different characteristics develop.

We’re excited by the innovative uses of QR Codes by:

  • Mercedes-Benz who is putting a QR Code in every car so emergency personnel can instantly access car schematics which used to have to be done by calling in a registration plate wasting precious, potentially life-saving, time following a car crash.
  • Zappos uses QR Codes to engage visitors to each department.
  • Vineyard Brands provides an awesome mobile experience for their sales team and trade customers making access to information in the field instant. And their producers like Famille Perrin provide a consumer user experience using QR Codes on every package and a detailed mobile experience for each product.
  • Angry Orchard has a good mobile experience that allows users to find where to buy their product–instantly delivered via a QR Code on the bottle.
QR Codes from Va Piano Vineyards (Walla Walla, Washington) on the Bruno's line of wines including Sauvignon Blanc, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Merlot

QR Codes from Va Piano Vineyards provide valuable wine information and tell the story of the estate

So promising. However, we’ve heard it all from clients and industry folk “they’re ugly”, “they’re hype”, “no one scans them”, but after a year of having QR Codes in the market place for a number of our winery clients, we can tell you, people do scan them. They don’t expect them to be beautiful. When they arrive at a good mobile site with valuable and interesting information, they really think those little codes are cool. What wins people over in the end is the easy access to information when it’s most relevant–however it occurs.

As more and more good applications enter the market and users get more comfortable with their smartphone (still relatively new to many), we believe these valuable little codes will in fact stick around.



Tips & Tricks: Schedule Posts on Facebook

Scheduling posts on Facebook can help you “drip” great content to your fans and followers to keep them engaged. This helps you avoid posting all your great ideas at once, or letting great posts fade into nothingness because you didn’t have time before they became irrelevant.

Schedule a collection of posts to "drip" content to your fans and followers

Scheduling posts on Facebook can save you time and keep your fans engaged.

It’s great practice to have a mix of planned and unplanned content to share. Planned content can be things like new product releases, pending events, vineyard reports, or recipes. Unplanned content can be interesting things you share from others’ streams, awards you receive, or newsworthy items.

To schedule a post of planned content, simply enter your content and images and, before pressing “Post”, select the little clock icon in the bottom left corner. Select the year, month, day, and even hour. Then press “Post”.

Do 3-4 of these 1-2 times a week and you’re guaranteed a nice flow of content whether or not you have time to devote to Facebook every day.

Need to see your list of scheduled posts or make an edit? Facebook tells you how here.

Make the money, don’t let the money make you.

On a recent drive to Walla Walla, streaming Macklemore & Ryan Lewis on Spotify I was struck by the lyrics of this song (listener advisory: language) as it relates to business and marketing in particular.

“Make the money, don’t let the money make you.

Change the game, don’t let the game change you.

Stay true, stay true, stay true.

Forget about the fame.”

In business, it’s natural to want to change direction and follow when we see how others have become successful. What happens if we all do the same thing?

In wine, we get scores that don’t rate, or criticism, and it’s hard to stay focused and keep it from swaying our strategy. What happens when the next score or new judge comes along and has us running in a different direction?

If at first our wine doesn’t sell, our distributors are quick to tell us how well it would sell if we could just drop the price. What happens to our future sales when we drop the price?

When a new wine trend is hot, often times driven by a new demographic, we all want in on the success and it’s tempting to create new product lines that don’t really fit with our long term goals. What happens to our brand when the next trend comes along?

Make the money, don’t let the money make you. Change the game, don’t let the game change you. Stay true.

The key to success is being the one at the top of YOUR game. If you’ve lost sight of your game, ask your customers why they value you. There’s a good reason and I’ll bet you’d be surprised how many responses have nothing to do with price or scores.





Why we do what we do the way we do at Vinette

According to Nielsen’s Category Shopping Fundamentals study, “Wine drinkers are explorers and make their purchase decisions in-store. Compared to the beer and spirits categories, a high level of wine purchase decisions are made in-store (37 percent), and consumers make 70 percent of their product decisions at the shelf. Engagement with the category begins even before visiting the store. Wine samples, engaging in word-of-mouth and recalling exposure to advertising can greatly help boost this category’s sales.”

Clean, attractive point-of-sale with easy anywhere, anytime access for trade customers to download and print as needed (so it makes it onto the shelves). QR Codes for instant access to a great mobile experience that provides information to make decisions, and also makes it easy to share and recall later.

Thank you Nielsen, a little validation goes a long way.

Add a QR Code to your Back Label; No COLA Required

QR Code on back label of Va Piano Vineyards Bruno's Sauvignon Blanc

Adding a QR code to a back label does not require TTB approval

A surefire way to ensure good distribution of your QR Codes in the marketplace, is to add them to your packaging. Wineries often worry however, that this change to their label will require a new COLA (Certificate of Label Approval) from the TTB, adding time and delay to often tight turn-around scenarios. No need to worry, the TTB released this list of allowable changes to approved labels and cite adding a QR Code as one such change which does not require approval!

Mobile: To sell or not to sell (direct)

Of course that may seem like a crazy question, but in fact it’s a very serious one to contemplate–especially when considering a mobile strategy (and your marketing overall).

Wine brands make better margins selling direct. No doubt. However, to sell enough volume you need your channel of distributors, retailers (brick-and-mortar and increasingly online) and restaurants. To grow sales–be they direct or through the channel–you need to build your brand and provide your channel with supporting materials and information to help them sell. Mobile and QR Codes are great tools to do just that.

Wine, mobile, QR Codes, marketing, sales, merchandising

Retailer approved QR Codes on Shelf Talkers

Whether you choose to sell wine on your mobile site is a decision to carefully evaluate. Of course, if someone accesses your information–instantly via QR Code–the inclination for you is to try to sell them more, but if your mobile strategy is all about e-commerce, what do you think your distributors and retailers will do?

Distributors and retailers want your support to help them to sell your wine and create loyal customers and repeat buys of your brand–through the channel. Having QR Codes and a great mobile site to tell your story presents so many cool opportunities for them to build your brand in the market but you need to support them, not sell against them.

E-commerce growing, but not there yet.

According to Nielsen “E-commerce in CPG has undoubtedly grown at an impressive rate and is estimated to continue to grow at 25 percent through 2015. However, it only represented two percent of sales in 2011, despite being the fastest growing channel.” How do these numbers compare to your sales? When you think about your e-commerce strategy consider why consumers buy in-store versus online.

e-commerce, shopping, online shopping, wine, qr codes, mobile, Nielsen

Barriers and Enablers to E-commerce


Plan now for the growth that will come from e-commerce by focusing on building brand awareness and relationships with customers (via newsletters, social media, your wine club, and tasting events), but be thoughtful about the supporting materials and information you provide to your channel.