Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘california wine. california wines’ Category

wine20tweets

Great crowd, fantastic wines, cool mix up of technology and of course…this very social event: that was the basic recipe for Thursday’s Wine 2.0 Tasting.  The tweet-stream of the evening played high above the crowd.  Video screens and projectors with various content were in every row.  But I think my favorite part has to be the bloggers lounge.  Here, Wine 2.0 is working to set aside space for food & wine bloggers to do what they do right there at the event.  Of course no one wants to spend a whole tasting attached to their keyboard when there is wine to enjoy…but the possibility of connecting a few readers with the bloggers experience in real time, maybe some photos and a couple quick wine reviews, sounds like a great blend of technology and  current, relevant stuff.  My next hope is that consumers at the tasting have enough exposure to the bloggers at the event and have the opportunity to connect with the wine bloggers and their content.

bloggerswine201

The greatest value I see in creating a space for the bloggers at these events, in addition to acknowledging their passion and contribution to the wine loving world, is to connect them with consumers and fellow trade to increase exposure and readership.  I think the next easy step is to include links to the attending bloggers’ web sites. Their content continues to be entertaining, interesting, educational and valuable to wine consumers…and did I mention wine blogs are free?  They can help cover wines attendees weren’t able to get to or couldn’t remember.  Their coverage of the event seems to me to be an obvious way to reconnect with the wine tasting experience, the wineries and the wine bloggers who were there.

winelogshot

There are always more wine blogs to check out.  My blog roll to the right here is continually getting longer and their content keeps getting better.  There is so much variety that I’m sure you’ll find one to suit your taste.  Check out a wine blog now.

Cheers.

Read Full Post »

I like the combination of Educational Sessions for the Wine Trade, paired with Trade and/or consumer tastings the way ZAP and Wine 2.0 programmed over the last few days.   These smaller opportunities to connect and learn from other successful wineries or wine businesses is both valuable for guiding and directing our business as well as helpful and refereshing for the obvious networking opportunities.

zapwine202

Thanks to Smoke & Anitra Wallin, Abdi Humphries, and the rest of the Wine 2.0 company, I was honored to moderate a Social Media in  Marketing panel for ZAP.  Along side Joel Vincent (of Open Wine Consortium, Wine Bloggers Conference and now VinTank) and Lesley Russell (VP of Sales & Marketing DTC at St. Supery), we chatted with attendees, outlining social media practices, especially in the wine industry including visibility, ROI and authenticity online.

Two other sessions at ZAP/Wine 2.0 talked first about Compliance Issues with tools, strategies and solutions to address wine industry challenges.  The final session was led by Lesley Berglund presenting, frankly fascinating findings from a study Benchmarking Direct to Consumer/Wine Club practices.  The study  illuminated statistics outlining the best practices that the most successful wine club practitioners exercise.  It is this kind of analytical study, sharing and strategic collaboration that makes great consumer experiences wherever they happen.  Dry for most, perhaps, but I am pretty excited about conversations and learning more about new, improved and best practices across the wine industry.

And the best part?  After the focus and exchange on best practices, we all connect and share the fruits of all the labor.  Either way, isn’t that what it is all about?  I’ll be sharing the follow up information on the DTC Benchmarking Practices and Compliance links here as well when I receive them.

wineglassesWine 2.0 panel photo courtesy of Smoke Wallin.

Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

Proof of ROI in Social Media:

That’s for the boss’ bottom line.  But I think the real ROI isn’t measured by the bottom line.  The most valuable investment we all make in social networking is our time and ourselves.  Without those two things invested…and invested authentically, there is no real return.  How do you measure and put a dollar value on connecting, shared information, generating ideas, developing conversations?  I’m sure there are social scientists that will study and follow these activities and endeavor to measure the trail and where it leads.  And as soon as the numbers are in black and white, I think the measure will have already missed the essence of the most valuable return from social networking.

rshwinelist1

In this particular case, however, I have been VERY lucky to have a short, direct trail with a couple people in the chain to point to a measurable outcome.  Brian Simpson, (F & B at the Roger Smith Hotel in New York City) and Shannon Marshall,  (Northeast Divisional Manager for Hahn Family Wines ).  Through the power of social media, twitter and 12seconds.tv, Brian & I have connected & have been posting 12 second videos of the RSH daily lunch special paired with wine.  We started in early November.  By request, I connected Brian with Shannon & by early December we have the menu above :  5 wines from Hahn Family Wines by the glass with 3 more by the bottle.

For me the return is in the relationships and connections I am allowed to cultivate world-wide through social networking.  The bottom line ROI is a secondary result I am grateful for…but not my primary pursuit.  The connections are.  Which brings me back to wine.  I feel the same way about sharing a bottle with someone.  Happy New Year everyone.  Cheers.

wine_toast1

Read Full Post »

A couple very brief  points based on our conversations at the first Bloggers Tasting Forum and on comments posted since  (We hope you and many other bloggers will join us next time, 1WineDude; the Forum is completely open). 

It is essential that we connect blogs, bloggers, and the conversation happening on-line to the greater wine loving public.  The folks that aren’t interested in paying for or even picking up a mainstream wine magazine because it doesn’t connect with them…but ARE looking for something else, something interesting, something witty, educational, true, accessible, different, bizarre, fun, passionate, joyful, engaging.  Judd Wallenbrock (Humanitas Wines and Michel Schlumberger) said it beautifully here:  “My experience to date is that bloggers tend to evaluate and write about a particular winery, one at a time, rather than a cattle call of wines. To me, this is a deeper, more intimate evaluation of the brand, not just the wines. ” 

Blogging is already more than we ever could have imagined and I would bet it will continue on this trajectory to places we still can’t imagine.  Isn’t that the edge, the treat, the pleasure we all get from reading blogs?  The understanding that no one has really bought these blogs and anything might be said, anything might happen based on the sometimes radical ideas and conversations that happen here?  So as Caveman said: Post Early, Post Often.  And engage one new reader a day, or per week or how ever you can.  But connect the non-digital folks to something they are missing but didn’t know they were looking for.

Thanks Mutineer for doing that in your third issue here. “Blogs You Should Be Reading”:

issue3_cover_gary_vaynerchuk

Read Full Post »

Sure.  Why not?  Our goals may be different, but our passion for wine is shared.

btf1

Yesterday Hahn Family Wines hosted the first ever Bloggers Tasting Forum at their offices in Napa.  (disclosure: I work for Hahn, but do not write this blog as part of my employment for them.)  Bloggers, winemakers, winery Presidents, winery owners, a journalist, a filmaker, a Director of Vineyard Operations,  and a PhD candidate studying bloggers were all in attendance.  There were also wine lovers who create content either via podcasts, (Vintuba.com) or a wine search engine (1,000 Corks).  Most folks were from the bay area, but some came from as far as Los Angeles, Tennessee, and Washington state.  The goals:  1.  To taste some of Hahn’s finest examples of Santa Lucia Highlands terroir, learn a bit about the AVA and each other.  2. Continue the conversation about wine bloggers and wineries working together.  How could that work?  To what end?  And how do bloggers and wineries manage credibility and integrity in exploration of the Wine World 2.0 experience.

andybtf

The variety of guests made for a fascinating and significant conversation.  Here’s what I took away from the event at first blush:

  • We’d like to host the Blogger Tasting Forum regularly, maybe quarterly. And perhaps at different wineries.
  • The variety and inclusive nature of attendees was essential to the chemistry in the room.  People from 3 guest wineries were there.  We poured from 2 who brought their wines: Twisted Oak, and Pianetta.  I wish Judd had brought Humanitas and Schlumberger.
  • There are absolutely a number of opportunities for bloggers and winereies to work together in ways totally appropriate and in ways that add tremendous value to the consumers experience, the bloggers experience and the wineries’ business.
  • The shift of influence in the wine world from old print media to new on-line media, especially in the form of blogs with character, variety and accessibility to the variety of wine lovers out there is essential to the success of a growing wine industry.  I can’t overstate this enough.  Those born digital are a massive, significant segment not just of the on-line world, but re-creating the on-line world.
  • Anything wineries can do to contribute to wine bloggers readership will help the wine industry in general and wineries and bloggers in specific.  It is the best, most interesting and direct access between wineries and consumers to cultivate conversations.  The more the better.
  • Anything bloggers can do to cultivate relationships with restaurants, wine bars, and their wine buyers to participate in their blog conversations and/or connect with the restaurant/wine bar blog could also have a great impact on the winery, blogger, consumer conversation.  Those wine directors and sommeliers are the influencers we’d love to have join the conversation more often.  They make the decisions about which wines appear on the wine lists.  Bloggers:  if you have them contributing to your blog conversations, wineries and many segments of the industry will absolutely HAVE to follow along, or get left in the dust.

btf10

The questions that remain are many:

  1. How do you measure the value, i.e. the bottom line, for how a blogger can positively influence your wineries’ business?
  2. What is in it for the blogger?  Readership?  Wine? Consulting/writing fee?  Access to their subject?
  3. What does the wine consumer and wine blog reader gain by this collaboration?
  4. Is it enough to maintain your own integrity if you disclose the nature of the relationship between the business and the blogger?
  5. Another important question, squarely in the laps of bloggers, was so well put by Joe Roberts from 1WineDude:   “Heaven knows I’ve got no problem whatsoever being courted by winemakers, PR contacts, or the wine media in general (in fact, my view is that it’s about time this has happened). The trick is maintaining the willpower to keep a unique, individual, and (hopefully) credibly opinionated voice as a blogger while the “courting” ramps up.

Based on what Bill Leigon, President of Hahn, Adam LaZarre, winemaker and Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations had to say yesterday, yes, Hahn wants to sell more wine: AND, “…we all have a passion for wine, we’re interested in educating people about our wines, our Central Coast wine region, our winemaking practices.”  And frankly, in the new media world that is 2.0, it is more possible to have a far reaching, diverse, informed conversation with more people without filters more than ever before.

So to the evolution of the conversation, in person, on-line and over a glass of wine.

Cheers!

btf2b

Photos provided courtesy of Thea Dwelle and Lisa Adams-Walter and Chris Butts.

Read Full Post »

2986846355_e3b8d8f2c6_bThe Wine World is not quite all in on the 2.0 part of social networking, connecting and the blogosphere.  But soon, they will be.  No, I don’t have a date for when that will happen.  I have heard respected wine industry professionals suggest that when it comes to online technology, the wine industry is anywhere from 2 years to 10 years behind the rest of businesses.  So we watch and learn what the tech pioneers do in this space as we position ourselves to engage and develop the community for the wine world 2.0.

Technology and communication online are not the slam dunk tools or obvious replacements for anything in our industry, yet.  I frequently forget, (operating in this space for hours a day) that many people are only answering e-mail and maybe making purchases online and that’s it …so far.  And this time lag (between industry scouts and the general public)  is what gives us an opportunity to define best practices, connections and modus operandi.  Meanwhile, I have been suggesting wineries take advantage of the bloggosphere, the talent and passion of the people writing here and listen and learn from them.  I believe there is a valuable exchange between the wineries and bloggers for the benefit of consumers; Brian Solis articulates why this may be applied to the wine industry here: Monologue has given way to dialog. Social media has created a new layer of influencers. It is the understanding of the role people play in the process of not only reading and disseminating information, but also how they in turn, share and also create content for others to participate. This, and only this, allows us to truly grasp the future of communications.”1111734161_beadef031a_o

So what might that look like?  I think it looks like bridging the connection between wineries and the average consumer, personalizing the wine experience, including MORE people in the conversations we have.  I think that bloggers can help wineries do that so that a majority of the wine drinking public have that bottle of wine every night, share wine by bringing it to their friends’ or neighbors’ homes for dinner and talk about the experience that brings us together.  We want them to think of wine as a primary part of their dining experience, not an afterthought.  I think that means engaging them.  I think bloggers do that.  Whatever your style or content preferences, wine bloggers offer a variety of humor, entertainment, education, information, reviews, opinions, etc.

That’s why I think starting with conversations with bloggers, listening, and looking for ways beyond old media to reach out to the consumers is of tremendous value to wineries, consumers and the bloggosphere.  It’s not as great a leap as some make it out to be.  It is happening in business and across industries now, as reported by Guy Kawasaki in the Razorfish Report, posted on the OWC page by Joel Vincent.

Heck, even beyond the savvy wineries with blogs, web sites, and twitter accounts who are listening (or engaging their community), including Twisted Oak, Michel Schlumberger, Sacre Bleu, St. Supery, the most exciting thing I find from these wineries is that there are people who care behind the technology.  And let’s not forget, that more than anything, whatever the technology, social media, i-phones, BlackBerries,  or whatever comes along, it is about connecting …authentically.

277966493_e5be138c70_o1

Web 2.0 photo from my flickr photostream.

Additional photos courtesy of Dan Wharmby.

Read Full Post »

We (as in bloggers and whom ever wishes to join us), are hosting conversations.  Some of those topics include wine preferences, wine making practices, sustainability, sales & marketing, industry trends, Web 2.0 wine start-ups, …you get the idea.  The scope of topics and writers run far and wide. The blogs I’ve read are pretty clear who they are, what they are about and where they are coming from.  I appreciate transparency.  For example, I work for Hahn Family Wines as the New Media Marketing Director.  And this blog is NOT part of that purview.  Is there overlap, yes.  But ultimately, I say exactly what I think, believe and know to be true from my perspective to engage and have a conversation.  The purpose of this conversation is to connect bloggers, wineries and consumers in new, beneficial ways for all wine lovers.  (ok, fine, I live in my own little wine-soaked utopia, cheers.)

2daysperbottleI love this blog: 2 Days Per Bottle.  Just the wooden man, pics, review policy and music make me smile.  But my favorite is his recommendation for Thanksgiving wine: “ Step One- DRINK WHAT YOU LIKE AND STOP MAKING SUCH A BIG DEAL ABOUT IT!!! FOR PETE’S SAKE, IT’S SUPPOSED TO BE FUN!!!”  Yup.  So you know when people start getting too serious about this stuff they either need to take a step back or find a good shag.  Honestly, it’s wine.

So what?  So I’m interested in bring new ideas, engaging experiments and thoughtful progress to the conversation.  Currently I think most of the printed establishment on wine is stilted, overly serious and pompous.  Let’s put it this way: Most Wine Bloggers are not press or journalists (let’s go with in the traditional sense).  Wine bloggers journal their OWN perspective.  There’s nothing objective about it.  Ok, some try to offer objectivity, but you’ll have to figure out what that means to each individual blogger, IF that’s important to you. Some have clearly defined policies or ethics guidelines.  Great, it is always valuable to know where people are coming from and what they’re about when you engage them in the conversation.  There are some great winery blogs as well.  So SOME bloggers are press/journalists from before the era of blogging.  Some bloggers consider themselves journalists online and adhere to the same ethics as traditional print/TV journalists, and some bloggers are “*other*” as 1WineDude says.

winesherpaSo my point is that there is no one point.  Bloggers, wine-bloggers are basically wineophile anarchist writers.  They have passion, brains, joie de vivre, and a direction if not a calling to talk to people about this passion via their blog, but they are not a homogenized bunch.  And they don’t have to do anything they don’t want to.  That independence is a beautiful thing.  Applause for the wild, forward thinking, experimental, wine loving population and all their drive to journal, blog and post about it.  They add value to the conversation, the wine world, and to wine consumers savvy enough to find their unique voices.

Not all of my ideas are great, but idea generating is essential.  I’m going out on a limb and agreeing with Seth Godin on this one.   Ideas=fuel for the conversation.  Glad to have you all part of it.  Particularly if you can add something.

Wooden Men image courtesy of 2 Days Per Bottle

Wine Sherpa image courtesy of The Winehiker: Russ Beebe

Read Full Post »

I believe wineries and bloggers have a LOT to offer each other.  And together they have so much to offer consumers.  So I’m looking for all the ways wineries and bloggers are currently connected (if at all) and new and improved ways for them to evangelize the beautiful power of wine.  2984691767_d77379b462_m

There are bloggers who are paid to write for wineries.  Many wineries are savvy enough to reach out to bloggers and invite them for tastings or send them wine samples to review and blog about.  Some event producers are offering dramatically reduced rates for bloggers to participate;  sometimes it is the wineries’ sponsorships that afford that economic arrangement (think Wine Bloggers Conference or Wine 2.0 events).  And I’m just starting to hear about (and host) Bloggers Tasting Forums with wineries.

The Bloggers Tasting Forum is an opportunity for bloggers and wineries to sit down together, taste wines, get access to vineyard managers and winemakers and have conversation about, well, wine, the industry and the passions they share.  I’m hosting one such event in early December (DM/e-mail  me if you’d like to come and are a food or wine blogger) looking for opportunities to work together and add value to our wine experience and share that with (nay, convert others) who are interested in wine.wine_small_2

Other possibilities I see for wineries and bloggers to come together?  Host a guest blogger for a month: either pay them or the charity of their choice for them to write about your winery, winemaker, wine, vineyards, etc.  Events:  sponsor or offer scholarships to various wine tasting events to help bloggers get there.  Host a guest blogger to pour in your tasting room for a day.  Ok, this may be a strange one, but especially if there are winery tours available, what an amazing way for a blogger to learn and connect with the company/family and your consumers for a day.  Kind of like an exchange program. (no, you wouldn’t write for their blog :)  Include bloggers in focused research or think-tank like conversations about planning your year, events, marketing.  Again, maybe a stretch, but I think they offer expertise in areas we can lose sight of from inside the winery operations.  And they will know consumers better than almost anyone…because they are the wine industry’s BEST consumers.

2985557684_918a6e22cd

Wineries are already jumping in, but we’re at the beginning of the Wine/Web 2.0 Convergence.

What do you think?

How do you see wineries and bloggers working together for everyone’s benefit?


People Photos courtesy of Russ Beebe THE WineHiker

Wine photo from Google Images

Read Full Post »

Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Jeff Stai: Winery Proprietor, Blogger, 21st Century Wine Man

Are you a winery for bloggers? That means you support, acknowledge and encourage bloggers to engage with your winery.  How many blogs do you subscribe to? Talk about? Do you know any bloggers by name? Face?  I think I’m starting a new campaign, a regular post about Wineries for Bloggers.  Wineries that acknowledge and support the work of wine bloggers will also be recognized and appreciated for their forward thinking, progressive business acumen and twenty-first century-ness.  Wineries that put Social Media to use are leaders in the wine industry and will be noted.

I’ve been polling bloggers about what they want from wineries for the wine industry.  It was an informal poll via e-mail, twitter, conversations, and blogs. (I’m no Nate Silver www.fivethirtyeight.com, hence, informal poll) While I currently work for Hahn Family Wines, I publish this blog separately, outside of my work there.  (in essence, I sometimes feel like I straddle both worlds, the wine marketer and the DIY blogger.)

Bloggers’ requests are pretty obvious and seem so simple considering their influence, passion and dedication to their work.  Which brings me to another point:  So many wine bloggers do it for love.  Blogging likely doesn’t qualify even as a second job and most are lucky if their costs are covered by ads or supplemental support.  There is a LOT of discussion going on about credibility in their industry, thanks to the first ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference, and that conversation will continue I’m sure.  Rest assured, bloggers are not “bought” and are careful to reflect honestly their tastes, interests and values.  They are a fun, educated, decent bunch of people we should all be so lucky to call friends.

Back to the question at hand:  How can wineries contribute to the wine blogging part of our industry?

Here’s what bloggers said: 2996275573_806732a3cb

Wine Bloggers want acknowledgement, appreciation, respect.  Frankly, many wine bloggers are as influential as any press, newspaper or print media when it comes to wine.  They should have similar access, special blogger tasting forums, events, passes, discounts and wineries that are proactive in reaching out to them.  But that means you have to know them.  This is wine marketing and social media at its finest.  Twentieth century marketing as Marta Kagen put it was “The old communication model…a monologue.”  Social Networking is the new communication model which is, she says, “…a dialogue.”  The numbers that back up this assertion are ridiculous, as in overwhelming, in support of a new model.  (see What the F**K is Social Media)  By all means, approach bloggers to come join you, but get to know who they are and what their blog is about.  And if bloggers are coming to you, wineries, they are passionate about the industry and what you do, say yes!  Can you spare your winemaker for 5 or 10 minutes? Or maybe the Vineyard Manager?  Say “yes!” Anyone who is invested in the story, the vineyards and the juice.  Welcome the wine bloggers.  Understand that most wine bloggers will likely know more than your average tasting room employee.  Maybe not about your brand, but about a diverse cross section of the wine world in general.

Look, even if they don’t LOVE your wine, they’ll appreciate your courtesy, customer service and other merits.  Wine is such a personal and varied product.  And wine bloggers are here to stay.  The most recent count has the number of wine blogs near 1,000 world wide.  I believe audiences will sort the quality, humor and content for themselves.  Bloggers that aren’t meeting standards just won’t last.  The internet is an ultimate democracy;  yes, access is fairly easy, but those with influence have something valuable to say, to contribute and possibly they have a good editor.

My recommendation to wineries is to start reading wine blogs.  Subscribe, engage, connect.  “In 2008, if you’re not on a social networking site, you’re not on the internet.” (from What the F**K is Social Media)  You’ll have to catch up someday.  Wineries that don’t know any better will learn the hard way.  Wine brings people together and so does social networking.  There is a perfect convergence of populations here;  One where wineries, bloggers and wine consumers win.

Are you a winery that supports the blogging industry?

2997189016_3d1b03b74b_m

Thanks to the following bloggers/twitterati for contributing to the conversation: @winebratsf, @juicecowboy, @sonadora, @winequester, @jugshop, @alexlewis, @scaldron, and many others across the bloggosphere.  Thank you for your contribution to the wine world.

And special thanks to Ward Kadel and Megan Kenney for sharing their Wine Blogger Conference photos.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.