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:
Thus 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.
When 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.