Have you noticed the popularity of grapevine wreaths in seasonal decoration? How difficult would it be to make a wreath? I wanted to make one myself but haven’t tackled that before. I had to think about where to start and get over the feeling that it may not turn out like I want it. So after watching a couple YouTube videos, I made a plan. First you need grapevines (uh, checkmark that one, we have about a couple acres of those). Then add some embellishments (ribbons, bows, garland, ornaments etc) from your odds and ends holiday collection. Time, materials, ingenuity and most of all, motivation is what’s needed to start and finish the project.
After carving out some time I searched for the components for my project. I like to create things using raw materials that are readily available, especially objects that are taken for granted or overlooked, and re-engineer whatever it is into something surprising or pleasing. The vines on our property are dormant this time of year and we will begin to prune them in the early spring. The clippings get discarded so why not do something creative with them? The experience of making my first wreath was fun. It didn’t turn out too bad and the learning process gave me confidence that I can make the next ones even better.
My point is to explore your talents. Take time to create something using the assets you have. Set aside the fear of failure or perfection, or whatever is holding you back. If you crave external motivation, take a class or participate in a group activity. Making wreaths would be a fun group time with friends or perfect for an individual looking for social activities.
If wreath-making is not your thing, check out our monthly Wine & Art class. This month’s class is held on Tuesday, Dec. 4, at 7:00pm and led by Frank Mathias. On Dec. 11 at 5:30pm we will host Sherry Sneller who will lead an activity making hand made holiday cards. This class requires pre-registration by Dec. 4. Both these events can be found on our website or Facebook page under the Events area.
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.
Joann Schissel, Wine, art and story lover
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