Case Study from Data + Wine: How to See What You Aren’t Seeing Now


“What are your clients’ pain points? And how do you help them?”

Those were two questions I heard this week, during a call with a potential new partner. She was already familiar with our work but she wanted to home in on those precise moments that a pain point is identified, and what Enolytics does about it.

In other words, she wanted to hear the case studies – the living, breathing application of how the problem/solution dynamic plays out.

I gave her five recent examples but this week I’d like to focus on one. Here’s the pain point in the client’s own words:

“We made a big investment into a data-based research project. We’re glad we did it and we know it’s really useful. But, now that we have the research, it’s hard to know what to actually do with the information when it’s thousands and thousands of lines in a spreadsheet.”

This problem statement tells us five things:

  1. The research project matters to the organization. They invested money and time into it, and they want to get the most out of it.

  2. They recognize the inherent value in the data and in the project itself.

  3. They don’t want the data to sit on a shelf, even with all its shiny newness.

  4. They need to close the circle on the project by putting it to use, and demonstrating its actionable value to the invested parties.

  5. They recognize that they’re ill-equipped to “translate” thousands and thousands of lines in a spreadsheet.

So. What do we do about it?

“A picture is worth a thousand words” is cliché, but the principle is relevant here: it’s nearly impossible to identify actionable insights from a spreadsheet or csv file.

What we do is package and visualize the data into a dynamic, interactive dashboard, allowing the client to analyze and interpret the data in a very efficient way. We demonstrate how to “slice and dice” the data so that it’s useful, visible and helpful. We teach them how to navigate the dashboard themselves, which allows them to discover and understand interesting information that hadn’t occurred to them.

As part of our subscription model, we could also build a “KPI Landing Page” that they can reference and refresh as often as necessary in order to have a real time overview of the project at any time.

It’s all about seeing what you need to see. You could have all the data in the world, but if you can’t SEE it, analyze it and interpret it, then you can’t use it.

That’s one of the ways we help.

Does that make sense?

I’d love to hear your thoughts, and what’s come to mind for you.

Thank you, as always, for reading –


“Death by Reports,” and Three Ways that the Wine Industry Can Do Better


“Death by reports.”

That’s a phrase I found myself typing this week, in an email to a potential partner about a different way to communicate data-based information in the wine industry.

As you know, reports are everywhere in our industry. They CAN be useful but only, as I wrote about data itself a few weeks ago, if they’re consumed and put to use in an effective way.

That isn’t happening in wine, by and large. The problem isn’t the quantity of reports. It’s in how they’re put together, and how they’re put to use.

So, how can we do this differently, more effectively, and just better overall?

Here are three specific problems with reports, and the data-based alternative solutions that we build at Enolytics.

  1. Reports are two-dimensional and static. An alternative is a solution that’s dynamic and responsive, depending on what exactly you need to know and when you need to know it.

  2. Reports are cumbersome to generate. Think about how much time you or someone on your staff needs to spend generating reports when a fresh question needs to be answered. An alternative is for the data to be loaded once, and “sliced and diced” dynamically with a few clicks in a few seconds’ time.

  3. Reports are expensive. An alternative solution is automation. Your raw data can be automatically uploaded – daily, say, or monthly or however often you need it. The visualization of it refreshes with each new upload.

We can help with each of these three alternatives to “death by reports.” It’s like outsourcing your data needs, the way that some businesses outsource HR or public relations. Data should breathe life into your wine business, not strangle it by depleting your resources of time and money.

I’ll be writing more about automation in the coming months, because it plays such a pivotal role in making data cost-effective to consume and put to use. It’s also one of our team’s core competencies, along with data visualization and analysis.

Please stay tuned for that and, in the meantime, if you think your business could do a better job at generating reports or interpreting results, give me a call (+1.702.528.3717) or send an email to I’d love to talk about it.

Thank you, as always, for reading –


The Intimacy of the Human Voice: Enolytics and the New “Hit the Bottle” Podcast


Imagine sitting around, shooting the breeze with a whole group of people who care about what you care about.

That’s how the best podcasts have always seemed to me. It’s about the intimacy of the human voice, as I’ve written here before. In our case, it’s also about humanizing wine + data.

Here’s the thing now, though. Mike Wangbickler has gone and upped the ante, along with his team at Balzac Communications in Napa. Unlike any other podcast series I know, Hit the Bottle is dedicated specifically to marketing professionals who are working with wine, beer and spirits.

“Finally,” I can hear some of you saying. “Something for US.”

Yep. That’s the idea.

Hit the Bottle isn’t for consumers. It isn’t for the trade. It’s for people who care about marketing the way that you care about marketing. Check them out on the Episodes page!

Hit the Bottle is about strategy and leadership, and it’s about technology. That’s where Enolytics comes in, on this week’s “Data Redux” episode.

At first you may not think about “data” in the same context as you think about “the intimacy of the human voice.” But I hope that’s what you get out of this episode.

The end goal, after all, is to use data to humanize wine, to personalize it by making it more granular. Data also helps marketing professionals to do their jobs better and more strategically.

I think that was Enolytics’ price of admission to the Hit the Bottle podcast, and I’m all good with that.

I hope you’ll enjoy it, and that it will answer a few questions you may, yourself, have been meaning to ask.

Thank you, as always, for reading and for listening too –


“Your Data Has No Value.” Except in One Very Specific Way.


To be honest, I’d never thought about it quite so bluntly.

“Your data has no value.”

But once it was laid out in front of me, as it was this past week, I saw how very true that statement is.

Your data indeed has no value… unless it’s “consumed.”

Let me explain.

This week we were asked to do a “data audit.” A wine business laid out for us all of the raw data and all of the reports that they either buy or generate, and asked us to determine which are actually helpful and which are, frankly, a waste of money.

Here’s the short answer: None were helpful, and all were a waste of money. In other words, their “data” has no value, despite its significant price tag.

Why does all of this data have no value?

Because it isn’t being consumed.

“Consuming” data means that it isn’t being seen or understood, or interpreted or synthesized. However you want to say it, the data isn’t being put to use for the benefit of the company that’s paid good money for it.

Yet they keep buying it, maybe out of force of habit or maybe in hopes that someone somewhere will make sense of it.


The data itself has value, but only if it’s consumed. And data can only be consumed if it’s communicated in an effective way.

This was brought home in a resounding way earlier this week during a presentation in Atlanta, where we live, by a data scientist storyteller named Dalton Ruer.

“Data is only as valuable as your staff’s ability to consume it,” he said, which leads to taking action, which leads to “getting those zeroes and ones out of the expense column.”

In other words, organizations who actually consume data don’t waste their own money.

We think there’s a better rationale for investing in data than “we buy it because we’ve always bought it” or “one day we’ll be able to make sense of it.”

From our perspective, we’re thrilled to work with a business that has years’ worth of data, because it gives us the long view of things like trends over time.

But what matters the most, at the end of the day, is that we can help you consume your own data. Which means that your data will have value. It already does have value, in fact. We’re here to help you see it, finally.

Does this make sense?

We’d love to show you some de-identified examples of what we’ve done so far, to illustrate what we mean. Please be in touch about scheduling that conversation.

Thank you, as always, for reading –


The Missing Link of Wine + Data? It Isn’t What You Think.


When I talk with people about wine + data, there’s a little bit of a hierarchy of interest.

At the bottom end of the hierarchy is data. Let’s face it! Maybe it has to do with limited familiarity overall with the subject, or maybe it’s because the number of people in wine who want to “geek out” over data is still relatively small.

In the middle of the hierarchy of interest is wine. Lots of shared common ground here, obviously.

At the top of the hierarchy of interest, though? The people themselves. But there’s an irony to it: It’s people who make the decisions about wine + data, yet the focus of the conversation tends most often to not be on them.

Here are three ways we can do a better job of putting people at the top of the wine + data hierarchy.

Recognize that people generate the data.
That comes from digital interactions, everything from ecommerce purchases to text and image-rich posts on social media.

Recognize the people who build the technology.
That means the nuts and bolts, and developing the infrastructure channels through which the data flows. This eventually leads to actionable takeaways.

Understand that people make decisions about technology in a very analog way.

Let me hover here for a moment, on this key word of analog and how it plays out for wine + data.

It’s an analog decision to learn about data’s potential, even though that maybe isn’t your background or even part of your original job description.

People — you — make the analog decision to open this email or read this post, even though you have 15,279 other things to do today.

Raw data files are not analog, but it’s an analog decision to share them in an effort to explore what’s possible using technology and analysis.

Face-to-face meetings are very analog, but we find that they’re the most effective way to shift the conversation (and the adoption rate) of wine + data.

How about you? Ready for an analog conversation to fill in the missing link? Please let me know. I’d love to hear.

Thank you, as always, for reading —


3 Ways to Benchmark Your Wine Business for Its Best Possible Performance

Image Credit:

Image Credit:


It’s a cool buzzword when it comes to businesses of all types. In general, businesses use benchmarking as a way to discover the best performance that’s being achieved.

This week I’d like to focus for a moment on how we’re seeing it used in the wine industry in particular. Naturally, we’re curious about the ways that data can be harnessed in order to measure the best possible performance for wine businesses.

Let’s say your business is a winery. Think about benchmarking your winery in three concentric circles.

Innermost Core: Benchmarking Against Yourself

Here’s where you get your feet wet, both with data and with benchmarking. You want to gather enough data from current and previous years in order to provide the context for what you want to measure. This also establishes the baseline against which you’re measuring for the future. We see this most often in an operational or financial context.

Second Circle Outward: Benchmarking Against Your Peers

The idea here is to gather the same sets of data from a group of peers, or “frame of reference” wineries. That data is de-identified, so that no one’s proprietary information is exposed and no winery suffers a competitive disadvantage.

“Frame of reference” wineries for you may be other cabernet sauvignon producers, say, or it may be other wineries that are also members of your regional trade association. Rather than any one winery trying to go it alone as you determine decisions that range from pricing to the viticultural impact of climate change, benchmarking against your peers in an anonymized way reduces individual risk while also providing measurable standards in relation to your direct peers.

Outermost Circle: Benchmarking in a Global Perspective

By “global” here, we mean zooming out to something more general, like other wines within your price point, say, or other white wines or other wines from your entire state or even your country.

You can see how useful it would be to have the ten thousand foot view of Bordeaux-style blends, for example, in the top ten markets in the past five to seven years; even more useful could be that ten thousand foot view segmented according to the performance of Bordeaux-style blends from California compared to similar wines from France or Chile.

Does that make sense?

Our experience tells us that most wineries have what you need right now for the core concentric circle, to benchmark against yourself and start measuring performance for success.

If that’s something you’re already doing, then first, good for you. And second, consider stepping on to the second circle, or beyond. Managing your business performance with data-backed strategy has a significantly greater chance of success. We’re here to help that happen.

Thank you for reading and I look forward, as always, to your thoughts –


Two Free Opportunities for You, in Wine + Data


This week I’d like to share two opportunities with you, and I hope very much that you’ll join in.

Opportunity One: Highlight Your Wines and Your Work in Data

Earlier this summer Enolytics was invited to present our work, and lead a wine tasting, at the kick-off dinner the night before the Chief Data Officer (CDO) Executive Summit in Atlanta. (An Enolytics 101 post, back in June, described the experience.) Word of the program got around, and we’re now scheduled to present at another CDO Executive Summit, this time in San Francisco on December 10.

It’s an incredibly exciting opportunity. Talking about wine + data to CDOs in Atlanta is one thing; talking about it to CDOs in San Francisco is something else. This link gives you an idea of who will be in the room.

The San Francisco program is where you come in. Rather than Enolytics leading the wine tasting portion, we’d like to extend an invitation to wineries who are using data in interesting ways. During our part of the presentation, we’ll highlight the work of each winery that’s there, and then program attendees will move to a walk-around portion where wineries will pour your wines and speak to a graphic that illustrates how you’re currently using data in your business.

Your part? Bringing the wine and talking about how you use data.

Our part? Highlighting your work and welcoming you to the tasting.

The Summit attendees’ part? Expanding their perspective on what’s possible with data, in a category they don’t often consider.

Interested? I hope so. Please let us know here.

Sidebar: Is your business in another segment of bev alcohol, like spirits or beer? Please let us know that too, as it’s a growing area of interest. What we’re doing in wine is transferrable to what’s possible in spirits and beer.

Opportunity Two: Weighing in on POS and DTC

Wine Business Monthly dedicated much of their August 2019 issue to technology, including next-gen POS and DTC software and increased investment in ecommerce. To quote Cyril Penn’s Letter from the Editor at the front of the magazine:

"A little over a year ago, I attended a marketing conference where wine marketing and technology executives exchanges ideas. There were roughly 150 industry professionals in attendance, most of them were folks working in wine marketing or sales. During a discussion about e-commerce, a speaker asked for a show of hands to indicate how many people were 'happy' with their point-of-sale (POS) system. Nobody in the room raised their hand."

I read that and cringed, knowing how important this is to the wine industry. Why is it such a pain point? We’d like to understand it better, from your point of view. Even if you don’t want to collaborate actively, we’d appreciate hearing your feedback.

Interested? I hope so. Please let us know here.

I look forward as always to your thoughts and, this week in particular, to your input in response –

Thank you,


The Biggest Surprise So Far, About Wine + Data? Walk Before You Run

Photo Credit:

Photo Credit:

During our Enolytics retreat a few weeks ago, I asked our co-founder (whose professional experience is not in the wine industry) what the biggest surprise for him has been, since we launched a little more than three years ago.

“At first, the splash we made was about building an ecosystem of data partners who could help fill in the ‘blindspot’ of consumer sentiment around wine,” he said. “That’s still really important, and getting more so every day.”

And since then?

“Since then, what’s surprised me the most,” he said, “was how many wineries have said, ‘Look, we already HAVE data. We already own it, and we’re pretty sure we aren’t using it as best we can. It maybe isn’t as sexy or as splashy, but why don’t we work with that, before we bring in outside data?’”

In other words, let’s walk before we run.

Makes sense to us.

So, what kind of data do most wineries already have?

It depends on the size and nature of the business, but most often it involves DTC sales, tasting room visits, Nielsen data, CRM data, social media analytics, financial history, purchase history, or some combination of any of those.

(Can you relate to this?)

It adds up to quite a lot, actually, with the potential of something very powerful and strategic.

The catch, as maybe you can also relate to, is how few wineries dedicate staff and resources to working with the data that a wine business already has, that they generate organically every month or every quarter or etc of the year.

That’s where we can help. That’s where we’ve been helping, as much as this segment of the industry has been a surprise development for us. We’ve caught on pretty quickly.

Where are you in the process? Do you have a handle on how much data you have? Do you analyze it, and put it to work for your business? Is it helping to increase sales and improve your bottom line? Do you have a hunch it can be better?

Let’s talk about it, and see if there’s a way we can help. Please be in touch with any questions or ideas.

PS We’ll be taking next week off, enjoying the last official weekend of the summer. I hope you do too!

Thank you, as always, for reading –


Enolytics Capabilities Deck: Revised Version, Available Now

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That’s been on my mind this week for two reasons, namely updating the Enolytics capabilities deck, and as an article topic for my column over on

Here’s what both projects have in common: the end result was unknown at the start. That’s where improvisation comes in.

It isn’t that we didn’t know where we wanted to go. It’s more that we needed constructive input from you in the industry, plus creative collaboration, to get us there.

Because let me tell you, in the case of our capabilities deck, it is not today what it was two years ago. Not even close.

It’s better, meaning more reflective of what our industry needs and is willing to bear.

Interested in seeing it? Please let me know. I’d love to share, and talk about the ways we can make a difference for your business.

Thank you, as always, for your continued interest and encouragement.


Data for the Three Tier System: A Case Study of Challenges and Solutions


Enolytics 101 is a weekly check-in on the people and news of the wine + data space, steered largely by questions and challenges that come our way from clients, potential clients and other players in the space.

The idea is to move the conversation forward through hands-on examples, and through straightforward Q&As with colleagues who are gaining traction week by week. That’s meant features like the recent merger of Wine Folly with the Global Wine Database, the overall implications of blending data with content, and increasing the profitability of DTC programs.

This week we’re adding a fresh perspective, this time on data for the three tier system, through the lens of Tampa-based Proof Network Ventures. Proof first came on our radar earlier this year when they acquired Drync, a private-label mobile app that delivered an ecommerce solution for beverage alcohol retailers.

Since then we’ve been learning more about Proof’s mission and strategy, as well as their vision for using technology to drive meaningful benefits and change for our industry. Here are three fundamental questions about their work, and Proof’s responses. Notice in particular the last question, on specific, real-world ways that data can be put to use on behalf of individual wineries and brands.

I’d be curious for your thoughts on these questions, and which questions you would ask the Proof team. Please let us know.


Why is connecting different industry tiers such an important and powerful part of what you do?

Better business starts with meaningful relationships. The opaque nature of this highly regulated industry leaves far too many gaps in communication and collaboration between retailers, suppliers, and wholesalers, not to mention extreme fragmentation of data. Our business solutions connect these tiers for efficient and mutually beneficial business ventures by uniting everyone around the same goal: selling to the right customer.

What are the inherent challenges, and how are you overcoming them?

When you dedicate your business to modernizing an industry, the mission is naturally challenging. We were lucky to learn early on that rather than building a single use or value-added product to address a single issue in the beverage alcohol industry, a new paradigm was needed.

While an intuitive and feature-rich mobile ecommerce platform adds value on its own, we also feel it leaves a lot on the table for both sides. Value-add custom solutions are desirable to retailers in a vacuum, boosting digital sales requires more than just a platform. That’s why we offer quantitative marketing services, audience segmentation, as well as advertising campaign management for our retail partners on top of our tech suite. It isn’t enough to onboard people onto a platform; we’re dedicated to helping them succeed long term.

Could you describe three specific ways that you can help individual wineries or brands through the data you work with?

Depending on the hypothesis, there are a multitude of ways that consumer purchase data can help wineries and brands succeed. Here are a few of our favorites that we're currently working on with some of our brand partners:

  1. Identify shifting trends in existing and emerging markets

  2. Effectively manage inventory to guarantee yield optimization

  3. Develop robust consumer profiles and model behavior from historical data

The most important thing for us is ensuring raw data can be transformed and ultimately used in meaningful ways to empower brands to make smarter and more profitable business decisions. At the end of the day, our custom audience development and consumer profiling data science initiatives are changing the way brands look at their end consumers.


Thank you, as always, for reading –


Holy Bloody Moly: A Piece of Good News Out of London


We heard some incredibly exciting news this week. The shortlist was announced from London for the Louis Roederer International Wine Writers’ Awards, and I found myself as a finalist for the Mazzei International Wine Columnist of the Year.

As I wrote in my posts on social media, holy bloody moly.

It’s an honor. Full stop.

It’s also an opportunity to become familiar with the work of other writers who have been shortlisted, some of which I hadn’t previously known.

Most of all, it’s given us at Enolytics a chance to take a step back and seek perspective. In terms of the current state of content we care about it, that is, and the future of it as well.

That will be on our minds this coming week as our team begins our annual retreat: to seek perspective on the evolution of wine + data, and the future of it as well, for Enolytics and in general.

I’m looking forward to the pause away from our regular routines, to the brainstorming, and especially to strategizing about how to do better in the months and years to come.

Thank you, as always, for your input and for reading these weekly posts.

The Content-Data-Content Sandwich, and Why It Matters for Wine

Source: BBC Good Food

Source: BBC Good Food

Not sure if you’ve noticed, but there have been some really exciting moves within the industry lately when it comes to data.

Interestingly, each move in data has also involved a move in content.

I’ve written about the merger a few months ago of the Global Wine Database with Wine Folly, to create Folly Enterprises; Wine Folly’s most recent accolade came from the James Beard Foundation, which named Madeline Puckette and Justin Hammack’s Wine Folly: Magnum Edition the best Beverage book of 2019. And this week, we learned about the strategic alliance between Beverage Media Group and SevenFifty Technologies, the parent of SevenFifty Daily which was named this past week as the Best Cocktail and Spirits publication by Tales of the Cocktail Foundation.

Could you have data without having content?

Of course you can. But that’s when data mostly performs in a vacuum, when it’s able to be understood by only so many people. It’s the context, which the content provides, that gives the data “legs,” so to speak, that propels someone to get up out of their chair and run down the hall to their manager’s office to try to convince them to make a change to how they do business.

In the day-to-day operations of Enolytics, it looks like this:

Content – Data – Content

First we understand the need, which means the content around the client’s pain point when it comes to data.

Then we work with the raw data, from various sources, in order to address that need and offer potential solutions.

Finally, we circle back to content, which means interpreting the solutions so that the data-based results actually mean something to the client in actionable ways.

The data is the meat of this sandwich, no doubt about it. But it’s also the content on either side of it that makes it palatable. We see it every day at the office, and we see it happening around us too, at various levels throughout the industry.

Please let us know if you’d like to join the flow, and how we can help.

Thank you, as always, for reading.

5 Real-World Scenarios for Using Data + Wine


“I don’t know where to start.”

That’s a refrain I hear often, when it comes to putting data to work for your wine business. I get it. Data can be overwhelming, particularly if you spend most of your time making wine or growing grapes or selling wine or communicating about wine in one form or another (as I do).

Here’s the good news: You don’t have to know everything there is to know. In fact, the best approach is probably to take small steps, one at a time, according to what your gut is telling you needs the most attention right now.

Here are five specific scenarios we’ve heard recently, along with practical applications for putting the data to use.

  1. Our national sales meeting is coming up. How can outside data tell my team something they don’t already know, so they can make more sales?

  2. We’re a member-based organization that needs to give the same attention to small producers as we do to large ones. Can the same system of data analysis expand and contract, to accommodate production?

  3. Our wine club over-indexes on older consumers, and we’re anxious about them buying less or dropping out altogether. How can we carve up the data, in order to customize offerings that will appeal to their current tastes and keep them interested?

  4. We’re a young, emerging region and we need to make smart decisions right away about what grapes to plant and where. What kind of data can help us with this?

  5. If you were to suggest the five best “data things” I can do for my business, what would they be? We don’t have a big budget or a lot of staff, so they need to be efficient and actionable.

Which of these scenarios sounds familiar to you? Please let us know, because they’re all questions we’ve fielded in recent months, and we think we’d be able to help you too.

Thank you, as always, for your attention and for reading these posts.

8 Ways We Can Use Data to Improve Wine Business


Some of these are already being done, while others are still a little further down the road.

Some of these are better suited to small wineries, while others require more bandwidth and resources.

But all of them are within the realm of what’s possible, when we apply data analysis to the purpose of improving wine business.

  1. Analyze consumer purchasing behavior via DTC, in order to customize future offerings according to their preferences and likelihood of purchase.

  2. Build “finder windows” for standard industry reports that many wine businesses already receive, in order to dynamically engage with the information that matters to your business individually.

  3. Combine soil measurements with weather and vigor data over time, to develop a picture of the evolving climate of a vineyard.

  4. Parse out the language of new communities of consumers, especially along trend lines that are only now emerging.

  5. Apply machine learning tools to measure the lift of online ad campaigns in a more robust and granular fashion.

  6. Combine (4) and (5).

  7. Aggregate independent retailer information, to complement chain store reports, so that we have a more comprehensive picture of sales across the board.

  8. Segment that information according to variables that matter to you personally, such as target markets, varietal popularity, or place of origin of the wines.

Which of these possibilities speaks to you? Which others, maybe that aren’t even listed here, would you like to explore?

Drop a line and let me know. I’d love to hear.

Thank you, as always, for reading –


The Hardest Part About What We Do. (It’s Also Why We Do It.)


When it comes to fresh ideas for your business, there’s a lot to be said for cross-pollinating. That is, getting outside the routines of your industry and exploring how other people approach the sort of challenges you face.

I’m all for it.

I’m also all for spending time with people and colleagues who GET you straight away, and what you’re doing, and how very hard it can be.

That’s exactly how it felt on Tuesday evening this past week, when Enolytics was invited to kick off the CDO Executive Summit at the St Regis Hotel in Atlanta. There was not a single other person from the wine industry in that room, but it felt like the Chief Data Officers in the audience GOT us straight away, and what we’re doing, and how very hard it can be.

It felt that way to me, and I’m not even our Chief Data Officer.

Chris, who is our CDO, was there too and here’s what he had to say:

Clearly every industry struggles with the same big issue, which is convincing decision makers to confirm their gut feeling through informed data. Many executives believe they know better and aren’t taking the data people serious. Until… they get a taste of it. Quite often, the data scientist become their best new friend. But it’s often a frustrating journey to get the executives on board.

“Getting the executives on board” is a challenge for sure, but here’s what struck me most about the conversation and the Q&A part of the program that evening:

The hardest part of what the CDOs do is also the hardest part of what we do, and that’s telling the story.

The story, that is, about why data matters, and how it will help our business. Whether our business is insurance or manufacturing or finance or wine, we need to communicate the effect of our work.

In other words, we need to tell the story of why we do what we do.

Sure, there will be a business case for it, that shows solid logic around raising the price of an existing product, for example, or the revenue potential of developing something different from what’s currently in our portfolio.

That’s the cerebral part of things, that lives in our heads.

But what Chris and I heard from the audience even after the session was over, and in follow up conversations since then, was how much heart was in our work. What they saw, and felt, was how much we sincerely want to help the industry of wine be more successful and, ultimately, how much more enjoyable we want the wine experience to be for the consumer.

That is, in the end, why we do what we do.

Convincing clients and bosses of the usefulness of data is the hardest thing we do – “we” being Enolytics and every CDO who heard our story Tuesday night. What resonated this week more than ever was the need to combine the cerebral, rational component that lives in our heads with the motivation that lives in our hearts.

That’s the sweet spot of the story of why we do what we do, and why we keep doing it.

Thank you, as always, for tuning in.

PS Enjoy your holiday weekend next week! We’ll see you back here on July 12.


The Role of Big Data in Successful Innovation: A Perspective from Spain

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Note: Last week in Madrid, Vinventions Spain hosted #TheExchange2019, with a focus on innovation in the marketing of wine, just as the emergence of 5G technology is underway in Spain. (Earlier this year, Enolytics was short-listed for the Born Digital Wine Award for Innovation, in partnership with Vinventions.) Andrés Bonet-Merten, Consejero Delegado of Enolytics Spain, offers his perspective on three major takeaways from the conference and the conversation.

Wineries, just as well as other companies, are relentlessly on the hunt for innovations that would give them a competitive edge. Innovations around wine production may receive much of the attention, but in fact many different fields within wine are ripe for innovation.

The emergence of 5G technology will help innovation in Spain. With 5G, information will flow with even greater velocity, which will increase the efficiency of AI, and data can be collected in any place and analyzed in real time in another place far away.

Innovation Needs Commercialization

At TheExchange2019 in Madrid, Esther Bachs of Vinventions advocated for “innovating the innovation,” noting that “innovating needs commercialization.” Ferrán Centelles of El Bulli agreed, saying that “if no one buys innovations, they are not innovations.” According to Kantar publishing, innovation in Spain continued at the minimum pace of historical levels in 2018, and that only the innovations that arrive at the shelves of the top 3 retailers, the supermarket chains such as Mercadona, Carrefour or Día, achieved a high percentage of success.

We need to ask ourselves the right question, which is how do we capture the interest of consumers and retailers, in order for more Spanish wines to find space on these and other international shelves?

This is why it is so important to know the final consumer in-dpeth, including their needs, preferences and behavior. This information already exists, in quantity as in quality – the big data of the consumer. Enolytics specializes in this data and sources of wine data, particularly of consumers and trade.

As Ester Bachs said, 95% of innovation in wine is around packaging. But how should this fundamental part of the “four Ps” of marketing be carried out? That’s where data helps, by knowing which packaging is preferred now or in the future. With the benefit of prescriptive analytics, we can steer the market toward favorable results that benefit our businesses.

Innovation Beyond Packaging

Packaging is not only image; it is also names, descriptions, a brief story telling… Through an analysis of language that’s used, in any country where consumers are located, in multiple languages. If consumers speak about wine & travel or wine & fruit, why doesn’t our storytelling include the findings of our analysis instead of always repeating the same words around the tasting note or the statement that this is, for example, “the best wine”?

Pedro Ballesteros MW is completely right when he said at TheExchange2019 that innovation should include social contexts. Let’s discover through big data about the context for local or international consumers, such as their language, their descriptions of the wines, or which bottle size or shape they prefer.

Ballesteros is also correct in saying that “big wines are big wines when a foreigner tastes them and says that they are big.” Importers follow the demand of consumers of every market. By using detailed information of the prices of wines that consumers are willing to pay in each market, and knowing the other variables and the best messages to deliver to these consumers, we will be able to better convince wine critics of the value of Spanish wines, and wineries will be better able to negotiate with the importers.

Innovation: Knowledge, Budget and Leadership

Ferrán Centelles of El Bulli restaurant said that “when there is more knowledge, more innovation is being made.” Centelles created “Bullipedia,” a combination of “El Bulli” and “encyclopedia,” to organize knowledge and innovate content for the improved training of sommeliers and other professionals around wine.

Innovation requires some investment and a budget that the top executives of wineries can decide and provide leadership around. In this moment the ROI of these investments may seem not measurable, as in most cases in Spain these investments have not been done before. Wine leaders need therefore to take a risk, to opt for the new technologies. As many analysts and influential economists warn, if such risks aren’t taken, then the competitive advantage is lost, and players are expelled from the market and replaced by those who opted for innovation.

Andrés Bonet-Merten



Las bodegas, igual que otras compañías, están siempre al acecho de innovaciones que les den una ventaja competitiva y las innovaciones entorno a la producción del vino pueden ser las que reciban más atención, pero de hecho hay muchos otros campos en que también surgen innovaciones.

Ahora que estamos estrenando las nuevas redes 5G en España, el big data del vino (o de los espirituosos o de la cerveza) cobra de nuevo especial interés para nosotros. El 5G va a hacer que la información fluya aún con más rapidez, lo que permitirá a la inteligencia artificial ser aún más eficaz y que se puedan recoger datos en cualquier lugar y valorarlos en tiempo real en otro lugar muy lejano.

La innovación necesita la comercialización

Esta inmediatez puede no ser tan necesaria en la viticultura, que como bien advertía Pedro Ballesteros MW en la reciente reunión de #TheExchange2019 organizada por @VinventionsEspana el pasado 10 de junio 2019, que “cada cosecha necesita de otros nueve meses para volver a producirse”.

No obstante, y siguiendo las propuestas de Ester Bachs (@esterbachs) de Vinventions de “innovar la innovación”, bien dice que “innovar necesita de la comercialización”, también lo advirtió Ferrán Centelles (@ferrancentelles) con su “las innovaciones, si no las compra nadie, no son innovaciones”. Y también cuando, según Kantar, la innovación se mantiene en mínimos históricos en 2018 y sólo las innovaciones que llegan al lineal de los top 3 retailers, las cadenas como por ejemplo Mercadona, Carrefour y Día, cosechan unas tasas de éxito del 86%, debemos hacernos la pregunta pertinente de ¿y cómo se llega a encontrar el camino hacia despertar el interés de los consumidores y la distribución para ser admitidos a éstos y otros lineales internacionales?

Casar demanda con oferta se logra cuando lo ofertado cumple en alta medida con las exigencias de los consumidores. Por ello es tan importante conocer en profundidad al consumidor final, sus gustos, preferencias y comportamiento. Y esta información ya está disponible, en cantidad y calidad – en el big data del consumidor. Nosotros en Enolytics nos hemos especializado en identificar estos datos y las fuentes de big data del vino, especialmente la de sus consumidores y los de la distribución - el “trade”.

Aún podemos innovar mucho en la producción de vino como en su comercialización. La comercialización se basa en las 4 Ps del marketing y las cuatro, con información detallada proveniente del big data analytics se pueden optimizar o cambiar para aprovechar la innovación.

Innovación más allá del packaging

Innovar en vino, decía Ester, es un 95% innovar el packaging, pero ¿cómo debe ser también esta parte fundamental de las 4Ps del marketing? Con ayuda del big data del consumidor también sabremos qué packaging le gusta más, ahora, más adelante o incluso con el “prescriptive analytics” podremos mover al mercado hacia dónde beneficie más a nuestras empresas. Pero el packaging no sólo es imagen, también contiene nombres, descripciones, un breve storytelling… Y a ésto el big data le pondrá luz realizando un análisis del lenguaje que usan y están acostumbrados a leer, estén en el país que estén, en múltiples lenguas, los consumidores. Si los consumidores hablan de “vino y viajes” o de “vino y frutas”, ¿por qué nuestro storytelling no incorpora los hallazgos de estos análisis en vez de repetir siempre lo mismo, la ficha de cata o “el ser mejor vino”.

Pedro Ballesteros tiene toda la razón cuando expuso en la jornada de “The Exchange”, que la innovación debe de tener en cuenta los contextos sociales. Descubramos con el big data del consumidor nacional o internacional su contexto, su lenguaje, sus descripciones del vino que quiere o qué envase quiere, como puntualizó Rafael del Rey.

También Pedro Ballesteros está en lo cierto diciendo que los vinos grandes lo son cuando un extranjero los cata y dice que son grandes. También los prescriptores e importadores se rigen por lo que demanda el consumidor en cada mercado. Con información en detalle de los precios que están dispuestos a pagar por nuestro vino en cada mercado, con el conocimiento también de las otras variables y un mensaje especialmente dirigido a esos consumidores, podremos también convencer mejor a los prescriptores o negociar mejor con los importadores.

Innovación: conocimiento, presupuesto y liderazgo

No está errando Ferrán Centelles cuando dice que realiza su Bullipedia para ordenar el conocimiento, para innovar en contenidos universitarios y mejorar la formación de sumilleres y demás trabajadores entorno al vino y que “a mayor conocimiento, mayor innovación”.

La innovación requiere de una inversión, de un presupuesto que cada año la alta dirección de las bodegas debe de fijar y liderar. Actualmente el retorno, el ROI de estas inversiones parece que no es medible por tratarse en casi todos los casos de inversiones no realizadas antes. Exige pues una toma de riesgo, un apostar por las nuevas tecnologías, que como advierten muchos analistas y economistas de prestigio, como no se tome este camino, en pocos años se estará fuera del mercado al carecer de capacidad competitiva comparando con los que sí apostaron por la innovación.

Andrés Bonet Merten


Revisiting Our Very First Client (in New Orleans!), and a Father's Day Hat Tip to Dads in Data


This time last week, in New Orleans, I was very happy to participate in the Chile Uncorked event, hosted by Wines of Chile. When Full Circle Solutions (Evan Goldstein MS, Limeng Stroh and Andrea Dlugos) asked me to speak about Enolytics, my answer was an unequivocal Yes.

Wines of Chile, under previous Executive Director Marybeth Bentwood’s leadership, was our very first client, three years ago. For a new company like ours, your first client (and your first vote of confidence) is a very big deal.

Quite a lot has changed since then. Working with Wines of Chile now would take a very different shape than it did then. There are different partners, different relationships and a different ecosystem of data in wine than what was available and engaged three years ago.

There are more pieces of the puzzle on the table now. Trade. Consumer. Viticultural. Sales. Sentiment. Quantitative. Qualitative. The more pieces of the puzzle we can put together, the clearer the picture (for Chile and others) becomes.

That’s all for the better, IMO.

The theme of the session I co-presented with Madeline Puckette of Folly Enterprises was “the ultimate Chilean wine consumer.” Here’s the takeaway: we don’t know who that is yet, or what they look like, or how they behave.

But we can know.

That’s the point, for Chile and others. The information to answer their questions already exists. We just have to go and get it.

It’s what we’re geared up to discover.

Also! It’s Father’s Day this weekend and boy, Enolytics would be nowhere without the fathers on our team. My gratitude goes out to them. I wrote about this, and the impact the dads of Enolytics have had on our business, in my column over on this week. You’re welcome of course to have a look.

Thank you, as always, for your interest and for reading these weekly posts.

PS Thank you, also, for your positive response to our DTC case study about Medlock Ames these past few weeks. (Here’s Part One, and Part Two.) We’d like to do more of that, and we welcome your feedback and suggestions.


Want to Increase the Profitability of Your DTC Program? Here's How.


It’s one of the most pressing concerns of the wine industry, here in the US.

Selling wine directly to consumers, that is.

Last week, we were glad to drill down on that topic by featuring a case study of Medlock Ames Winery in Sonoma, and how they’re using data to address that concern. Medlock Ames’ president, Julie Rothberg, described her attitude toward data analysis, why it makes sense for their business, and her main takeaways from an initial analysis of their sales and product history.

This week, we’re looking at the HOW.

Addie Nichols-Petsu is the analyst Rothberg engaged, when it was time to put Medlock Ames’ historical data to use for the future. I hope you’ll enjoy this Q&A with Addie, as she describes her background (Agribusiness major at Cal Poly), the analysis itself (30+ files, millions of lines of data), and her suggestions for wineries in general as they look to increase the profitability of their DTC programs.

Please describe a bit about your experience in working with data. Do you come from the wine world? If not, do you think your perspective is useful when working with wine data?

I’ve grown up in the wine world, in a sense. I was raised on the Central Coast of California and went to Cal Poly as an Agribusiness major, so I started becoming aware and learning about wine while in college. Post college, I worked for Nielsen (market research company) and was assigned to be an Account Executive for West Coast wine (and beer) clients. Since then, I’ve remained in the wine and spirits industry, working for two large wine and spirits companies in analytical capacities. Julie and I worked together at my last company, which was how she and I knew each other. 

There are actually a lot of similarities between big wine companies and smaller ones, given the increasingly competitive nature of the wine industry with the proliferation of SKUs and brands. Understanding sales patterns, looking for growth opportunities and determining customer unmet needs are objectives of both big and small wine companies. The difference may be that smaller companies may not necessarily think that they can tap into these insights as easily.

Obviously, understanding industry nuances probably helped in working with this data because it likely cut down on the time I used and alleviated a lot of the questions I may have had if I didn’t have the knowledge. That being said, I still had questions since a winery [like Medlock Ames] that is primarily DTC operates very differently than a large corporate entity whose sales are primarily through a distributor in a chain environment.

What can you tell us about the analysis itself?

Can I start by saying I had so much fun with this analysis? Maybe it takes a data geek like me to be handed 30+ Excel files with millions of lines of rows and a puzzle to put together.  

Julie and I had two key introductory conversations where we fleshed out the objectives she wanted to accomplish, while I asked questions and got a general background on the business. That is key with any analysis like this. I was tasked with several different objectives that needed to be accomplished. Julie and her team had a wealth of data that really hadn’t been tapped to the extent it could be. Which, by the way, happens everywhere (even in big companies). I was really excited to work with a client that recognized they maybe had the answers at their finger tips, and had theories, and were open to what could be found and what the truth was.

They had questions around their wine club and the demographics and value behind their wine club members. For example, top level questions around where Club Members were located (and club member average spend by state) led to our seeing the potential to focus on marketing efforts outside of California. I was also able to provide new insights around the frequency of visits and the length and loyalty of some of their club members.  

While working on this project, I learned that club members on average remain with a winery for two years. Medlock Ames has some club members that are incredibly loyal (and spend quite a bit on club shipments), and I recommended that they could grow some of their business by focusing on these members and providing them incremental opportunities for purchasing product.  

During this analysis, we gained an understanding of the value of each type of wine club membership, as well as their behaviors and sales performance. This was key, as the information could be used to help Medlock Ames determine where they could potentially narrow wine club offerings with minimal impact.  

I think that some of the most fun and exciting parts of the analysis were the “surprises,” meaning the unasked parts that just presented themselves by putting the data into a reportable format. What we learned was that the “non club” member sales were quite valuable and could be a key lever to drive future growth within the winery. 

I was also tasked with helping Medlock Ames build some new easy to use reports that updated their business sales in ways not previously looked at (on a monthly basis), as well as some new inventory reporting tools that helped understand run rates and sales by month. 

What have you learned through working with Medlock Ames that you think could be useful for wineries in general, as they look to increase profitability in their DTC programs?  

  • I think that it was a fun and eye-opening exercise for Medlock Ames to "slice and dice” the data behind their club members in new ways. Outsourcing some of their questions, theories and needs CAN prove to be beneficial in finding areas to be tapped further.

  • One theory was that there were club members who were potentially taking advantage of some of the club benefits. What we found was that these club members were a very small part of the universe, but they drove growth in sales at 3X the rate of other club members. They are likely “unofficial ambassadors.”  From a value perspective, it appears to be a beneficial relationship in this particular instance. I can’t say that this would be the case everywhere, as I’m sure it depends on the COGs, the frequencies and the sales generated.

  • It’s important for other wineries to know that the information that they collect from their sales, production, inventory, and club members CAN be used to further drive sales, understand their opportunities for new growth, and keep a fingertip on their current business trends. It doesn’t have to require new headcount resources to make it happen. It just requires a little bit of curiosity and support at the Executive and Management levels.

Using Data to Sell Wine DTC: The Case Study of Medlock Ames

Photo Credit: Ames Morison, California Wine Country

Photo Credit: Ames Morison, California Wine Country

“Facts also need curiosity.”

If you remember nothing else about this week’s post, please remember those words.

They were spoken by Julie Rothberg, President of Medlock Ames Winery in Healdsburg, who’s the subject of our Q&A this week. Last week we promised to highlight more real-world case studies of people in the wine industry who are using data in smart ways to move their businesses forward, and Julie’s first in line.

That she adds curiosity to the facts of data is a very big reason why.

Please enjoy this interview about a very prominent topic in our industry right now, particularly for smaller to midsize wineries: selling wine Direct To Consumer.

Medlock Ames is all in on this front, as 100% of their sales are DTC. We hope very much that their perspective will inform, and help, your own.

How did you come to appreciate the value of data analysis?

Ever since my days at Columbia Business School and later as a management consultant, the power of data became clear. You can see it everywhere in our lives [where] facts and figures are used to provide validity to a point being made. Data lends credibility to your argument and allows for greater persuasion even when your “gut instinct” tells you what is right.

It’s amazing how simple-but-powerful insights about sales patterns, customer behavior or profitability can be in terms of driving your strategic thinking. I’ve found that facts help win an argument or provide persuasion. It’s a very useful management tool, either to get superiors to approve of your plans because they are rooted in logic or to persuade your team who are acting on assumptions. It’s hard to say no to facts. 

Facts also feed curiosity. 

How did you know that you wanted to apply data analysis to the DTC program at Medlock Ames?

 When I first got to Medlock Ames, I had all sorts of questions about our business which is unique in that it is 100% DTC through our wine club and tasting room, our Bell Mountain Ranch property, and online. But there weren’t a lot of answers to be found and even less data being used. This is pretty typical with smaller wineries, as often data mining software solutions or deep analytics work can be costly or overwhelming. 

We had the data in our ecommerce and point of sale systems; it just wasn’t being analyzed. There was clearly so much potential to be unearthed. I wanted to take a fresh approach and use the past to help us decide how to move forward into the future. Proving to the team that some practices were harmful not only to our image but factually to our bottom line was a powerful first step in changing behaviors.

What steps did you take (are you taking) to identify patterns in your sales and product history?

The first step was to identify a partner who understands how to manipulate data in a way to derive meaningful insights. I had the perfect person in mind as I’ve worked with Addie Nichols-Petsu before. The next step was to source the data, so we pulled two years of our club member and sales history. Lastly, we talked through probing questions to provide guidance before we started digging in.

When I got to Medlock Ames, there were four levels of club membership with different customizations that translated into 14 different types of clubs to be managed. Club membership came with lots of perks including a range of discounting and unlimited visits to our tasting room.  The focus wasn’t as much on the delicious wines and the access to club-only wines that members were getting which really is a top benefit to being a club member. In looking at the various tiers, there wasn’t a clear understanding about the value of each of them, or the maintenance cost of each. 

In hospitality, we want customers to get the full immersive experience to really understand and soak up Medlock Ames. It’s critical that we are able to provide a warm, inclusive and educational experience to everyone we interact with. Yet no one knew how profitable each tier of membership was, for example, or what the value to customers might be for free shipping for those who live far away, compared to more frequent visits to our tasting room for those who live nearby. 

I also wanted to really understand our customer profiles. Who were our most valuable club members? Where did they live? How long were they in the club? What benefits were most important to them? And what did their behaviors mean to our business?

What are your main takeaways from this initial analysis for Medlock Ames?

  1. Customization of our offerings and experiences is critical. The average spend for our California customers is at least $65 less than our next five biggest states. However, we pull heavily from the Bay Area, and we now know these “locals” are more likely to come to visit us frequently, bring friends and buy more wine. For those who live farther away, we want to ensure we’re connecting with them on a different level. We are launching “Medlock Ames On the Road” as an outreach effort for greater connectivity with our customers in their homes and home markets.

  2. It’s not just about The Club. In the past year, a quarter of our sales were to non-club members and this group is driving declines whereas our club members are driving sales in the double digits. This points to us being so focused on bringing people into the club which is a success, but we need to recognize that not everyone will want to be part of a club. 

  3. Reward loyalty. While the industry standard is for club members to only stay in a club for about two years, we have a pretty healthy number who have been with us for five to ten years or more. There is the opportunity to do more to offer different wines or experiences to our most loyal club members to keep their experiences fresh, while continuing to offer them value as club members beyond the wines.

  4. Wine clubs are so much more than just the quarterly shipments and free tastings. We have many club members who get three bottles quarterly and, while they are the heaviest users of our tasting room, they also are more likely to bring friends to introduce to Medlock Ames and our wine club. They also are more likely to take advantage of our sporadic ecommerce offerings of library or special format wines, adding to their collections. We cherish these club members and love that they come to visit us often to engage with our team and enjoy the wines.

It’s Our Three-Year Anniversary, and We Need Your Help


The landscape of data in the wine industry has changed quite a bit, we think, from when we launched Enolytics three years ago.

To be specific, we mean that it’s changed for the better.

These days, we’re finding that people are more willing to have the conversations, to ask the questions, to say outright that they don’t know everything they need to know about data (even about their own data), but they know there’s value to it. They also know that their businesses will benefit from putting the data to use.

We’re seeing this in many iterations, from large organizations with sophisticated tools who are looking to be more nimble, to medium-size organizations who are looking to inform their strategies with fresh sources of data, to small organizations who are taking a very focused look at their own customer purchase data in order to derive a competitive edge.

We’re very hopeful about these developments, and we’d like nothing better than to tell their stories and shine a light on them. Partly to spread the sense of possibility, and partly also give you tangible, real-world applications that you can use as inspiration.

This is where we need your help.

Starting next week we’ll be incorporating more of these real-world examples into this Enolytics 101 series. First up is a small Sonoma winery that’s applying deep analytics to the DTC channel, to identify patterns in their sales and product history.

How you can help is to let us know of other examples whose work deserves to be highlighted. Who has put data to good use, and made progress for their business?

Please let us know. You all have a lot of ideas and you are very responsive to our requests for suggestions, even for something like a podcast playlist from a few weeks ago.

We appreciate that.

Now let’s shift the lens a bit. Toot your own horn if you like, or recommend a colleague.

We’ve been able to see the landscape of data change these past three years, but we’re sure there’s a lot we don’t know about what’s currently underway.

Help us shine a light.

Drop me a line. I’m looking forward, as always, to your thoughts and ideas.

Thank you,