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September 22, 2007

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Mathew Thomas

Speaking from the agency side, we've designed and built a bunch of higher end sites for wineries big and small. Here are my top 5 and why:

1) Pepi
http://www.pepi.com
I think that this site accomplishes exactly what it is meant to do without relying on the same old content. This "winery" is all about BRAND. The audience is relatively young and inexperienced within the realm of wine. Their sophistication can eliminate wines that taste bad, but great/exceptional bottles are just wasted money to this group. They're looking to define themselves through the wine they purchase. If we can reinforce the feeling that they're hip twenty-somethings likely to be seen at a tiki beach party, then we're right on track.

The approach to content is cognizant of the visitor persona. For example, tasting notes are replaced with a virtual tasting experience where you "fly through" each varietal to get a feel for the flavor profile.

2) Mt Veeder Winery
http://www.mtveeder.com
I like this site because the winery is all about place. There is no better way to express what makes this winery location special than to feature some of the amazing imagery they have taken. The site gracefully allows the imagery to take center stage and become the experience, rather than just treating it as filler content.

3) Lokoya
http://www.lokoya.com
If you've never heard of this wine, there's a reason why. We went through a several month long process of working with the wine maker and marketing team - and I never had a sip of the stuff. The ultra low production volume and the insanely high Parker ratings keep this brand in the +$200 range and as invitation only for advance purchase (they sell out every year).

The website does a great job of being sophisticated and understated - while reinforcing the prestige that consumers look for to validate their purchase. The grapes are blended from three of Napa Valley's top vineyards, located on the three notable mountains that surround the valley. We placed the website right in the middle. As you interact with vintages, your perspective changes in the header to view that mountainscape.

4) Redwood Creek
First off, my agency did not create this site. I list it because it is one of my top five, and a site that inspired components of the other sites we've created. I like it because the flash work is beautiful and subtle (considering it's a few years old now). It's also got a very consistent visual through the web and print campaigns. I think that consumers identify well with the vintage travel poster aesthetic because wine is supposed to be an experience that "takes you away".

5) Chandon
It's really not fair to list this one because the site I'm referring to is still in development. It should launch in the next few weeks. I list it because it's going to be very "top 5" worthy when it launches. (url will still be http://www.chandon.com) Also keep your eye on the site for Robert Mondavi Winery - we've got that site in production too, and it looks awesome.

Note) We've worked with many of the implementation/fulfillment partners listed under the "Winery Web Site Developers" entry of this blog. They're good people to know and play a key role in the industry, but are not necessarily the best fit for the interface design.

Kimberly Cabot

THe best that I have found is Bonny Doon in Santa Cruz Mountains.
Very fun, like his labels.

John Carver

Has there been any update to this list of best (or 2nd best) winery websites? I am looking to help create a website for a new winery out of Argentina and need inspiration.

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