How to get a winery to pour for you

As a companion to Randy’s thread, an ex-colleague recently asked me for help.
He works at the Triton Museum in Santa Clara and is looking into fundraising ideas.
One suggestion they came up with was to invite local wineries to pour.

So guys: If a local non-profit approached you asking to pour, what could they tell you that might help persuade you?
I’m guessing you’d want an idea of how many people would attend, and the demographics.

We are assuming that the non-profit would cover the basic cost of the wine and would make money by selling tickets
and getting a commission from any orders generated. Would a licence be needed?

Any tips - including “forget it, it’s just not going to happen” - would be appreciated.

Whenever we pour, we furnish the wine- if it is a charity event, the wine is our donation. Yes, you need a temporary licence from the ABC, but as far as commission for orders generated, that isn’t going to happen. You can’t “sell” at these kinds of things, and even if the winery has some kind of sign up sheet, that would be taken care of on their own time, unless they really agreed to donate more to you- I guess they would have to like the charity a whole lot.

we participated at an event in San Francisco to benefit Augie’s Quest. it was hosted by Western Athletic Clubs and they agreed to purchase wine (i.e. come pour and we’ll pay for x-number of cases). a total of 8 wineries participated. WAC sold tickets to the event, and we were allowed to present collateral at our table. while i cannot say for sure how much revenue we generated specifically from those in attendance, it was great exposure for those who my not get up to visit the winery.

the event was a success (or so i was told) so it was win/win for all those involved.

Agree with Linda.

I get approached by about two charities PER WEEK asking for either a donation or to pour at event. My rules: The charity must be local (and I mean, my very small town local) OR it must be a cause I personally feel very strongly about OR it must be an event that is of some commercial/marketing merit to me, meaning that it will draw (as you mentioned) the proper demographic that will give me sales or improve my name recognition.

I hope that doesn’t sound hard-hearted at all. It’s just reality, I think.

By the way, one of the most successful approaches I’ve seen recently was a drive by a guy who was on a quest for 1 bottle from every Oregon winery in support of his cause (which was an orchestra, as I recall). They then held an auction event. It’s hard to say no to a request for ONE bottle.

A really professionally written letter is the first step. Make sure you give the wineries plenty of lead time to consider, and plan to follow up with emails. Phone calls are intrusive, and you can seldom reach the decision maker that way anyway.

In addition to the date/time, anticipated attendance, purpose of the event, and demographics, it also indicates a level of experience and attention to detail if you include a description of what will be available to the winery. What size will the table be? Are they going to have to share with another winery? Will linens, pour pots, water and water pitchers, ice and iceboxes (for the whites) be provided? Where is parking relative to the venue and will pourers be able to unload their 40# cases near the venue? Or, keeping in mind that many wineries will send small, female employees will there be attendants to help carry in the wine? Experienced winery pourers will have a collapsible hand cart, but it’s still a nice touch if you indicate that there will be attendants or volunteers assigned to help the wineries set up.

With all that in mind, keep the letter brief, to the point, and on one page. Use bullet points. Avoid long-winded explanations of the purpose of the charitable event–wineries will only care about the exposure and demographics. Good luck with your event!

Those are pretty much my rules as well except for me to pour, it must be a cause I personally feel very strongly about AND it must be an event that is of some commercial/marketing merit to me (or I at least hope it will be). Otherwise, I will donate auction lots, that sort of thing.

Another thought, and this might not be applicable in CA.

To pour at events up here we need a special event permit from the OLCC (at $10/day) PLUS local governmental approval (at whatever their fee is). A couple of events we participate in manage this process for all participants, which is a real timesaver for wineries. We still need to add our individual info to the form (license #, address, etc.) and sign it, but especially when an event is in another municipality it is nice to only have to deal with a quick faxed form.

And yes, knowing the set-up (tables and collateral) is imperative.