Video: Wine Industry Must Adapt or Face Digital Darwinism

Wine Industry Must Adapt or Face Digital Darwinism


What a terrific chat with Paul Mabray, Wine Unicorn & Digital Futurist!

Click on the arrow above to watch the video.

What impact does social media have on wine, both for wineries and wine drinkers?

How has that changed dramatically over the past year?

Our guest this evening is a wine unicorn and digital futurist. He has created and led companies that have transformed the wine industry through the strategic and visionary use of technology.

He believes that the future of the wine industry hinges on its ability to adapt and change to meet consumer expectations, wherever they are, whether that’s online, at the winery, in the liquor store or at home.

Welcome to the Sunday Sipper Club Paul!



P.S. Join us Monday October 2, at 6 pm eastern with Nicola Lovato, Ambassador, Santa Margherita Wines.

Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.

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Watch previous episodes of the Sunday Sipper Club (SSC) and find out who’s coming up next.

If you’d like to read the comments for this tasting, or make a comment yourself, visit:

Here’s a sampling of our lively discussion from our tasting…

Patty Ross1:00:36 Thank you Pauliwog! Always learn alot from you!

Lise Charest Gagne1:00:34 Cheers Paul

Lori Kilmartin16:57 I just spent three days with people who are passionate about wine and are big social media users. I am a big believer in SM as a way to get the word out!

Laura Milnes27:42 Facing this challenge at the winery I work at right now, trying to bring us into the social media world. So much push back because it’s so hard to quantify the results

Lise Charest Gagne27:10 Natalie does a great job in the customer service with these SSC chats. In her own way has created a small Sunday family here!

Lori Kilmartin33:51 We posted on IG that we were going to a winery yesterday! They immediately responded via private message! Good SM on their part!

Lori Kilmartin27:11 We were just treated like royalty staying at Casa Dea Cottage this weekend. There is a LOT of social media out there today as a result!

 Patty Ross58:37 wine industry is only industry that has hundreds of direct competitors within walking or short drive distance. So how to differenate yourself..

Patty Ross6:27 Paul was my first boss in the wine industry…2004..most “stubborn” but passionate person I know when it comes to heralding wine and tech!

Patty Ross4:32 Had a winery owner call me last week to have me convince him social media is important. Will forward this to him..He is not quite convinced yet..hmm

Elena Galey-Pride24:24 “The ROI of social media is that your business will still exist in five years.” – credited to many but I heard it from Jay Baer.

Elena Galey-Pride46:41 In my experience, the wineries that “do” social the best are the wineries who know who they are. And that’s not a given.

Elaine Bruce55:50 I’m starting to love Cab Franc – lots of info about that variety last week too ! V informative tonight – TY !

Adrian Tamblin41:49 There is a disconnect between consumers and brands. How do brands build brand awareness and better engage with their consumers? What digital tools can brands use to A) build brand awareness 😎engage consumers while at location C) engage post visit.

Patty Ross35:35 Derby wine estates here in Paso Robles…picpoul

Ramit Narang48:37 What’s a feature you’d like to see to be added to your favorite wine app?

Lori Kilmartin36:02 Stanners – and they were very busy but still took the time

Lise Charest Gagne4:33 Paul tell us how you started this journey

Lise Charest Gagne6:45 Getting great wine easier is not disruptive to me it’s genius

Lise Charest Gagne34:36 I just had one of those Paul!!
Paul E Hollander2:50 Yes it is. Just connecting with you proves that point. I have found several wineries online that I follow and look locally for their wines.
Dave Head28:57 Lori, same at Big Head. We won the draw too 6 bottles in a wooden case!

Adrian Tamblin5:32 Chilled Rose in the glass – Tuning in from Sonoma County.

Victor Bilow12:07 Hi Natalie and Paul. Wine blogs are okay but winery visits are more fun, as I am an older vino.

Lise Charest Gagne41:16 I totally agree Paul. Customer Service is the most important thing.. it keeps me coming back.

Stephen Andrews38:17 Find people who believe in what you believe in.
Patty Ross24:38 wineries STILL area afraid to reach out to club members beyond the club shipments as they are afraid of marketing moreso..but not engaging them on social either is a loss. They only treat them as credit card and reach out when it is time to ship. LOST OPPORTUNITY COST!
Stephen Andrews0:00 Because of Twitter I have been following Luis Gutierrez and learning a lot about value Spanish wines.
 Paul Mabray0:00 One of my favorite Winemaker’s and all around great guys Hardy Wallace –
Paul Mabray0:00 The two authors I mentioned today:

Lise Charest Gagne11:40 What is Paul drinking…?

Beverly Asleson47:27 I use both applications.

Dave Head47:03 We use Cellar Tracker, works for us
Lise Charest Gagne37:01 What does Paul do on his free time.. IG? 😉




In the video below, Paul Mabray talks about wine and social media. He sparked international debate with his comment that wineries will experience digital Darwinism if they continue to just watch their customers migrate away from traditional sales and communication channels.

He shares insights on why Social-Local-Mobile is so critical for the wine industry. You can also now watch part two of our conversation that focuses on mobile apps and making sense of social media conversations.

A Digital Think Tank for the Wine Industry: That’s how Paul Mabray describes his Napa-based consulting company that uses strategy and technology to solve problems in a complex category.

Paul has been working in the wine and technology industries for 17 years and has been a guest lecturer at University of California’s Berkley School of Business, UC Davis that has trained winemakers around the world, as well as at many international conferences.

– the decline of print wine columns and influence

– where do wine consumers get their info?

– traditional wine & food shows are a events waste of marketing funds

– “social”: engagement, tips, sharing

– “local”: findability, store locator, stock

– “mobile”: on the go, you find me

– but how to measure it? does it translate into sales?

– content is the future of advertising

Paul Mabray


Throughout my career, I have had the good fortune to invent and lead companies that have led the way forward for the wine industry as a whole. My wife jokingly says that my special ability, super power is to connect seemingly unconnected dots and see solutions and synergies where they have not previously existed.

I pride myself on my ability to think strategically and solve difficult problems that typically exist on the fringe of traditional thought and theory in the wine industry. My passion for technology has allowed me to apply modern tools and solutions to an industry that has traditionally been slow to adopt these methodologies, and to propel them forward with competitive advantages via scale and speed.

Despite my devotion to technology and the wine industry, I see my primary purpose in the form of enhanced customer experience. The future of the industry hinges on our ability to adapt and change to meet consumer expectations around service and products.



Paul Mabray


Vice President
AVERO / NYC-Napa / Dec 2016 – Present

Hired to resurrect the VinTank software for restaurants, hotels, and wineries to create a whole new MarCom software offering for Avero.

• Launched the software in record time (45 days) with minimal resources (2 FTE’s)
• Facilitated a major change in new technology leadership to modernize Avero into cloud based technologies and processes
• Introduced the organization to new planning, marketing, and communication techniques to improve customer service, intra-company collaboration, and execution techniques.

Group Director
W2O / San Francisco / Mar 2015 – Nov 2016 (Team 45 – 5 Direct)

Technology Business Leader responsible for leading ALL W2O software initiatives. Managed two core teams to build and enhance three core platforms (one external, two internal) that supported ~$17M of analytics and services businesses as well as software sales.

• Managed technology team reduction from 40 employees to 12 (~$9M in cost) while decrementing 90 software products and maintaining key software that supported $17M of business
• Created new methodologies in partnership with analytics teams to measure and extract consumer insights from social data
• Personally sold $2.8 million in analytics and agency work to wine companies including inventing new ways to predict wine sales via social signal
• Maintained VinTank’s customers at a 95% retention rate

VINTANK / Napa / Dec 2008 – Mar 2015 (Team 3)

Founded the world’s first vertically focused social listening and social CRM platform for the wine industry

• Responsible for strategic planning, budget forecasting, latest estimates, SG&A planning, P&L administration for complete business.
• Self financed and grew the company to over 1200 wineries with only three employees but an ARR of $1.2M. Growing 200% YOY
• Became the industry thought leader for wine and digital
• Lead technologies like geo-fencing, profile stitching, vertical listnenig and social CRM from the wine industry that have been written about in books and digital think tanks like Altimeter
• Successfully sold VinTank to W2O for a seven figure exit

WINEDIRECT / Napa / 2002 – Nov 2008 (Team 112 – 8 Direct)

Founded the industry’s first e-commerce SaaS platform to help facilitate DTC sales for the wine industry. Raised $15.6 million from Venture Capital and Private Equity firms to make the software the most powerful in the industry.

• Responsible for strategic planning, budget forecasting, latest estimates, SG&A planning, P&L administration for complete business.
• Help lead the entire industry into modern DTC and e-commerce via our software and services



Paul Mabray and Friends



Sr. Director – – Sr. leader for the first wave of wine online companies.
Project Manager – Niebaum Coppola – Started their DTC programs (wine club/ecom)

Paul Mabray

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3 thoughts on “Video: Wine Industry Must Adapt or Face Digital Darwinism

  1. I am a huge Paul Mabray fan. Always interested in his take on the industry and this interview didn’t let me down. Thanks for posting your chat with him and looking forward to Part II.

  2. I had a chance to watch the video, I found it interesting.

    My favorite comment was that when you google something, it won’t bring up the stuff that you are not looking for… Whether it’s a wine or a wine writer.

    I also haven’t found that wineries have been slow at getting online (especially in Ontario). Most of the wineries (the smaller ones anyways) are quite active on Twitter and Facebook… some of the larger wineries have been slower at adopting this technology. HOWEVER, when you take a look at who is following the wineries and the wine writers on twitter and it’s like minded people. I think the biggest challenge is connecting with people who are just trying to figure out what to buy on the weekend.

    just my .02

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