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Posts Tagged ‘social media’

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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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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Unpluged underwater!belize-photos-day-2-lisa-has-good-time1

This fall has been a whirlwind, full immersion, groundbreaking series of connections in the wine business, on-line, in social media and at conferences:

The uber-connectedness of the web world, twitter and all versions of social media has brought a phenomenal level of conversation and content into our lives and our industry.  Consumers, bloggers and businesses are looking in many directions to figure out what to do next.  So in this hectic yet powerful season I am pausing to remember what the connections are all about.  People.  And in order to fully focus on those people, I will unplug and disconnect for 8 glorious days to do just that.  I’m not sure exactly what i’ll do with all the free time;  I will certainly be diving, I will play games with my kids, and if I can find one, I may read a book!  (yep, an actual paper one :)  I’m taking advice from AriannaHuffington .  When asked at the Web 2.0 Expo keynote interview with Tim O’Reilly, “What’s the next big thing?” , that’s what she answered…unplugging and re-connecting with yourself.  Peace.

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I love an idea that can go viral.

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Or maybe it already is viral and people will now just write about it…more.  Comparative wine tastings:  The sales reps at Hahn, in particular one extremely forward thinking, brilliant and sassy New Yorker/Aussie, Shannon Marshall, (twitter @perthgirl) rep is motivating groups in the beverage industry in NYC to gather …perhaps quarterly…to “start a quarterly comparative tasting (blind?) where we have some of our wines against our competitive set…and get as many people involved in respective regions?  i.e.a group of NY distributor sales people and I meet at a lounge and taste the wines, write a few words of comment…and post our results.”  

wineglassesOther wineries on twitter connected with the bloggers’ during Hahn’s tasting Forum and said, ” Hey, I want to do that too!”.  Winery folks that were there said, “I’ll host one!” (Twisted Oak, Michel Schlumberger, and others).  And other participants, bloggers and winemakers are talking about bringing bloggers and consumers together for tastings.  Informative, educational, access to the wine maker, wine bloggers, and most importantly, a blast of an experience that heightens our experience of wine and each other.  Said beautifully on the Kilted Blog: “...the best part is – you actually bring the “social” in social media.  At the end of the day, its all fine and dandy to excel in social media in the online sense – but what really matters, down at the core of it, is being social with real human beings.

And how cool would it be to taste a flight of wines with a group of wineophiles, winemakers, vineyard managers, wine bloggers and your friends?  That, my friends, would be CRAZY fun, and there’s  so much to learn and enjoy.  Really, these people have a gift, a passion and lucky us, they want to share!  The content, the conversation, the wine experience…you don’t often get that confluence of visceral, intellectual and social high all in one event.

Photos provided courtesy of Chris Butts: The Kilted Blog.

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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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This is fast, easy,  generous and FREE!  Everywun is a new company (December 2008) that connects Social Media users and giving to make the world a better place.  Their unique format allows on-line users to click on (and share) badges from any site that supports the badge including facebook.  According to a report by the San Francisco Chronicle, “Each subsequent click on the badge by friends and visitors generates income from a corporate sponsor that has contracted with Everywun in an effort to support that charity.”    That’s it!

My badge is already on my facebook page.   Click the badge link on facebook for sponsoring corporations to donate to charity.   You can get your own badge too and choose what cause to suport.  

 

According to the San Francisco Shronicle, “There are a few sites that allow users to donate to a charity or cause without spending money. In addition to Everywun, at www.everywun.com, these include the Hunger Site at http://www.thehungersite.com, which was created to eradicate world hunger and uses clicks to generate revenue for charities, and FreeRice, at www.freerice.com, which donates 20 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program for every vocabulary question answered correctly.”  

Fascinating how social media can not only connect people, but can also be a force for change, good and positive contribution to the world.  Very cool.

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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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I’ve made some assumptions lately about this space: the blogosphere, the “internets” and social networks.  Those assumptions were that if you are here, you inherently “get” something about their value, their longevity and their impact on the paradigm shift that information, socializing and all media are currently going through right now.  I was wrong.  There are people in this space who are clearly confused, dabbling or deconstructing the value system we in this space are creating.

Social Media/Networks as applied to the wine industry have been my focus for nearly 18 months.  Essential facts and stats to base your pursuit of online presence for the wine industry (blogging, marketing or any other industry you enjoy) follow here:

There are over 200,000,000 blogs.  According to Time Magazine (Oct 13, 2007, yeah, that printed news source), social networking sites are officially more popular than porn sites.  And according to Brian Solis, Social Media “is only going to become more pervasive and as such become a critical factor in the success or failure of any business.” from The Social Media Manifesto.

Traditional Advertising and Media are enduring either a long slow death or an increasingly short, quick one.  They have been for awhile.  If you don’t already know this, you are stuck in the 20th century and haven’t been introduced to TiVo, PayPal, or facebook. Either way, traditional advertising is going the way of the dodo bird.  Whatever takes its place will be…different.

ascii-blogger-portraitsThe Blogosphere:  Blogs are becoming (and replacing) a significant portion, though not all, of our favorite printed materials including magazines, periodicals, tabloids, pamphlets, catalogs, fliers, books, letters, etc.  As such, they also have a similar range in scope, authorship, quality, purpose and audience.  Tom Wark offers an insightful statement about the status of blogging, “What once was legitimately considered a fringe endeavor should really be understood as mainstream today.”  Likewise, Steve Heimoff agrees: “But I do believe that WineDiverGirl is on to something when she says “wine bloggers are here to stay” and wineries need to engage them.”

Word of Mouth (aka WOM):  “‘Word-of-mouth’ the most powerful selling tool…78% of consumers say they trust the recommendation of other consumers.” - Nielsen, Trust in Advertising, 2007 Global Consumer Survey Report. Bloggers are part of the WOM chain online who like to talk about what they learn, what they like and what they love.

The Internet is becoming the town square for the global village of tomorrow. ” Bill Gates

Lenn Thompson offers a spark of insight here with “…just remember that every blogger blogs for a different reason. That’s their choice.” (from the comments section here.)  I don’t expect that there will be a guidebook of rules for (wine) bloggers, nor do I believe there needs to be.  The debate and conversation is healthy for our new and quickly growing industry.  And I am sure that bloggers who offer content of value (intellectual, entertainment, information or otherwise) will find readership if they choose.

I write this blog from my own independent perspective.  I currently work at a wine sales and marketing company.  I am not, however, paid or influenced in any way in regards to the content of this blog or to write this blog.  I like wine, beer, vodka and an occasional Pimm’s cup.  I am female, a mom, caucasian and have a whole slew of other influences from the Doors to Keith Olberman.  You can find out more about those influencecs here.

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You can’t explain social media, twitter, networking or online connecting to someone who has never done it and expect them to get it.  It is an experience,  kinda like a Grateful Dead concert.  (Ok, that was a strange comparison, but still apt).

Fundamentally, these are the basic principals I’ve experienced while connecting online:

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  • Be there
  • Care about your community (an idea from Gary Vaynerchuk)
  • Selling CAN NOT be your priority.
  • Participate as a real, 3-D human.  That must be your priority.
  • Don’t BS or lie: You can be clear about who you represent, but please don’t make that the only reason you are there.

You can’t just show up and tweet or blog about something you have to sell.  Just like commericals on TiVo, we’ll fast forward through those and continue on with our conversations about wine, bacon, NPR, technology, Sonoma County chocolates, …you get the idea.  Join the conversation.

Care. So many options here.  Participate in the conversation, add something interesting, valuable, conversational.  Research your community: what do they care about? What do they talk about? Caveman Wines recently posted an elegantly simple reminder to people pitching to bloggers: know your audience!  That’s caring.  Humanitas Wines cares by giving back to communities where their wine is purchased.  That’s caring.  Forget about selling and invest your time, energy and $ into caring.  That may seem counter-intuitive, but I’m telling you, it is the social business model for the 21st century.

Selling is so out.  But buying is still in…we just don’t trust advertisers any more!  Really, at all!  Reuters posted this article this week about tech companies turning to social media to reach consumers.  It said “These social networking sites harness the age-old power of the word-of-mouth recommendation and can be potent marketing tools. If nothing else, they demand a higher level of consumer engagement than conventional ads.”  Recommendations from people we know and trust is how 78% of us connect with a product we’re looking for. (from What the F**K is Social Media)  No more billboard, shouting, passive audience selling.  That’s so 20th Century.  That’s so over.

Instead, participate, have conversations, engage with groups, connect.  It will take longer, metrics may be more difficult to accumulate and measure, but you will have impact.  You will garner trust.  You will cultivate a groundswell of support for a brand that will then sell itself.  That is of course assuming you have something of high quality for a low price and more to contribute to making the world a better place.

Don’t lie.  You can’t fake this.  The scrutiny of the clan will uncover any disingenuous participants.  And they will talk about you, honestly, ruthlessly to everyone.  Ask Motrin about the internet wildfire it started with a bad idea.  Really, the internet community is savvy, meticulous, and VERY interested in the truth.  The best part is, you’ll get honesty in return.  So I hope you want to know the truth.  Either way, you’ll get it.  You’re better off if you give it.  People appreciate honesty.

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Let’s put it this way, you really aren’t in charge of your message that much any more. Reuters had this to say: “”Historically, companies have been really focused on controlling the information they disseminate … and the fact is that’s dying…“.  What that means to me is that you’d better have a great product at a great price (period)  We LOVE great stuff at great prices…and we’ll tell everyone we’re connected to about it!  And with the help of blogging, twitter, facebook, etc, that is literally hundreds of thousands of people, instantly.  The rewards will be well beyond what you imagined.

Being a fan of simple elegance, I had to offer this video in the post as well.  It is the best tool out there that comes even close to explaining twitter to someone who has no idea what the online social thing is about.  Still, I’d say just do it.

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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?

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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.

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