Some Wineries Get It...And Some Don't...(Part 27)

Customer relations, that is.

TablasCreek has always been one of the best when it comes to customer relations. They always used to send out a Christmas gift to their club members in appreciation of their continued participation. But for the last few yrs, that gift has slid further into the next year. But the timeliness is not important, it’s the thought that counts.
So…yesterday I got this small package in the mail from TCV. Great…Christmas in February. My hands trembled as I opened the box. Inside was a set of thick cards, a calendar, with two months worth on each side. With some beautiful drawings of the vine at the appropriate stage of growth for that month. And a sequential history of TCV going way back to 1549 (I, of course, have a TN on that very first vintage, on my cuneiform tablet).
This tablet calendar has a hand-crafted block of wood from a stave of a used barrel with a slot to hold the calendar and the TablasCreek logo on the front. It has a beautiful smell of Fr.oak. I licked the wine-side of this stave/block and determined that it had held the '03/'06/'10/'13 vintages of Esprit de Tablas Rouge. TN will follow.

It’s quite a unique/creative/thoughtful gift from TCV. If the slot was a bit wider, I could also use it to hold my iPhone.

As usual, when it comes to good customer relations…TCV nails it.

I’m impressed you could distinguish those four vintages just from the lick test. My best has been two vintages.

To me, customer relations is not about gifts and extras like that. As we probably all know, these things cost the winery money and it all goes into the price of a bottle of wine from them.

To me, customer relations is about communication about availability and delivery, the replacing of less-than-stellar bottles at no cost, and accessibility of someone at the winery who knows how to timely answer questions about readiness of a vintage to drink, about decanting advice for a specific vintage, etc.

The rest is a bit of fluff, in my opinion, and fluff that a small operation just cannot afford. Call it fun, call it a nice surprise gift and gesture, but please do not confuse it with customer relations and wineries who “get it.” Two separate things.

Yup, Merrill…absolutely will not argue that point at all. And TCV does all those things you describe very well, as well. True, the small operations just don’t have the
resources for these gifty things…but it’s a nice touch and I don’t necessarily consider it as “fluff”. But the interaction thing is the most important
part of customer relations, I agree.
The TCV VinSider club is one of the few I continue to patronize. You can get some amazing deals on their special pricing.

The notable thing about the gifts is they don’t have to do it. They could omit the gift and (I assume) almost nobody would notice or care. It’s a gesture entirely out of their profits that they care about their customers.

So wineries that “get it” send you free stuff?

The money comes from somewhere, probably in increased pricing as Merrill said.

Nope, David…see my response to Merrill above. TCV does get it…irrelevant of the “free stuff”.

Yeah, OK, but your OP is about getting free stuff.

Customer service can take many forms and I have to echo Tom that Tablas Creek is one of the best. It’s not “free stuff”, its the attention to detail from tasting notes/vintage advice, their newsletters and, yes, some occasional free stuff. They treat you well and produce a great product for a very reasonable price.

I run a small business so I understand there is not always the time to do the things big operations can do, but there are plenty of big (and small) operations that treat their customers poorly. I’m less likely to support those operations. I remember dropping off the Araujo list after a series of dismissive responses to an email I had sent and just moved the money somewhere else. Great wine, lousy customer service.

Really no different than most of us who take a client out to lunch. It’s not about the cost of the lunch, its about the effort being made. If someone doesn’t care, so be it, but its funny that some here appear critical of appreciating their efforts.

So John, do you not think that when annual or quarterly budgeting goes on at the corporate level these wineries do not have an expense line for the “gifts” that must be balanced out by income? “Entirely out of their profits” might be a stretch. The money has to come from somewhere, and I doubt it is a direct hit off the profits in their P&L. Maybe…

Tom, dismissive responses from a winery, as in your example of Araujo, is poor customer service. And for what it is worth, Araujo was my neighbor - 4 driveways down - for 15 years and they were dismissive of me, too!

Ha, I’m glad I was not the only one.

Hate to see what Tom’s house would look like on an episode of the ‘Hoarders’ : wine tchotkes as far as the eye could see!

I feel like we’ve had this exact thread before – squabbles and all – in 26 prior iterations. Unfortunately, Tom is just as wrong this time as he was all the other times, so I don’t have high hopes for version 28.

You gave me my first good laugh of the day. These are not squabbles, it is just some of us letting Tom know he is wrong… again. [cheers.gif] pileon

Thanks for clearing that up folks. I originally thought that Tablas Creek screwed Tom over all year every year, sent him a wine barrel Tchotchke and he was back in love. He had been about to drop out of their club because theY missed Christmas this year. I figured he must have tried and tried to call them personally but couldn’t get anyone to pick up the phone because they were in the back counting all their money.
He just had to tell somebody and since they won’t respond he told us. Whew.

I totally agree with you Tom on Tablas Creek customer service. The ‘gifts’ have been a great extension of their wines and reflection of who they are. Adds to joy of drinking their wines. The recipe book last year was full of pictures of the vineyards and paired the recipes for their wines. Love the calendar this year.

Their website is quite amazing. You can find out so much about their wines, vineyards and the specifics on each wine. They have reviews and recipes. They have always returned my emails promptly and friendly. My 3 years on their white wines club has been educational and a joy!

Pax sent out a beautiful candle made from Sonoma local beeswax (or so the card says) at Christmas this year with a very nice card. I’ve been on their list a couple of shipments. My wife displayed it prominently and found it very nice. She remembered it next time we drank a bottle of Pax. Mentioned we should be sure to stay on their list because of the wine and the nice gift. So, for many folks its a connection to the winery that keeps them buying.

I’m still new enough to this wine thing that I love opening club shipments with surprises inside. One of my favorites was Herman Story’s from last fall that included a story about his grandmother and her chicken recipe. Along with a packet of chicken seasoning.

Nice touch when I wnry goes above & beyond to show their appreciation. But their profits musta taken a big hit!!
Did you lick the candle and identify what clover field the bees had been out pollinating and what variety of flowers?? A real wine connoisseur can do that, you know?? [snort.gif]