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Archive for the ‘california wine. california wines’ Category

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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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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.

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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.

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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”:

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

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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.

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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.

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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!

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

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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.

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Web 2.0 photo from my flickr photostream.

Additional photos courtesy of Dan Wharmby.

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