Why am I writing this now, when the frost is (literally) not on the pumpkin yet? Because now is the time to prepare for the late holiday season rush. – Jean

Fall wine shipping season: late September to late November: one of the two times of the year when it’s neither too cold nor too hot to ship wine in most of the country.

So after Labor Day you start sending out your winery emails: “Fill your Cellar”, “Stock up on new Releases”, “Perfect Pairings for Holiday Fare” “Holiday Season Specials”, “Gifts for the Finickiest Wine Drinker”,”There’s Still Time to Ship Wine!”. And then before you know it, there’s not.

Some wineries shut down after the big Thanksgiving weekend. If they can’t ship, what can they sell? But there is a lot of money to be made between Thanksgiving and Christmas.

It might be too late or cold to ship, but these three ideas are proven to work and have the added bonus of being popular with office staff and corporate gift purchasers. Sell one, sell 100, you don’t ship until after the holiday and you get the money upfront.

1. The gift can arrive after the holiday

Surprise! A large percentage of gift givers don’t mind if the wine arrives late. Here’s what to do.

If the wine arrives after the holiday, that’s OK, because the winery will send  a beautiful card including the sender’s name and contact information for the winery. You can give the cards to customers to send themselves if they purchase in the tasting room. When I sold wine gifts at Avalon, this worked many times over many years to close a sale.

2. Gift Certificate/Gift Card

When a customer needs twenty $15 gifts sent to 15 different people, sell gift cards or gift certificates. You make no profit organizing 15 bottles of your lowest priced wine plus estimating shipping for 15 different zip codes. We’ve all been there. Sell the selection and the fun they’ll have shopping your website. Include a winery greeting card with each certificate and let the customer mail them.

What’s the difference between
Gift certificates and gift cards?

Certificates are usually managed from your winery. You print them out, fill them in, ring them up, and they go through your usual accounts receivable.

Gift Cards are customized with the amount of the gift at the time of purchase via a credit card-like device that adds the correct amount to the card. You typically pay a fee for each swipe. In return you get statements monthly and in many cases, the plastic gift cards are included with the system.

3. Wine Club Membership

Easy to give, shipping does not need to be immediate, and a big cash flow maker. When a wine club membership is given as a gift, wineries can require prepayment for the entire term of the subscription. Instead of billing the member each time a shipment goes out, you collect the entire amount up front.

Offer the club membership giver a Wine Club brochure they can take away and send to the recipient along with a beautiful winery holiday card. For web and email orders, show the beautiful winery holiday card and brochure on the landing page of your email.