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Posts Tagged ‘WBC’

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.  

wbcscholarship-fund1

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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As we watch and participate in the transformation  currently taking place in the wine industry, it is exciting to watch the doors open wide.  Wine in many places in the world has been a daily part of family meals for hundreds of years.  It’s very function is about bringing us together to share and nourish ourselves.   It’s function is inclusive.

But somewhere along the way wine became exclusive.  A language developed and surrounded the product. Wine became a symbol of status instead of a daily ritual of coming together.  No longer.  Wine evangelists like Brian Duncan (Bin 36, Chicago) changed the way we talk about wine, the way we approach wine and the way we think about wine.  Meanwhile Web 2.0 and social media brought user generated content, online communities and interaction to a new level.  People are connecting, sharing and building networks that change the way we live and interact both with our computers but also with each other.

Wine is about coming together and so is social media.  The wine industry, both trade and consumers are coming together to talk about everything wine related from the root stock to the (online) sales and beyond.  People are stepping up to help create the structural network by offering virtual and real space for these wine  networks including: The Open  Wine Consortium, Wine 2.0, The Wine Bloggers Conference, WineLog, Twitter  Taste Live, Inertia Beverage Group, Wine Library TV, and many bloggers contributing regularly to the conversation on wine.

The social media & networking format proliferated by the internet means that participation is open to anyone (as long as you can get to a computer and an internet service).  Exclusive is in the process of transforming into inclusive. The Two Buck Chuck phenomenon confirmed wine as a drink for everyman and the demographic for who is buying wine has become as varied and diverse as the thousands of wines available in the US alone.

The opportunity here is for both wine producers and consumers.  Access to so many wine lovers gives wineries an opportunity to engage in this community, add value and learn from them.  We also hope that means increasing the value of a wine consumers experience with wine, and what they want,  how they get it, and so on. For consumers it means a variety of avenues to enjoy, learn about and connect with wine and wine lovers. Whether for entertainment value, for social interaction, or education, consumers have a powerful network of, well, online networks to engage with, participate in, contribute to and enjoy the wine life.

If wineries are smart, they will figure out how to join this online wine community, add value to it and participate genuinely and frequently.   I hope they do.  Marketing is changing from the billboard, shouting format where the buyer is passive, to an interactive, connecting model where people and brands overlap and engage with producers.  And what a perfect marriage wine and social media will be.  Two inclusive elements that bring people together to connect and share.

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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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The Wine World had better get ready.  This weekend (October 24-26, 2008) a gathering of assorted wine lovers, wineries, wine tech companies and wine bloggers all gathered in honor of Wine Bloggers.  No, it wasn’t an awards show, but we enjoyed plenty of celebrating and acknowledgments all the way around.  The collective influence of this assortment of wine bloggers is something to be reckoned with .  Forget those last generation men from the days of the Paris Tasting.  Meet the Wine Bloggers.  They are some mix of: independent, quirky, brilliant, humorous, hilarious, friendly, international, dedicated, decent, sharp, passionate, energetic, writing, winos.  And they will not be tamed.

Consider them alpha-wine consumers.  They know most of what there is to know before the main-stream picks it up when it comes to wine.  They also relay that news back out to their readers and fellow wine bloggers.  It is a network with their collective ear to the ground.  And since many of them do this because they love it, aka, not paid to write about their wine love, they will say exactly what they think, uncensored, uninhibited.  Wine bloggers will also work to back up their assertions and news with facts and supporting materials.  Rest assured, ethics and credibility is in the forefront of their minds.

Additionally, they have gathered and connected.  Maybe not organized, but that may not be necessary.  As part of an online community, their collective influence must not be underestimated.  And wine bloggers are just getting started.  I’ve said it before, and I will say it again:  the consumer has much to gain from this online community.  A free resource for consumers to navigate the myriad ways, web sites, stores and wineries selling wine and wine gadgets!  See the list to the right to find the right set of Wine Blogs for your personal tastes.  And subscribe.

The wine world is just coming to grips with it’s technological transformation and what the www will mean in wine sales to the consumer.   Though wine clubs are not new, the way people will interact with them and connect with wineries, winemakers, and the variety of brands out there is still being imagined and pursued by start ups world wide.  Imagine a wine club akin to Netflix.  Voila, WineQ.    And discover Cruvee, the social site for wine lovers that recommends wine based on your preferences.  The wineries that have the foresight to invest time, $ and relationships will have a tremendous foothold in the online wine culture.  There is a wide open field for participation that adds value.  Leaders, step up.

Photos, Courtesy of my new WBC Wine Blogger Friend: www.dirtysouthwine.com, Hardy Wallace)

Cartoon courtesy of Google Images

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From the Wine Blogger’s Conference in Santa Rosa, CA, I think any one of us can say that we’ve just made 175 new friends and associates.  We have come together courtesy of Joel Vincent and fellow organizers to talk about the state of wine blogging, but that may not be the most interesting aspect of what’s happening.  At least for the purposes of this post.  Here are nearly 200 people, from far flung states across the US, and possibly beyond.  I’d bet there isn’t even 3 degrees of separation among the crowd.  And social media, blogging, twitter, linked in, facebook, etc, have done that.

Not only are we brought together via these tech tools, but time and space have already been folded up to almost nothing.  The connections we’ve made in the recent past online, even before meeting each other in person, have dissolved a majority of the preliminary “getting to know you” dance.  I think that’s good.  At least in most cases.  So now these connections are converting into friends, allies, colleagues, and partners with tremendous potential for both business and personal relationships.  There’s something about the like-mindedness that in this case brings the tech/wine lovers together and springboards us toward our goals in giant leaps.

Bottom line:  Social Media has cleared a path and shortened it as well as energized, cultivated and inspired a subset of techie/wine lovers to contribute to their part of the world.  And again I say that everyone benefits;  the wine industry, bloggers, the online community, wine consumers, and as far as we can possibly reach.  Fascinating what passion and focus can do together.


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A sample of the speed dating format for wine tasting frenzy.  Here with Jeff Stai for Twisted Oak WInery.

Super Yummy, the Spaniard.

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