Ilona Thompson Discusses Wine Marketing with Christopher Strieter, Senses Wines

We are grateful to Ilona Thompson, editor of PalateXposure, for sharing an interview she conducted with Christopher Strieter, co-founder and owner of Senses Wines. She describes Christopher’s marketing strategy, in part targeted toward millennials, as stellar.

Credit: Senses Wines

Ilona: Can you share what strategy you had and implemented in terms of consumer engagement?

Christopher: Digital marketing isn’t rocket science and I think too many people overthink it. Simply put, our strategy is to be approachable and the best way to do that is through constant use of social media. This way practically anyone can learn about Senses and the work that we do behind the scenes. Our goal is to reach as many people passionate about wine and to have fun doing it. Everything else follows from that.

Ilona: What were the specific steps taken to engage the trade and build your direct-to-consumer mailing list and maintain it? What worked best and what was less effective?

Christopher:  We’ve always taken the approach that our wine speaks for itself. It has to in this crowded market and everything we do depends on producing the highest quality product that we can. When you start with incredible and highly-sought after vineyards and work with a world-class farming and winemaking team, you’re practically guaranteed an incredible wine. Everything we do goes into that process and once you have a great product then the rest of the business comes easy.

Building a trade following was a matter of getting out on the streets and meeting people, pouring wine and telling our story, and most importantly, making friends. It’s been so much fun sharing what we know and the experiences that we’ve had growing up in the Sonoma Coast – it also doesn’t hurt that Pinot noir and Chardonnay is relatively sexy in the wine world. We also have a very approachable demeanour and I know that goes a long way in this industry.

The same can be said for our direct-to-consumer following. People learn about us through word-of-mouth, through their wine enthusiast friends, through sommeliers that are excited about our project, through social media, and because of that, we have a nearly direct relationship with them from the beginning. We are incredibly fortunate to have this following and we love getting to know all the Senses

Ilona: What is the brand’s current pulse/positioning?

Christopher: Senses has grown so much faster than we could have ever imagined. We’ve added spectacular, well-regarded vineyards to our line-up every single year and share many of our sites with the legendary producers like Kosta-Browne, Kistler, Williams-Selyem and Littorai. It’s such an honor to be sharing vineyards with industry leaders. We just planted a vineyard in Bodega-Freestone (shares a fence with Kistler’s Occidental project), which brings our number of estate vineyards up to three: B.A. Thieriot in Occidental, Hillcrest on the other side of Occidental, and to-be-announced/named Bodega-Freestone site. We also just added a legendary Pinot noir site in Russian River Valley that has produced some of Kosta-Browne’s top wines. There are many other exciting updates that will be announced in the coming few months and year so stay tuned and follow our story throughout the social-verse @senseswines!

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