Podcast: Catoctin Breeze Vineyard markets a winery on a budget
Winning over wine lovers with contests and Instagram
Adam Fizyta of Catoctin Breeze Vineyard, just north of Thurmont, Maryland, opens up about effective, low-cost ways to engage guests and consumers. Learn about his favorite approaches to using social media, plus how a video combined with a contest went a long way in promoting brand-awareness for the vineyard. And we’ll also talk about the power of polls.
Adam Fizyta loves skiing, mountain biking, traveling, food, and most importantly…wine! He is one of the owners of Catoctin Breeze Vineyard; a small, family owned boutique winery in Thurmont, MD. Their mission is to produce the best, terroir-driven wines in Maryland, and provide all of their guests with exceptional hospitality. In other words, they take the wine making very seriously, but make the wine drinking fun and enjoyable.
They focus on dry, European inspired wines, so the majority of their customers have been wine lovers for a while. Nevertheless, they are seeing more and more newcomers who have a newfound appreciation for locally crafted beverages. On the weekends during the summer months, they have live music and food trucks on site, a roaring fire pit, and probably see a couple hundred people every week. For the past few years, business has been growing by over 50% as a result of expanding their facility, producing more wine, and keeping up with their online presence.
Instagram is the bridge between wine and the customer
Adam has been using Instagram actively for about a year now, and although Catoctin Breeze Vineyard has a good amount of followers, he says having your followers engaged is more important. Adam loves Instagram because “you can go ‘informal’ with the Instagram stories.” He posts videos of day to day activity at the vineyard, like his brother making a coffee table out of a wine barrel, a video of their dog running around playing with a ball, or even just a glimpse into the cellar. It offers an opportunity to create a more raw connection with his followers.
“Document, don’t create. Just be raw and show it like it is. No sugar coating necessary.”
Catoctin Breeze has a wine club of about 250 people, and those who are on Instagram have access to watch everything going on. Adam assures “If they want to watch it, they will. If not, they won’t. Doesn’t hurt anybody.” By posting Instagram stories with polls, being able to engage your audience is not only fun for Adam, but informative too.
They asked questions like “How many of you know that we will be open on Friday nights starting in May?” Only 25% of the poll voters knew! That was a clue for them to market it more, so they put it on the front page of their website, and ran Facebook ads promoting the season kick-off event. “Do you like white or red better?” “Oaked or unoaked chardonnay?” People love engaging in polls, and it gives Adam insight on his customers. Engaging people helps the customer become closer to the brand because they feel more emotionally invested.
“The number one thing in social media marketing is getting people’s attention and retaining that attention. We target two types of people; existing customers who have visited us before, and people who haven’t visited us before. The people who have visited us before, we want them to come back. The people who haven’t been here, I want them to see we have a beautiful vineyard, and people are engaging with us.”
Tips for building loyalty that lasts
- Instagram stories: document, don’t create (i.e don’t overthink it). Just be raw and show it like it is, no sugar coating necessary.
- Instagram posts: These images are permanent, so make them count! Adam generally only selects good looking pictures, preferably taken on a camera (although some camera phones take great pics too).
- Engage with your audience: use polls, wine giveaways, ask questions, respond to people! Comment on your follower’s pictures. See that somebody is drinking a really cool bottle of wine at the wine kitchen? Let them know that you love wines from Greece too! Genuine interaction is important, don’t just go around saying “nice pic!” or using generic emojis too much, unless it’s appropriate.
Prediction: Instagram is thriving, Billboards are dying
For the price of an ad in a magazine, or on a billboard, Adam has found that advertising on social media has a much greater impact on consumers. “Everybody is on their phones, all the time! I also think billboards are dying (at least for how expensive they are currently). I never pay attention to them. Before I go anywhere, visit a new place, etc, I already know where I am going. I research all of it online.” Catoctin Breeze Vineyard believes that marketing dollars are better spent on social media.