Wine shop Instagram is harder than it looks. Too often, there are too many bottle shots under fluorescent lights, too little personality, or a feed that is too focused on sales. SevenFifty Daily sought out wine shop accounts that stand apart, excelling at visual engagement and storytelling—here’s who to follow, and how they plan and execute their social strategy.
The Instagram feed for Domaine LA radiates fun. Jill Bernheimer, the shop’s owner and a former film producer, posts marvelously zany photos and videos from the shop, which has a strong selection of natural and small-production wines.
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Instead of staid bottle shots, there are photos and videos of the staff singing, acting, and even using an upside-down 3-liter bottle as a “peg leg.”
Bernheimer says she aims to provide “a window into the behind-the-scenes of the shop. It’s a chance for us to show a bit of our personalities to our customers and community at the same time as we support the wines, winemakers, and importers that we believe deserve attention. The MO, though, is to have fun.”
She says she does try to hit certain themes, but that on the whole, spontaneity drives the content. “My main thing is not to overhype or oversell on Instagram,” she says, noting that the feed has a modest impact on sales.
Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant
Since the publication of his classic book, Adventures on the Wine Route, in 1988, Kermit Lynch has seemed to take as much pleasure in writing about wine as he does in finding new producers or even in drinking wine. Perhaps best known as a wine importer, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant also is a wine store in Berkeley, California, that has a regular print catalogue.
With a long-term focus on producing quality editorial content for the Instagram account, Clark Terry, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchant’s marketing director, says, “If Kermit was just getting started now, he’d be a master of social media. We’ve found that his approach to talking about wine, talking about his experiences with winemakers, and telling the story of the people we work with translates really well to social media—and Instagram in particular.”
On the Kermit Lynch Instagram account, engagement is much greater than on Facebook or Twitter. “It’s simple,” says Terry. “There isn’t as much clutter yet as on Facebook and Twitter, and we’ve found that people don’t just like looking at the pictures we post—they’re willing to read the text we write too.”
While the direct, trackable impact is small, Kermit Lynch is measuring success through follower growth and engagement with posts. “It’s more exciting to break our past record on likes and comments,” notes Terry, “than to see that we sold a few bottles or cases [because of] a post.”
Kingston Wine Co.
Michael and Theresa Drapkin decamped from New York City to Kingston, New York, a town of 20,000 on the Hudson River near the Catskills. Michael had experience in the wine world, doing stints in retail and at a winery in France; Theresa had a design background. They opened a wine shop, with a focus on natural wines and small producers, on the ground floor of a three-story brick building.
Kingston Wine Co. has demonstrated that a small shop in an out-of-the-way location can have an outsized presence online. Their Instagram posts are sharp, often an “action shot” depicting a solitary and buttoned-up Michael pouring wine into a glass. Michael says this is intentional: “We like repetition in our posts, and patterns, as it relieves the pressure to create one-of-a-kind original content for each and every post.”
Michael says they plan their posts but limit them to two or three a week, for fear of overloading a follower’s feed.
Sales are not the goal with Instagram, though, he says—“We do not use the platform to increase the bottom line but rather to connect with our community of folks from coast to coast, educate, and share.”
Le Dû’s Wines
Jean-Luc Le Dû worked at the restaurant Daniel in New York City, where he rose to be head sommelier. He abandoned the on-premise life in 2005 and opened his own shop, Le Dû’s Wines, in Greenwich Village. Sadly, Le Dû died last year at age 52.
In the shop, Le Dû hung a large photo of Bob Dylan in which Dylan is tossing back wine right out of the bottle. Le Dû’s signature Instagram post consisted of visiting winemakers standing in front of the photo, slamming wine in a pose he called tasting Dylan style. Not the most flattering shot, to be sure, but it captured the fun, playful side of Le Dû and his shop.
These photos and more continue in the shop’s Instagram feed. Callum Jeffery, the shop’s e-commerce associate, says that the aim is to post once or twice a day, even though there’s no set schedule. “We find,” he says, “[that] posting relatable content which has to do with our seminars and classes does best.”
According to Jeffery, the feed has a tangible impact on sales. “We can post a photo of something we’re super excited about with a photo of the winemaker the link on our Instagram,” he says, “and maybe an hour later we can have an order or two of that wine put in.”
In the world of wine shop Instagram feeds, Verve Wine is distinctive. The shop, which has had a Tribeca location since 2016, has just opened a new one in San Francisco. The account’s “visual tasting notes” are elegant portrayals of a wine’s flavors. Dustin Wilson, a Master Sommelier and partner in Verve Wine, describes the creative process: “I put in the tasting notes, and then the woman we work with, Ilyne Wong, gets the ingredients and any other props and we shoot.”
Being organized helps. “We are always looking at the calendar and planning photos far in advance,” Wilson says. The shop ties its posts to weather, seasonal foods, and holidays or other promoted days that are rampant on social media. Wilson says the staff has also had fun recently with vintage wine photos.
Does the account drive sales? “Instagram isn’t a great tool for conversion,” Wilson says. “It’s more for brand awareness or conversion at the top of the funnel. It’s more about making people aware of who we are and what we do.” Although he doesn’t consider the social feed a sales channel, the account’s growing follower base has translated into increased traffic to Verve Wine’s online retail site. About the account’s aesthetic, Wilson says, “We love good wine, but don’t want to be super nerdy or snobby about it.”
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Tyler Colman writes, talks, and teaches about wine. He is the author of two wine books, Wine Politics and A Year of Wine. He also writes the wine blog DrVino.com, which was nominated for a James Beard Award. Colman is a real doctor—he doesn’t just play one on the web. He holds a Ph.D. from Northwestern University and has taught wine classes at New York University, the New School, and the University of Chicago. His wine writing has appeared in the New York Times and the World of Fine Wine, among other media.