Episode 174: Navigating the Coronavirus Pandemic as a Destination Winery, with Erica Paolicelli

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Erica Paolicelli is a Partner at Three Brothers Wineries & Estates and War Horse Brewing Company located in the heart of the Finger Lakes. Erica joined the company in 2007, before it opened its doors and helped grow the destination and brand which now sees 150,000+ visitors annually, has distribution regionally to over 300 locations, and employs 150 full and part-time employees. The campus at Three Brothers houses Iron Heart Coffee Company, a café serving lunch (and soon to be dinners) daily and also hosts private events.

Erica is a strategic planner, marketer and brand builder at heart with a keen business sense. She serves on several regional boards including the IDA, the NY Wine Industry Association, the Finger Lakes Community College Advisory Board, and Geneva Community Projects. Together with her colleagues, Erica is one of the founders of the successful Rose Soiree held annually in downtown Geneva which has raised $30k in funds donated to local community organizations.

Erica is a firm believer that the rising tide raises all ships and she thinks it’s her calling to inspire collaboration within her community to help the Finger Lakes continue to be recognized as a premier destination on a global scale.

In this episode of Destination on the Left, Erica Paolicelli, Partner at Three Brothers Wineries and Estates and War Horse Brewing Co., explains how she and her team are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic. She discusses the creative solutions they thought up and implemented since the shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions have gone into effect. And she talks about the unique visitor experiences that make Three Brothers Winery a destination in and of itself!

What You Will Learn in This Episode:

  • Why Three Brothers Winery is a destination in and of itself
  • Why the experiences offered at Three Brothers Winery are unlike any other wineries in the country
  • How Three Brothers is developing products like their new wine spritzer to accommodate curbside pickup and delivery
  • Why Three Brothers decided to lean into their online presence in response to the global pandemic
  • How Erica and her team are responding to the current coronavirus pandemic
  • Creative solutions that Three Brothers has thought of and implemented since the shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions have gone into effect
  • How Three Brothers is using old school communication techniques to garner support from the local community
The Ultimate East Coast Wine Destination

Erica Paolicelli is a Partner at Three Brothers Wineries & Estates and War Horse Brewing Company located in the heart of the Finger Lakes region in New York State. In our discussion, Erica shares so many creative ideas about how to navigate the coronavirus pandemic in the travel and tourism industry. Erica and her team have thought up and implemented innovative solutions in response to the shelter-in-place and social distancing restrictions have gone into effect. And their ability to use creativity and collaboration is one of the many reasons Three Brothers Winery is a destination in and of itself!

Rally Around a Vision

Erica started with Three Brothers as an intern before the winery was anything like it is today. Over time, she moved from $15/hour to a 1% share in the company and, eventually, she started buying stock as well. Erica became a partner because she believes in Dave Mansfield’s vision, and that vision made Three Brothers what it is today. It is no small task for a leader to energize people around their vision or to keep their ego out of the mix. Dave did both, and his ability to see what Three Brothers could become combined with Erica’s drive and ability to execute led Three Brothers to become one of the top wineries in the Finger Lakes region.

Use Creativity to Open New Streams of Revenue

The Three Brothers campus has three wineries and a brewery, each with an entirely unique experience from shopping to food and entertainment—it is Disney World for adults. The creativity that makes Three Brothers a destination has also helped them navigate the coronavirus pandemic. Luckily, they have been deemed an essential business because they are a beverage manufacturer, but the tasting rooms and communal spaces have been shut down.

They decided to lean into their online presence to engage their current audience to drum up excitement for future events. They are generating long-form content to add value to their customers and give their readers something to look forward to. They are even doing wine slushies to-go which has driven pick-up orders significantly, and they added merchandise to the website. Coupled with a push for real conversations between Three Brothers leadership and their clientele, Erica and her team have seen an outpour of support from the local community and wine lovers all over.

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