Why Wine Stores Are Entering the Wedding Registry Business

By offering wine registries, retailers across the country are attracting new customers and boosting revenue

An illustration of an online wine store
Retailers are finding success in offering online registries for their wine selections. Photo courtesy of SevenFifty Daily Staff and Adobe Stock.

As weddings morphed into smaller, backyard affairs during the pandemic, local wine retailers were often asked to help with the wine selection. But in providing this straightforward wedding service, some retailers saw the opportunity for a new kind of wine shopping experience: wine registries. 

“We frequently [had] guests coming into our stores and requesting advice on which wines to select for their wedding celebrations,” explains Mike Fisch, the chief financial officer of Gary’s Wine & Marketplace, which has several locations in New Jersey. “While supplying wines for weddings is fantastic, our team thought it would be even better if we could devise a way for the happy couple to add wine to their wedding registry,” added Fisch. 

While wine registries emerged as a response to pandemic-related restrictions, the practice hasn’t faded away. In fact, retailers have found that this wish list-building tool can be used for much more than weddings. Wine registries are providing a new way for people to build their home cellar, try new wines, and enhance their buying experience. 

Now, several wine-focused stores throughout the country have started wine registries, not only as added value to their customers, but as a means to attract new customers, educate consumers, and boost revenue. Elise Pagano, the director of ecommerce at New York City-based Parcelle, says that their registry program, which launched in 2021, has grown by about 10 percent each year. Natalie Marie Gehrels, the co-owner of Folkways Wines in Croton Falls, New York, has already seen a noticeable increase in their new registry service, which launched less than a year ago. According to Gehrels, the registry “has brought in dozens of new customers that have high engagement time on the site.”

“The event-based aspect of our business has experienced rapid growth since our opening two years ago, particularly during the transition from the challenges of the pandemic to a resurgence in socializing and entertaining,” says Gehrels. “While the registry function on our website is a new initiative, all indicators point towards it becoming a significant channel for our continued expansion.”

Why Consumers—and Retailers—Are Turning to Wine Registries 

“A registry is a great way for aspiring wine buyers to start their personal collections or budding collectors to capture specific wine experiences,” says Pagano. At Parcelle, the registry can be used for weddings, birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions. Grant Reynolds, the cofounder of Parcelle, also says that a wine registry is a great option for those who entertain at home frequently, too, so guests aren’t panicked trying to pick out a wine to bring. 

No matter what it is for, wine registries offer customers a personalized shopping experience that is much more attentive to their needs. “We have a team of sommeliers who are available to advise on registry selections, which is a helpful way to ensure you are curating a collection that fits [the customer’s] needs,” says Pagano. Fisch and Gehrels note that both of their stores offer a similar service.

Jonas Andersen and Natalie Marie Gehrels, co-owners of Folkways, pose in their shop in front of shelves of wine
Co-owners of Folkways Wines, Jonas Andersen and Natalie Marie Gehrels (pictured above), opened up their registry services less than a year ago. Photo courtesy of Folkways.

According to Gehrels, the personalized approach is more likely to create a return customer. “We actively cultivate meaningful relationships with our customers, striving to understand their preferences and support their wine learning journey,” she says. Pagano agrees that being able to work with a sommelier can help create a confident wine consumer who may be more likely to become a loyal customer. 

“The wine registry can offer an educational opportunity for would-be wine drinkers by providing them with a way to explore and learn about different wines,” says Pagano. “We’re able to take away the intimidation of becoming a wine drinker by offering curated selections recommended by our sommeliers and providing tasting notes for each wine.”

Building a Successful Registry

Hitting every budget is one of the best practices for creating a successful wine registry. “We would all love to receive bottles of Coche as a wedding gift, but that’s not always budget-friendly,” says Reynolds. “Parcelle’s wine registry offers bottles from $30 to $1,000, so we’re able to capture different types of wine buyers,” he says. 

Similarly, Gehrels tells her customers that it doesn’t just have to be about expensive bottles or well-known names. She uses detailed tasting notes as well as certain tags—such as organic or biodynamic, low or no sulfites, and women winemakers—to ensure that wines chosen for a registry align with the customers’ palate and lifestyle. “We encourage customers to add wines that they’ll be excited to enjoy for a casual weeknight evening, or after your big celebration day that you are building your registry for,” she says. 

Gehrels also makes her clients aware of additional items that can make the at-home wine drinking experience better. “It’s important to think beyond just wine-related items and include useful tools for the home, such as barware and cookbooks, as well as specialty glassware that may not typically be acquired,” she says. 

A push through social media and email marketing have helped spread the word about Parcelle’s registry, says Reynolds. He also notes that his New York City-based wine bar has been a secret weapon, as it helps to connect with customers in-person and mention the services the store offers, such as the registry. 

Email marketing has been working well for Gehrels, while Fisch says that Gary’s goes heavy on the marketing, promoting the registry option on the website, social media, and on flyers in the store. 

The Challenges of Wine Registries 

While these shops have all seen their wine registries increase and become a meaningful option for customers, the amount of money they generate is still relatively small. The value, however, is driven by customer satisfaction. “We started the wine registry not too long ago, and it has definitely been a nice-to-have feature for our business and something our consumers have enjoyed using,” says Pagano. 

The wine registry currently only makes up about one percent of sales at Gary’s as it’s a high-volume retail outlet. But for a smaller shop, like Folkways, the registry has become a much more substantial way to increase the value of each sale, while also educating customers without the time investment. 

The interior of the Parcelle wine shop
Parcelle’s registry services are available for events other than weddings. Photo courtesy of Parcelle.

“Our learning is that customers using registries appear to be spending more time researching producers and tend to add very unique and small-production cuvées in the $40 to $125 price point,” says Gehrels. Folkways integrates other parts of its business into the registry usage. For example, they offer deeper volume discounts for people shopping for wine for a party along with glassware rental. 

While building a wine registry can be a simple way to offer an additional customer service touchpoint, there are a few things that need to be taken into account, such as the alcohol shipping laws for each state. “Shipping wine is challenging as it is fragile, costly, and requires the recipient to be home at the time of the delivery to sign for the package,” says Fisch. “Despite these hurdles, shipping wine continues to grow in popularity among our customers.” 

Another challenge is the technology involved. Gary’s uses a static webpage that features the wines in a registry. Once the wine is picked, the registry is uploaded to the respective hosting site (which currently varies based on capabilities) and can be included on any printed or digital correspondence, just like a traditional registry. He is hoping to be able to integrate these with wedding planning companies like The Knot and Zola in order to make it more interactive and easier for a couple to spread the word about their not-so-traditional choice of registry. 

“In the future, we hope to further refine the technology that drives our wedding registry offer such that we can integrate with registry management companies, and we eventually hope to serve as a viable alternative to registering on non-wine retailers, like Williams-Sonoma and Amazon,” he says. 

While still a small percentage of business, Fisch sees future potential. “I believe that our wedding registry offering will grow significantly once we make these improvements to the registry creation and management experience, as the demand is certainly there,” says Fisch.


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Emily Cappiello is an experienced travel, food and beverage writer, often writing about the intersection of delicious bites, sips, and travel adventures.

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