By Brian Richardson
When starting a website redesign, our winery clients often ask us to show them some examples of great winery websites. To some degree this is a matter of opinion, yet there certainly are some characteristics that are universally accepted as being excellent in web design. The best winery websites all share the following traits:
Use of Large, Full Screen Media: Images and video should not be restrained to small little thumbnails. Each of the following websites features large, high-quality images. Anything short of this is an injustice to the beauty of the vineyards and winery.
Mobile-Friendly: A website that displays well on mobile devices is absolutely required. A few years ago many businesses responded to this need by creating a separate mobile website to display on smaller devices. Now we have an even better option, which is one website with fluid design elements that reshape to fit any size screen. All new websites must be mobile-friendly, especially given Google’s announcement that businesses without mobile-optimized sites will be penalized in search results beginning April 2015.
Large-Screen-Friendly: Older websites are often restrained to a certain pixel width (usually 800-1000 pixels), which makes them look blocky and small on large screens. The same code structure that makes websites mobile-friendly can also make them large-screen friendly, meaning the entire browser window is filled with the website. All of the below websites display perfectly on both small and large screens.
The good news is that the wine industry is finally embracing quality website design and is moving away from the clunky, frumpy websites of yesteryear. Without further ado, here are the best winery websites (from what we’ve encountered) for 2015:
Lightfoot and Wolfville
This is an excellent example of a one-page, long-scroll website. Rather than split information out onto separate pages, most of the content is contained on the home page and accessed by scrolling down. This approach makes viewing from tablets or mobile devices extremely easy.
Beyond ease-of-use, Lightfoot & Wolfville used a variety of creative media like audio snippets and full page galleries to make an immersive, visually stunning experience. This website was developed on WordPress.
Terroir Nerds, Rejoice! The website of Rhys Vineyards puts all the emphasis on the vineyards, complete with interactive charts on climate conditions and galleries of soil samples. This more technical and scientific approach is a breath of fresh air and a fantastic resource to utilize while drinking Rhys wines.
Stoller Family Estate
Stoller’s website is chock-full of beautiful fullscreen pictures from their estate vineyard and winery. Also prominent is a fullscreen interactive map of the vineyards. There is just a classy, polished refinement throughout the site.
Custom illustrations, interesting use of parallax animation, a well-defined color scheme and a beautiful blog with interesting content make the Cambria website a standout.
Undeniably a brand marketing itself towards a younger audience, the Omero Cellars website features bold fonts, creative copy, and a long-scroll format with high quality, creative photography and illustrations. The site is designed on the excellent Squarespace Content Management System, which is our recommended platform for smaller wineries.
Domaine de la Côte
The website for Domaine de la Côte features a cinematic fullscreen video background on the landing page. Viewers on desktop devices are greeted to a video of Rajat Parr opening a bottle of wine, followed by well-shot scenes from a dinner party. It makes for an attractive and memorable design. The site is built on WordPress.
As a side-note, video backgrounds continue to make a big splash in web design. Few wineries use video backgrounds currently, but that is quickly changing. Viewers on smaller devices are not shown video backgrounds to keep page loading times down, but creative design can still give them the option to watch video (such as the case with Domaine de la Côte, where pressing play on mobile devices shows a beautifully shot video of the vineyard/proprietors/wines).
Fullscreen, high quality photographs…. At risk of sounding like a broken record, Soter does everything right with their website, starting with a wide range of full-width images to visually tell the story of their vineyards and winery. The online store is particularly impressive, with beautiful bottle shots on a minimalist and uncluttered interface. You leave feeling inspired to give them a visit, which is exactly what a winery website should do.