There is no doubt that the wine industry is special, but what makes it unique? What draws people to it, and how can wine brands take advantage of what sets them apart?
These questions have been swimming around in my head for some time. Being a born and raised Sonoma girl, I have worked in and around wineries my entire life. I worked at several wineries in all different capacities, from Special Events, Sales, Customer Service, and Distribution before coming to Copper Peak Logistics as Vice President of Operations. Therefore, I have had the opportunity to look at the industry from a number of different angles.
When I think about the first question, it is obvious: What makes the wine industry unique is people.
I don’t just mean there are interesting personalities (though there are). I mean the industry is driven by people who understand that this is not just an agriculture business or a beverage business, but a people business.
Take the employees, for example. In your typical winery, every position is valued. From the executives to the vineyard workers, everyone is treated as an important part of the process, and everyone knows everyone’s name. The entire team is called upon to make magical things happen, no matter what time of day or night, no matter what the weather is doing. That’s a kind of close-knit work environment that is as rare these days as it is wonderful.
The same goes for customers. To a winery, a customer is not just another set of numbers across a spreadsheet. Everyone at the winery sees the customer as a person and wants to share an experience with that person. Whether it is a slow, sunny afternoon on the patio outside the tasting room, or those few precious minutes after the first wine club shipment has arrived, there is an experience to be had, and most wineries want to create those experiences again and again.
Finally, I see the wine industry as unique in the kinds of relationships that the people in it forge over time. The love of wine draws people together, and folks in the industry feed off each other’s energy. In what other industry can you find social media marketers, logistics experts, chemists, graphic designers, and servers, all of whom get out of bed in the morning simply because they love wine, and they love making, serving, sharing, and talking about wine with each other?
So back to my second question: How can wine brands take advantage of those things that make this industry so unique?
As great as it all sounds, that “people focus” cannot be sustained in today’s economic environment unless there is a business case that can be made for it.
Fortunately, I think there is one. I’ll try to outline three reasons why having a people focus in this industry is crucial for business success:
- First, we need to remember that wine-making is a craft. Like any craft, it needs a personal touch. Sure, there might be tools and technologies that make parts of the process easier. But this industry, unlike most others, really needs people to be part of the process, or else you risk an inferior product and alienated customers. (At Copper Peak, we believe this is true right down to the delivery. We call it craftsmanship fulfillment.)
- On a related note, that personal touch needs to be communicated. Successful wineries do it all the time. Have you noticed that our blog talks about Millennials a lot, and how they are changing how wine is bought? Part of what appeals to this demographic is the personal-sounding brand stories behind the wine. But here’s the catch: That story has to be authentic, not manufactured. And you can’t tell an authentic story if you don’t have the right people and the right focus.
- Third, relationships matter. Unlike other industries, you can really get to know your team. And here, I’m using the team to mean not only employees, but vendors as well. Most wineries I talk to don’t just want someone to sell them a solution—they also want a partner who knows them, and that they can trust.
When you know your “people,” and they know you, you can attain that level of trust. And that level of trust is worth its weight in gold. It means that they will go to bat for you, put out fires for you, and treat what’s important to you with the same level of care and attention to detail that you do. For the wine industry, that’s a very big deal.
One of the reasons I love working at Copper Peak is that they get this. Many of the staff here are industry veterans who have been with the company for years, even decades. Everybody makes a point of knowing everyone’s name. And everyone treats our customers’ products with the same care and attention to detail as they do themselves.
We strive to function not as a vendor to our clients, but as an extension of their business. We do this by listening to our clients, learning their story, finding out what they truly value, and what sets their brand apart. We then educate our entire staff on each winery we work with, so they can make sure they hold the same values, vision, and brand focus, while working on an account. We send our staff to various wineries to enjoy a tasting, and truly experience a wineries story firsthand. Be it in receiving, packing, club processing, corporate gifting, client services, our entire team is part of each wineries story, and focused on creating that experience in each shipment we touch. CPL staff take great pride in not only working for CPL, but for each winery partner we service as well. It is evident when you visit our warehouse, as you will see our team proudly wearing not only CPL clothing, but shirts, sweaters, vests, and hats from many of our winery partners.
I don’t just want to tell you about how great our people are. I want you to get to know them, too. My hope is that, in upcoming posts, I can share more about the people here at Copper Peak and give you all a taste of the “Copper Peak experience.” Get to know us, and I think you’ll find that we’re not like other logistics companies, even in the wine industry. And that, again, is a good thing.
In the meantime, we’d love to hear from you. We have made it easy to reach us by using this Contact Us link, or simply call at the number below.
The Team at Copper Peak