From Vine to Bottle – La Crema Ventures Into Crowdsourcing

lfodor    February 15, 2015

la crema wine

Organization Name:  La Crema Winery

Industry:  Wine

Name of contact if available:  Mark Gordon, Senior Digital Communications Manager, Jackson Family Wines

Web references:  La Crema, Amarillo Globe News, The Press Democrat , La Crema Virtual Vintner Sweepstakes

Description of how social media is used for business performance:

Do you dream of becoming a winemaker? If you have always wanted to make your own wine, now you can!

La Crema Winery, parent of Jackson Family Wines wines based in the Russian River Valley, CA launched a unique crowdsourcing wine project in August of 2014. On-line voters were able to join the wine making experience by creating an account and casting a vote for key decisions on the journey from vine to bottle. The more you voted, the greater your chances were to win!

For the first time, La Crema customers were being recruited to help create something new and special through social platforms like Youtube, Facebook and Twitter. A clever process was set in motion to bring fans back to their blog each week to participate in the next stage of the Virtual Vitner Experience. In the span of three weeks the page had had 135,000 views with nearly 15,000 registered visitors.

Each stage includes key decisions in creating the wine. Firstly, a varietal was chosen (i.e, chardonnay or pinot noir).


Next, the appellation, vineyard, fermentation process, barrel type and aging time were decided upon.  Sensory and naming contests followed with cash prizes.  Currently, the wine label design is being voted upon, with the chance to win tickets to Alt Summit in Summer 2015.

Wine maker Elizabeth Grant-Douglas, a Cool Climate Oenology and Viticulture graduate from Brock University and Kristie Bayly, Senior Designer, guide participants through the Le Crema Virtual Vintner Experience.

“Every wine making decision is made with your voice and your vote”

The lucky grand prize winner and one guest will travel to wine country for a two-night stay, including airfare, including exclusive wine education, behind-the-scenes tours and the chance to meet Le Crema’s winemaker, Elizabeth Grant-Douglas. Each vote that fans cast in the first five stages gave them an entry into the sweepstakes.

Crowdsourcing in the wine industry is a relatively new venture and proved to be a huge success for La Crema. In an article from the Amarillo Globe News in September 2014, Caroline Shaw (chief marketing officer and executive vice president of Jackson Family wines, parent of La Crema) stated:

“It’s groundbreaking for our industry,” and it is “lifting that curtain that I think gets people so intimidated when they see a wine list.”

The Press Democrat featured an article in November 2015 on the Virtual Vintner Experience. Shaw states:

“Wine is such a social product. You want to have that innate ability to entertain, but also educate people about wine. Again, that’s what Virtual Vintner does. It entertains and educates.”

La Crema’s launch isn’t just about product development and design, or the chance to win great prizes, it is also a highly educational and interactive experience. Participants have the privilege of gaining more wine expertise every step of the way with a highly informative blog.

The crowdsourcing venture doesn’t come without risk. There was no guarantee on good weather conditions to create suitable grapes for the chosen varietal. And with decisions left to the masses, the final product could turn out to be something far from the ordinary.  But, the project has proven to engage wine makers and want-to-be wine makers so effectively that La Crema is said to have more social engagement than other premium wine brands nationwide.

Mark Gordon (Senior Digital Communications Manager, Jackson Family Wines) reported that three months following the program launch, La Crema had 11,221 new Twitter followers; 12,500 new Facebook fans and their blog and social media engagement actions increased by 300,000.

In the 3 month period after the program launch, ecommerce transactions were up 134% versus the previous year.  Within 12 weeks after the program launch, La Crema sold 7,780 more cases of wine off-premise, representing 12% growth from the previous year (source: IRI scan data).

A true crowdsourcing success story!

Lessons for others:

1.  Take a risk. Do something that has yet to be done in your industry. Not only will you catch people off guard, but you will be noticed and engaged in a new and exciting consumer relationship and end up with a new and exciting version of your product.

2.  Keep your consumers engaged through-out the journey with easy to follow videos and blogs that are catchy and educational.

3.  Crowdsourcing proves to considerably increase sales and generate a massive amount of traffic on social media platforms.

Submitted by:  Lisa Fodor & Katelyn Wilson

To contact the author of this entry please email at: OR – U of W, Social Media for Business Performance students.

If you have concerns as to the accuracy of anything posted on this site please send your concerns to Peter Carr, Programme Director, Social Media for Business Performance.