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Archive for the ‘santa lucia highlands’ Category

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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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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It could only last a moment anyway. I’ve come up for air. And I have WORDS… Check out The Wine Hub where I guest blog! Cool new site…for people passionate about wine…do I know any other kind?

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