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Promoting wine tourism in Minnesota

Harvesting grapes on a vineyard

Local and state organizations offer resources for wineries

Two types of organizations are key to promoting your winery as a tourism destination: the city or region’s destination marketing organization (DMO) and chamber of commerce. Connecting with these organizations and statewide resources, like Explore Minnesota Tourism (the state tourism marketing agency), are low- and no-cost ways to attract visitors to your winery.

This short guide introduces Minnesota's various tourism resources and provides some talking points and materials for when you reach out to these organizations. To help promote your activities and events and draw customers to your winery, they will need to be provided with updated information, photos and event calendars.

Explore Minnesota Tourism

Explore Minnesota Tourism (EMT), the state tourism marketing agency, can promote your winery in various ways:

  • Listing your winery — for free — on the EMT website and in its print magazine
  • Providing dynamic content like videos or photos on its website

EMT has five regional managers. Reach out to the one in your region, and s/he will connect you with your local DMOs and a variety of other resources.

Explore Minnesota regional offices

Twin Cities metro area

Name: Lori Peterson
Phone: 651-757-187
Email: lori.a.peterson@state.mn.us

Northeast

Name: Beth Helle
Phone: 651-757-1872
Email: beth.helle@state.mn.us

Northwest

Name: David Bergman
Phone: 218-316-3335
Email: David.bergman@state.mn.us

Central

Name: Nicole Lalum
Phone: 218-316-3330
Email: Nicole.lalum@state.mn.us

South

Name: Lisa Havelka
Phone: 507-389-2683
Email: lisa.havelka.@state.mn.us

Destination Marketing Organization (DMO)

Travel and tourism stimulates the economy when visitors purchase goods, services, and hotel rooms, as well as participate in activities like winery tours and events. A DMO uses local tourism tax revenue to market a city or region as a tourism destination. They do so by promoting the variety of attractions, activities, amenities and recreation opportunities the destination offers. DMOs also obtain grants to fund some marketing efforts.

Your local DMO should have a pulse on the attractions and happenings of the community, including events at your winery. However, it is important that you communicate regularly with your DMO to ensure information accuracy (e.g., contact information and event dates) for the organization's website and marketing campaigns.

Chamber of Commerce

Across the state, chambers of commerce build business networks to support the community through job growth, community development, partnerships and tourism promotion. In rural Minnesota, the local chamber is often a source for grants or cost-sharing to support infrastructure and marketing. You can find contact information for your chamber through this online directory.

University of Minnesota Extension

The Extension Center for Community Vitality and its Tourism Center have many resources to help strengthen rural businesses like farm wineries and the surrounding communities. Learn more, and contact your local Extension educator, on our community development web page.

What to have ready when reaching out

  • Contact information
    • Website, email, phone number
    • Physical address and way finding
    • Hours of operation
  • Event calendar – regular and special
  • Services offered (weddings, events, workshops,
  • etc.)
  • Photos of your winery and candid shots from events you'd like to promote

Key messages and questions

Before contacting your EMT regional manager, local DMO, or chamber of commerce, prepare the key messages you want to convey and questions you want to ask. (The experts at these organizations have a wealth of knowledge and they will likely have questions to ask you, too.) Here are a few to consider:

  • Size of winery, year of establishment, capacity, and unique attributes
  • What you have done to drive visitors to the winery’s tasting room and events
  • Fees for your services
  • Any grants available to promote your winery or others in the region
  • Who else you can connect with to support winery tourism

Questions or comments?

Contact Matt Clark at clark776@umn.edu or visit our wine website.

Author(s)

Matthew Clark, asstistant professor; Xinyi Qian, Tourism specialist and Extension educator 

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