It’s all about the experience. “I think all of us, including us here at Konzelmann, are really focusing on that guest experience,” says Andrew Niven, director of marketing and hospitality at Konzelmann Estate Winery, rather than concentrating on volume sales.
“I think something that COVID has taught us and I think the industry as well, is that we really have gotten away from that very volume-based model, where it was always about the buses and the large groups of people,” he adds. Now the winery is focusing instead on building a more substantial relationship with their customers.
It’s important, not only for the short term, to not only attract guests to the property but to also ensure they take a great experience with them when they leave, he explains. “I really feel that by providing this high-end experience, they are really immersing themselves in the brand, in wine country, and everything that we offer here.”
“For sure,” he says, “we want to sell bottles at the retail outlet as well, especially after the guests come off a great experience, but for me it’s more about the long-term, and developing a relationship with that customer. Something like the dome, which is very unique and very memorable, really helps to build that relationship with the customer, so I think it’s really important.”
The dome Niven is referring to is a temperature controlled, multi-seasonal structure that sits on a raised platform facing Lake Ontario. The fully-furnished dome includes greenery, and seating for up to eight people. However, due to current provincial regulations, the winery is only allowing up to four guests at a time for the experience. As the province opens up there is potential for larger groups.
The pillow-like covering provides shelter from the elements while a large and fully removable window provides beautiful views of the vineyard. On a clear day, Niven notes, guests have a spectacular view of the Toronto skyline.
He loves to see guests’ responses when they enter the dome. “I just like to watch their reaction. They are wowed. That kind of moment makes it all worth it. That is what COVID has taught us. I know we’ve all struggled with finances and a lot of the negativity around it but we’ve really tried to remain positive around here. To be quite honest, the most important thing is to have our staff back and guests back in the winery, smiling. That means the most to us. That is what we have looked forward to for so long. It has been really great to see in the past few weeks.”
The hour-long private structured tasting in the luxurious dome features the winery’s Family Reserve Series wines, and is accompanied by locally sourced charcuterie and breads. A wine consultant will walk the guests through the tasting, then leave for the last 15 minutes to allow guests to enjoy the ambiance. Guests also receive a branded charcuterie board as a reminder of this exclusive experience, all at a cost of $50 per person. “We really wanted to give the guests the best of what we offer here,” notes Niven.
Even though the purchasing and installation of the structure was costly, the dome has been a good investment for the winery. Part of the total amount was supplemented by a federal development grant awarded to the winery. The success of this exclusive wine tasting experience is evident by the fact that they are currently booking into the beginning of September.
If you are interested in coming to the winery but do not want to wait until September for the dome, Niven highlights the Summer Sips tasting experience on the enclosed patio. This 45-minute tasting experience features a seasonal summer flight including the popular Peach Wine Sangria paired again with locally sourced charcuterie. Guests are also given a branded stemless wine glass and complementary branded sunglasses to take home.
If something more informal is your style, Niven invites people to drop by the winery for a casual 25-minute tasting featuring the Lake Front Series of wines, or simply enjoy wine by the glass, or the new frozen Peach Wine Sangria on the patio.
Niven says the winery has a few more ideas for experiences coming up within the next few months, and he encourages people to check on the winery website for more information. Booking one of the currently offered experiences can be done at https://www.konzelmann.ca/ or contact the winery directly at (905) 935-2866.