How a Streaming Service Helped Wineries Reach Customers

Wine has enjoyed status as a major player in mainstream entertainment, gaining visibility in films like Alexander Payne’s “Sideways,” which has remained a cult classic among Pinot Noir appreciators and Paul Giamatti enthusiasts for almost two full decades.

In the years since the movie’s ugly-but-cute red Saab whinged its way through Sonoma, programming tailored for wine lovers has certainly evolved. With the birth of SOMM TV in 2019 — a subscription-based online streaming service with wine-related programming that ranges from educational to story-driven, including feature-length films — wine aficionados can truly enjoy a generous pour of programming suited specifically to their tastes and interests.

Wineries and brands of all sizes have appeared on the network and have taken advantage of the opportunity for visibility. 

Paul Hobbs, Owner/Winemaker for a number of brands that include Hobbs, Paul Hobbs Winery, Crossbarn (California), Hillick & Hobbs (Finger Lakes, New York), Viña Cobos (Argentina), Crocus (Cahors, France), Yacoubian-Hobbs (Armenia), and Alvaredos-Hobbs (Galicia, Spain), appeared on the network’s “Verticals” series and definitely saw an opportunity to reach customers.

“Once the ‘Verticals’ episode launched on SOMM TV, our approach was to quickly engage with our DTC mail list and wholesale partners to give them an opportunity to watch it,” Hobbs recently told Vintner Magazine. “We have also started rolling out virtual screenings of the episode followed by a Q&A with myself, Director Jason Wise, and my daughter, Agustina, who also appears in the film.”

Hobbs said appearing on the program definitely gave them an opportunity for more exposure.

“Appearing on their ‘Verticals’ series certainly gives us increased visibility amongst both consumers and sommeliers alike, and their award-winning filmmakers are masters at telling a captivating story to a wide audience,” Hobbs noted. “It was a true honor to work with Director Jason Wise and the entire SOMM TV team and be included on such a dynamic digital subscription platform that has such a strong following.”

Art Murray, Owner/Vintner of Flambeaux Wine in Healdsburg, California, had his family’s winery featured on ‘CRUSH” after his company was approached by the network.

“CRUSH, the show in which we were featured, is entirely directed, produced and hosted by a trio of women. One of the producers of the show, we actually met on an unrelated industry Zoom meeting,” Murray said. “They seek out stories that educate and entertain. Real people, and their stories, are the foundation of SOMM TV. In our episode, host Shakera Jones joined our family during the harvest of 2020 to pick, sort and crush our Zinfandel grapes.”

He said the experience was absolutely worth it for smaller wineries looking to increase their exposure to potential new customers.

“For a boutique brand such as Flambeaux, the opportunity to share our story through the premiere of a new series on SOMM TV gave us a chance to reach a new audience, a segment of people that otherwise may never have encountered our wines,” Murray explained. “Additionally, this is a new audience that is specifically interested in our product and 100% “into” wine. For example, while in theory the Netflix audience may be larger, our guess is that only a small percentage are avid wine drinkers. With SOMM TV, it is more likely that 99 to 100% of that audience is interested in wine.”

Flambeaux encouraged its customers to watch the show using social media and email marketing. While filming the episode, it stayed on brand, told its story and stuck to its messaging.

“While filming, we were intentional and told the Murray family and Flambeaux Wine story. Authenticity and family are messages that people respond to, and that’s who we are,” Murray said. “We were ourselves on the air, we were authentic, honest and spoke our mind. It was an unscripted experience with Shakera, and we believe that message resonates with audiences. What a viewer sees in that episode, is very similar to what they would experience if they were visiting us in person.”

As for the $64 million question, did appearing on the show make a difference? Murray thinks so.

“We have seen online purchases from new customers, that mention in the notes that they discovered us on SOMM TV, and wanted to support both CRUSH and our up and coming brand,” Murray said. “We also recently hosted a tasting at the winery. One of the visitors hadn’t made the connection that we were the same winery that she had seen on SOMM TV until I (Art) came out to host the tasting, and she recognized me from the show. We definitely think that those watching are remembering.”

Photos courtesy of SOMM TV

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