I’ve delayed to post this interview because I was busy in the past week. I’ve begun to edit the post Sunday night (Monday morning in Italy), when I heard about fire in California. Adrian is a Sonoma guy, he has many friends there and, of course, he loves his land. When these facts happen, you would only run to those people, hug them and help. Show must go on it’s not ever true or easy, but for respect to Adrian who spent his time to answer me, I’ll post it now.(Wine Roland)
I knew Adrian Tamblin thanks to a nice Facebook group I follow, Social Media + Wine, where there are many good folks. I’ve discovered his very interesting Wine Routes app, so I interviewed him for you. He has a real passion in what he does, as you can read in his words.
Wine Roland Well, Adrian, thanks for your time. Tell us your 30-second biography for The Digital Wine’s readers
Adrian Tamblin I’m a Sonoma County, CA native and currently CEO and Co-Founder of Wine Routes, a new desktop and mobile app aimed at improving the wine country travel experience. My insatiable love of wine, travel, and adventure, coupled with my entrepreneurial background, lead me to assemble a team to tackle issues, challenges, and opportunities in the wine tech/travel space.
Prior to committing full time to Wine Routes, I spent 10 years as Director of Operations and Partner at Directoryofschools.com, a leading online portal that matched students with education programs suiting their interests at over 1,600 universities throughout the United States. My understanding of matching students with schools helped me conceptualize Wine Routes’ core service – helping users curate personalized experiences based on a winery’s wines, reviews and amenities.
WR: When was your passion for wine born?
AT: I was introduced to wine at an early age. It was frequently on my family’s dinner table growing up and I have fond memories of it being at the center of many celebrations throughout the years. As my appreciation for wine grew, I found myself in love with the endless learning process, educating myself on the nuisances, flavor profiles, food pairing options, varietals, and regional differences wine has to offer. Being born and raised in Sonoma County and surrounded by top-notch producers, it was pretty hard not to visit and learn more about wine on a frequent basis.
A day to the Vinery
WR: I’ve signed up in Wine Routes, and it’s a very nice app. Tell us more about it, when you’ve founded it, who are your associates, what tech platform you’re using
AT: The ah-ha moment for Wine Routes came on one of my birthdays. I received a paperback journal as a gift from my aunt.
When I received it, I didn’t give it much thought, but when I looked closer I saw that it had been customized in way so that it could be used to recall the wines I’ve tasted and wineries I visited over the years. The front cover read “Adrian’s Wine Adventures” and included wine details like name, region, wine type, vintage, price taste, personal rating etc.
I immediately started to think how cool it would be to remember all my wine experiences – ie who I was with, where I had visited, what I was drinking, what I liked or disliked about the wine or experience.
They say all good ideas have already been thought of, but after researching the digital wine landscape, I found that the industry was behind as it relates to current web and mobile technologies.
For that reason in Sept. 2015 I assembled a talented web development team to address current and future needs of the industry and set out to develop a scalable digital solution. Our team is made up of software engineers, front-end designers and business intelligence and analytics specialists.
WR: So, Adrian, if I well understand, Wine Routes solves the customers trouble to differentiate wineries on price, ratings and so on, enabling users to create their own personalized wine routes without the help of professionals, guided tours.
AT: Yes. The platform allows for concrete mapping of data in order to help brands make better business decisions and ultimately better engage with their consumers.
To users, Wine Routes is tool used to plan, customize, and be routed to a winery based on their personal preferences and other customer suggests. Once on the platform users can find friends, write reviews, save and share everything they love about wine.
To brands, Wine Routes is a platform that builds brand awareness and encourages wine consumers to visit their location. Tasting room insights are displayed and tracked in a dashboard where brands can further analyze and engage with their customer base.
As the application and user base grows, the application will start to recommend and suggest wines, wineries, and routes based on everything the user follows and rates
WR: What are Wine Routes future development plans?
AT: I can tell you that we want to build features and services that will benefit both winery clients and users. We are actively making updates and pushing out new changes to our desktop and mobile app weekly. We have a number of phase 2 initiatives and will develop them based on data driven decisions and market need/fit.
WR: What is Wine Routes business model? I mean, how does it pay the bills?
AT: Wine Routes monetizes its platform via CPM desktop and mobile advertising. We have
built a proprietary platform that helps reduce the costs and concern typically associated with finding the right advertising platforms by allowing clients to control every aspect of their marketing scheme including spend, impressions counts, ad placement, duration, view count, and creative. Advertisers of all sizes will be attracted to our pricing model since it provides flexibility and quantity discounts to brands purchasing higher impression counts.
Our integrated marketing solution was built to engage a highly targeted wine centric audience through the use of concrete data collection and mapping. This allows us to understand the client’s audience and serve ads to consumers who are most likely to engage with their brands.
In cooperation with winery associations and state tourism agencies we are working towards our common goal of increasing tourism and helping drive wine lovers to cellar door tasting rooms.
WR: How did you persuade the wineries to be present in your app?
AT: When a winery asks how Wine Routes is different from other online platforms the answer is quite simple. We are the only online platform to provide an integrated approach and complete the loop. We provide a free useful tool for the consumer to find wineries ie (trip planner),we keep the consumer engaged while in the tasting room with our digital tasting menu and we keep users connected to the brand for future follow up and engagement. Additionally, our platform provides an intuitive backend so that brands can view analytics, send notifications to their followers, and manage multiple wineries with one login. These tools provide wine brands a more effective way to engage with consumers, manage their content efficiently, and increase their tasting room traffic.
The wine tourism business
WR: Wine tourism is ever a beautiful experience for a wine lover. But, how many occasional visitors have the wineries?
AT: Our research shows that the average wine drinker goes wine tasting 2.6 times per year and most are repeat consumers visiting the same brands and areas. However, 23 million tourists visited California wine country last year, many of them for the first time. While our app may not be for everyone, we believe it will be used more than a standalone app for a specific region or brand.
One of our missions at Wine Routes is to expose consumers to the beauty of wine country no matter where they live. Every state has at least one winery and most have quite active wine regions. We feel that our app can help consumers find the experiences they might be missing in their own backyard, as well as plan their trips to other parts of the country.
WR: A lot of money is spent in wine tourism in the US and Europe. Is it the future of wine sales?
AT: As the wine industry continues to grow and wine sales laws become more open, it is likely that online direct-to-consumer wine sales will grow as well.
It is our view that wine producers are seeking to become stronger at positioning their brand while gaining insights into their consumers’ behavior and market trends. Through specialization and the adventurous nature of the high-end wine consumer, producers will continue to have a steady flow of buyers who constantly seek new experiences and education; many consumers live for the quest to find undiscovered, high-quality DTC wines.
Being the first to market with the right story and platform/marketplace makes a difference in customers acquisition and retention. The window of opportunity is now, because successful brand building takes time and a high level of user and producer participation. Winners that embrace innovation and new digital technologies will play an integral role in shaping the future of wine travel and tourism. It is our belief that those who do will attract more customers and turn them into return visitors. Our platform helps brands start the conversation, build the relationships, and engage with consumers in a new way.
WR: In the vineries mapped in your app, are wine sales grew up thanks to Wine Routes?
AT: The social aspects of Wine Routes bode well for the marketing of a product like wine. There is a lot of confusion in the marketplace with the seemingly endless labels in the retail and DTC channels. Until now, consumers have had to rely on formal education from experts, books, magazines, and newsletters to help determine which wines to purchase and reduce the risk of a dissatisfying experience. However, there has been a shift for wine enthusiasts to rely more heavily on social media and seek advice from friends and acquaintances.
Wine Routes allows users to interact directly with the wines in the tasting room, enhancing their experience and providing feedback on visits and taste profiles. As users taste, cellar, and review wines on Wine Routes, they are contributing to a growing knowledge base that will help consumers find and learn about wines from other wine lovers like themselves.
WR: In my opinion, wine tastes better when it is paired with good food. so wine tourism find its best visiting the land around vineyard, like museum, monuments, and so on. Do you think to add these information on your app?
AT: As of the moment we are laser focused on driving traffic to cellar doors via the use of our winery trip planner. One of the filters in our app allows users to search for wineries that offer food and wine pairings, picnic areas, or restaurants. Adding additional resources for travelers is an interesting idea and we have looked into a variety of ways to integrate this into Wine Routes, but we’d like to keep the focus on wineries and what sets each location apart for now. The narrative for Wine Routes revolves around users getting the most out of their wine tasting adventure.
WR: You’re a cyclist. I understand that cycling and wine is not a good pair, but does a ride go through vineyards exist? (If yes) Have you taken part in it?
AT: To your point, drinking and driving or drinking and cycling never mix. My teammates and I reserve any tasting or drinking to post ride activities. Living in Sonoma County with 400 wineries in close proximity, it’s often the case where my friends and I ride 30 or 40 miles in any direction and we will end our ride at a winery. If we plan to stay for lunch and a tasting, our loved ones will meet us with a vehicle to return back in. International professional cyclists ride our roads for fun and competition and there are many organized, annual rides that wind through wine country. People come for the tough climbs, winding descents, and stellar vineyards views. When they are done they are ready to relax and unwind at one of the many local wineries, breweries, distilleries, and restaurants. The reward of a cold glass of Chardonnay after a strenuous bike ride make those last miles that much more enjoyable.
WR: If I had a Winery, how can I be in your app?
AT: To claim a winery on Wine Routes, you first need to signup for a user account at wineroutes.com/signup. Once you verify your user account, head over to wineroutes.com/businesses or follow the ”Claim Your Winery” link in the footer of our website. At the top of the business page you can search for your winery by name and request to claim it. Once your request has been approved you will be sent an email to go through a short credit card verification process, after which you will get immediate access to your winery dashboard. Credit card verification verifies account ownership ensures that only authorized owners and managers can make changes to profile. We are offering free account sign up through Oct, 15th. After which time we will charge a nominal 1 time setup and support fee.
From the dashboard, wineries can manage their whole profile. They can edit information about their tasting room, add full wine profiles, build interactive tasting menus, and create image galleries to show users what makes them unique.
We can’t wait to see the creative ways wineries will integrate with and use Wine Routes to enhance their tasting room experience.
With our website and app off to a great start, we look forward to joining you in wine country, cheers!