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The Cellar Door Project

The traditional wine business model is based on finding domestic and international distributors who could match volume sales with volume production. For many wine businesses this remains the case, and necessarily so as multiple distribution channels are required to sell wine outside the winery’s home territory.

Many business owners have long recognised the importance of a vertically-integrated sales model where the winery product is sold by the organisation through an on-site cellar door as well as a perhaps a restaurant operation.

With the strong upturn in tourism numbers, there have been recent studies that demonstrate wine tourism is a significant part of the international visitor experience. This wine tourism should also translate into business opportunity to individual winery operations.

NZ Winegrowers have recently undertaken a research project giving a valuable insight into the scale of wine tourism in NZ and this presentation is available through your member’s portal .

The main take-outs from this research for me were the number of international visitors that visit wineries as part of their New Zealand experience. Around one in four visitors visit a winery, with a higher ratio if the visitor has cycled or played golf during their stay.

The research also showed that winery visitors were wanting a tasting experience that was not hurried, in a pleasant welcoming environment and hosted by knowledgeable, professional staff.

The real opportunity for wineries is to convert the visitor to a customer. From charging a tasting fee, making a multi-case sale, signing up a wine club member or selling a winery visitor experience, the cellar door should be viewed as a positive contributor to the overall financial and brand health of the organisation.

Certainly, the cellar door is still the touchpoint for your customer to discover and engage with your brand but with the summer season starting, how is your organisation best placed to take advantage of the wine tourist?

I have been involved in wine business management for the past 14 years as well as extensive hospitality, retail and tourism experience. I have just returned from working on Waiheke Island selling ultra-premium Bordeaux style in a very competitive and seasonal market. By driving the visitor experience, cellar door revenue with my previous company was lifted four-fold over three years. I am back in the Central Otago region as a wine business consultant and am available to run the ruler over your cellar door operation to review sales strategies and practices to ensure that you make the most of this opportunity.

Contact Craig on 0274 514 957 or to chat through the range of consultancy services that are on offer. To find out more go to


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