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Archive for January, 2009

zap1Good Eats and Zin on Thursday night gave me another opportunity to enjoy my work while NOT sitting at my desk.  Likewise I met a few new bloggers, tweeters and winemakers.  Some favorites of the evening include winemaker Doug Hackett from Dogwood Cellars, chef, owner, Greg Cole from Napa’s Celadon, tweeters: @theBeerWench, @robin_g and @luvschandon.  These meetings and events are the reason Social Media is a complete and total redemption for computer technology.  Far from separating and isolating, this tech is bringing people and ideas together in exciting ways.

While I participated in 2 of the 3 days of ZAP, including attending 3 interesting wine industry “best-practices” sessions on e-commerce, social media and direct to consumer business, I will miss the consumer tasting where wine 2.0 will host a bloggers lounge.  In a designated area at the tasting, bloggers will be able to blog and tweet with free internet access.  I must say, I am very much looking forward to those blog posts.

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I’ll have more follow up on the sessions including the social media session I moderated with 2 impressive experts I asked to be on the panel:  Lesley Russell, Vice President of Sales & Marketing, DTC for St. Supery and Joel Vincent, founder of OWC, producer of WBC and co-founder of VinTank.  Stay tuned…it’s been a week!

Cheers!

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I can’t exactly explain it, but when I find myself surrounded by talented, passionate people I am giddy with excitement and anticipation.  That’s how I feel about Layla Fanucci and her Exhibit opening in New York City on February 7, 2009.  This exhibit is all about New York and her “vision of their city”, said Ms. Fanucci.   Her work is intensely passionate, bold and captivating.  Layla Fanucci opens at the Walter Wickiser Gallery a prestigious Fine Art Gallery in Chelsea.  Layla is as warm and joyful in person to meet as her work is intense.  Her smile is as warm as the sun.  I’ll stop there lest I gush too much.  Go see her work.  Meet Ms. Fanucci at the opening.  (oh, and she makes a killer espresso, roasting the beans herself!)

layla-fanucci016-331Walter Wiskiser was born and raised in the American art world,  son of artist and art educator Ralph Wickiser.   His friendship at an early age with the Milton Avery and Yasuo Kuniyoshi families provided a special mentoring and education has proved very beneficial to his career as an art dealer.

After the Wickiser Gallery Exhibit, Layla will have a museum exhibit in North Carolina and then a 3 month museum exhibit in Marraketch, Morrocco.  The important thing is…go SEE her, the work, New York City, and people filled with talent and passion wherever you can find them!

Cheers.

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Photos courtesy of Layla Fanucci.

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New Media in Politics

The campaign for change and hope is done.  It was successfully executed and the Obama Administration is now transitioning into the work for change and hope.  There is no doubt anywhere that social media played a critical role in Obama’s win.  One more place that change has come is the web presence for our federal government.  I know I’m preaching to the choir and we’re all pretty excited that the web/tech medium is finding its way, its audience, its voice.

What’s more is that the White House web site is not just a super sleek, updated resource for information, it is also an appeal for interaction.  That’s the keystone for social media, connection, participation, listening.  Check out Mr. Owyang’s write up on the government’s foray into social mediaFacebook Connect is another way to transmigrate information/news stories and web presence to multiple places.  CNN did that with Facebook on inauguration day.

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It is awesome to watch social media permeate the mainstream…like wildfire.  Share, Share, Share.  And raise a glass of wine for 2009;  then send your friends and family someone’s wine blog post you enjoyed!

Image courtesy of Julia Roy’s Blog.

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The Swanky Cocktail

I like some swank once in a while.  Sometimes through a touch of Antonio Jobim and Brazilian jazz, or the style of a martini glass, or the breeze through a palm tree, or Diana Krall…and my regular ritual in honor of swank is the Pimm’s Cup.  Thanks, Greg Cole of Napa’s classic, brilliant restaurant, Celadon.

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The Pimm’s Cup is to Wimbledon for the Brits what the Mint Julep is to our Kentucky Derby.  It was created by an English oyster bar owner in the 1820’s named James Pimm.  I’m most familiar with Pimm’s No. 1, the gin based fruit and spice infused liqueur, though if you are resourceful, I understand you can get Pimms No. 3 (brandy based) and No. 6 (vodka based) from the U.K.  There are several variations bartenders make with Pimm’s No. 1 the simplest version being 1/2 Pimm’s, 1/2 ginger ale, on the rocks with a cucumber garnish…and/or you can add mint, lime, a splash of lemon juice, an orange wedge and so on.  It is a drink so refreshing and delicious you’ll experience love at first sip.  And, with the alcohol at 25%, it is a good deal lower than other spirit cocktails…so I can go the distance at longer events with a Pimm’s.  The refreshing ginger ale, ice and fruit makes it perfect as early a noon;  that alone makes it a winner outright.

So in addition to wine evangelist, I have this niche passion for the Pimm’s Cup that I am compelled to share.  It is as fun to experiment at home as it is to find a new bartender’s version for the cocktail.  This weekend I sat with a friend who has a new passion for rum drinks…it is for work purposes so it is part of his research.  I have offered my palate for the rum experiments looking toward the next taste of swank.  All results will certainly be shared here.

Cheers!

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Depends on your purpose.  Though I am hooked, what can hyper-connectivity do to add value to my life and, indeed, to the lives of mainstream America (and beyond) without making us a bunch of glow-y faced screen junkies?  There’s no formula…at least I couldn’t work by one, but I find myself missing twitter, the web and my 12Seconds if I’m gone from it for more that 2 days. (ok, 2 hours!)  And one basic rule I try to have is to be with the person in front of me…first.  So I try not to answer my cell phone, tweet relentlessly, and browse online or through my Storm while having lunch with someone.  Am I always successful…no.  I am a notorious time-stacker/multi-tasker.  But being with the person in front of me is important.  In fact, that moment may be WHY social media is so valuable…to create MORE of those moments together, in person!

nyeveThat’s me pictured twittering with my tweeples on New Year’s Eve.  I may have sent a dozen tweets or less focusing on my San Francisco bar & grill crawl, and my amazing, sassy friend Cortney.  But I was also missing sharing the New Year moment with all the tweeters I’ve developed a connection with over the past months.  The people in the twitterverse have become my friends, business associates, information gatherers, readers, and general resource for all things tech, wine, life.

The enthusiasm, freshness and candor with which they communicate is, well, refreshing!  So while we struggle with ROI, metrics, and the new world of online connectivity, what are we trading off?  Are the interpersonal moments sacrificed?  Is our culture heading further into short-attention-span-affliction?  And will all depth in connection be lost?

It is another point to balance as we continue to seek the work-life balance, let’s add to that the online-offline balance.

Do you have rules about your connectivity?  If you live by your phone/PDA as I do, have you noticed a decrease in quality when you hang out with your friends and family as they split their focus between you and their device?  I always think it rude that another restaurant patron will let their cell ring on end in the restaurant…I don’t really want to hear whatever their ringtone of the month happens to be!  I especially don’t want to hear 1/2 (or any) of their conversation.  Does anyone else worry about tech ettiquette?

Photo courtesy of Cortney’s i-phone, Jan 31, 2008.

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Conversation among wine industryprofessionals, marketing strategists and wine bloggers this week includes talking about some kind of Wine Blogger Certification, or a standard that ends up with a Seal of Approval in order to quickly and easily provide bloggers access to events, wineries, industry programming and so on.  I can see why some business people might seek such a …label, but I wonder about a simplified structure and I have many questions about how, why, wherefore.

The very counter-culture nature of blogging defies this kind of labeling and classification.  The bloggoshpere is the untamed frontier and an exciting place to find opinions, stories and recommendations. I have certainly heard people post that “some bloggers just want free (stuff) wine”.  But as I have spent some time reading wine blogs and actually spent time with the wine bloggers themselves, it is not an easy (usually unpaid) job to wine blog.  Any level of credibility or readership is hard earned and maintained by a level of quality, personality and humor.

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I have been a regular advocate for blogger access to the wine industry in the same way we grant access to traditional media and press.  Wine bloggers have an outreach that can potentially go deeper and beyond traditional print media…at least in the wine industry.  Just recently Hahn Estates hosted the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and ZAP will have a sponsored Bloggers Lounge offering bloggers free access to the 2 day event.  So far, these beginnings have suggested tremendous success in blogger/wine industry relationship building.   The expectation is that this access will directly benefit not just bloggers and wineries, but the consumers.  With greater access to information, recommendations and outreach, we aim to convert more people into wine lovers everywhere.

So, how would you classify bloggers?  They are a complex and various group of wineophiles from all over the world.   The current count is over 1,000 wine blogs and growing.  How would you define which ones get credentials for the wine events and which ones don’t?

  • By Readership?
  • Quality of writing?
  • Their own level of wine education?

And what if the wine blogger…a really great one…isn’t interested in the credential?  Most of the wine bloggers I have met are stunningly smart and busy with day jobs, families, hobbies and fully packed lives.  And as I have said before, they do their wine blog strictly for the passion of it.  The Wine Bloggosphere is better off because of them.  I would hate to see them squeezed out by beaucracy or obstacles that have less to do with a passion for wine and more to do with sorting that helps marketers achieve ROI.

What are your thoughts?

Graphic courtesy of Google Images.

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This press release is from the ZAP/Wine 2.0 Tasting.

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Wine 2.0, the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry (www.winetwo.com) and ZAP, Zinfandel Advocates & Producers (an organization of Zinfandel wineries and Zinfandel consumer enthusiasts, http://www.zinworld.org and http://www.zinfandel.org), invites you to participate in “Winery Best Practices,” an education session on January 30, 2009 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco and the “Bloggers’ Lounge” at the tasting on January 31, also at Ft. Mason.


The seminar has three sessions:
1. Winery eCommerce: 12:00-12:45 pm – A panel moderated by Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant on best practices and new tools for e-commerce success in 2009.

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2. Winery Social Networking: 1:00-1:45 pm – A panel moderated by Lisa De Bruin of Hahn Family Winery with lessons on best practices for social networking in the year ahead.

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3. Building a Great Consumer Direct Organization: 2:00-2:45 pm – A presentation by Lesley Berglund of WISE Academy on best practices in direct-to-consumer programs with lessons learned from industry research covering the past 18 months.

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Sessions will run for 45 minutes each (with a 15 minute break between sessions) starting at 12 noon on January 30 in the Building “D” Theater at Ft. Mason. Up to 300 winery professionals are expected to attend. 40% of ticketing proceeds go towards ZAP’s Education Programs.

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When: January 30-31
Sessions: First session kicks off at 12:00 pm January 30th
Bloggers Circle: 10:00 am – 5:00 pm January 31st
Where: Fort Mason Center Bldg. D San Francisco, CA 94123
Ticket Price: Each Session, $35 (can be purchased individually)

All inclusive, $90 (almost 15% savings)


Order Tickets: www.winetwo.eventbrite.com

Wine 2.0 and ZAP are also sponsoring the first “Bloggers’ Lounge” at the ZAP Tasting on January 31, in conjunction with Wine 2.0 Cornerstone Sponsor Hahn Family Winery. The Bloggers’ Lounge is a living room style Wi-Fi lounge for online writers to sample wines from the several hundred Zinfandel wineries participating at ZAP’s annual event. Bloggers will be able to create and upload real-time tasting notes for their blogging and twittering readership. There will be two Bloggers’ Lounges, one each at the far end of the piers in the Herbst and Festival Pavilions, beginning at 10:00 am and extending through 5:00 pm.

To participate in the Bloggers Lounge, e-mail your RSVP with contact information to abdi@winetwo.com.

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I don’t know where it came from, but I am compelled to write in praise of our sense of smell.  Since my first pregnancy, my sensitivity to odors has increased exponentially (and that was a LONG time ago).  Of course in the wine industry, we often start enjoying the wine via olfaction…mmmmmm.  There nothing like a great nose on the wine.

wine_tasting_graphicSome interesting things about our sense of smell:  According to wikipedia, it is our accessory olfactory system (as opposed to the main olfactory system) that smells the fluid-phase chemicals.  How that gets translated in our brain is the stimulus, instead of going to the cortex, goes to the amygdala and hypothalamus.  The amygdala, you may remember from high school or college bio, primarily processes memory and emotional reactions.  The hypothalamus controls hunger, thirst, anger, fear, sleep cycles, some hormones, etc.

You know the moment when you smell a great wine or an amazing dish cooking either at home or in a restaurant there are some magnificent automatic responses:  I instantly smile, without even thinking about it.  But I know I am about to eat or drink whatever has reached out and stimulated my sense of smell.  Wow.  Sometimes I salivate in anticipation, and I can’t help be feel elevated, even bouyant.  Ok, obvious, but still homage-worthy.

  • Dogs, according to wikipedia, for example, have about 100 times more receptors for smell per centimeter than do humans.
  • In women, the olfaction sense is strongest around ovulation.
  • “As of yet, there is no theory that explains olfactory perception completely.” (wikipedia)

That fascinates me…something that seems as simple as our sense of smell, science can’t figure out!  And I love that the parts of the brain that translates the nose of a wine taps into our emotional and our base needs.  That, at least seems to make perfect sense! Then you add time and context to all the variables and we bascially have more wine to taste, smell and enjoy than we have time in which to do it.  That’s another reason I can go back to some of my favorite bottles of wine or sparkling over and over again.  It could be the person I’m with, or maybe a regular day that has brought me to another great bottle of wine.  It will feel, smell and taste a little differently every time.

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grapesrbeebe1If you love wine as much as I do, wine blogs are the best reading out there on the subject… and they are FREE!  The variety, depth of knowlegde, wines tasted and reviewed, wine events, images, humor and scope of topics covered in the nearly 1,000 wine blogs world wide have something to offer everyone.  And the wine blog writers?  They write about wine because they love it.  They have a passion for all things wine.   Wine Bloggers are getting more access to wineries and winemakers, conferences and social sites (thank you Joel Vincent) are growing at breakneck pace.  Then there’s Wine 2.0,  “the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry“, Mutineer Magazine, a fascinating, independent publication on all things beverage.  And MANY more wine sites online and beyond.  Is there a local wine bar in your neighborhood?

As this segment of our industry grows and finds their niche, I think their readership will likewise find them in 2009.  But how?  It has to be classic word of mouth.  Fortunately, there’s nothing quite as powerful as word of mouth.  As we all work a little harder and wade through the contraction of our world economy in 2009, it is up to us to share the (free) resources online with our friends and family.  That might include teaching them about RSS feeds, subscribing to a blog, commenting on a blog or even shopping online.  

Mutineer Magazine did a great spread called “Blogs You Should Be Reading” in their latest issue.  Hahn is hosting regular Bloggers Tasting Forums, and other wineries will be doing the same in ’09.  The Wine Bloggers Conference, after a Sold Out weekend last October, will likely be planning for an even bigger event in ’09.  And the Wine 2.0 calendar looks poised to make significant connections throughout the wine world and perhaps beyond.  

Whatever series of resources you find to spread the word about your favorite blog (and your own blog as well), reaching beyond todays readership to access tomorrow’s wine blog reader is the next step in our evolultion.  Perhaps wineries will take the risk of posting a wine blog roll?  And maybe the old wine media might reach beyond their top 100 blogs list to find the depth, vitality and diversity in the other 90% of wine blogs written around the world?  And maybe we’ll find the tipping point in readership that the quality and passion of your content deserves.  

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Photos courtesy of Russ Beebe: The Wine Hiker.

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