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Archive for the ‘Hahn estates’ Category

WnVCover

A giant thank you to my esteemed colleagues, wine lover bloggers and interested spectators who have watched with interest, fanned up with passion or snickered with disbelief about the “Banned in ‘Bama” issue turned campaign that peaked as the summer was pedaling to its end.

President of Hahn Estates, Bill Leigon, also passes on his gratitude and respect for the online wine media, bloggers and social media he’s praised for years  in the latest Wines and Vines Guest Editorial. It is likely too small to read here…but I wanted you to know what you’re looking for in case you come across it in the industry magazine.

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Another example of social media’s power in action.

Cheers.

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3551197983_34e03c5214_bAn extraordinary Saturday in May in the Santa Lucia Highlands last weekend yielded one delicious afternoon.  With a dozen or so wine and food bloggers, Hahn Estates was the first winery to establish the Bloggers Block, a 1.5 acre plot of vines, planted in part by said bloggers, dedicated to the work, passion and appreciation of the complimentary relationship among these wine lovers.

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Andy Mitchell (Director Vineyard Operations) and Paul Clifton (adorable winemaker at Hahn Estates) and their vineyard team shepharded the noob farmers teaching them about this plot of land, the 720′ elevation in the Santa Lucia Highlands, the soil, the vines (828 Clone/Pinot Noir), the irrigation, the row orientation, etc.  All vines may be found on Google Earth where anyone can watch the growth of these baby pinot noir vines.  Check out the Google Earth flyover of the winery here.

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Essentially it was a day that social media wrought where friends and associates came together to dig in the dirt and laugh together while learning about the beginning, middle and end of wine production.  Not bad for just a few hours. After planting our vines, bloggers enjoyed a picnic lunch and wines made from the vineyards where their vines were planted.  The pinot noir in the Hahn SLH, among others were featured as the conversation covered everything from vineyard experimentation to your favorite twitter app for the i-phone.

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It is still hard to put words to the perfection of the day.  It sounds cloying, overblown and off the mark when I reach for the grand adjectives and expressions to summarize this day of planting and connection.  One most apt description of all of us is to say that we were like kids in a candy store…and there was a kind of rapt adventure and play about the day’s activities.  And still there was learning, out-reach and …well, you probably understand anyway.  You seem like a wine lover to me, so I’ll share more photos of the day and leave it at that.  I hope you’ll come to the next Bloggers Tasting Forum or host your own.

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And who wouldn’t love a romp thru the vines in an open air Yamaha 4-wheeler?

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You KNOW the Brix Chicks did!

Links to fellow blogger posts and attendees to follow soon.

Photos courtesy of Philip Woodrow, Hahn Family Wines Director of Marketing and Communications.

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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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fbI have been on facebook for a while…maybe a year or two.  Several friends dragged me after I had already spent time assembling a MySpace page…also a year or two ago.  At first it seemed like a great place to semi-connect with friends and family through photos & messages.  Fast forward to today.  In addition to the hundreds of friends I have on my personal facebook page, I (co) manage a Fan page for Hahn Family Wines, Cycles Gladiator and Santa Lucia Highlands Wine Artisans.  I am fascinated to watch as people become fans, contribute photos, discussions, questions, and as the content fills out on these pages.

Did you know there is a Fan page for facebook?  It is packed with great information, it is easy to sort through and essential if you are an administrator for any fan or group pages.  We’re all still collaborating and working together (within the wine company and among fellow wineries) to figure out how best to use the facebook group and fan pages.  What kind of content is interesting to the fans?  What keeps them coming back to the fan pages?  And why?  How will these virtual gathering places bring value, content and wine interest that wine lovers want, need and keep current in their lives?  And the bniggest question:  Will they buy wine as a result?

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This is the first post in a series on facebook in the wine industry.  I have been to the facebook offices and met with my new friend Andrew who built News Feed for facebook (thanks Cortney Erin).  Andrew and I are working on a conversation for the Wine 2.0 event on April 2 to answer questions and walk wine industry guests through the “how to’s” and “why for” on facebook for wine lovers.  We know Gary V and facebook’s Dave Morin are hanging out …and further, facebook and Wine Library are in a partnership.  LOVE THAT!  Once again, anything that brings wine to a wider audience I am in favor of, indeed!  And leave it to Gary to convert the unconverted.  He has successfully uncorked facebook…there are no limits.

facebookwineSo the whole point of this post is to set up musings about facebook for businesses, groups and the wine industry…asking why?  What do you have to say about how you use facebook?  Do you participate in groups?  What for?  Community?  Information?  Facebook is doing an awesome job of staying ahead of the curve…redesigning the home page, adjusting status updates, offering feeds from blogs, twitter, flickr, and so on.  And what about facebook connect?  What will that mean for facebook interface, blog commenting, posting, etc?  We’ll find out much more about facebook connect when we sit down with Andrew on April 2 in San Francisco.

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I see a lot of potential here, both for users and for wineries on facebook.  Yet, a lot of the functionality, value and interest will be (like most successful Web 2.0 sites) user generated.  So is the wine community interested and engaged enough to participate on facebook when it comes to groups and fan pages?  That means both the industry, providing the fan pages and intital content AND the consumers, adding interest and content as they become more engaged.  Is there enough content and need or desire to bring people back to the Fan/Group pages again and again?  The great thing about wine is that it engenders social activity, conversation and participation.  Our industry is uniquely positioned to partner beautifully within social media, to  inform, educate and  connect…all in conversation about wine.  There are already dozens of wine groups and fan pages.  Check these out and let us know what you think.  And share additional wine group or fan pages in the comments section here as well.  There’s a lot we can learn from each other as we sort through this new meduim.  I find more to learn and additional ways to connect through social media, so I am thrilled the wine industry has found its way here.  Because as we have heard before: “Better relationships drive better business, period.” (Amber Naslund)

Cheers!

Photos courtesy of facebook and my Blackberry Storm and ICanHasCheeseburger.

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I’m kind of in my own world here both at my company and in the wine industry, living in social media.  Ok, wait!  Yes, there are a few hands-full of early adopters, bless you!  The wine bloggers, the tech savvy, the curious, the adventurous…you know who you are.  But on average, in the general part of my industry…where I live, we are in the minority.  My point is that the leadership at my company (thank you Bill Leigon, Evelyn Pool) are dedicated to connecting online with wine lovers and allow me to participate, learn and share with you all a great deal.  But that’s not enough.  Within the rest of the company (a couple dozen talented sales reps and admin across the country as well as a winery full of craftsmen & women) I feel compelled to convert the un-initiated at Hahn to a high level of social media participation…to participate somewhere, anywhere online.

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I think it is the essential place to start.  As a brand or company, you can’t go forth and exist online for your brand alone.  Working toward a tipping point within your own company is critical.  Your co-workers may all participate at different levels and perhaps even in different places, but that they ARE participating online is essential.  It is a slow process inviting and training people into the medium, we’re all so busy already.  But, in addition to the presentations I do at every National Meeting, I work to send regular updates, links and direction on participating online whether that is inviting our people to comment on a blog (personal interest OR professional, anywhere is a great place to start), learning about “Twitter in Plain English” or getting them on ICanHasCheeseBurger …whatever it takes.

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We all know from experience that once you get the bug, whether it was from wine, biking, politics or just connecting with your family, you get hooked.  And that is the addiction I am pushing: an electronic connection with others that broadens our social circle and our filter for information.  We all know that amazing things happen when we do that here, on twitter, blogging, on facebook, wherever.  But it takes time.  It can be frustrating.  It can be very slow going….and it must be one of the primary pursuits of any company working to thrive online.  So I approach my co-workers with the suggestion that they pursue what they love to do in real life…and find a place that fits in with that passion online.  Whatever your passions, professional or personal, there are groups, social networks and loads of sites online where you can connect, learn, share and participate with other people who share your passion.  It makes you an essential connector within your company; a powerful brand ambassador, and a socially knowledgable participant in what’s happening right now.  It is another way to get an edge in your own marketability too.  Just make sure you do it right. (And that is in  several other blog posts!)

Now get in there!

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Every commercial for travel, wine, restaurants, tourism, etc. all end up being about lifestyle, hospitality and the extraordinary lengths to which the hosts will go to take care of you during your stay with them.  Once you have the essentials met, a comfortable bed, room essentials (iron, mini fridge, mini bar, toiletries, wifi, i-home …) it becomes a matter of not just making your stay comfortable, but extraordinary.  To me, this includes anticipating your needs, going the extra mile, and a kind of unassuming kindness that’s subtle and authentic.  If you’re heading to New York that place exists in mid-town Manhattan.  That place is the Roger Smith Hotel.

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The bar & restaurant, Lily’s, looks like an avant garde art gallery and feels like that artist’s family room.  The bartender Paul (see smiling bartender, Paul, pictured below) makes you feel like most great bartenders and hair dressers…you can tell him anything and he’ll not only have humor, compassion and words of wisdom, he’ll know exactly what cocktail to make for you.  I couldn’t get enough of the house plum infused gin and tonics he made for me.  Brunch on both days were delightful twists on traditional fare:  I had granola crusted french toast one day, vegetable frittata with fingerling potatoes the next …I’m not admitting to any morning cocktails.

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The weekend I was there also happened to be the start of Social Media week in New York:  A set of meet ups, openings, releases and social media focused gatherings that includes Twestival NYC and the regular Social Media Breakfasts at…you guessed, The Roger Smith Hotel.  So on Sunday, Mr. Hospitality (see Brian Simpson pictured at top) hosted a Tweet Up (#tweetuprsh)…and since @ChrisBrogan was also staying at the RSH for the week, we amassed an impressive gathering that went for over 12 hours including a raucous, impromptu Grammy watching party to close out the evening.  Some attendees include: @coffeewithian (going for 100 hugs by Feb 14 and documenting them all on twitter via i-phone), @sukifuller (completing her MBA), @emilyspearl, @rachelreuben, @nexeus (NYC DJ, U-Streamer), @robbin_g (East Coast wine goddess), @hvwinegiddess (managing the Hudson Valley Wine Competition this spring), @chazfrench (winner best T-Shirt at the meet up…ask him),  @davekerpen (ZBuzz Marketing), @sandraschubert, @robblatt, @nadiapayan, @daveyarmon, @chrisbrogan, @bsimi, and me…@winedivergirl.  Though there were 20+ tweeters there, if I missed you, please let me know and I’ll add you right into this list!

cbroganrshAn additional set of concierge services from RSH pointing me to fabulous shopping, restaurants, great bars and transportation back to the airport  made my weekend overflow with something beyond satisfaction.  New Yorkers are the friendliest f*cking city people ever (RSH and beyond).  While I was in NYC for an Art Opening at the Walter Wickiser Gallery, my time there was jam packed from end to end with the best of what New York could offer me in a 3 day weekend with only 10 hours sleep total.  I made the most of it.  Now it’s your turn.

Photos from my Blackberry Storm

P.S.  I didn’t even get to Henry, the RSH mascot (see below left…)  That will be it’s own post altogether!

Yamile, Chief Restaurant man at Lily’s…demonstrating hospitality pictured below right.

For the best photographic pictorial : visit @BSimi ‘s Flicker page.

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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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