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Wine and the Experience Economy: Examples from Oregon

 

By Carl Winston, Director, L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University

 

You may have read about the Experience Economy and how people nowadays are “collecting memories” via experiences of all sorts. Today’s winemakers, tasting rooms and venues are all stepping up their game to make wine experiences even more competitive.

 

I would argue you are competing not just with one another but also with activities ranging from movie theaters to hiking to shopping.

 

On a recent trip through Oregon, I stopped by the Willamette Valley to visit a couple of venerable “Dundee Hills” favorites. I had wonderful, traditional and expensive tasting experience, conversations with winemakers and a lovely day in the summer sun. As a “wine geek” this was a mini nirvana experience for me.

 

One or two of the places seemed more “down to earth” than others and some were superbly polished but a little “stiff.” I liked the variety and was set after a few hours – then I descended on McMinnville.

 

Whoa! This town of some 35,000 people has decided to become a “wine and experience mall.” There were venues of all sorts set up as “tasting rooms” and the community has positioned itself as its own walk-around wine destination. I could not resist and had to visit a few places.

 

I did not have the same set of experience as earlier in my day but it certainly was interesting to see who was there on Thursday afternoon. I saw lots of young moms enjoying living room type settings with play areas and games for their kids – in a wine tasting room! I saw what I took to be older “regulars” chatting up their friends and the wine pourers. And then I went into Naked Winery- right there on 3rd Street.

 

Well, the name is certainly “catchy” and it turned out to be memorable. I do not remember the wine (not any of it) but the wine names were sensual to sexual, the all female staff was attired “memorably” and the place was busy. In chatting with others, it became clear Naked was runaway favorite for a more party-ish crowd.

 

Sure, catchy names have been done before, but what impressed me was the total McMinnville experience as a safe, walk able and party-style environment. Not my cup of tea but I am not point here. They have developed a sustainable entertainment and experience model for an audience that might not fancy the Dundee Hills AVA experience.

 

For more on this subject, Carl Winston can bee seen at SommCon 2017 in San Diego during his seminar, The Experience Economy.

 

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