It's all about developing relationships in your community with industry professionals and sharing your passion for learning about wine and traveling to wine-growing regions
Here are 5 ways to build those connections
It is a major focus of this blog to offer you advice on how to take your personal travel to another level. If you love wine and beautiful places in the world I recommend learning how to travel like a wine industry insider. Perhaps you have heard stories of the trips those in wine sales and marketing take on a regular basis and felt envy. Having represented many hundreds of wine brands in my days, I can tell you those “death march” work trips are no vacation. I learned early on that I could tailor my own wine country trips, on my own time, to really have memorable vacations.
One of the most intimate ways to engage with wine is to be employed in the wine industry. However, this is not practical for everyone, no matter how sincere your interest in the subject may be. The key to creating a wine “lifestyle” is to develop authentic, personal relationships with those in the industry. So, how can you benefit from these close relationships and keep your day job? You must first develop your own network of industry resources. This can take years, so don’t waste time, get your network growing. It’s all about “shaking hands”.
1. Your local wine shop
Develop a close relationship with at least one fine wine shop. This is a shop that has a buyer that works in the store, and perhaps a local owner as well. Introduce yourself and become familiar with these key people, and BUY wine from them. Be sure to make your visits known each time you come in, even if you don’t make a purchase. Let them know of your interest in traveling to wine growing regions and enlist their counsel. Get on as many wine shop email lists as you can.
2. Local consumer events
Attending consumer wine tasting events and food pairing dinners is an excellent way to meet those in the wine industry while enhancing your wine knowledge. Most of these events will have representatives from the wineries. Engage them in conversation, share your enthusiasm, exchange cards and follow up with them afterward. Oh, and did I mention…BUY their wines. Check out events posted on LocalWineEvents.com and your local chapter of the American Wine Society. Ask your favorite restaurants if they may be hosting events, get on their email lists also. If you attend these events frequently, you are likely to run into the same people, thus strengthening your wine-loving community.
3. Be a “follower”
Use all your personal social networks to reach out to the wine industry. For each card, you pick up, reach out to them on LinkedIn, Facebook or your other networks. Follow and “like” their wineries and importers. Search for Bloggers (like me) that share your interests. You will find practical information and useful tips.
4. Formal Education
There are numerous formal wine education certifications you may pursue. Having certification is no guarantee that you will grow your network without making the efforts previously referenced. Be prepared to take your studies seriously and to pay hefty enrollments and possible travel expenses as well.
5. Create your own wine community
If you happen to live in a community that has yet to wake up to the wonders of wine, start your own community. You can create events and groups on Nextdoor.com (a private community for your neighborhood), Meetup.com, Facebook, LinkedIn and LocalWineEvents.com. If you don’t have a chapter of the American Wine Society in your area, you can start one, no industry experience necessary.