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Archive for the ‘wine tasting’ Category

Because he can.
Because he does.

And because he has mad Web 2.0, Social Media and interpersonal skills:

Vote For the DirtySouthWine

DirtyGoode 

Looking forward to this wine meets social media in practice study…and how it turns out!

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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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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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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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Can you repair a Hospitality Fail?  Ok, you have to try anyway.  And I must give credit to Domaine Chandon for e-mailing me an apology and an offer to give us a better tasting experience. Here’s an excerpt from Chandon:

“On behalf of the entire hospitality staff at Domaine Chandon, I would like to thank you for your very powerful feedback and extend our most sincere apology in regards to your visit to our winery. I am absolutely shocked at the lack of attention that you and your guests were paid, and you are absolutely right in calling us out on it… we always aspire to provide each of our guests with world class customer service and with your group we obviously dropped the ball. I agree with you whole 100% that even a smile or an I’ll be right with you would have had a significant impact on your 15 minute downward spiral… I cannot speak as to what happened on Sunday, but I always appreciate the feedback and I always address the issues at once.

On a lighter note, we would really appreciate if you and your group would come visit us again our compliments.”

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If you missed the terrible customer service story from last time, check out Hospitality Fail.   There are SO many wineries in northern California, and say I go this once and of course it will be …better, because they will be trying to fix the hospitality fail experience from our previous visit.  Then the next time I go (if I go) to Domaine Chandon, what then?  I’m worried about risking the same embarrassment with guests again.

Of course we will go back and let you know how that visit works out.  I do feel obligated to go and give them the opportunity to come full circle despite my hesitation.  Poor hospitality is an unfortunate by-product in areas where success, tourism and complacency collect…and sadly, Napa is sometimes one of those places.  In these bad economic times, complacency is a sure bet for failure.  The kind of customer service that makes the most difference is inexpensive and easy:  it is that personal touch that reminds your customer that they are important…beyond what they spend.  The business that can offer great customer service with a personal touch will gain my loyalty and my recommendation to all my friends and family.

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Clearly I’m pissed…annoyed, perhaps.  Actually embarrassed.  As tweeted earlier today, I took friends, a wine blogger from SF and a Food and Beverage manager from New York (this is all context) on a spontaneous wine tasting day in our beautiful Napa valley.  Sunday morning seems to be one of those days that begs for bubbles.  We headed north to Domaine Chandon.  The rain, the fog, the day was, frankly, stunning.  We arrived at D.C. as the prologue to start our venture into the best of Napa Valley Hospitality.  Or not.

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We entered the store where 3 employees chatted amongst themselves and greeted us before resuming their conversation.  Heading upstairs for the tasting room, we found a place at the bar and tables ready for us.  Fantastic  blood oranges adorned the champagne cocktails as winter life during the mustard festival buzzed on this delicious Sunday noon.  As we chatted about where we’d lunch and visit it was almost 15 minutes of waiting without a single word, glance or acknowledgment,  from anyone working there.  Totally invisible, we looked around, found another place at the bar for about 2 minutes before deciding we were not going to be helped in any way.  Domaine Chandon was clearly too important to care.  With too many choices in the valley we left.  Sadly surprised at this discouraging start, we walked out past the same 3 chatting employees (greeters?) who didn’t say good bye or interrupt their conversation…yet another missed opportunity.

Generally we expect adequate service.  That’s the kind of service you barely notice as it becomes part of your daily routine…basically it is the bare minimum.  Occasionally we get really good or even great service or great hospitality.  When we do get that kind of service, it changes our day.  We talk about it …a lot.  We go back.  We take our friends.  When we get bad service we talk about that too…but it also changes us, or at least it changes our day.  Soured, disappointed,  a hospitality fail is incumbent on every person working there.  From the manager down to the newest tasting room hire, any guest leaving with a bad experience does so because each and every person on that team failed to do their job.

Simply put, we were ignored…for over 15 minutes.  No “hi”, no “welcome” no, “we’ll be right with you”, no nothing.  I would never do that to my friends coming to my home.  Why would any winery let that happen?  We left with me embarrassed by my choice to go to Domaine Chandon and the lack of hospitality here in Napa.  I am so grateful that Elizabeth Spencer (a fabulous tasting room just across from the Rutherford Bar and Grill), and specifically, Vanessa, turned our entire experience around.  With a calm ease and charm, she shared the wines and delightful conversation reminding me that a Sunday with friends in Napa Valley can be a spontaneous joy with just a little hospitality.

I’d recommend anywhere else for bubbles in Napa: both Domaine Carneros and Mumm are less likely to ignore you than Domaine Chandon.  But at Elizabeth Spencer (and at Darioush, Rutherford Bar and Grill and Rubicon Estate) you’ll get at least good service, if not great hospitality.  Customer service is the best marketing, hands down.  For another perspective on the same visit, check out The Luscious Lushes’s Blog, or The Roger Smith Life. It wasn’t just me.

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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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