Content = Storytelling
Plain and simple, without great copywriting you don’t have great content. Marketing is about telling a story, and stories get told with great writing. This is especially true in wine marketing; we have such rich, varied stories to tell, but our audience is often confused, intimidated, or easily bored. It’s our job as marketers to build content that our customers can relate to, get excited about, and respond to. So content in all its forms must tell a great story.
What Makes A Great Story?
Boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy gets girl. That’s one formula, and when you think about all the hugely successful movies that have followed that formula, it works. Anne Lamott came up with this simple mnemonic device to remind us how plots work:
Remember the old fable, The Tortoise and The Hare? It fits this form perfectly. Really, any great story will follow this arc to one degree or another. So, how does this relate to wine marketing? Let’s compare two ways to write about wine.
A Description, Or A Story
Example Number One. Let’s call this the Description. “Our 2017 XYZ Cabernet Sauvignon is the result of a perfect vintage, nurtured with care in our cellar. The grapes for this wine were grown at ABC vineyard, on XXX rootstock in gravelly loam soils. On a slight slope with a southwest facing aspect, this vineyard is ideally suited to growing fine Cabernet.
A cold, wet winter was followed by a mild spring and warm summer temperatures, leading to cooler weather in September and early October which moderated ripeness. We picked the grapes at 24.3º Brix on October 25th.
After hand sorting on our sorting table, the grapes were destemmed and fermentation was starting using indigenous yeast. Fermentation took place in stainless steel tanks, with pump overs performed twice daily. After the wine was dry we transferred it to Limousin oak barrels, 25% new, for eighteen months. A light filtration was performed just before bottling in April 2019.”
Example Number Two. Let’s call this one the Story. “It was pouring rain the first time I visited ABC vineyard, and as I tromped through the mud with Mike, the vineyard manager, checking out the dormant vines, I could tell that this was a special place, and I shook hands with Mike on a deal to take 6 tons of his Cabernet Sauvignon.
I had been looking for a vineyard like this for years, managed by someone who thought about wine like I do. I wanted to make a Cabernet like the ones I enjoyed when I first started making wine; powerful, but graceful, with subtle flavors not overwhelmed by heavy fruit or alcohol. This, I thought, is the fruit I’ve needed.
Come late September, I admit being nervous about deciding when to pick. I didn’t want too much sugar, or ripeness, but Mike urged me to let the fruit sit just a little longer. When we finally called the pick, we had the fruit in the barn by 6:30 AM. The grapes looked, and tasted, beautiful. Piece of cake, I thought, as the wine began fermentation.
Then, a day later, disaster struck. It was unusually cold in the cellar, and fermentation had stuck. We had to get that wine warmed up, so I called every friend I could think of and rounded up ten electric blankets which we jury-rigged around the tanks. Twenty four painful hours later, I saw the first bubbles of fermentation start up again.
18 months later, it was time to bottle. The wait, the worry, the panic were all worth it. This is really the classic style of Cabernet that I was hoping to make, and I’m really proud of it. I hope you enjoy it.”
OK, it’s long, and needs editing. I just had my third cup of coffee so I’m rolling with it. But you get the point; a story brings the whole thing to life, and makes you connect with the story teller. A bonus of this kind of writing: suddenly, you now have a script for a video, a template for an Instagram story, and snippets to use on Facebook and Twitter.
The Moral Of The Story
So what’s the moral of this post? The more stories we can tell, the more wine we can sell. As romantic as wine can seem to our customers, sometimes we can take the day to day functions of our life in wine for granted. But there’s magic in almost every aspect of winemaking, and even, sometimes, wine marketing. Tell the stories, and see what happens.