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Archive for April, 2009

grape-vine-planting

IF you thought you knew what the Bloggers Tasting Forums were all about, you may be surprised by the next in a series of Blogger/Winery meet ups.   Next month Hahn Estates is dedicating approximately 1.6 acres as “The Bloggers Block”.  The prime vineyard in the Santa Lucia Highlands appellation will be planted throughout May.  Bloggers attending the Tasting & Planting Forum in May will also plant their own vine in the Bloggers Block.  The opportunity to learn, explore and share wine experiences I believe not only adds to our wine-ophilia, but more than almost any product, wine brings people together to learn, share and explore more.

Some thoughts from Bill Leigon, President of Hahn Family Wines on creating the Bloggers Block (which I hope will aka “Writers Block”).    Here Mr. Leigon talks about how the Bloggers Block came about:

We had done a special incentive trip for our distributors a few years ago where the winners came to CA and got to plant their own PN vine with a plaque on it.  In addition there has long been a history of certain wineries allowing consumers (usually wine club members) to “own” a vine.  They join the club and buy a case of wine from their vine.  One day while talking to Andy he mentioned that we had 1.6 acres or so on the knolls in Smith Vineyard that we could plant.  In our interactions with the blogging community I learned that they are wine savvy and very interested in learning about wine.  Great wines start in the vineyard.  What better way to learn than to help plant a vine, take part in the process and follow the development of your vine over time.

This Bloggers Forum will be Hahn’s second such blogger event.  Other wineries (St. Supery) have followed suit hosting bloggers for information and education and sharing.  A few more thoughts from Bill Leigon:

p70400461Thus we are not selling anybody anything and I thought this would be a great way to enhance our outreach while providing a valuable educational experience.  I believe that the blogging community is a vital part of the future of the industry.  In the many debates of what is or isn’t ethical in regards to the winery/wine blogger relationship what seems clear to me is that the best, most ethical thing we as a winery can do is provide the blogging community with quality products, quality information and quality wine experiences regardless of race, sex, color, creed or brand of wine.  We are using our vineyards because that’s who we are.  I believe that the more the blogging community learns about wine, the better it is for all of us.

Bill Leigon gets wine and he also really gets social media:

It is a vital connection; just like the winery/wine writer connection; the winery/wine buyer connection; and of course the winery/consumer connection.  It does us no good to create great wines if no one knows about it.  I just can’t drink that much.  The wine business is a relationship business.  We must create an emotional connection to our consumers.  We do that through many means and I believe Social Media is a major part of creating that connection.

hahn-n-glasses2When I was a young salesman starting out I received advice that I have never forgotten.  The VP of Dreyfus-Ashby said to me, “Bill, the wine business is a relationship business.  You sell one bottle of wine to one person, one at a time.”  I didn’t know what he meant then, but I learned over time.  The internet and Social Media allow you to do that only it accelerates the number of people you can reach to a degree that I can’t even comprehend.  It allows me to establish a relationship and an emotional connection to someone in Germany that I have never met face to face.  It allows me to create connections with multiple people in multiple countries simultaneously and in a very personal way.

Yep, pretty much.

Cheers.

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licking-dogs2

Who doesn’t love a big wet sloppy kiss every now and then?  Oh good grief:  perhaps it is a wild frontier in the wine industry with the emergence of Web 2.0.  It isn’t easy trying to figure out where wine industry, wine/web 2.0 companies and wine bloggers all fit in together and how they fit together.  But no one can deny the direction and the trend toward web 2.0 participation in social networking, wine consumers and wine technology businesses.  Yes, I’ve covered parts of this topic before (Wineries and Bloggers).  And there is something to add to this conversation based on recent blows, insults and online conversations between old media and wine bloggers.

Frankly, I’d like to see wineries sponsor wine bloggers to get to the WBC.   I may end up in hot water for saying this, but I believe the community will benefit if the experienced, contributing, talented bloggers are in the room (and not just the ones who can afford to be there).  And why not?  Why shouldn’t the wine industry invest in the blogging industry as a whole. It certainly isn’t going anywhere.  Do we want honesty?  Sure.  Transparency?  Of course.   So let’s set it up that way.  We’ll need the voices of capable, committed of bloggers (or blobbers) with talent and integrity.  Fortunately, I don’t think it will be too hard to find those wine bloggers.

The last paragraph was an excerpt from a comment I posted on DirtySouthWine ‘s blog.  I continue to think there is value in wineries and bloggers  working together to increase the flow of information, education and all that is extraordinary about the wine experience to consumers and anyone passionate about wine.  Initially I approached Joel Vincent regarding a winery funded sponsorship for bloggers to attend the WBC.  Unfortunately, resources (human, time) were in short supply to make it happen this year.  Alternately, wineries could offer to sponsor bloggers directly.  Certainly include transparency, honesty, and what works for your program.  The idea is to contribute value, increase access, information, education and promote the wine experience.

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Bloggers are different from journalists.  They have been called “other” (thanks, 1WineDude) and they have been likened to “Faith Healers” (Jeff Cox).  Wine lovers who are moved to blog have also been called influencers (Joel Vincent).   Similar to getting advice from our most trusted friends and family, regarless of their certification or education, bloggers are also influencers to their peer-like community.  Research indicates that people trust their chosen influencers in their friends and family circle more so than they trust advertising, marketing and businesses.  Likewise, it seems many bloggers have already decided that their own audience will determine their value, appreciating their integrity and content. Or not.

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red-circle-slash-0

Yep, another beta tester:  The American Winery widget is working its way into California Wine Life.  While I talk more about the wine industry here and I don’t review wines, I certainly enjoy them with friends, family and co-workers…hey, it’s my job!  So I’m happy to share with you my favorite finds.  Put it this way:  I have access to a different set of people and information.  Yes, that impacts the wine I enjoy and if I can share the fruits of a great winery with you…along with some inside information, isn’t that cool?  AND, you can get the wine fast and easy…

So what do you think about the widget:  Its features, functionality and form?

Other blogger friends trying out the WineCliq: RickBakas.Com and 1WineDude.

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If you haven’t met Andy Mitchell, he is a tremendous human and amazing steward of the vineyards at Hahn Vineyards.  Officially, he is the Director of Vineyard Operations.  He is the reason the vineyards are SIP Certified.  Andy is also the photographer of these amazing photos.  You’ll see some of them on the new Hahn Family Wines web site when we go live in May.  Here’s a sneak peek:

The Malbec goes into our Meritage.  Sometime’s there is even a Wine Club Only 100% Malbec…it is delicious!

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You might recognize “Doctor’s Vineyard” from the Lucienne single vineyard pinot noir Hahn makes.

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The Salinas Valley and Santa Lucia Highlands is known for the fog and their cool climate grapes;  especially syrah, chardonnay and pinot noir.

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Another paradise, just 2 hours south of San Francisco.

And my personal favorite.

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Photos courtesy of Andy Mitchell.  You can see more on flickr.

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A cloud post:

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First class, Lesley Russell, St. Supery, Napa. Forward thinking, bloggers wine tasting II, Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato…bacon.  Gathering names, Chris Parker, and guilty pleasures, Brittany Spears, Scissor Sisters, Justin Timberlake, Michael Jackson, Journey and Barry Manilow!?  Sunshine, old oaks, vineyards, bud break, Dollarhide, Cabernet Sauvignon, photos.  Soil, vines, rows, Josh Antsey, sleepy, fuzzy, friendly, fabulous, knowledgeable, funny.  Gracious, supportive, amazing leadership, Michaela Rodeno, Emma Swain, smiles and the Boos. GG.  Bloggers gather.  Hugs.  Tweets.  Twitpics.  Representing Napa, Contra Costa, San Francisco, Sonoma, Santa Clara, Alameda, food and wine.  Fig trees, fruit trees, farming, Fish Friendly, Green.

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Tasting Gallery, bottles, glasses.  “What is this?”  “That’s a spit cup, Shana.”  “What’s it for?”  “Never mind.”  Josh leading, bloggers tasting.  Semillion, 100%.  Sarah Jones, sweet.  Wine Club line up: Malbec, Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Petit Verdot: rich, complex, friendly, Napa, more please.  GG. Reds.  Winery exclusive. 650 cases.  Photographs, laughter, sharing.  Limited editions.

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Chef Ron Barber, specialties, fallen goat cheese souffle.  Cherry tomatoes.  Out side, under the oak.  More tweets.  Lunch, Game Hen, Elu, red blends, more sun.  Cheers!.  Greens, fresh french bread, olive oil, red, Cabernet Sauvignon.   Cheeses, flowers, French, dessert, Chateauneuf du Pape.

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Nothing I could have written would have been anywhere near as eloquent, graceful and prefect as that day.

My fellow bloggers, however, will have collectively communicated through their posts.  Check them out listed below:

Janesta: Brix Chicks

Jim White: NapaMan

Liza: Brix Chicks

Russ Beebe: WitiCulture: Wine Hikers Blog

Shana Ray: Not Yet Out on VHS

Thea Dwelle: Luscious Lushes’

Trevor & Karen Jonas: UnCork 29

Ward Kadel: WineLog

Xandria: Brix Chicks

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twitter-bird-wallpaper

What?!? I mean really, I knew twitter was just about everywhere…at least in my wine/social media world.  You may even be sick of twitterati:  Bloggers, facebook-ers, and Web 2.0-ers, all tweeting.  Even my real estate agent is on twitter!  But just when I think the slope is leveling off there’s Biz Stone, one of twitter’s founders making an appearance on The Colbert Report and then there’s Dell:

Dell has landed $1 million of sales using Twitter. Even though that’s a fraction of Dell’s $61 billion in annual sales, it costs almost nothing, Binhammer said. Twitter also allows Dell to promote new products and help customers with technical problems, he said. (Article Link Here)

Now that’s some serious ROI.  We also saw the Wine 2.0 Tweet Stream last Thursday.  You can connect your twitter stream to your facebook as well as your blog. You can also connect your 12Seconds.tv to your twitter stream (twitpicing along the way).  And by the way, have you connected your Diggs to twitter (Twiggit) and do you get regular Tweetbeep notices?  Mr. Tweet will recommend new people to follow based on your tweet cloud/interests.  There’s another 20 applications here at TechCrunch with links and a brief description about their use, origin, etc.

So while you’re updating the best new toys for your twitterverse…don’t forget the most important aspect of participating…Tw-etiquette. Good manners.  Remembering that there is always a person at the other end of the tweetdeck, i-phone, Blackberry Storm, computer, whatever.

twetiquette

So of course, @thebetsy said it better in fewer words…there may be understandable nuances to such guidelines on twitter.  So watch the community and take @thebetsy ‘s advice.  Would love to hear your thoughts, resources and input as well.  The Twitter Blog will keep you current on the rest.  And you can follow me @winedivergirl.

This was a public service announcement.  Our regularly scheduled programming will now resume.

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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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