As a wine travel writer, in order to begin your story, what if you had only one website resource that delivers all of the following:
- A comprehensive list of wineries from all across the U.S.
- In-depth information about each winery
- Visitor reviews and ratings about personal experiences at the wineries
- An indicator of how good the wineries’ wines are, based on the ratings of the most respected wine critics…
- Certainly, other third party endorsements of the wine won’t work for you, as far as your own palate goes. However, if you have other wine writers that you respect and have already aligned your palate as being similar with that person’s likes and dislikes, you’ve got more information leading you to one of your favorite, final destination stories.
You know the frustration of trying to gather this, that, and the next thing, going from one site to another to gain some perspective and solid information.
Jim Finley, the site’s originator, had the same frustration, while planning a wine travel trip.
In his own words, “In 2007, I was asked to put together a Napa and Sonoma wine tasting itinerary for a group of six friends. We were traveling to California together for a wedding. All of us had enjoyed wine for many years, but I think I was the only one who actually had wine magazine subscriptions, which supposedly qualified me to plan the itinerary. I had planned to review some ‘best of’ magazine articles for Napa and Sonoma and consult a couple California winery websites to get additional details.
“I found that there were several sites that contained information about Napa and Sonoma wineries, but that they provided contradictory information. I also found that the sites with a complete, or nearly complete, list of wineries didn’t provide enough information about each winery to help me determine which winery to visit; and, the sites with in-depth information about the wineries didn’t list all the wineries in the region. That left me thinking that I might miss a great winery simply because it wasn’t included on the site.
“I finally resigned myself to primarily using the sites that contained in-depth winery information. These sites did a good job of describing the wineries and listing their amenities and features, but they still didn’t provide the information I needed to identify the must-visit wineries. For example, several of these sites were promotion sites, i.e. their goal was to present each of the wineries in the best light possible, which provided scant information to help me distinguish the top tier from the lower tier. Also, there was no feedback or reviews from people who had actually visited the wineries, and there was no information regarding the quality of the wines.
“When one of my friends mentioned that there should be a site that brings this all together for all the wineries in the U.S. and joked that I should build it, I took the bait. And after five years of work, which originally was supposed to take six months, I think I can answer the question I asked myself at the onset, ‘How difficult can it be?’… It was very difficult, but it was fun and educational as well.”
Do you see yourself in this scenario at all? If you do, bookmark AmericanWineryGuide.com as a resource, and begin to enjoy the features as to your own personal benefit…
Jim Finley kept talking about using “his maps…” When we first started working together, his final site hadn’t been launched. So, all I saw was a “home page” look. As he spoke about his maps for gathering any kind of info I needed, I couldn’t conceptualize it. So, I asked him, what’s the deal with all of the maps you’re talking about. He sent me links and my eyes opened WIDE. I thought, OMG… this is amazing. Select this, select that, add this, and have some of that… “Where am I, at an all you can eat buffet?”Ah… “Yeah, that would be right.”
Here’s what Jim wrote to me, and I’m going to present to you. Happy shopping, because that’s what you’re going to be doing… Shopping for your next great story.
Ways that travel writers could use the site to expand or narrow a search:
Feature/Amenity Search ~ Create a map of all U.S. wineries that:
- Provide lodging (best places to sleep among the vines)
- Host weddings (best places to get married among the vines)
- Are dog/kid friendly (wine country travel with kids/dogs story)
Instant Wine Expert ~ Create a map of all U.S. wineries that produces the highest rated:
- wines (all, red or white) within a specific price range
- Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, etc.
- wines within a specific price range
- OR… create a map showing which wineries use organic grapes, practice biodynamics or use native yeast
What do visitors think ~ – create a map showing the wineries
- that provide the best service
- that have the highest overall visitor ratings
OR any combination of the above and more…
“Instead of searching based on just one of the three groups above, users can combine attributes from each to identify very specific wineries, i.e. Highest rated producers of Pinot Noir under $50 that provide tours, are kid friendly, provide food, host weddings, use organic grapes and provide great service.
“Also, I think one of the strengths of the site is the ability to map the results. Viewing geographic groupings of wineries based on whatever criteria you choose can be very revealing and identify potential travel destinations.”
Yes. Loads of work went into this. I, for one, like it.
Thanks for weighing in, gdfo.