A quick review of a random sampling of winery email subscription forms finds a broad spectrum of effectiveness and functionality. These range from state of the art forms on the celebrity winemakers’ sites to incoherent, intrusive or outright non-functional forms on many others. I’ll cover some of the most important transgressions or omissions below, providing examples from observable sites. Such exploration is meant respectfully with the aim being to improve the returns of winery email marketing.

Information Requests Can Be Unnecessary or Even Intrusive

Balletto Vineyards, Winery At Canyon Crest, and Laurita Winery’s email subscription form have three fields where they ask for city, state and zip code. This triple request is essentially unnecessary as the first two fields can easily be determined by the third. Unlike most of the other wineries, Laurita has a CAPTCHA, but the key word is not graphically disguised in any way so it will not pose much of an obstacle to hackers’ code readers. Patient Terrier Vineyards, Fusion Global Winery and Mon Ami Wineries also suffer from easily bot-decipherable CAPTCHAs.

Pride Wines and Gary Farrell Wines demand a mandatory full address, which is not advisable: many customers do not wish to identify themselves to the extent where they may receive postal mail. Tomasello Winery also asks for address info, but they only have name and email address as obligatory fields, which is a preferable approach. Pend d’Oreille Winery, Loring Wine Company, Bure Family Wines, Lindstrom Wine, Brennan Vineyards, and Knights Bridge Vineyard take intrusion to new heights, even requiring the customer’s phone number as a prerequisite to subscription. The Hague Winery asks for full address, age, favorite wine style and varietal, and even landline and cell phone number, but does have the good sense to only make the email address field mandatory and leave the rest optional.

Legal Requirements Are Often Ignored

Whitehall Lane Vineyards, Erath Winery, Facelli Winery, Northstar Winery, and Forchini Vineyards ask if the subscriber is 21 years of age or older; King’s Raven Winery and Flora Springs Vineyards ask the prospect to enter their date of birth; while William Hill Estate Winery has a dropdown box to select age range. Surprisingly only a small percentage of the other forms reviewed have any mention of whether the subscriber is of legal drinking age. Barebones subscription forms seem to be the norm, while Clover Hill Winery, Atascadero Creek Winery, Chateau Felice and Amrhein Wine Cellars do not even have a subscription form, just a mailto link that launches an email message to the winery. The ethical standard requirement to inform the subscriber of how their data will be handled is largely ignored by most wineries. Quivira Wine, Painted Rock Estate Winery, Altamura Winery, and Maragas Winery are notable exceptions as they feature prominent links to their privacy policy that are positioned close to the required fields. Celebrity winemakers such as Francis Ford Coppola and Dick Vermeil feature winery privacy policies that are comprehensive and thorough; they definitely set the bar for proper winery policy.

Wineries that Ask the Right Questions Get Valuable Input

To maximize its understanding of how consumers are locating the winery, Beaux Freres Vineyards has a dropdown box asking subscribers if they found the site via online search, social networking, restaurant or wine list, and a number of other options. Bishop Grove Wines asks whether the customer would prefer their emails in plain text or HTML format. Hauser Estate Winery takes it one step further and adds a selection for mobile format.

Some Forms Have Outright Mistakes or Omissions

As of this writing, when a prospect clicks on the Join Our Mailing List link on Casablanca Winery’s navigation bar they are taken to the contact page with no mention of a mailing list. Amphora Wines’ email list block features pink type on a purple background that is headache-provoking and located far below the fold. Murielle Winery has a tiny text entry field that does not specify what you should enter into it: name, email address, birthday, etc. If you want to subscribe to Mokelumne Oaks Vintner’s newsletter you’re out of luck as their mailing list (and possibly website) is wholly inactive.

Your winery customers deserve an easy, simple and legal signup procedure. If your subscription form is failing on these requirements it might be high time to overhaul it.