I was reading the Flying Trout Winery blog, which mentioned a new winery from Trey Busch, evidently a well-respected winemaker in the Walla Walla, WA area. His new winery is named Sleight of Hand Cellars, although all I got from the Flying Trout post was "Slight [sic] of Hand."
Being me (and the author of a blog on winery Web sites), I was curious to see what sort of Web presence this new winery might have. My first stop was Google, where I tried several search phrases in an attempt to locate their Web site (double-quoted words must appear together and in order):
- Slight of Hand winery
- "Slight of Hand" winery
- "Slight of Hand" winery Trey
- "Slight of Hand" winery Trey Busch
- "Trey Busch" slight of hand winery
- "Trey Busch"
The final search led me to Congrats to Trey Busch, a thread in one of the West Coast Wine Network forums:
Trey will be ending his run at Basel Cellars in order to make his own wine. The new venture will, appropriately enough given Trey's rightful devotion to Pearl Jam, be called Sleight of Hand Cellars. Trey is the only Georgia Bulldog, Pearl Jam lovin' guy making wine in Walla Walla that I know of. Congratulations to Trey and Jen.
Trey himself added a comment, which fortunately had nearly all of his contact information, including a Web site address:
Sleight of Hand Cellars
Walla Walla WA
trey [--at--] SofHcellars [--dot--] com
(by the way, Googling sleight of hand cellars returns the Appellation America page for Sleight of Hand Cellars as the number 1 result - unfortunately, it doesn't tell me their Web site address!).
Interestingly, SleightOfHandCellars.com is available, so I'm curious why Trey didn't purchase it (even if he plans to use the shorter version because it's quicker to type). Ideally, you should own as many of the names that people looking for your wine are likely to try. I can see that the domain name is registered through GoDaddy.com, which only charges about $9 per domain (and usually offers a discount when purchasing more than one).
Go visit www.SofHCellars.com - it's using the free hosting GoDaddy provides as part of a domain registration, so it shows some advertising at the top. It's not hard to change by paying GoDaddy a few bucks a month for basic hosting, and I would recommend doing it ASAP.
The good thing is that the imagery that Sleight of Hand appears to be using as its logo/label is front and center, and it's a pretty memorable image (more so without ads!). The image should be sized so that you don't have to scroll to see the entire page (particularly, since there's no reason for the page to extend "below the fold").
The other thing that Trey/SoH is missing is the opportunity to capture an e-mail address for people who visit the site. And maybe an RSS feed for the techno-savvy who want automatic notification of changes to the site.
Mike's Recommendations for Your First Winery Web Site:
- A big picture of your (distinctive and memorable) logo.
- Contact information (as much as you have). I would recommend that you put the owner's name, the winery mailing address, a working phone number, and the owner's e-mail address.
- A one or two sentence description of the kinds of wines you make. For example, at Appellation America, Trey writes "Our flagship wines will be a right bank style blend, based on Cabernet Franc and Merlot, as well as a superstar Syrah."
- An invitation to supply an e-mail address for updates. I would offer some sort of benefit (e.g. free shipping on their first order) to overcome most people's natural resistance to sharing their e-mail address with a stranger, along with a very clear statement that you will never sell or rent their e-mail address, or send them spam. Oh, and don't forget to send them an initial (and ideally, personal) e-mail to thank them for signing up, and plan to follow up at least quarterly. Your e-mail also might invite them to "tell a friend".
- If your wine is available somewhere, you might tell people how to find it. For example, Trey's Sleight of Hand wines can be purchased here.
Even if you don't have a drop of your wine bottled, the above items will allow you to promote your Web site (via press releases, media stories, back labels, corks, T-shirts, etc.) and realize value from it. For example, Sleight of Hand got this nice write up in the Seattle Times, which probably generated some Web traffic for them. But without an easy way to indicate their interest in SoH wines, those visitors may be lost for good.
The excuse is: we'll have our site up soon (Sleight of Hand has " :Website in development: " at the bottom), but that can take longer than expected. Once you have your visual identity established, you should get a functional one-page site up.
Moral of Post: don't even think about promoting your winery if you don't have a one-page Web site that can do the handful of things listed above.
I'd be happy to get comments from established wineries about their first Web site, or from new wineries like Sleight of Hand with their experiences in creating a Web site. I know there are a zillion things to do when starting up any enterprise, but why does a basic Web presence get such short shrift from a new winery?
Regardless, best of luck to Trey Busch in his new enterprise. I look forward to seeing the Sleight of Hand Cellars site evolve over time.