Wine is best enjoyed with friends, and wine influencers are the closest thing brands have to recreating that relationship in the digital landscape.
Many demographics can be hard to reach with traditional advertising. But by partnering with wine creators on social media, brands can leverage the authentic connection and trust these influencers have with their audience to amplify their reach and get products in front of people who otherwise might not ever hear of them.
How have influencers affected the wine industry?
Social media creators play a massive role in driving industry trends and customer decisions. This influence is especially valuable in the wine industry, where a single mention of a brand or bottle can skyrocket sales in the snap of a finger.
Take, for example, chef-turned-rapper Action Bronson’s endorsement of a bottle of Cornelissen’s Susucaru in the 2016 Viceland television show “F*ck, That’s Delicious.” SevenFiftyDaily reported that after Bronson reviewed the wine, 24,000 people searched for Susucaru on Wine Searcher the month the show aired. The beverage had just 1,300 searches in the year prior.
Influencers can also help brands reach demographics historically excluded from wine advertisements. During the offseason, NBA superstar LeBron James is known to post about his love affair with wine and even draft “wine all-star teams.” While his taste might be a bit rich compared with the average consumer, James still gets the wine conversation started with his 100 million-plus Instagram followers, and set a trend for other NBA stars to do the same.
The best-performing content for wine influencers
Many wine influencers find success breaking the complex industry down into fun, accessible photo or short-form video content that can help the average consumer make an informed decision.
Wine content on social media often features tasty bottles with an affordable price tag, or a digestible guide to which wines pair best with different foods. Some creators also offer tasting tips for those who want to take their wine experience to the next level.
But regardless of the subject matter, wine influencers almost universally present their content in an accessible way that helps spread love for wine and the culture that surrounds it.
The most popular platforms for wine influencers
Instagram’s high quality posting options and vibrant creator environment makes it the place to be for wine influencers. The platform has more than 120 million users in the United States alone, 40 million of which are expected to have made at least one purchase via Instagram by 2025.
TikTok, however, recently surpassed Instagram in users from the Gen Z demographic and has quickly become one of the most intriguing destinations for wine marketers.
Gen Z wine drinkers aged 21-24 are far less likely than older wine drinkers to have an established brand affinity. That makes the corners of #winetok and #winetiktok ripe for companies looking to scale their brand by getting their bottles and products into the hands of the platform’s budding megastars.
What do wine influencers mean to the wine industry
Education and awareness is falling out of the hands of traditional industry experts and critics and into the hands of those who simply love wine and want to have fun with it. Influencers are masters at putting the latter on display, and wineries and retailers are starting to take notice. As people spend more time on social media apps, wine brands can put their content in front of new demographics in a way that makes their product exciting and accessible for everyone.
How to leverage wine influencers for your brand
A poll by VinePair, a magazine with a readership of more than 5 million people, found that 70% of readers listed friends as their most trusted source for wine recommendations. That gives brands the perfect opportunity to partner with influencers who have already built that credibility and genuine connection with their audience. A simple mention of a brand or type of wine from a trusted creator can send consumers flocking to the wine aisle, and in some cases, might not cost much more than a free bottle of wine.
Top 15 wine influencers to follow
Top 5 wine influencers on Instagram
1. Laura Catena
Laura Catenta is an author, physician, and a fourth generation Argentine vinter. She is the current general director of two wineries and is a practicing physician at University of California San Francisco Medical Center. Laura has been called “the face of Argentinian wine” and was named one of the top 25 wine innovators in 2014.
Pascaline Lepeltier is a French native and master sommelier who currently resides in New York where she oversees a 2000-plus wine list at Racines NYC, one of the top wine destinations in the United States. Pascaline was voted Best French Sommelier in 2018, first woman to be given the prestigious “Personality of the Year Award” in 2019 by La Revue du Vin de France.
Richard Miyake is an amateur wine enthusiast and photographer known for his wine tastings on Instagram. Richard often goes beyond the typical age, location, and flavor when describing wines, and likes to use famous quotes to describe each wine’s unique notes. He tastes well-known, as well as smaller wine labels from around the world.
Shakera Jones is a tech professional by day and a wine student by night, with a goal to teach people about wine and food no matter their knowledge or experience. She was named one of the top rising Black voices in wine in 2020 and made Wine Enthusiasts list of 40 under 40 tastemakers. Shakera hosts a podcast called A Glass for Every Palate where she speaks with wine industry personalities from around the world.
5. Paul Laurie
Paul Laurie is a wine columnist for Essex Living Magazine. He is popular for his wine tastings from around the world on social media where he is known as Essexwineman. When he is not spreading his knowledge and love for wine on Instagram, Paul is promoting and raising funds for The Burnt Chef Project, a nonprofit with a goal of making the hospitality industry healthier and more sustainable.
Top 5 wine influencers on TikTok
Isis Daniel, known on social media as The Millennial Somm, is one of the best known creators on #winetok and has carved out a niche for herself as one of the few young wine professionals. She was recognized earlier this year by Black Enterprise as one of the five black men and women influencing the wine industry and made Wine Enthusiasts list of 40 under 40 tastemakers.
Dr. Clinton Lee is executive director of the Asia Pacific Wine and Spirit Institute (APWASI) and the face of APWASI’s popular social media accounts. Dr. Lee is known on social media as a wine and etiquette master who offers tips on everything from wine pairings to how to properly read a menu at a restaurant.
Michelle Chen is another influential young #winetok creator. She is known as legallywined on TikTok and is a level-2 certified former sommelier now working as a lawyer in Los Angeles. A Taiwanese immigrant, Michelle’s mission for her TikTok channel is to make wine more accessible to everything through fun, educational videos.
The Wine Guru has built a dedicated following on TikTok with her funny yet informative wine reviews. Many of her shorts come from the wine aisle of a liquor store and feature a “simple” yes or no rating on her favorite affordable wines and seasonal beverages.
5. David Choi
David Choi is the former owner of one of the United States’ oldest and largest wine stores, Pearson’s Wine & Spirits, and the current proprietor at Magna Carta winery in Napa Valley. David is outspoken against wine “gatekeepers” and is known on his popular TikTok channel for pairing wines with just about any food imaginable.
Top 5 wine influencers on YouTube
James Suckling the former senior editor of Wine Spectator and regarded as one of the world’s most influential wine critics. James’ channel features tastings with famous wine makers from around the world and solo tastings that are uploaded regularly.
Need help studying for a Wine & Spirit Education Trust (WSET) exam? Jimmy Smith is your man. Jimmy is a WSET tutor and wine educator based in the UK. His channel is meant to help students earn the wine qualifications, as well as present general wine knowledge to the public in a way that is approachable and easy to understand.
Whitney Adams is a writer and sommelier based in Los Angeles. A self-proclaimed “wine lady and party enthusiast,” Whitney uploads hilarious and high quality videos to her channel about wine, cocktails, entertaining, dating, travel, and style.
4. Tom Cannavan
Tom Cannavan is a journalist, broadcaster, and one of the UK’s best-known wine experts. Tom publishes a new Wine of the Week video every Sunday where he reviews a fair-priced wine that still tastes great. More of Tom’s content can be found at his website wine-pages.com.
Prescott Vanmeyer III, also known as the Unemployed Wine Guy, started his channel with a mission of “sommeliering on a budget.” He has since pivoted from exclusively wine to food and alcohol from across the spectrum. Some of his reviews feature products that might make the other names on this list crinkle their nose, but Prescott’s content is sure to keep you entertained regardless.
Brands Already Taking Advantage of Wine Influencers for Marketing Success
Coravin collaborates with all types of influencers to help promote its wine preservation technology. The brand encourages its partners to share wine experience on Instagram and include a shot of them using one of its popular products.
WTSO uses high-quality creator content to promote its online wine store via its Instagram page. The page also hosts wine giveaways and posts interactive graphics to its growing list of followers.
3. La Crema
La Crema Winery regularly partners with wine bloggers and influencers for Instagram giveaways. These campaigns are great for companies trying to increase brand awareness and have worked wonders for La Crema, which has grown its IG following to more than 15,000.
Creators are now essential for connecting audiences with different wineries and wine-related products. Keep in mind – some of your biggest fans might not even know you exist yet, so use these wine influencers to build brand awareness, then trust, by helping them educate their audience on what you have to offer. When done effectively, this technique will nurture a new, raving fanbase for your brand.