Best Winery Websites 2017

Apr 14, 2017 | Winery Websites

As a winery, a professional website is of paramount importance to your brand’s cohesion and marketing, and a valuable direct-to-consumer platform. Wine consumers have high expectations of the products they consume, and that includes the websites they choose to visit. The best winery websites fulfill those expectations and more.

Sometimes clients will let me know right off the bat which sites they’re inspired by. I’ve found that not everyone has a clear idea of what they’re looking for, and many ask to see some examples of winery website excellence before we get started on a design.

I decided to compile a list of what I consider to be the best winery websites in 2017. Note that this does not necessarily mean that each website was made in the year 2017, just that I searched high and low for the best winery sites I could find to give you an up-to-date list.

3 Factors For A Winning Winery Website

I took many considerations in curating this list, but several key factors emerged:

Large, High-Quality Imagery

In our visual culture, large, full-screen photos have a powerful effect on your audience, grabbing their attention and drawing them in to the experience of your winery’s website. Gone is the concept of “above the fold” content – the visual experience created by large imagery replaces the need for important content to be seen immediately, as users are inclined to scroll and explore.

A screenshot of Kenwood Vineyards's winery website

For example, Kenwood Vineyards’s website makes use of gorgeous full-screen photography throughout.

High quality imagery of a winery and vineyard allows the audience to see the beauty the winery has to offer and the story they have to tell. These images can also be used as backgrounds for other content (like headlines and titles, as above).

There was a time when using high quality photos was detrimental to the success of a website, causing slow load-times and clunky-looking experiences. In recent years, technology has advanced to the point where this is no longer of any concern, so almost all the best winery sites are using them without fear.

Background Videos

You’ve surely heard that a picture is worth a thousand words. If that’s true, then a video is worth at least a thousand pictures. When it comes to story-telling, there’s perhaps no more effective medium than video. And when it comes to showing wine-drinkers how gorgeous your location is, high quality video is a fantastic choice for the job.

A screenshot of the homepage for Enso Winery in Portland, OR

Enso’s website has a fascinating background video on their home page that allows you to experience their unique atmosphere from your computer.

Not only do our brains process video 60,000 times faster than text, having video on your winery’s website reduces the need for large paragraphs of text that many people just aren’t inclined to read.

While background videos are an excellent addition to a winery’s site, they are less common to find because they can sometimes take several seconds to load. An increase in page load time can be a deterrent to some users, who are used to snappy website speeds. But don’t let that put you off to using video – just make sure it’s properly compressed and not too lengthy.

For winery videos, an excellent and increasingly-popular choice for many wineries is aerial drone photography.

Mobile-Friendly, Responsive Design

Cline Cellars's mobile website

Maybe you’ve noticed: our culture has become obsessed with smartphones. Having a site that functions properly on a smartphone is essential to its success, especially when 61% of users are unlikely to return to a non-mobile-friendly site and 57% of people won’t even recommend a site that looks bad on smartphones.

It’s no surprise that mobile-friendly design – otherwise known as responsive design – has become a requirement for the best websites out there. Mobile-friendly sites speed up load times and ensure a seamless cross-platform experience by employing advanced technologies such as responsive images, media queries, and device-agnostic design.

Without a doubt, responsive design is a must-have component for a quality website, and is especially important for wineries who wish to make sales online.

Cline’s mobile-friendly website, as pictured here, displays just as wonderfully on a smartphone as it does on a laptop.


Here Are The 13 Best Winery Websites In 2017

With the above factors in mind, let’s take a look at the websites we’ve selected (in no particular order). Note that the factors are not a requirement for a winery’s website to be good, but they are strong components.

A screenshot of one of the best winery websites we found: Cline Cellars.

Cline Cellars

Overview

If you check out just one website from this list, make it this one. Cline Cellars’s site is a masterclass in what a modern winery website should be. They just get everything so right.

To start, they use eye-catching modern website techniques like scroll transitions, lazy-loading, and a masonry grid style. This makes the browsing experience feel both more interesting and more polished. As if that wasn’t eye-catching enough, their site on the whole adheres to a spacious grid-focused design and has gorgeous typography.

Cline’s website has absolutely beautiful photography, and text is almost always paired with a nice photo. Many of their photos feature visitors enjoying themselves, which make for powerful social proof. Their Wine Club and Weddings pages give plenty of essential details. They have a section dedicated to recipes and pairings. And finally, they’ve implemented a rare technology to find on winery sites: a virtual tour.

The only thing I don’t care for is that when trying to shop their wines, you’re forced to choose a category before you can see any wines at all. Then, once you’ve chosen a category, sometimes you’ll only see that there are three or four wines in the list. It adds friction to the experience of browsing their online store.

Aside from that, this is a truly outstanding site – most definitely one to take notes on.

What’s Working

Everything. From modern web technologies to their excellent photography. They even have a virtual tour on their Visit page. They’re doing so many things right it’s difficult to list each thing.

Areas for Improvement

Wine Shop – don’t make me choose a category before I can see any wines!


Kenwood Vineyards's home page, including their dropdown menu style

Kenwood Vineyards

Overview

Kenwood Vineyards’s website is so good because its photography is so good. The site has a strong focus on nature both in its photography and its earth-tones. As a result, its design feels both luxurious and completely unfussy, and its use of photography guides the user through the website experience. Their typographical hierarchy is also very well thought out, making it easy to read through a page.

One thing to note is that, while I often comment on the poor experience of being forced to select a wine category before you can see any of the wines at all, on Kenwood’s website I’m able to look past it because they present their categories in an incredibly intriguing way. Contrary to many sites that simply give you a dull selection of categories and perhaps an image of a wine bottle for each, Kenwood Vineyards uses its nature-focused photography to complement the bottle photo for each category.

I love their Food page, which lists their meal recipes that you can sort by wine type to pair with. I also appreciate that they dedicate a page to each of their wine club membership types, highlighting the additional benefits for each one. Finally, I really enjoy the way the present their vineyards, each with fine details such as the altitude and climate.

I’m not sure they could do anything better, though I am always annoyed at the age-verification that pops up when you haven’t visited the site in a while. And I’m not the only one.

What’s Working

Very powerful photography and a unified focus on their nature theme. Fine details throughout the site. Clean, spacious design.

Areas for Improvement

Ditch the age-verification barrier – it’s easily subverted by lying and nothing more than a nuisance to those of legal drinking age.


Strong photography on Benziger Family Winery's home page

Benziger Family Winery

Overview

This site has a really lovely design and no shortage of unique features. For a great example, jump on over to their Our Timeline page and scroll through this winery’s history. Information is always laid out with a generous amount of space, making for an easy-on-the-eyes reading experience. The calendar on their Winery Events page has a great, responsive design; each calendar event is well-spaced from the next and has an eye-catching visual on the right-hand side.

However, I almost didn’t put it on the list because of how bad the top navigation menu is. When moving the mouse over many of the links, your experience is completely disrupted by a gigantic popup sub-menu that makes it impossible to click (or even see!) the link you were hovering over and every other link beside it.

Still, Benziger has a great website that makes excellent use of large-scale photography and a clean design. And apparently, I’m not the only one who thinks so! Cheers to them.

What’s Working

Unique presentation of winery history and calendar events. Clean design. Nice large photography.

Areas for Improvement

The top navigation menu could definitely use a re-work.


The ultra-modern look of Stratus's website

Stratus Vineyards

Overview

There’s so much good stuff going on here. With an ultra modern, ultra minimal approach, Stratus’s website makes some very interesting design choices and comes equipped with a google maps integration at the bottom. Worth noting is that their map integration doesn’t interrupt the user’s scrolling motion – something that Highway 12, discussed further down this list, needs to adjust on their site. Even nicer is that their map integration matches their minimal color scheme.

The site adheres to an almost editorial-like grid system, which makes it very easy to read and follow. When browsing their online wine shop, products are immediately visible which is always a good sign. As a consumer, I love the specific details they share about each wine.

I will say that the pagination button at the bottom of their wines list is a little confusing, as it has the gestalt of a singular button when in fact it is two in a single box (the second clickable arrow only appears when you’re on page 2 or higher). This navigation style works better on their Visit page, where both arrows are shown. I also noticed that sometimes they use too many images in a small space (see About page, for example), but that’s just a minor complaint.

What’s Working

Very unique, minimalist design. Excellent Google Maps integration. Wines immediately visible when shopping.

Areas for Improvement

Pagination at the bottom of the wines page could use some tweaking. Minor image cramping at times.


Screenshot of Macari Vineyards's website

Macari Vineyards

Overview

An individualistic, elegant design that just breathes, never feels cramped, has great photography, has a well defined grid system, and uses modern technologies (including parallax backgrounds) to enhance the experience. I like that you can click on “Wines,” and you get wines without having to specify what kind. Forcing a user to choose a category before they can see any product is known as “friction,” and the less friction on your site, the happier your users are.

Macari went the extra mile and added an Instagram feed to their home page. I also like that their “book a reservation” module, powered by Peek is fast and easy to use.

I think they could do a little better job of selling their wine club, spreading out information into distinct chunks rather than all sitting in a couple paragraphs. Perhaps something a little closer to Monticello Vineyards’s wine club page, explored near the bottom of this list. Macari’s Wine Club page almost feels unfinished, with the “Join Now” action simply opening up the user’s e-mail program. Many other sites have some sort of online signup method.

Overall, an excellent site with very pretty visuals and attention to detail. Good luck pronouncing the names of their winery locations on the first try though 😉

What’s Working

Unique, artistic design. Wines visible immediately when shopping. Inclusion of an Instagram feed. Smart usage of third-party solutions when called for (booking a reservation, for example, uses Peek).

Areas for Improvement

The Wines page takes a little too long to load all the wines, making it seem like it’s an empty list at first. Macari could do a better job of selling their wines and their wine club memberships by implementing better copywriting and more photography for both.


B.R. Cohn's home page

B.R. Cohn

Overview

B.R. Cohn’s website isn’t the most amazing design, but it has its parts that are indeed very good. Take for example their Winery Events page; well designed, responsive calendars are hard to find and even harder to make. The calendar module on B.R. Cohns’s events page is just excellent – easy to read and remains consistent across small and large screens.

Their Weddings page is also great, beginning with the ability to go straight to their inquiry form if you’re looking for it, and continuing with a lovely selection of photos followed by some details and, finally, video recaps of happy couples having their wedding hosted there. I’m not sure they could sell their experience any better.

Overall, their site uses a nice grid system with changeups to clearly define sections. I do recommend reining in the old-school blurred-text-shadow effect on the home page, and change it to something a little more subtle.

A "before and after" diptych showing the adjustment of the B.R. Cohn logo

Something like this, for example.

What’s Working

An exceptional calendar of events. Brilliantly composed Weddings page. Strong use of a grid-system design.

Areas for Improvement

The drop-shadow effect for the logo (see above) could use a little clean-up, though this is admittedly a taste thing.


Alexeli's simple website design

Alexeli Vineyard + Winery

Overview

Have you ever seen a stronger value statement from a winery? Hard to ignore and hard not to resonate with – their mission is to bring people together with their product. That’s story telling in its simplest form.

You might notice that there isn’t a full-screen photo of a vineyard at the top – the photo they’ve chosen is contained within a specific width rather than stretching to the edge of the browser. While the full-width banner photo is surely an effective design choice, it’s not a requirement. Alexeli’s designer thoughtfully chose not to follow that pattern, and their site is all the more unique for it. Where most wineries put the photographic focus on their vineyard, Alexeli chooses to focus on their family, their process, and their humanity. I really like that the first image we see is from the perspective of a worker, boots and all.

I really love this site because it’s so incredibly simple and completely unfussy, with muted colors and little distraction. A clean, streamlined website experience with good photography and an extremely easy-to-use navigation. This style doesn’t suit everyone, but it’s certainly a fresh take in this list of some rather extravagant winery sites.

What’s Working

Charming simplicity. Nice photos.

Areas for Improvement

The font in the Newsletter signup box at the bottom could be a little larger – it can be difficult to read a serif font when it’s that small.


Walt Wines's website with a full-span photo.

Walt Wines

Overview

For a site filled with large photos, Walt Wines’s website sure loads fast! The home page is loaded with lovely photos and clear guidance to help you find what you’re looking for. Walt Wines does a particularly good job at communicating their story (see “Inside Walt” menu item) and they even go as far as to dedicate pages to wine tips and pairing recipes.

I really enjoy their educational approach – many of the sub-pages under “Vineyards” are packed with information that most of their customers probably didn’t know. I’m also a fan of their “6 away from $1 shipping” module at the top right of the page – it fills up as you add more bottles to your cart, providing incentive for the shopper to purchase more.

Overall, the site boasts a clean design, though sometimes the text spacing is weird and the font can be slightly too small. Also, this site is practically identical to their partner company Hall Wines.

What’s Working

Super fast load time. Great photography and typography. Unique reward system design for wine shopping. Excellent educational content from soil types to wine tips and food pairings.

Areas for Improvement

Age-verification barriers are annoying and ineffective – get rid of it.


Lightfoot & Wolfville's home page

Lightfoot and Wolfville Vineyards

Overview

Lightfoot and Wolfville’s website makes great use of beautiful full-screen photography, especially on their homepage. They even dedicate an interesting section on their home page to the “etymology,” if you will, of their name and logo. I’m a sucker for detailed vintage information and interactive elements, and L&W’s website has no shortage of either. Under the “Vines” section on the home page, clicking the + icon brings up an informative table about their vineyard, even down to fine details such as row orientation. I love that they go so far as to describe their individual wines in different phases, from “In The Cellar” to “In The Glass.”

Naturally, their website looks good on my iPhone, has nice typography, and feels open and spacious. At times, their use of empty space can feel a little unpolished and slightly overwhelming. Too much of a good thing.

What’s Working

Entertaining home-page elements. Detailed information. Nice photography.

Areas for Improvement

Spacing feels weird at times – refine it.


Monticello Vineyards's website, with design elements that recall a bottle of wine.

Monticello Vineyards

Overview

Monticello’s website has a very pretty design that almost feels like looking at a bottle of wine itself. It features lovely readable type, inspiring photography, and modern technologies such as parallax backgrounds. This winery tells you its story particularly well, which is something I like to see when browsing wineries. Their Events page is nice, using a CellarPass integration to manage ticket sales, and I appreciate that while their Wine Club page is full of information, it’s laid out in a way that makes the details easy to understand.

I will say that their winery e-commerce integration leaves something to be desired from a design standpoint, with strange spacing at times and uneven buttons. Most importantly, I’d like to just dive right in to the wines themselves rather than have to choose a category first.

What’s Working

Unique design aesthetic. Modern web technologies. Compelling story-telling.

Areas for Improvement

Wine shopping – design is messy and could use some serious refinement. Don’t make me choose a category before I can see any wines!


Highway 12's website, with wine bottles that catch the eye.

Highway 12

Overview

Highway 12 makes good use of white space (aka negative space, empty space, etc) with its easy-to-digest full-width sections and classy background photography. Their winery’s website is clean, easy to navigate, and easy to read thanks to generous font sizes and spacing. They also have a nice Google Maps integration on their Visit page, something more wineries need to adapt.

Speaking of that Google Maps integration, disabling the mouse-scroll zoom feature on the map is highly recommended. Leaving it enabled means that when you’re scrolling through the site, whether it be with a mouse or a trackpad, you run into a roadblock once you get to the map, as the scrolling feature is hijacked into a zoom action instead. When that happens, it makes for a jarring, unwelcome interruption. See Stratus’s website above for a great example of a map integration that doesn’t interrupt.

Also, while the large fonts make for nice readability, it feels like this site was designed on a very large screen with very large screens in mind as the standard. Most people are viewing websites on laptops or phones, not 21-inch+ screens.

I’ve written more negative about this site than positive, but it really is a solid, functional website with nice photography.

What’s Working

Clean, spacious design. Strong photographic focus.

Areas for Improvement

Scroll hijacking occurs when scrolling over the Google Maps section – disable that. Design feels a little too large sometimes.


Viansa Sonoma's home page, featuring a young woman at their location.

Viansa Sonoma

Overview

The second winery from VWE on this list, Viansa’s site is a wonderfully simple one that, while a little text heavy, doesn’t get in the way of your exploration. Guided sub-navigation on the home page makes it easy to determine where you want to go, utilizing action-based language like “Plan Your Visit” and “Shop Wines.” Their shopping cart integration is minimal and never distracts from the experience of the website. Take note that, on the wine selection page, you can immediately see all wines available and can choose to specify categories (red, white, etc) if desired.

Honestly, I want to visit them after browsing this joyous website! The slideshow on their Weddings page is lovely. Perhaps on the home page, a more prominent, singular call to action would help.

What’s Working

Sensible navigational elements. Wines immediately visible when shopping.

Areas for Improvement

Stronger call to action on the home page – pick the best possible action your ideal user could complete and call attention to it.


Quailhurst Vineyard Estate's home page, with a background video embedded at the top.

Quailhurst Vineyard Estate

Overview

I hate to brag about a site we made, but I had to include it because, in addition to having nice typography and an excellent responsive design, this site features a background video right on the homepage. I wish more wineries would implement videos of their grounds shot with aerial drones, as there’s nothing more enticing than seeing the location in video form right there on the winery’s website.

Aside from aerial drone footage of a vineyard, busy tasting rooms are an excellent opportunity for video to be included on the website. Quailhurst has a beautiful location, and I hope to see more of it on their site in the future. Some variation in the photography used for the background image headers would be nice to see as well.

What’s Working

Aerial drone video! That’s the only reason I plugged one of our winery clients’ sites, though there’s plenty else to take notes on here.

Areas for Improvement

Greater diversity of photography – many pages are currently reusing the same background image at the top.


4 Wineries That Deserve Honorable Mention

For one reason or another, these sites didn’t quite stand out as much as the ones above. That’s not to say they aren’t good websites – they’re fine examples to take notes from, and that’s why we’ve included them below.

Enso

Enso is a little different than most wineries in a lot of ways, but its use of video featuring people in their space is really nice. Its design is certainly modern, which makes sense given the urban style of this winery. However, too many things weren’t good enough to make the list: their calendar leaves much to be desired (especially on a phone), and too often is there just way too much text all at once. That said, it’s still a nice, modern site.

Chateau St. Jean

While their design looks a little outdated in some aspects, Chateau St. Jean’s site has very nice typography and a clean design. There just wasn’t anything particularly outstanding about it compared to the ones above. My biggest recommendation is to ditch the age verification barrier – a 16 year old claiming to be 90 will pass through without issue.

Lavinea

Lavinea’s site has a totally mesmerizing home page, utilizing gorgeous photos and parallax backgrounds that lead into one another. The site overall just isn’t feature-rich enough to compete with some of the others, but the home page is so pretty it deserves mention. I also have a distaste for scroll-jacking to any degree, and you’ll notice that this site scrolls differently than you expect it to.

Wildstock Wines

Wildstock Wines’s website has outstanding photography, but it’s often hard to read because of their use of that soft marigold color against the off-white background. Its design may feel a little clunky at times, but there are far worse winery websites out there.


A Growing Trend To Adpot: 360 Video & Virtual Tours

An example virtual tour of Cline Cellars

Last year was a big year for virtual and augmented reality, and the future is looking even brighter. VR gaming headsets aside, searches for terms related to 360 video and virtual tours grew considerably. In 2017 and the years ahead, it will surely continue.

Savvy wineries are beginning to incorporate virtual tours onto their websites, like Cline Cellars above. No need for a massive headset; just hop on over to their Visit page and scroll down to find a Google VR View.

Google has made it easier to incorporate a virtual tour on the web with their VR View. Keep an eye out for a post from us on how wineries can use it to have their own virtual tour.

Need A New Website For Your Winery?

All of the websites we make for our clients follow the best practices you can find in the sites above. You can view the services we offer or reach out to us to get the ball rolling.