How many of your tasting room customers ask you, “What winery should I visit next?” You most likely answer by recommending the tasting rooms that you know give outstanding hospitality…the tasting rooms where you know the staff is friendly…the wineries you know are unique or sell unusual varietals.

How do you know which tasting rooms fit the bill? Do you have time to visit all the wineries in your area? Probably not.

How do you get to know your winery neighbors?  By hosting inter-winery events, attending inter-winery events, and attending industry open houses.

Are you hosting an inter-winery event soon? Get the most out of your event. Here are ten tips to ensure you and your guests get the most of the event.

1. Before the event takes place, make sure the flyers actually get to the winery staff you’d like to attend.  Often, the flyer gets stuck on the desk of an office worker, never making it to the tasting room staff bulletin board.  If possible, hand-deliver the flyers to the tasting rooms of wineries you’re inviting. Remember to invite your local hotel concierges and B&B staff too!

2. Signage. Remember that good signage is good customer service. Make it easy for your event guests. Have signs on your property indicating where the event is taking place. Plan for adequate parking. If possible, have a staff member directing cars into the overflow parking area.

3. Assign a greeter. Assign staff members “greeter” shifts. The greeter will welcome guests and direct them to the sign-in table.

4. Set up a sign-in table where guests get a name tag and give you their business cards. A name tag is a good ice breaker.

5. Have plenty of business cards, brochures, and promotional materials available to hand out.

6. At the beginning of the event, when most of the guests have arrived, make a formal welcome to the group.  This can be done by the owner, wine maker, or tasting room manager. Thank everyone for coming.

7. The host tasting room staff should circulate.  A good host is a connector. Staff can introduce people, talk about the winery, find out about other wineries.

All guests should mix and mingle. Meet new people.  Often times colleagues huddle together and don’t branch out.  Expand your circle of friends!

8. If you’re using disposable utensils, have plenty of trash cans available. Where do guests put their dirty glasses? This is often overlooked in the planning stage.

9. Ask your guests to bring a bottle of wine from their winery to share.

10. Be curious! The best salespeople are curious and take a genuine interest in learning new things and learning about people.

Have fun! Host an inter-winery event!