Wine is a hot. Everyone is talking about it – Trader Joe's has an entire section, and when Costco’s is the biggest retail player in the game, it means wine is hot for the masses. It’s hottest perhaps in wine country where big ticket auction items include trips to exclusive vineyards and cases of wine going for tens of thousands of dollars at charity galas. People are curious about wine and want in on the culture.
Wine-themed events are some of the top fundraising options in the country – Sonoma Wine Weekend, Auction Napa Valley, Walla Walla, Destin, Naples and Sun Valley just scratch the surface of the list of theses high dollar events.
There are more and more wineries popping up every year and more competition among wineries to get customers than ever before. This makes partnering with a winery on an event a perfect way to get a winery in front of a targeted audience.
Over the last few years I’ve auctioned or helped produce over 40 wine focused events. I’ve learned that wine is a natural partnership for fundraising events and charity galas.
If you want to take a charity event to the next level and attract a new group of donors, wine is the perfect way to do it. Here’s what I’ve learned about getting wineries to come to, donate, and be part of charity events.
1. LURE THEM WITH STATS.
Start by contacting a winery that you love. Tell them about how many people are coming to the event. Include who they are, estimated annual income, and why your audience is a viable customer for their winery specifically. Make sure it’s the right demographic and sell it to the winery. Vineyards want people who buy wine, are in their age demographics and have some disposable income.
2. DO YOUR RESEARCH ON WHAT YOUR AREA DRINKS.
Every area of the country has a specific wine unique to that region. For example, New York, Chicago and California are the biggest locations for champagne. If you’re in these regions, bubbly, sparkling wines are a more likely choice to partner at your events. Know your audience and be focused on what your customer drinks.
3. FOLLOW THE WINES YOU ARE INTERESTED IN ON SOCIAL MEDIA.
Follow. Taste. Then reach out. Before you reach out to any winery, interact with them on social media. Make sure your profiles look great! It’s a great way to prove you have a genuine interest in their product. If they see on your feed you’re drinking their wine (and their competitors’) they’re more likely to partner with you.
4. FOCUS ON A VARIETAL OR AVA.
You’re much more likely to have success if you focus on specific varietals. You can also focus on a specific wine area in your region. Get in touch with the AVA’s growers’ association, get all the wineries’ contact info, and reach out to them. The more you know about the wine the better the event will go.
5. INVITE A SOMMELIER TO HELP.
Add a Sommelier to your event committee. They don’t have to be a master, but they can curate a list of wineries to target that will pair well with your event. For example, if you’re looking for Bordeaux style reds from Washington, the Sommelier will help you find the best ones in the area (some that may be under the radar). Also, they can help pair the wine with the dishes you’re serving at the event.
6. BE INNOVATIVE WITH PAIRING.
Entice a Sommelier with fun pairing challenges. Ask the Sommelier to pair wines with mac & cheese, Indian, or Thai food, not the normal boring event food. You want to be innovative with your pairings.
7. PLAN YOUR EVENT AROUND BIG WINE EVENTS.
In most large cities there are food & wine shows a few times per year. Find them on the Internet and look to see what wineries are already going to be in town. You can meet the owners of those vineyards in person while they are in town, or you can develop your event around the dates they’ll already be there.
For more Fundraising Ideas, Charity Auction Concepts and helpful tips on planning your next charity fundraiser, follow Generosity Auctions on Facebook or Instagram @GenerosityAuctions. Abra Annes is the leading Charity Auctioneer based in California. Abra is the owner and founder of Generosity Auctions, the premier choice for Non-Profit Organizations looking to maximize their event fundraising.