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The 1Wine Dude Said It.

The VinTank report is certainly a chunk to sink your teeth into.  Still, my current mission is how to apply all these skills and passions for social media (we know it works) to the bottom line in sales…now that I’ve joined the sales team.  We’ve talked about them thus far ad nauseum here, on twitter and in person as we’ve laid the ground work for what this new thing, online connecting via web 2.0, is and how it applies to business.  

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So with a nod of appreciation for Dude’s work and a rush out the door on my California BevMo and Whole Foods Wine department tour, we’ll all be enjoying a round of conversation and response to the latest report on social media in wine throughout real and virtual portals.  My favorite point currently lost in the comments debate on Dude’s blog is about millenials: “…they don’t respond to the mindless, unidirectional marketing tactics that have been the staple of the “traditional” marketing machine.”  Furthermore, despite the incredible headway made by the VinTank study, most stat lovers will never be satisfied because the meduim of measuring stats for something like social media won’t even be completely embodied by a dollar sign, a case sold or a wine club member convert…alone.  Perhaps in old school speak, how would you measure and quantify the value of the Rotary Club?  For an individual or a community?  Sure, there would be numbers you could point to…but I guarantee that would not be the whole story.

This is more like a movement where participation is decentralized, diffused and more democratic.  The power and influence is spread out.  Anyone who doesn’t like that will certainly knock it down (and we’ve seen that a lot throughout the past years).  Meanwhile, let’s raise a glass, remember the wine and talk as much about the magic in the glass and sharing that bottle together.

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Because he can.
Because he does.

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

Vote For the DirtySouthWine

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

The wine community has stepped up and assembled a program for bloggers to join the 2nd annual Wine Bloggers Conference in the USA this July with a fund to support bloggers who couldn’t otherwise get there on their own.  Who cares?  I’m thinking anyone who has a forward looking glance.  Anyone who is interested in an alternative, progressive, supportive wine industry.  Anyone who likes the democratic, grassroots, widespread distrubution of influence when it comes to wine, wine knowledge and wine information.    

If you are a qualified (wine) blogger and  interested in applying for a bloggership, click here.

Generally, there is a community of us that believes that we are all better served when the best of us are contributing to the industry.  We have met many a wine, food and lifestyle blogger that writes, learns and contributes value to the wine bloggosphere and can’t afford to attend the WBC this year.  Whether it is  the economy or the naiscent atmosphere of the blogging industry, we cannot let this diverse, pervasive and exciting medium die under our watch.  

Have you already donated?  If not, why?  Click here.  

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Hahn Estates is donating to support blogger attendance, and so is St. Supery.  There are many other wineries and wine industry companies in tow.  If you have not heard about or attended the WBC, or listened to the conversation on the Open Wine Consortium or attended W.I.T.S or heard about the wave of Social Networking, there is some catching up to do.

Panelists for the Fund include:

Thea Dwelle @winebratsf – wine blogger and social media champion

Megan Riley Kenney @sonadora – wine blogger

Liza Swift @brixchick_liza – wine blogger

Joel Vincent @joelvincent – wine industry professional and Wine Blogger Conference Organizer

Catie McIntyre Walker@catie – wine retailer and wine blogger

Ward Kadel @drxeno – wine blogger West Coast Ambassador, WineLog.net

Find out more.  Donate or apply.  Then tell your friends.  You’ll be glad you did.

Cheers!

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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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Who doesn’t love a big wet sloppy kiss every now and then?  Oh good grief:  perhaps it is a wild frontier in the wine industry with the emergence of Web 2.0.  It isn’t easy trying to figure out where wine industry, wine/web 2.0 companies and wine bloggers all fit in together and how they fit together.  But no one can deny the direction and the trend toward web 2.0 participation in social networking, wine consumers and wine technology businesses.  Yes, I’ve covered parts of this topic before (Wineries and Bloggers).  And there is something to add to this conversation based on recent blows, insults and online conversations between old media and wine bloggers.

Frankly, I’d like to see wineries sponsor wine bloggers to get to the WBC.   I may end up in hot water for saying this, but I believe the community will benefit if the experienced, contributing, talented bloggers are in the room (and not just the ones who can afford to be there).  And why not?  Why shouldn’t the wine industry invest in the blogging industry as a whole. It certainly isn’t going anywhere.  Do we want honesty?  Sure.  Transparency?  Of course.   So let’s set it up that way.  We’ll need the voices of capable, committed of bloggers (or blobbers) with talent and integrity.  Fortunately, I don’t think it will be too hard to find those wine bloggers.

The last paragraph was an excerpt from a comment I posted on DirtySouthWine ‘s blog.  I continue to think there is value in wineries and bloggers  working together to increase the flow of information, education and all that is extraordinary about the wine experience to consumers and anyone passionate about wine.  Initially I approached Joel Vincent regarding a winery funded sponsorship for bloggers to attend the WBC.  Unfortunately, resources (human, time) were in short supply to make it happen this year.  Alternately, wineries could offer to sponsor bloggers directly.  Certainly include transparency, honesty, and what works for your program.  The idea is to contribute value, increase access, information, education and promote the wine experience.

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Bloggers are different from journalists.  They have been called “other” (thanks, 1WineDude) and they have been likened to “Faith Healers” (Jeff Cox).  Wine lovers who are moved to blog have also been called influencers (Joel Vincent).   Similar to getting advice from our most trusted friends and family, regarless of their certification or education, bloggers are also influencers to their peer-like community.  Research indicates that people trust their chosen influencers in their friends and family circle more so than they trust advertising, marketing and businesses.  Likewise, it seems many bloggers have already decided that their own audience will determine their value, appreciating their integrity and content. Or not.

Wine Widget Love!

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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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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!

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

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

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Another paradise, just 2 hours south of San Francisco.

And my personal favorite.

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