On a recent anniversary trip to wineries in Sonoma County, California, one company stood out among all the rest because of how it presented the process of sampling wines. Now keep in mind that most of what happens in Sonoma County, as well as in neighboring Napa Valley, is the sampling of local wines. So standing out in this climate is a challenge.
At Gourmet Au Bay Wine Bar & Bottle Shop, located on Bodega Bay, the challenge to stand out is met by offering “wine surfing,” its unique way to sample wine. The owners, Bob and Sissy, offer three samples of wines for $9, and those samples come in wine glasses, much like other wineries and wine shops.
But where the business is different is that those three glasses are given to the buyer in what appears to be a wooden surfboard, hence the surfing. The surfboard is thick enough to allow a slot to be cut along its length, giving the stem of the wine glass a place to go. The surfboard also has a cutout running long ways, giving a place for the base of the three wine glasses to fit inside. The result is a safe and fun way to transport three glasses of wine to the patio, where sunsets are beautiful.
We found out about the business from the proprietors of the Twisted Horn Ranch, which had a new rental house where we stayed. Needless to say, the way in which the wine is shared was a key component of the referral to us.
Gourmet Au Bay dares to be different. It offers something unique. The uniqueness draws attention, and attention leads to good word of mouth.
Consider that if the business presented wine like everyone else, we wouldn’t have heard about it from the rental property owners and I wouldn’t be writing about it now.
Many business owners might have said to themselves that there’s no way to make wine tasting different, that there are too many competitors to even try to stand out. It might be easier to give up. But not at Gourmet Au Bay.
They went against the grain. They created the idea of “wine surfing” and the result is increased attention and business.
Business owners often look for a magic bullet that will help their businesses to succeed. But most of the time, the successful businesses are those that find a way to stand out by doing something novel, new or interesting. We as consumers recognize this extra effort by supporting these standout businesses with our patronage, as well as good word of mouth. And that good word of mouth can be the best advertising available.