“Your wines are grown where?” may be a question frequently heard by winery tasting room staff from their visitors. This is where our guest comes into the picture: Rachel LeRoy, founder and chief map designer at HipMapsTM, helps winery customers understand what makes each ones’ wine unique by providing visual maps of where the grapes are grown.

Guests may not understand weather patterns that are unique to a winery’s Pinot Noir vineyard near the Sonoma Coast. Other wineries may wish to highlight the age of their vines or elevation on a mountain top as an important characteristic of their wine. All of the details may become vastly simpler for winery guests to understand with the visual aid of a map depicting these features.

These visual tools may be one of several aides sales staff employ to help close the sale or persuade guests to join their wine club. Beautiful, custom maps can be yet one more tool in the marketing toolbox to reinforce a brand’s identity. They help customers better understand a winery’s offering and price points, as well as conveying key details, such as a winery’s sense of history and tradition versus streamlined, modernistic design notes.

How did Rachel end up in wine country, having grown up on a Vermont dairy farm? As she told the hosts, she’s always been intrigued by maps and globes from early childhood. Her Bachelor of Arts’ Environmental Science degree studies offered her course work in geography and (of course) mapmaking, using some early GPS-based software.

Upon graduating from the University of Virginia with her degree, Rachel eventually found herself designing and mapping vineyards in Napa Valley. Creating these technical maps showed how growers would mitigate erosion control, demonstrate sustainability measures, and simply accompany permit applications for new development with her maps.

After creating these maps for local wineries for a couple of decades, Rachel saw how valuable they could be to sales staff, providing orientation for non-local visitors to understand where vineyards were located in proximity to the tasting room. Wineries began asking her to highlight unique features on maps they felt conveyed their best qualities to customers.

Now Rachel customizes each map for clients with their logos, font, color and styling guides, and of course, the unique features of their wines, making them very HipMapsTM! (Just had to go there, sorry!) Some of her clients have even made her maps into puzzles as gifts for club members.

With the leaps in sophistication that digital maps have made in the past decade, and their simplicity of use, her maps could not be more apropos to today’s wineries and their customers. Not relegated to old-fashioned printed paper maps, Rachel’s offering now includes the HipMapsTM   app, which overlays her custom maps on GPS-generated online maps, allowing the user to orient his/her position (with a pinpoint) with correlating points on the custom map. They can connect directly to map software on smartphones to provide navigation instructions.

To learn more, listen in and visit: HipMapsTM