During the hot months, UPS preserves sales and satisfaction for Hess Collection Winery and customers.
Along a winding, tree-lined road nestled in Napa Valley, Calif., Swiss entrepreneur Donald Hess first purchased vineyards for the Hess Collection Winery in 1978 and has expanded to more than 1,000 acres.
"Customer needs, unlike wine, don't age well," says Donald Hess of Hess Collection Winery.
It's easy to spend the afternoon taking a tour or enjoying the wine, food and impressive art collection. But what happens when you want to take the experience home with you?
Beating the summer heat
Shipping wine to consumers has always been a challenging business, especially during summer months.
"Wine and heat don't mix," says Bill Smith, shipping manager at the Hess Collection Winery. "It doesn't matter how fast our customers get their wine, especially if it's spoiled by the time it reaches them. If the wine goes bad, I have to replace it, and that costs money."
Heat-damaged wine tastes much older than it should and doesn't have the original flavor or aroma. You can also tell when the wine has been "cooked" because the cork has popped slightly out of the bottle. Too much heat can turn a great bottle of vino into vinegar.
Chuck Eisen, a UPS account manager who has worked in Napa Valley for 15 years, introduced a solution for these Northern California wineries: temperature-controlled shipping. "Hess needed their wines delivered during the summer in a cool manner," he says. "Typically, wineries in Northern California hold their wine until October and flood our system with orders. With this customized solution, the wineries can ship all year."
From late spring to early fall, consumers can ship their favorite bottles of wine home using UPS Summer Solutions. "Customer needs, unlike wine, don't age well," Eisen says. "Customers don't have to wait like they used to.… Now we can ship as they order."
The shipments are routed onto refrigerated trailers and delivered to one of four UPS distribution centers nationwide: Mesquite, Texas; Chicago; Parsippany, N.J.; or Jacksonville, Fla. As the wine travels through the hottest parts of the country, the temperature remains at a wine-friendly 55 degrees. Within a day after arriving at UPS facilities, wine orders are loaded onto those signature brown delivery trucks.
"UPS drivers deliver the wine right to a customer's front door, reducing the time it's exposed to heat down to hours instead of several days," Eisen says.
Happy customers order more
Once orders are on the way, UPS provides Hess customers with tracking information and a delivery date using Quantum View Notify®. Even "if a customer calls looking for an order, I can track it down within seconds. Before, it could take hours," Smith says. "It really improves our relationship with the customer, and if they're happy, they order more wine."
Smith and his shipping team use WorldShip® software to process daily orders. Every other month, they process 2,200 shipments for wine club members using batch processing, an automated system that eliminates processing each package manually. "It definitely saves time with printing labels and verifying addresses." The system also retains a customer's shipping history and makes the process even faster for return customers.
"We've been partners with UPS since 2007," Smith says. "If they help make our customers happy with reliable deliveries, then everyone is happy."
Return what you take
The Summer Solutions also help the winery reduce its carbon footprint. The Hess Collection delivers wines that speak to their natural origins using the philosophy "nurture the land, and return what you take."
Each fall, grapes enter the winery to be crushed, and the remaining grapes are recycled back into the soil. The vineyards also are winterized to prevent erosion. All of the bottles are made with 60 percent or more recycled glass, and the corks are biodegradable. A percentage of the winery's income is donated to the nonprofit 1 Percent for the Planet to support local environmental groups.