Wine Evangelist – A Skype Chat with the Washington Wine Commission

The evangelists for Washington Wine, carrying the wine into tasting room battles around the world and helping raise the awareness for the state – this is the Washington Wine Commissions mantra. The Washington Wine Commission is a state agency that was established in 1987 to raise positive awareness and create demand for Washington wines. More has been written about Washington Wine in the last month than any time in recent memory, if not ever. After a recent article called, Are Washington Wines Coming of Age, I wanted to sit down with the commission to hear firsthand how they are spreading the “good news” of the states wine industry. Ryan Pennington, Senior Communications Manager, sat down for a Skype chat to talk about what’s on the commissions agenda, their struggles, and thoughts on the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Ryan covers some great topics in the video but due to time, we didn’t get a chance to talk about everything on our agenda. Below are the text responses to a few key questions.

Q: What Success Are You Seeing From Your Efforts?

A: In our past and current national target markets (Austin, Denver, Phoenix, and Chicago), we field consumer research before and after each campaign.  In these markets, we’ve seen an average increase in consumer awareness of Washington State as a premier wine producing region of 169% over the course of each campaign.  We’ve also seen an average increase in consumers who report that they are “extremely likely to purchase” Washington State wines in the future of 191%.


Q: Being from Spokane, I was very disappointed and frustrated when our regional Taste Washington event was canceled. Are there any specific plans in the works to continue to help promote Washington wine on the East side of the state?

A: We absolutely appreciate the local fondness for the Taste Washington event in Spokane.  It was a great event for nine years.  At the same time, the reaction from wineries (including wineries in Spokane) to the decision to broaden our local marketing in the Northwest (and broaden it both geographically and strategically) has been unanimously positive.  We’re rolling out our first comprehensive local marketing campaign this fall, including around $100,000 in advertising.  This truly is just the beginning.  We’ll certainly continue to market Washington wines in Eastern Washington, and that marketing will extend beyond just consumer events.

Q: What are the benefits / results you’re seeing from your efforts on Twitter and Facebook?

A: Though we’ve definitely embraced social media, we also know that we’ve still got a long way to go in this space.  We’re working right now on several improvements in this regard, including substantial upgrades to our website to better integrate various social media platforms.  With that said, we’re pleased with the results that we’ve seen from our social media work so far.  Fundamentally, social media is about establishing lasting relationships and engaging in meaningful conversations, and I think we’ve made great strides toward those objectives over the past couple of years.

Visit the Washington Wine Commission at or follow them on Twitter @winecommission and Facebook/WashingtonStateWine

Do you have questions for the commission? Leave a comment and Ryan will respond.


Owner of Nectar Tasting Room in Spokane, WA. (@nectarwine) Publisher of Spokane Wine Magazine (@spowinemag), author, speaker, consultant and internet marketer with Nectar Media (@nectarmedia)

4 comments on “Wine Evangelist – A Skype Chat with the Washington Wine Commission

  1. Joe

    I think Ch. Ste. Michelle and Columbia Crest have done a lot to bring Washington wine into the mainstream with many wine consumers. What’s even better is that these huge brands have managed to introduce WA wine at entry prices while maintaining- in my opinion- a quality level that is better than California at those price points.

    That being said, I’m still amazed at the perception among many that wine comes from California, and maybe a couple Pinots from Oregon. Washington wines are very solid, and I hope the efforts continue to promote it.

  2. Pingback: WA Wine Commission World Class Value Pass – Is It Really a Value? | Drink Nectar

  3. Allan Wright

    Great interview. I just got around to watching it now … hard to take 9.5 minutes out of a day, as everyone knows. :)

    I wanted to make sure everyone knew that Ryan himself was the guy most influential in helping us bring the Wine Bloggers Conference to Washington. I enjoyed working with him and appreciate all his help!

    Allan Wright
    Wine Bloggers Conference

    1. drinknectar

      Allan, thanks for stopping by. I’m sure you are a very busy guy! Ryan and the WWC do a fantastic job for our state. Is everything they do a home run? Probably not, but at least they’re out there pounding the pavement and waiving the flag for Washington Wine.


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