Small wineries tweet harder


What do a winery (and vacation cottage!) outside of San Diego and a Muscadine wine producer in North Carolina have in common?

They are both the quantitatively best winery adapters of social media: Eagle’s Nest Winery has over 6,000 followers on Twitter while Duplin Winery, “the world’s premier Muscadine winery located in Rose Hill, North Carolina” has nearly 4,000 fans on Facebook.

Whodathunkit! Do the small, new or off-the-beaten-path wineries tweet harder? Rounding out the top five twittering wineries are: a winery founded in 2001 in the Barossa Valley; a proto-winery in Sonoma that has yet to sell a bottle; an Iowa winery; and Mouton Noir wines based in Harlem.

Certainly, as our recent discussion showed, overt marketing is mercifully likely to fall on deaf ears in these new media. But these business are tweeting for dollars, one way or another. The logic may be as clear as with the underpants gnomes from SouthPark. Their business strategy was:

Phase 1: Collect underpants
Phase 2: ?
Phase 3: Profit

Which platform works best? The media and finance worlds are abuzz this week with a report that teenagers don’t use Twitter. Indeed, a friend who works at college told me of a poll that showed only 0.5% of the undergrads used Twitter while 70% use Facebook. Twitter must be for old folks like John Hodgman who tweets about taking naps.

Since Facebook has high adoption among underage youngsters, we instead checked in with the two tweetest wineries who offered some thoughts on Twitter’s effectiveness. Dennis of Eagle’s Nest had some general comments in the previous thread.

Kym Teusner got his bachelor’s degree in 2001 and started Teusner wines that year in the Barossa Valley, which is now the number two most followed winery on Twitter. Dave Brookes, the self-proclaimed “Teusner twit,” shared his experience via email, unpacking that mysterious step two in the underpants gnome model:

“We’ve been tweeting since February without using automated traffic builders…..ahem…..unlike other wineries. We basically target wine lovers. Anyone getting more than 100 followers a day is using a automated system and we are more about quality than quantity. :)”

And as to sales, Brookes replied, “Yes certainly….it has led to new on and off premise accounts in overseas markets and new customers domestically….most importantly we have built great relationships with customers via twitter and that is gold.”

Five wineries with most followers on Twitter according to

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36 Responses to “Small wineries tweet harder”

  1. Thanks for this analysis – very interesting. Love your blog

  2. In lieu of profit I actually just prefer stacking up my collection of underpants and lording them over others.

    Isn’t that what the internet is all about?

  3. How many tweets equals how many sales?

    How many sales result from Facebook page?

    Still waiting for the formula to answer those questions.

    However, this much is clear:

    Facebook + Twitter x Wineries = mucho $$$ for Social Media Consultants

  4. Doubting Thomas –

    The perpective on Twitter and Facebook is that you are laying on social media to your other marketing efforts. Have a special wine tasting, then promote it through a Tweet-up. Been featured in a major publication, post a status update with a link to the article.

    There has never been a time like the present for wineries (large and small) to get their information out in real time. Post videos and pictures of a new wine getting bottled. Follow it up with a Facebook message to yoru fans announcing that the wine is now available for sale.

    The press release, in its old form, is really out of date. People want information now, not tomorrow, and certainly not next month. Those wineries that delivery their message quickly and focused with be the new leaders in the industry.

  5. @Doubting Thomas –

    You’ll be waiting a while. Email is one of the original social media outlets. Email marketing just morphed into a broadcast over time. These wineries are finding fans of their wine and using more ways to communicate with them and foster that “fanaticism” far better than an email blast.

    “Fans” or “Friends” can interact, share stories, and become more invested in the brand.

    Sales come just as Morgen explains – if you want them to know about a wine event or special or whatever you can tell them. Use it only as a coupon outlet and you’re basically back to an email list that you’re blasting again.

    Get involved, try it yourself. The investment is relatively minimal and the return can be well worth it.

  6. Speaking for @tasselridge I feel that it is definitely a benefit in getting our name out there. When people stop by the winery and tell us they follow us on Facebook/Twitter, that alone makes it worth it because they might not have stopped in otherwise. Being a young winery (3 years old) any way you can get your product out there helps. We don’t even use any money for social media consultants, or use automated traffic builders. Its all home grown hard work!

    Also it is great for promoting our events that we have, starting conversations and there have been a lot of folks from outside of Iowa impressed with our events.

    Getting conversations started with other people that are consuming our product is exciting to, hearing about wines they have tried or wines they are excited will be released soon.

    It is also good networking to promote other local events besides our own, posting wines tastings and festivals we will be at helps improve our visibility, also photos of what is happening at the winery help people connect with us.

    As for sales, its hard to come up with exact figures. But sales are up significantly, some of it is definitely because of Social Media! The conversations I have had with customers tell me that social media is a great benefit to our winery.

  7. Sounds like it work great for limited run production that sells out fast, but since I like to take my time when I am spending my hard earned money it probably won’t work for me. That and I plan on to never have a facebook/twitter account KEKE ^_^

  8. I think too that the quality of follower on Twitter is pretty important. It’s easy to get a thousand spammers trying to flog SEO and get rich quick schemes, but it isn’t going to mean much to the brand. Like any marketing, it needs to be targeted and authentic to have any real benefit.

  9. Tyler – Appreciative for the mention. Small request edit on minor typo above we are at @eaglesnestwine (singular).

    For Kym, we don’t (ahem) use automated traffic builders as conjectured. We have our own ways of locating wine lover twitters out there. If you work at it, you CAN get 100 followers a day w/o auto tools. Also remember folks of *ALL* walks of life even SEOs and web marketers drink wine.

    A hint as stated by many before me – have relevant, genuine, unique (tweet) content – and for wineries – maybe get some weed-eating sheep.

    Another point – we’re probably in a minority here but feel it’s bad manners not to follow back so we follow back most legitimate followers and DM answer every non-automated DM we receive (we too hate auto DMs).

    A typical marketing rule of thumb cites a 2% conversion rate for e-marketing campaigns, Web 2.0 will hopefully be better that.

    As for the doubting Thomas’ out there, Wineries on Web 2.0 are TOO new for a host of success stories – there will be some – be patient.

    This comment is getting TOO long pls see my previous comment link (Tyler) provided above for more thoughts.

    We enjoy the many new friends we’ve met vis Twitter.

    Remember everyone – like mom always said, be polite and don’t throw rocks.

    Have a great day and enjoy the healthful benefits of wine in moderation.

  10. Notice that the pro-Twitter comments here completely ignore a major point: The top wineries on Twitter are — forgive me — the fringe, the freaks, and the unknown. Why is that?

    I mean really, no disrespect to these guys, but a winery in San Diego?!? Iowa? Manhattan!!? This doesn’t exactly sound like a short list of the best in the wine world. It sure doesn’t appear that Twitter presence correlates with public reception of the wines produced. (I’d love to be proven wrong!)

    …and Dennis (and anyone else, for that matter), I’ve got a more Twitter-courtesy-specific question: You mention courtesy in following people back. But it seems like that makes following meaningless. Do you really want to follow the updates from every single person who follows you? Do they really have interesting content?

    And, if you’re following thousands of users, CAN you realistically follow them? Seems like that would completely clog your Twitter “inbox.” Do you actually read the posts from followers, or do you only read the posts sent @ you?

    If you’re following hundreds or thousands of people, but not really reading their stuff, then it seems like it’s a competition for who gets the most junkmail.

  11. I’m still on Phase 1. If yours are missing, email me and I will forward your contact to my associate in Nigeria, who will give you information on where to wire a remittance. Only then will the location of your underpants be disclosed to you. Bingo! – Phase 3!

  12. Remember everyone – like mom always said, be polite and don’t throw rocks – and as a college professor, I’d add, please do your homework.

    I find growth in the lesser known US wine regions exciting – Virginia, New York, and yes even Iowa.

    Wine in San Diego? That’s our listed Twitter location because most folks have never heard of Ramona – located in California – the USA’s wine capitol – and a state producing world class wines.

    The US BATF (now TTB) recognizes uniqueness of place in wine growing areas with AVA designations. The designated Ramona Valley AVA (near San Diego) is encompassed in the larger South Coast AVA, that is ultimately in the California Appellation of Origin. See my post about our AVA/grape growing climate

    Our winery has produced National award winning wines with both US and international judges (e.g. NY Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, National Women’s Wine Competition)

    Bit of history: Back before Prohibition, the San Diego region had MORE vineyards and wineries than Napa did. With a few exceptions, Napa was still growing prunes back in the 50’s. Due primarily to poor County land use regulations, the wine industry here never recovered. However the inherently excellent soils and winegrape growing climate remain to this day.

    Our winery developed our own unique Web 2.0 strategy to market our wines and overcome local restrictions on winery tasting rooms and also to share the elusive wine lifestyle.

    I commend all to read industry leading Web 2.0 professional advice by Guy Kawasaki whom I discovered last week – three months after we launched our project – while I was reading an excellent blog he wrote about visiting an underway US Navy Aircraft carrier as a VIP. See (Navy vets like this stuff).

    Our WEB 2.0 practices independently paralleled much, but certainly not all of Guy’s recommendations but his experience and writings validate our approach after the fact.

    Yes like Tyler’s play on the old AVIS slogan “We Try Harder…” “Small Wineries Tweet harder”

    My last here. Good night all.

    Pls visit a Boutique Winery often – we truly appreciate the support of wine lovers.

  13. Estaban,

    Fair points, but if you are trying to build a brand in todays market what brand awareness and distribution avenues are available to a small, boutique orientated, start up producer? Not many, so the guys who are out there creating their own realities deserve some props for being inventive and utilising alternative routes.

    There is a perception at the pointy end of the market that indulging in this sort of communication is beneath them as a brand ( a point you make in a round about way in your post). That’s fine, and for a brand with an established clientele and image that may be right.

    But I also think that when you are a highly engaged consumer ( such as a person who frequents wine blogs and forums) there is a tendency to overestimate both the level of wine knowledge in the wider community and the ‘care factor’ of the average drinker. 90% of wine drinkers want to pay <$8 a bottle and would never have heard of Chateau Latour. A small portion of those will likely trade up in time, and their next step may well be to a tiny, relatively unknown producer who has communicated with them via social media or some other web based system.

    Anyway, thats a few thoughts. Harlan, Latour, Romanee Conti…they don't twitter because they don't have to ! 🙂


  14. Dennis,

    I assume your invocation of Guy Kawasaki re: best practices was meant to answer my questions re: # of followers on Twitter, etc. I checked out the site (beyond that Navy link…) and I guess you meant this here:

    Here’s a quote:

    Question: How can you follow so many people?

    Answer: I don’t read the timelines of all the people that I follow. Instead, I only deal with @s, Directs, and tweets that contain “guykawasaki” and “alltop.” I am not reading everything everyone I follow tweets, but I answer almost every @ and Direct.

    Question: Then why do you follow everyone?

    Answer: I follow everyone for two reasons: first, common courtesy; second, so that anyone can send a Direct to me. I like Direct messages because they are so much more efficient than email.

    If you’re a professor, couldn’t you have cited this yourself? Actually, I shouldn’t assume that this is what you meant.

    If you’re following people in order to direct-message back and forth, then great. If not, then you’re really just ignoring the people who follow you unless they write to (or about) you. And that’s fine. But then “following” is just a competition to see who can have the biggest number next to their name.

  15. Grant,

    Agreed, if you’re a small producer, you’re going to look for every way possible to promote your brand. I get that. And as long as it 1) works, and 2) doesn’t take you away from other more effective means of self promotion, or from producing wine, then it’s the right thing to do.

    I don’t think that this sort of communication is “beneath” the big guys in the market. Quite the contrary. I think the larger voices would be interesting precisely because they are influential in the field. Those players with their fans, their customers, and their critics. They would have a lot of followers, I’m sure.

    And that gets at the issue I don’t quite understand yet: Why do so many people follow the tweets of marginal producers? (This isn’t a criticism of any individual winery that tweets. They’re doing what they should, like I said. I just don’t understand why anyone else cares what they have to say.)

    Think about it this way: When celebrities join Twitter, they get thousands of followers because they have fans, and those fans will listen to whatever those celebs say. The biggest Twitter stars are stars in the real world, too. But in the wine world, the biggest Twitter stars are unheard-of in the real world. That’s a disjuncture. And it’s odd.

    That disjuncture makes me ask quizzical or skeptical questions. Are these Twitterers really providing great content? WHO are the followers? (Are they true fans, or auto-follow bots?)

    I guess I’m just confused how the “economics” of Twitter followers is so inverted in the wine world.

  16. Esteban/All: Not citing Guy was my way to get YOU to do it. It’s a teaching technique forgive me. It worked and I am happy for you. It was also a brevity effort my comment post was getting TOO verbose.

    I have GREAT DMs with wonderful wine folks that I would have never reached without Twitter. Shared one on Twitter this AM. I also have a systems engineering background – Web 2.0 is made up of many components the challenge is to effectively orchestrate them well.

    Also hope you also learned something about the great guys and gals in our Navy.

    Closing comment – WSJ’s wonderful wine writers Dorothy Gaiter and John Brecher encourage wine folks to seek out the lesser known wineries for a passionate and intimate wine tasting experience. Please Google them and seek out the Boutiques.

  17. I can see why those wineries want to get their names out there, it is exactly because of some of these posts. Have you ever tried wine from San Diego (Ramona)?? Or Iowa? I have not. I am intrigued by the idea and someday will probably order a bottle from each of the 50 states, because every single one of them has a state licensed winery! The wine industry has grown so much in the US, and will continue to grow. I am sure not every state has wineries that will compare to France or Napa, but isn’t that the joy of trying new wines? I am sure you will probably be surprised by what you find.

  18. Dennis,
    Your pedagogy is rather patronizing. This is the internet. Link. It’s efficient. Linking to the Navy post was about as relevant as if I linked to information about endangered penguins in Australia being protected by snipers. “Also hope you learned something” about penguins.

    I also note you aren’t disputing the point that following hundreds or thousands of people makes your “inbox” moot. But I wish you look in your Twitter marketing efforts.

    This isn’t about favoring big producers over small ones. When it comes to drinking, I am all in favor of tasting small wineries’ product, and I like to taste wherever I travel. My skepticism is about social media, not about small wineries.

  19. I am a 15 year veteran of the recruiting industry and an Oenophile. I can tell you that social media use among others in business is working and there are tons of studies on ROI to prove it.

    The big boys in business are using it with tremendous success and recruiters are using it to find the very best talent for their companies and clients.

    Personal story – last year I placed 7 people who I sourced directly as a result of social media. Total fee’s collected for those 7 placements is north of 100k (not sharing real $$$s here). I gained 5 paid speaking engagements, 3 recruiter training seminars and 4 new clients directly resulting from Twitter, Facebook and a recruiting social community I belong to. Those are REAL numbers and real ROI.

    The problem with wine business social media use is that the vast majority of wineries, wine retailers and the couple of well known wine voices all use it primarily for self promotion rather than adding value to the conversation stream on wine. They are pushing product, books, paid events etc. and never engaging their followers or the wine community or adding to the discussion on important topics. The key to social media use is not to try and sell things but contribute things – ideas, education, information – the selling and ROI comes from that.

    GenX, GenY and Millenials see right through the ad crap and ignore it. Like it or not these are the future of wine for the wine industry and sadly to say they are being lost at the moment. Engage them, inform them and educate them and you will sell to them. Oh, and they will tell others who follow them about it on Twitter, Facebook et. al.

    Other businesses have or are now starting to get this. The wine business is sorely behind and needs to catch up.

  20. Successful winery use of social media is governed by oldest principal of winemaking – quality beats quantity every time.

  21. Wow! The comments are all over the board. So sure I will add my thoughts. Do social media consultants win as a result of social media? Yes. Can a person in the wine industry win by using social media? Yes. Does anyone have a 100% guarantee of making it work? No.

    An earlier post asked, “How many tweets do I have to make”? Honestly, it could be one. It could be 1000 before you see one person buy a bottle of wine. It depends on who is “following” you and it depends on your message. Michael is correct when he says “GenX, GenY and Millenials see right through the ad crap”. The quickest way to lose someone is use your update as a freakin billboard.

    Ultimately, social media is what it says it is. It is media, with the first emphasis on being “social”. If you are a winery or in some aspect of the wine business and are thinking of using this medium, you better make sure you are willing to be “social”. If you have no desire to do that and use social media as you would print or other media advertising, then you missed the point.

    If you do not want to invest the time into socializing with your “friends” or “followers” then stay frustrated. It’s a very simple process don’t just tweet…engage!

  22. At the end of the day everyone is using Social Media as way to increase their sales….that’s the bottom line (and fine). However, the only way to do that is if wineries are engaging these consumers and potential customers. As Dave Brookes noted in his email, his sales increased for both on and off premise (with his efforts) and:

    “most importantly we have built great relationships with customers via twitter and that is gold.”

    Gold indeed! as the relationships that he has established will only increase the lifetime value of these consumers.

    My only “ya but” to this conversation is that twitter and facebook are not the only places that people are talking. It is important to discover the other avenues and platforms that consumers are using and engage with them as well.

  23. I liken the twitter experience to walking in on a small gathering at first: Maybe you know someone who introduces you around. Before long you’re chatting away and notice the room has filled up and it’s a really fun cocktail party. Then more people come and it’s a full-on rager. Then more people; more people; and you find yourself in a busy subway station. There are strangers all around saying off the wall things, and some of them begin to spew marketing messages and morph into billboards that obstruct your view of the people you know. You can still see some of your original friends from the cocktail party but, you don’t run into them as much, and some of them seem to have left, and you have to wait until you see someone you know before making a remark, otherwise it will probably be lost in the din.

  24. The problem is making a commitment. There are so many excuses to not commit the time necessary to be the type of engager one should be on Twitter. In this way Twitter is like trying to acquire a good habit. It’s the equivalent of promising yourself to start on a workout routine by doing 10 push ups per day, but let’s face it, you miss a day here from being “too busy,” you only do 5 because you felt “too tired.” Inevitably, as it is with most things, you’ll only get out of it what you put into it.

  25. Michael Homula,

    You’ve hit the nail perfectly on the head in your comments above on how wineries are not using social media to the best effect and need to catch up.

    I am currently following about 50 wineries and I can’t tell you how disappointed I am that 1) they do not follow back, 2) [most] do not respond to questions or statements I tweet about their wine, 3) they do not take advantage of the power of twitter by adding #tags and links back to their website or blogs.

    I agree, “it’s all about the conversation”… If wineries use twitter to blast out information, like a mini newsletter for their club members, then they will not reap all the benefits.

    I have been helping Eagles Nest Winery with their social media strategy, but the execution has been all through their hard work. They are definitely engaging their followers and adding to the general conversation with their tweets and various blog posts on important and interesting wine topics. I applaud their willingness to aggressively push the envelope.

    It certainly sounds like you have seen an ROI from social media so far and I am happy to see your comments here to give some other perspective.

  26. Hi everyone,

    I’m a grad student at the University of Washington in the Master’s of Comm in Digital Media program. This quarter I’m in a class totally focused on Twitter and organizational communications and we’re writing a book on the subject as a final project.

    I’m definitely an outsider looking into this industry, so I’m not catching all of the (competitive) nuances of this conversation, but I have to say that this industry seems to mirror others by way of social media activity. Smaller or relatively unknown companies have a higher (risk) tolerance to social media because they have to. They don’t have the convenience of legacy or reputation so they have to make it for themselves, and social media (Twitter, in this case) is a low-cost, highly effective way to reach potential customers. Still, larger companies (airlines, Comcast, retailers like Best Buy, GM) are also having success because they have such a large installed base of customers that it’s easy to engage them by the masses in social media, like Twitter. Not everyone is on Twitter, but some are, and reaching that audience is better than reaching none, right?

    What’s most important is to keep in mind that Twitter is only one part of a social media marketing strategy, which is part of a larger marketing strategy, so we’re looking at an individual tactic. With that perspective, it’s fascinating to see the strong opinions it creates. Of course, for Dr. Vino, it’s a hot topic that draws readers and reader engagement.

    I’m in the process of writing a chapter specifically regarding the use of Twitter by the wine industry (including companies great and small, and from all wine regions). If you’d like to participate, please email me at paolomottolajr (at) Thanks!

  27. Everyone talks about social media as being low cost, but this really just means there’s no barrier to entry. The cost — or perhaps the opportunity cost — can be tremendous, in terms of time spent on Twitter which could be spent in some other part of the business.

    The big companies theoretically have a leg up here, because the incremental cost of adding an employee to manage social media is significantly less impactful on the bottom line than it would be for a mom&pop shop with few employees. So, financially, it’s perhaps even more surprising that the small wineries are in the lead, and the big wineries aren’t even on the scene.

  28. Hello all,

    For Denis at Eagles Nest. I wasn’t refering to you regarding my automated followers comment…you use retweets and other methods to build your followers I can see that.

    I think people have had the traditional branding model shoved down their throats for so long that to have a connection to the winery and the people behind the wines is a breath of fresh air.

    And for us too…it is great to get feedback on products, organise tastings and winery visits and get to know the people drinking our product…if we can use it to share a glass of wine with them in the future all the better.

    We don’t try and sell wine via twitter…we soley use it to build relationships…wine is a social beverage and twitter is a conversational, social media….seems like a perfect fit to me.



  29. I second Dave’s comment that we don’t use Twitter to cold sell to people, but to build relationships with people that share a similar interest in all things wine related.

    To that end, I have a personal Twitter account and another account for our wine warehouse but I don’t just indiscriminately follow random strangers from the public timeline – I take the time to search for people in Australia (because we don’t ship internationally) who have a clear interest in wine and never send unsolicited DMs to anyone.

  30. Great post and comments!!

    Esteban-just for the record we are HQ in NYC, we make wine in Cali and our wines are in TOP restaurants in NYC. BTW I love being a FREAK!

  31. […] via: Dr. Vino […]

  32. Tyler – Thnx for providing this venue. Good discussions.

    Wishing best of success to @teusnerwine
    @pinotblogger @tasselridge & @MoutonNoirWines


  33. The NYT ran a story yesterday called “Mom-and-Pop Operators Turn to Social Media.”

    “Much has been made of how big companies like Dell, Starbucks and Comcast use Twitter to promote their products and answer customers’ questions. But today, small businesses outnumber the big ones on the free microblogging service, and in many ways, Twitter is an even more useful tool for them.

    For many mom-and-pop shops with no ad budget, Twitter has become their sole means of marketing. It is far easier to set up and update a Twitter account than to maintain a Web page. And because small-business owners tend to work at the cash register, not in a cubicle in the marketing department, Twitter’s intimacy suits them well.”

    So perhaps small businesses tweet harder, not just small wineries.

  34. The proof is always in the bottle. You can get your name out there all you want, but that rarely coincides with a quality product. People who worry a lot about getting their name out there are seldom the people putting their all into their product creation. They’re simply to busy promoting themselves.

    Just my humble.

  35. Indeed, James. But that’s the thing that struck me as odd about these wineries: relatively few consumers have ever tried these wines before.

    And unlike the creme brulee guy in the NYT story above, these wineries don’t need to tweet about which street corner they will be on every day. In fact, they only have one harvest to report on a year.

    It is odd that EaglesNestWines, for example, would have more followers on twitter than many wine consumers combined. Or other advice resources such as the wine columnists for the Chicago Tribune and SF Chron combined. Or more than many wine stores (with an array of wines locally available) combined.

    But since one of my newest followers on Twitter goes by SarahHoneyPot and first tweeted 10 hours ago and now is following 799 people, it is about quality of follower, not necessarily the quantity.

    Ah, the internets!

    Interestingly, Bill Gates publicly quit his own Facebook page over weekend, saying: “All these tools of tech waste our time if we’re not careful.”

  36. That’s why people can have hundreds of thousands of friends on Myspace and never have had an exchange of words. It’s a number hunt. Isn’t that how that Tila Tequila girl managed to start a career? I half feel that people are going to use these numbers to help with distribution or sales.

    To me (and feel free to call my old), there’s a way to use the web to augment what you are doing (trying to do) without coming across as too much of an attention whore. Have you ever read Domaine David Clark’s blog ( )? To me, that’s one of the best examples I’ve seen. It’s not there to market him or the wines – it’s there to enhance, inform and be a part of the entire process. Again, just my humble.


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