Wineries use social media, telemarketing to connect with customers

In Wine Country, where vintners boast rich family histories and vineyards are described as steeped in tradition, it may not seem natural to scour Twitter posts to find new customers.

But some wineries are doing just that, including one that tweets wine-pairing suggestions to Twitter users who check in at restaurants where its wines are served, said Paul Mabray, chief strategy officer for VinTank, a Napa consulting firm.

The topic was one of many explored Wednesday at the first North Coast Wine Expo, a trade show and conference held at the Sonoma County Fairgrounds. The event, organized by Wine Industry Network, drew 2,000 attendees and 200 exhibitors, said George Christie, president and CEO.

"It was just amazing to me that there wasn't a really robust show in the North Coast," Christie said. "For me, that was a pretty clear message that this region wants to have a show like this."

At the marketing session, Mabray said VinTank is working on a "geofencing" app to enable wineries to send digital invitations to smartphone users as they enter regions like Napa Valley.

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