Coronavirus Pandemic Sparks Creative Community Survival Plan at WISE
August 18, 2020 | Napa, CA – WISE, the wine industry leader in direct-to-consumer (DTC) and executive coaching based in the Napa Valley, has developed several new initiatives to help wineries navigate the COVID-19 crisis. These include the creation of complimentary online Community Forums for 15 wine regions, the introduction of virtual classes such as phone sales for enhancing winery revenue, and conversion of traditional tasting room mystery shops to virtual experiences. The move to virtual has allowed WISE broader global reach with service across the US, Canada, New Zealand and Australia. Since March of this year, WISE has increased its service footprint to 2,600 winery professionals, a 370% increase over the same period in 2019.
According to Co-founder and Chairman, Lesley Berglund, “Our mission has always been about service and this crisis forced us to determine how to serve on a grander scale. We prioritized three areas: listening and responding to the current and constantly changing needs of wineries; transitioning to virtual from in-person coaching; and offering pay-what-you-can pricing. I am most proud of our new Community Forums developed in partnership with regional wine associations, as they have allowed us to share best reopening practices and help thousands of wine industry leaders.”
The Oregon Wine Board was one of the first regional associations to approach WISE. Bree Stock, Master of Wine and Oregon Wine Board Director of Education comments, “WISE structured their Community Forums to meet the needs of Oregon’s winery owners, DTC leaders and tasting room managers, allowing them to meaningfully connect with industry colleagues to share reopening challenges. Guided by the subject matter experts at WISE Academy, these meetings created an essential communication and support network to workshop ideas and solutions. They also helped strengthen our community during these trying, isolated times.”
WISE Community Forum participants join large group meetings and employ ZOOM breakout sessions to creatively problem solve within smaller parties. In addition to the Oregon Community Forums for Oregon Wine Board, Willamette Valley Wineries Association and Rogue Valley Vintners, WISE is hosting Community Forums for 12 additional associations. These include Walla Walla Valley Wine Alliance, Woodinville Wine Country Association, Idaho Wine Commission, Wine Road Sonoma, Sonoma Valley Vintners & Growers Alliance, Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, Santa Barbara County Vintners, Monterey County Vintners & Growers Association, Texas Hill Country Wine Association, New York Wine & Grape Foundation, Finger Lakes Wine Alliance and Seneca Lake Wine Trail. Additional forums in more wine regions will follow.
In addition to virtual classes and Community Forums, WISE has also experienced substantial growth in its more intimate, most aspirational leadership development initiative known as the WISE Cabinet program. WISE Cabinets are invitation-only for wine industry leaders and serve as their personal advisory board supporting growth and leadership development. Launched in 2018 to drive the next generation of best business practices, Cabinets have continued to increase in membership and are now being held online. The Cabinets are additionally serving as networking platforms to help those laid off due to the economic downturn find new positions.
Berglund adds, “We started 2020 in high growth mode with increased industry demand, having doubled our educational content to 125 eight-hour days. I’ve navigated plenty of challenging downturns such as the 2001 and 2008 recessions, but this one will stay with me given its silver lining: we have increased our industry impact ten-fold, and are now touching thousands instead of hundreds of people.” Later this year, WISE will release a white paper detailing key takeaways and best practices learned during this pandemic.
WISE is the industry leader in direct-to-consumer (DTC) and executive coaching, working with winery partners to increase sales with optimized programming. Founded in 2008 to offer DTC training and certification, WISE has evolved to include custom coaching services such as research and analysis, mystery shopping, and staff development based on winery client demand. Chairman Lesley P. Berglund, a Napa-based wine industry DTC pioneer, leads a team of ten experts in their respective fields who deliver a comprehensive, standards-based curriculum for wine industry professionals in California, Oregon, Washington, New York, New Zealand, Canada and beyond. Since its founding, WISE has served over 9,000 wine industry professionals and 3,000 wineries, completed more than 5,000 mystery shops, and developed 125 eight-hour days of content and 20 courses and certification programs. A complete course catalogue and services descriptions are available online at www.WineIndustrySalesEducation.com