Archive for the ‘white wine’ Category


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.



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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!



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



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


Another paradise, just 2 hours south of San Francisco.

And my personal favorite.


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

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A cloud post:


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.


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.


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.


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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Sure.  Why not?  Our goals may be different, but our passion for wine is shared.


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.


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.


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.



Photos provided courtesy of Thea Dwelle and Lisa Adams-Walter and Chris Butts.

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Winemakers and Vineyard Managers are the artists and magicians in our industry.  Yes, they call on science a great deal too.  And their alchemy yields a precious libation revered and exulted in rituals both daily and sacred; from the family meal to religious rites.

We honor their time in the vineyard, the cellar and the lab and always want more of them.  Their unique perspective, experience and connection to the vine practically makes them our only and best channel into the mysteries of our wine experiences.  Coming together and sharing is already a precious gift of presence;  add wine to the experience and there is an immediate physical in-the-moment awareness that heightens the sharing.  Simply and truly connecting.

Social networking is that experience, increasing your opportunity for connecting in meaningful and substantial ways.  There are many examples in business online, but look to no other proof than that of Barak Obama’s campaign.  While engaging Americans with all the traditional campaign tools, “It super-charged those traditional methods with the best online strategy ever employed in a national campaign…”  (see TechPresident). The online experience is the channel primed for growth, value, contribution and community in the wine industry.  A direct interface both massive and intimate for communicating story, images, video, events, and the science and artistry of making wine to the people all over the world who love wine.

It comes down to relationships.  Marketing and Social Networking have the tenants of relationships, community, connecting, engaging (and user generated content), thanks to Web 2.0 that make it successful.  By now, many SMO folks are tired to those terms, but they hold true.  The technology allows people to connect on platforms and groups like LinkedIn, the Open Wine Consortium and facebook.  And the in-person connection that these social groups afford may be accelerated and made meaningful in a world where corporate giants are depersonalizing more of our consuming experiences.  Finding restaurants, bookstores, wine shops and grocery stores where you meet the owner, know the manager and connect with the sales person are all but gone.  And it was those connections cultivated over time that made the experience rewarding, serving not just our purchasing needs, but our extended human interaction needs across our community.

Enter social networking.  Across vast populations all pressed for demands on their time, money and energy, we can find ways to connect with like-minded individuals and groups.  We may also share information, stories, reviews, experiences, events and eventually, in person, a bottle of wine.  Wineries (their winemakers, vineyard managers, owners) have an opportunity to connect with the online wine world, including consumers, wine bloggers and a variety of Web 2.0 wine companies, all of whom are crazy-passionate about wine and wine people.  Wineries have the opportunity to contribute to the community, add value and participate in the most effective means of growing business: giving more, delivering more, leading more, where becoming an industry leader means building a model in our industry for business relationships across the world of wine consumers.  And connecting even for a few precious minutes a day or each week with the artists/scientists of the vine, the winemakers and vineyard managers would be an amazing gift of a relationship that wineries may share.

It is an exciting time in the wine world.


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Maybe it’s me, but there’s something special about, um, the Special of the Day.  Ok, maybe that’s redundant, but listening to the waiter offer his practiced listing of foods, flavors and preparation always makes my mouth water, even if I don’t order the Special.  But there’s something else;  it is the Chef’s pick of what’s best today, what’s fresh, something new, fun and different from what’s on the menu all the time.  And it is only for today.  So the expiration underscores the ephemeral nature of the moment:  today’s lunch.

Over the past week I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying a 12Seconds.TV video of the daily lunch specials at New York City’s Roger Smith Hotel.  As I watch at 9 am PST, delicious preparations inspire me to look forward to my own Napa lunch, fantasizing about pan seared lamb chops with carrots, chanterelles and figs.  So I started responding with a video reply recommending a wine pairing.  It is actually great fun.  They post today’s special and I find a wine I’d order with it.  I’m in Napa, California.  They are in New York City.  But we’re bridging the gap with our passion for food and wine, sharing along the way and I hope, adding value to people’s daily food experiences.  We’re focusing on the senses, the visual, and your imagination, using a couple social media tools to connect us all.  To what end?  I hope to heighten the experiences we have together in person, over a shared meal.  And maybe world peace too.loresmerlotwglasstilt2

Today I recommended our 2005 Bin 36 Merlot (Hahn Estates in partnership with Brian Duncan of Bin 36, Chicago)  with their pan seared lamb chop. You’ve got to watch the 12 Second video to enjoy it.  Then there’s a video reply just beneath offering a wine pairing.  Not much detail in the 12 seconds, but you know you have time for it.  I always have time for my 12Seconds friends.  It is one of my favorite ways to connect.

I’ve said it before, but am astounded the way technology really does build relationships and bring people together.  It’s not the cold, impersonal tool once dreaded.  Web 2.0 and beyond, with user generated content and participation is able to bridge the gaps of time and space that went neglected before.

I’m meeting a friend for lunch and will relish the specials and our hour of conversation and just taking a moment to breathe.

Now I can’t wait for lunch.

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This last weekend’s Wine Bloggers Conference has opened the door and shed light on the state of the wine industry when it comes to connecting with wine lovers, consumers, wineries and their marketing approach.  As the few major wine publications writhe through the disintegration of their influence on the wine industry and it’s consumers, the blogosphere is abuzz with possibility, opportunity and , well, wine love.

There is not a tremendous amount of research for online wine buying practices  and the online wine-community, (it is growing, but lagging behind other industries) but the fact is online buying trends have been growing at an impressive pace, and I think it is fair to say that buying wine online is also growing in popularity, accessibility and reliability.  The challenges for some states (and therefore wine buyers and wineries), include state laws that limit quantity or don’t allow any wine to be shipped across their borders, shipping costs, and the consumer’s ability to connect with a product or brand to be able to trust their purchase.  Buying towels, computers, flowers, etc. online is one thing, but without the ability to taste a wine or know more about this intricate product, terroir, winemakers, wine & food pairing, etc…what is a wine lovers to do?  Let’s face it, for some, buying wine online is a risk.

Enter the wine blogger:  Like Siskel and Ebert, or the Rolling Stone for music, or your local newspaper for  performances, the wine-blogosphere has great value to offer to the serious and the casual wine drinker alike.  You can take a couple of minutes to see what Gary Vaynerchuk is enjoying today for under $20, or you can subscribe to any of the wine bloggers in the right column of this blog (and there are hundreds more!) and find a voice that speaks to you, your tastes, your style.  The knowledge, experience, stories and humor these passionate wine lovers have to offers is unparalleled.  It is free and the range of focus is as varied as the 900+ wine bloggers internationally.

Which brings me to the shift in influence:  Thus far, wine bloggers have been left to their own devices.  That is, until the Wine Bloggers Conference, the WITS (Wine Industry Technology Symposium), the OWC (Open Wine Consortium)  and Wine 2.0. These organizations have worked to connect people in the wine world, both trade and consumer, online, in person and in conference and event settings.  The results are exciting and the possibilities are great.  The bloggers are a critical, influential thread that connects wineries, wine tech companies and the consumers.  With so much to navigate through (the complexities of wine, buying wine online, a wine club, wait!  Now there are wine social sites too!?)  it can be overwhelming for your average wine lover.  The wine bloggers, fortunately, spend a good deal of their time sifting through the online wine world and then blog, review and write about, i.e. filter what they experience.

For wineries, this means their possibilities for communicating and connecting with wine consumers has opened up exponentially. How can wine bloggers, wineries and consumers connect through this network to increase value/experience for all?  While (many of ) the wineries have been around for a long time,and have traditional marketing programs, the wine bloggers have been doing their own thing on the side, or rather, online without much interference, interaction, inspiration even, from the established wine industry for some years now.  The wine bloggers also have a serious concern with maintaining integrity and credibility with their readership.   However, I think there is a possibility for a collective, or a loose affiliation of wine bloggers that wineries can learn from and seek to open a conversation with as wineries look toward increasing their online presence.  Remember the old fashioned model for TV stations?  Their commercials are neither an endorsement of the station’s programming nor is the product necessarily endorsed by the TV show during which it runs.  I think there is opportunity for bloggers and wineries to support each other with respect and without compromising any values or integrity.

Ultimately we all share a common passion for wine.  And maybe similar goals:  increased connectivity, better wine, for more people, at great prices, and more conversation about it.  The tubes of the internets are only getting bigger 😉 The number of wine bloggers grows weekly if not daily.  Our experiences online: purchasing, connecting and researching wine are bringing more value to our lives and we’re spending more time and money doing it.  I see only amazing opportunity for making all those experiences more meaningful by connecting a few more dots.   What do you think?

Images courtesy of e-commerce.com & PhotogDan on Flickr User Group

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