By Evan Dawson, Managing Editor

WebsiteWhen you visit a winery’s website, you’re probably there for one simple reason. Either you want tasting room hours or the wine list or the winemaker’s story. But whatever it is, you want it quickly and easily.

And too often, it’s not easy enough to find what you’re seeking. On top of that, the websites look clunky and amateurish. This is a generalization, of course. Some websites are excellent. Too many are not.

But don’t take it from me. Here’s an email I received this week from a reader of my book, Summer in a Glass. This reader lives several states away.

I’ve re-printed the email in full, and I welcome your thoughts on what makes for a high-quality and low-quality website.


Hi Mr Dawson,
First of all, thank you for writing this book. Though we currently live in Wisconsin, my wife and I are physicians originally from upstate NY. We’ve recently decided to move back to CNY (Canandaigua) to start our own adventure, and this book has made us proud and excited to move back!Like many, my wife and I made the rounds on various wineries websites after reading your book, and I wanted to comment on something I bet you’ve noticed, and could help with!

Many of the websites are, well, a bit difficult to navigate. Like the vintners you describe, the websites are not flamboyant or ostentatious. That’s fine as a character trait, but perhaps not so good for marketing. Specifically, we noticed that many photos are casual (amateur?), and don’t do justice to the scenery or the establishment. I left some websites with an overall impression that I can’t get engaged with the wine or the winery.

That’s frustrating, and I’m sure a ton of folks are visiting those sites after or as they read your book, and I bet many others left the sites feeling a bit disappointed. For instance, if I decided to plan a trip to the Finger Lakes, I’d hit these websites hard to get organized. So in that scenario, I think the website design could become sort of crucial for the wineries, right?

We thought Weimer’s website was really good. The designer looks like he’s a computer science grad from Cornell (my alma mater). I was thinking that between your wife working as a professional photographer and perhaps with your mutual contacts in the web design/photography business, you could help link some of the wineries with eager folks to help improve the websites. I don’t know,  I’m sure these wineries will do very well thanks to your book, but I felt compelled to contact you anyway!

You’ve almost single-handedly changed our opinion of CNY with this book….


(Name withheld – I’ve asked the author for permission to publish their name.)