Marketing Wine Brands Through Storytelling

Taking a Personalized Approach to Marketing Wine Brands

It often seems that the quality of a wine is inversely proportionate to how well it is marketed. And in marketing, there are always new buzzwords that the industry latches onto, and storytelling certainly falls into that category at the moment. Storytelling on its own isn’t a strategy for marketing wine brands. But in an industry with many different types of consumers, a need to educate those consumers, and competition from tens of thousands of different labels, the story behind your brand is one thing you can own. The mystique and scarcity of some of the most sought after wines create a story of their own, driven by the word of mouth of enthusiasts and collectors. But the majority of brands don’t have that luxury. A great story isn’t going to make a bad wine successful or increase its ratings from a legitimate source, but it can be a marketer’s dream and the difference between being forgotten and being remembered.

Stories are Inherent in Wine

Stories help create an emotional connection between the wine and the person drinking it. It can help paint a picture of what went into crafting the product, provide a level of appreciation for its heritage, and can give someone a reason to talk about the brand.

During a tasting at the Clos Pegase in Calistoga, there were several wines that I enjoyed. But by far the most memorable thing I took away from that experience was the wine from Mitsuko’s Vineyard. Situated in the Carneros region of Napa Valley where many great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay’s come from, the makeup of the vineyard has all the right characteristics to create great wines of those varietals. But it isn’t the soil, the breezes, or the microclimate that makes these memorable. Mitsuko is the name of the founder’s late wife and was a gift to her for being a supportive partner. The story has romance, a sense of loss, a touching tribute, and even humor as the gift of the vineyard was presented as a box of dirt on Valentine’s Day.

Creating an emotional connection doesn’t strictly have to be nostalgic. Humor is also a strong emotion that people connect with. And while irreverence may not be a fit for every brand, it is used in a brilliant way by Slo Down Wines . It is at the heart of what they do and true to their brand stands for, “Seriously good wine that doesn’t take itself too seriously”.

Their approach to telling their story gives an authenticity to the brand and you know that they aren’t concerned with conforming to the way things have always been done in the industry, and it helps they have a quality product so it isn’t style over substance.

Marketing Wine Brands: The Story behind the label

Brands such as Charles Smith, Mouton Noir, Orin Swift, and Michael David Winery have packaging with such unique visuals that they have immediate stopping power on-shelf. These labels provide a point of distinction, just by the sheer contrast they visually present.

Marketing Wine Brands

Charles Smith has a particularly brilliant strategy. The price points and label design around the Charles Smith line provides a great entry point into the brand. As drinkers move from novices to enthusiasts, they can move them across the portfolio of wine brands into the higher price points of their K Vintners and Wines of Substance product lines. But no matter the product line or price point, the label designs share a deep connection to their winemaker, a former rock band and concert tour manager.

The story behind the label design isn’t regulated to modern, cutting-edge visuals. Whether featuring an estate or using more traditional typography, there may always be a strong story to tell. The label can heighten the perceived value as well. In a survey from, 82% of people made their selection of wine based on the label.  And even though it may infuriate many purists, it is the reality.  With visual social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest growing, the label becomes an even more important way to create brand recognition.

Using social to communicate stories

According to research for marketing wine brands, Exploring the Impact of Social Media Practices on Wine Sales in U.S. Wineries, “87% indicated perceived impact on wine sales due to social media efforts, with at least 18% of these attributing an increase in wine sales of 30% or more due to social media.”

If executed with the right strategy, marketing wine brands through social media can drive sales. But the execution has to start with a clear strategy. Jordan Winery is one of the best examples of a brand that is communicating their brand story across all of their channels. They showcase who they are as a brand with content ranging from lifestyle, events, food pairings, vineyard scenes, and more. It comes across as authentic, aspirational but attainable, and engaging.

Marketing Wine Brands

As many social channels now require a spend behind the promotion of content to reach an audience of any significance, it is important to balance the investment in content production with enough invested into content promotion.

It is also important to keep in mind that social is a mobile-first (sometimes mobile-only) platform. Attention spans are shorter, content is browsed through quicker, and the canvas to work with is smaller. So it is important to keep in mind how your audience is actually seeing your content in their day-to-day life, where easily digestible content, with strong visuals can be the key to being seen or being passed by.

Each social channel has its own unique audience, who may be in different phases of their wine journey. When marketing wine brands it is important to not focus solely on who their potential customers are today. The next wave of people who enter their first phase of wine discovery are not far behind. While higher price point wine brands may say these aren’t their customers, think about piquing their curiosity early and being there when they are ready to discover. According to a recent Forbes article on the Gallo Consumer Wine Trends Survey, “30% of Millennial wine consumers consider themselves novices, a number crucial to wine marketers, because the youngest end of the age spectrum for any group usually starts inexpensive and sweet, then moves to higher-priced, less sweet wines.”

So our story is going to help us sell more wine?

The story alone isn’t going to move more cases. But it provides a platform to build around and something to help carry word-of-mouth. However, using a story when marketing wine brands can create a point of differentiation that can be held onto.