January (No. 492)
Wine tourism alive and well in the Granite Belt
A uniquely successful wine tourism event occurs in Queensland each year. Called the Spring Wine Festival, this incredibly diverse wine, food and music frolic has become a permanent fixture on the national wine calendar and deservedly so.
According to festival organiser, Anne Robinson, the region has continued to expand the event.
“It is rewarding to see so many people come here, taste our wines and immerse themselves in the many different cultural activities we plan over the two weeks,” she said.
During a recent trip to the Granite Belt I noticed some wine producers excelling at the creative task of designing, advertising and carrying-off memorable wine events.
Sam and Grace Costanzo, owners of Golden Grove Estate, are a good case in point. They have designed and built an intimate café, food production, food service and dancing area: noteworthy if only for the fact that it is completely separate from cellar door sales. Firstly, I like this idea because it puts people in a relaxed frame of mind where they feel “somebody is not going to try to sell me something”. Secondly, it shows the family is serious about good food and wine because they have staff involved in that area who are separate from cellar door. Since opening this area Sam Costanzo has noticed a trebling in visitor numbers.
Similar to the traditional “ringing in the vintage” with bells peeling at Wirra Wirra in McLaren Vale, the Costanzo family combine happily to express their Sicilian heritage in a ceremonial “commencement of vintage”.
Volunteers bring in the first hand-picked fruit of the vintage, carrying buckets atop their shoulders. All ages from junior primary school kids to “seniors” are involved in parading the fruit in front of the assembled throng. What follows is a riotous and quite symbolic foot crushing of grapes offered as a gesture of hope and justifiable optimism for the arrival of the new vintage.
But the fun doesn’t end there as Grace Costanzo and team serve up plate after plate of authentic regional Sicilian food, washed down with plenty of local wine. Originally designed as a small affair, the event has grown to become one of the highlights of the Spring Wine Festival to the extent that bookings are the only way to guarantee room can be found for you at table. Many winery operators talk about preserving and showcasing their heritage and culture, the Costanzos just do it!
In the marketing context, I have not found a better or more recent example where the application of a simple principle has led to the achievement of such a great result.
So the moral of the story is? Find out what makes you/your products/your business genuinely different and then shout it from the rooftops. Be yourself and evidence shows people will love the honesty of such an experience, rewarding you with their compliments, their return and most of all, their loyalty and patronage.