Touring wineries and tasting samples of various wines can provide hours of entertainment, especially during these dwindling days of autumn. As the holidays approach and leisure time tends to be limited to indoors, consider taking a tour of our winery, trying a new wine with a sample flight, experience a wine and art class, or other activities you can enjoy with family and friends. Be sure to check our events page for all the activities in November.
We just recently returned from a trip to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, famous for its Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. Mike and I like to be on the other side of the wine experience to explore wine tasting as customers and see how the world-class wineries operate from a consumer viewpoint. The Valley has dozens of wineries and vineyards just within the geographical area known as an American Viticultural Area (AVA). We could only visit a few wineries, and it was a wonderful experience. This region makes some of the finest Pinot and Chardonnay wines in the world. It wasn’t uncommon to see bottle prices range $100 and up. At the places we visited, tastings ran $25-$45.
We don’t have the same grapes in Iowa as they do in Oregon. Those grapes would not survive in our climate. Iowa has cold-hardy grapes such as Frontenac, Brianna, Edelweiss, and other French-hybrids. Iowa-grown grapes may be different from Oregon, but still delicious. Stop by and try some of our quality Iowa wines. You won’t have to spend a fortune either.
A basic premise of marketing is to know your customer. That’s where the sales team comes into play. Sales’ role is to gather enough data about customers wants and needs then turn that information over to marketing to create the awareness and desire for whatever service or product is offered. I’ve always been a member of a marketing or design team in my employment years. Now I’m part of a small business along with my husband, Mike. We don’t have the luxury of a sales team. I soon realized my strategy had to change to become both sales and marketing.
For a long time I avoided working retail sales because I thought I wasn’t good at it. In the initial years of the Tasting Room in downtown Knoxville, Mike and I relied almost solely on a part-time employee. As our business grew, I realized I needed to become more involved. Necessity often dictates the role and I knew I had to expand my comfort zone.
Once I started to meet our customers I learned a few things. First, sometimes you enjoy a different role more than you previously thought you would. Secondly, there’s no better way to know your customer than actual interaction with many people; customers, vendors, and industry associates. Some of what I’ve learned has come from surprising sources that earlier in my career I would have dismissed because of pre-conceived notions. Here are a few examples.
A man with a quirky personality and sometimes thought of as a nuisance is actually a very sincere person and has become one of our most frequent repeat customers. He’s also told friends about us.
A woman that shares a mutual friend between us reached out to me because she lives in an adjacent town and heard about our business. We are now working collaboratively on organizing events at the winery.
A retired man that works part-time in the wine business offered some of the best targeted marketing advice I’d ever received. He has no formal credentials in sales or marketing, but his experience has given him a lot of insight.
I find my expanded role to be both challenging and rewarding. Mike and I are working hard to deliver the best customer experience we can to our patrons. We hope you can visit us in person soon.
Tasting Room will be open during Nationals
August is a special month here around Knoxville, IA. Visitors from all over the world converge in our town of 7,000 for 4 days of sprint car racing excitement. This year’s Sprint Car Nationals will be held August 8-11. Many of the racing fans that stop by the Tasting Room in downtown aren’t aware that Iowa has a wine industry, much less a winery right here in Knoxville. The Tasting Room will be open during Nationals with specials on wine, free live music, and more. We won’t have our usual First Friday Live, instead we'll host 2 bands from Des Moines: TCBAS and Dynasty will perform on both Friday and Saturday 3:00 – 6:00pm to accommodate the racing schedule.
Special invitation for our email subscribers
The Tasting Room downtown will close on August 12, 2018 as we begin our move. We are awaiting formal government acceptance and anticipate that will happen by middle of August. In the meantime work continues on creating an inviting indoor space for guests as well as a functional work area for wine processing. Once these tasks are complete (or nearly so) we will invite you to a special opening at the winery. This will be an invite only to you and other supporters on our mailing list and won’t be open to the public. We will issue a special invite via email. It will be a daytime, weekend event in September, details on that to come with your invite. We encourage you to bring friends or let people know they can sign up for our mailing list at our website, www.nearwoodwinery.com to receive the invite as well as our monthly e-news.
Joann Schissel, Wine, art and story lover
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