Wake Up Spanish Wineries! Wine Pleasures is Here! | Catavino
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Wake Up Spanish Wineries! Wine Pleasures is Here!


A bit of self promotion coming up. Ryan here, and come the last week in January, I will have the pleasure of speaking to a crowd of wine industry professionals about the Internets and wine, and more specifically, how to use the Interwebs to promote oneself to drum up some business. From the Wine Pleasures website:


Port Resort Sitges 24th – 27th January 2009

The first Wine Pleasures International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop in Sitges next year promises to be very exciting. We plan to provide you with a Catalan flavour and a very memorable experience.

I’ll be focusing on some of the ABC’s of wine and technology. Here in Spain, we have Webblogs SL and a vibrant Beer and Blogs culture, but our wineries are woefully behind the times when it comes to harnessing the power of the Internet. Well, maybe not “behind the times”, so much as “before the times”. For most Spanish wineries, “web”sites are those annoying white lacy things found in your barrel room that either need to be removed, or in the case of Lopez de Heredia, support elements for the architecture. As my US “geek” readers will note, California wineries are waking up fast, and as witnessed by this last weekend’s Wine Blogger Conference, the industry knows they need wine bloggers to pay attention and I have seen a move to websites that function, rather than just flash.

Is there hope for Spain? I think so, but first let me rant a little bit more.

The other point I want to make is a bit more controversial. The best way for a Spanish winery to do something innovative and effective when it comes to optimizing their online presence is to hire someone who is NOT Spanish. We work with five wineries, all of which, minus one, are run by ex-pats or have ex-pats in some position of influence. Having traveled and talked with hundreds of wineries across Iberia, I can tell you that if you look at a winery’s website, you can tell two things: one if they have a foreigner working for them, and two if the owner/manager/CEO has traveled much. You seem to need a worldly perspective to see the way in which Internet marketing is changing the wine world, potentially leading to a change in your own website as well. I’m not partial to ex-pats mind you, I just happen to notice this trend.

This same theory extends to tour operators, winery tourism intiatives, and some areas of traditional marketing. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are wineries who buck this trend by doing things differently. Some of those mavericks include:

  • Torres: A Catalan marketing a Spanish wine. And with a Kickass tasting room/tour.
  • René Barbier: A French man making Priorat wine.
  • Port wine: The most successful region in all of Portugal’s wine country is run by the Brits, or least it used to be! 🙂
  • Pingus: One of the most ridiculously priced wines in Spain made by a Dutch man. Not a good example, but it always amazes me, that anyone would pay that much for that wine. 🙂 But I digress…
  • Gonzalez Byass: They have a train, regular tours, and multiple languages, plus a mouse that drinks out of a cup! 🙂

My goal with the time I have to speak at Wine Pleasures workshop is to illustrate a changing of the guard among Spanish wineries, from an old marketing perspective to a new dynamic and innovative perspective. It’s clear that Spain needs a comprehensive plan for wine tourism. This plan would slap Spanish wine makers in the face to get them to realize that their complaints about not wanting to work with “competitors” (I call them colleagues) only leads to more of the same, something they have no problem complaining about. Spain has a treasure trove of wine delights that should be shared with the world, but until this mindset changes, they will remain behind locked doors to only those of us who know about them.

Maybe Spain is not right for tourism? Maybe the cultural divide to large? Part of me wants to suggest that Portugal is ready. You can maneuver around the country with ease, and although their wineries are still difficult to get into, but this is changing. First step is to realize that Tourists don’t have “summer hours”, and that they tend to travel with cash. You won’t get that cash out of their pocket and into yours if your winery is closed for “siesta”.

In an effort to practice what we preach we have offered to help set up the Wine Pleasures Conference with a blog, which will contain speaker proposals and aggregate some of the content into one location. We’ll announce the address in the very near future, once it’s done.

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Till soon,

Ryan Opaz

  • Julie

    I have to say I was quite surprised by your comment that Spanish wineries need foreigners to develop themselves on the web.As a matter of fact, I think that Spain has a huge potential in wine tourism, but there seems to lack some effort (from wineries or officials or whoever it may be) to develop it. Some organize tours, tastings, etc., but information is hard to find, when you do not know where you want to go and what you want to do yet.Beside that, maybe should there be some more information given to tourists about the necessity of the “siesta”, like a leaflet distributed in airport, or more focus on it in travel guides… After all, going to Spain is not only to buy and visit, but also get to know and experiment more about Spanish lifestyle, isn't it ? 😉

  • Justin Roberts

    It's not just the “siesta”, but also Saturdays and Sundays. Here in Jerez, there is only one sherry bodega regularly open to the public at weekends. Gonzalez Byass.

  • It does have a HUGE potential, that seems to be getting ignored. There are a ton of talks at wine shows about it, discussions at conferences, and banter about it's value, but little substance.The “wine routes” here are a joke, basically most of which are badly drawn maps that show all the wineries in a region without actually telling you if you can visit any of them.As to the siesta, here's the problem. Tourist offices(not just wine) are closed often at “siesta” time. Now I've gotten off a bus/train/plane many times within Spain only to have to wait for 1,2,3 hrs for it to open so I could get a map. Either provide maps in someway that I can get them, when as a tourist I need them. Or try your best to realize that the tourists you are not on a timetable.As to the foreigner comment, well it partially true and partially to get some people riled up. There is a huge misunderstanding of the webs potential here in Spain's wine industry.thanks for the comment

  • Justin Roberts

    I know it's quite strong, but I kind of agree with Ryan. The spanish don't seem to “get” the web. There are very few spanish websites which are useful and userfriendly. Just about all of them are Flash, have annoying guitar music playing, are out of date and struggle to provide relevant and useful information. I often get the feeling that in spain having a website is just another thing you have to tick off. Not much research is done, the developers get a poorly thought out brief and consequently produce something which suits them – flashy, expensive and sans CMS.

  • Justin Roberts

    And don't get me started on translations… Some of the stuff you see is shocking. Why spend all that money on a website and then use google translate for the content? WHY?

  • Great point on translation, it is a nightmare, and in a country with so many expats who speak english!

  • I think the major comes down to focus. Other countries have realized that the customer is your bread and butter. If they are not happy, you don't succeed. But here in Spain, I have always felt as if the business comes before their clientele. This is exemplified in Ryan's point of illogical tourism office hours, not to mention the poor customer service as seen in restaurants, hotels, and yes, even wineries. Until Spain realizes that their consumers need to be catered to, things will not change.

  • gabriellaopaz

    I think the major issue comes down to focus. Other countries have realized that the customer is your bread and butter. If they are not happy, you don't succeed. But here in Spain, I have always felt as if the business comes before their clientele. This is exemplified in Ryan's point of illogical tourism office hours, not to mention the poor customer service as seen in restaurants, hotels, and yes, even wineries. Until Spain realizes that their consumers need to be catered to, things will not change.

  • Hi Justin, I am spanish and i really agree with you. Spanish wine websites are not really very atractive in most of the cases. I would like to know your point of view about this one.http://www.deblancoatinto.comThanks.

  • I agree with you Justin that there are not many nice or easy to use websites in Spain, but i can say as well, this is changing and now we can find very good sites around wine.I think you would like this one… deblancoatinto

  • This is an excellent topic.Part of my honeymoon last Fall was based on doing tours and visits of Spanish wineries. I found the information online to be very sparse. I really had to do alot of the work as far as contacting wineries and such. However, there is one major thing that stands out to me when it comes to Spanish wineries and tourism. They are not open on the weekend. This was something I did not even take into account. I was in Galicia on a weekend and merrily made my way down to the 'Ruta Do Vino' in the O Rosal region of the Rias Baixas only to find out all the wineries were closed on Saturday. I was crushed. Never did I even imagine that they would be closed. Of course my Spanish friend said, “Of course they would be closed. It's Saturday. No one is working.” All of my previous winery visits had been in either Napa, Sonoma or Texas and Saturday visits are the bread and butter and of their tourism. That is the opposite of Spain. I'm not saying that Spanish wineries should completely change their winery culture all together. But what I think would help is to make their wineries available on Saturday so people could visit. I could not imagine a more fun weekend then to bounce around different wineries in A Guarda right on the Mino River and sipping on Albarinos. The Spanish are some of the most welcoming and friendly people on the planet. Why can't their wineries be the same?

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  • Nice topic, although I don't know if I agree with changing cultural business hours (things like siestas) just to make more money. I'm one of those tourist's that would prefer a world view and different culture, not what I'm used to, although I know those types of tourists exist and they're willing to shell out for it. Ultimately, it's what people define as success for their wineries and if they are hitting that goal.Buena Suerte,Dylan

  • Justin Roberts

    Hi DeBlancoaTinto. I have to agree with you, it's a great site except when it comes to the English translations. For example under Andalucia:”For many years, and due to the existing quality from the past, the range of elaborations of the Andalusian region suffered virtually no change. However, the loss of market generous and the emergence of a surplus obligo winemakers to seek new strategies to market their wines.”This looks like it came straight out of Google Translate. No English person would have written this and it's not just english-speaking people you will confuse but anyone with english as a second or even third language. That's pretty much the Dutch, the Germans and all the Scandinavians.You really should get a professional or at the very least an native english speaker to do your translations…

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