Route 3 Wines in Yolo County may be relatively new to the wine scene, but the family that produces these wines has been farming in the area for more than 40 years. People talk about wine beginning in the vineyard; that philosophy is nowhere more true than with this small wine estate in Dunnigan Hills.
Muller Family Creates Yolo Vineyards, Then Route 3 Wines
Dairy farmers before they moved to Yolo County, the Muller family were soon growing tomatoes, grain, and alfalfa. In 1988 Joe Muller & Sons planted their first vineyard, and in 1994 they created Yolo Vineyards. Route 3 Wines was born in 2007 as Yolo Vineyards continued to expand vineyard operations. All of the grapes used in production of Route 3 Wines come from Yolo Vineyards' historic Hucke Ranch.
Today, Joe Muller & Sons is a large, diversified family farm in the Sacramento Valley. Vineyards represent only a portion of the total acreage Muller manages, but the family is serious about the quality of its wine grapes. Over the years it has developed viticulture techniques that "reflect the unique challenges of the Dunnigan Hills AVA."
Dedication to quality and long-term growth is important to Route 3 Wines, according to Craig Jones, director of sales and marketing for the winery. When he and I met for lunch at The Burger Saloon in Woodland, Craig explained that Route 3 Wines recently brought him on board to develop its marketing strategy as it expands regionally and beyond. Our conversation revolved mostly around how to use online marketing, including social media, to create a thriving direct-to-consumer business.
Online: A New World for Small Businesses like Route 3 Wines
It's encouraging to me to see small businesses explore new ways of reaching customers and interacting with them. I believe that social media (and online marketing generally) will only grow in importance as a way for wineries to connect to customers. As Alder Yarrow of Vinography, the well-known wine blog, recently noted:
"In an increasingly globalized world, where consumers are living, learning, connecting, and buying online, anyone who wants to sell a product in a competitive marketplace must be engaging their customers online."
Using technology and the power of the Internet, local wine estates like Route 3 now have an opportunity to reach beyond the farmlands, quiet hills, and country roads where they began.