Archive for June, 2008

Using Twitter for PR Campaigns

I love the Klondike Contest using Twitter mentioned in this piece and wanted to share it with you. A fun new way to engage your audience!

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Winery Marketing: 43% of Consumers Abandon Online Shopping Carts Due to High Shipping Rates


As a follow up to yesterday’s post regarding the rise in thrifty consumer behavior, I heard this stunning statistic this morning on “Morning Express with Robin Meade”:  A recent PayPal and comScore survey found that 43% of online shoppers do not proceed and purchase items, abandoning their online shopping carts, due to shipping rates that are viewed as too high.  The article quotes a research expert who notes that free shipping is an effective lure for customers who don’t like paying for shipping when considering their purchase options.

Understanding that some states may not allow for free shipping of wine, here’s a thought for my friends at wineries and wine retailers:  you may want to find another attractive lure to negate shipping costs in the wine consumer’s mind.  Some that I like when wearing my wine consumer hat include:

  • An additional hand selected, surprise bottle  (if laws allow…not sure if there’s an issue here)
  • Fun, promotional items as a bonus (t-shirt, bag, rubber chicken a la Twisted Oak Winery)
  • A favorite wine or wine & food pairing book with a personal note from the winery owner or winemaker
  • A gorgeous picture of the vineyards or winery personalities with a note


These are just a few and I bet you can think of many more ideas.   Just a little food for thought!  🙂

Potential Wine Marketing Opportunity: Women Embrace Role as Chief Thrift Officer

In this morning’s Marketing Daily newsletter by Media Post, Sarah Mahoney makes a case for the fact that the recent change in the economy, more specifically the rise in gas and food prices, has brought out the thrifty, value-conscious side of many women,  who have begun relishing the title of Chief Thrift Officer.   The article states that women are more conscientious than in the past about shopping for value, eating leftovers and doing more shopping online now that high gas prices have made it a more attractive prospect, negating the shipping cost differential when weighed against gas cost and inconvenience of brick and mortar shopping excursions.  The article also predicts that this trend of value shopping will continue after the economy bounces back because women are feeling good about themselves for creating smart, efficient shopping strategies that benefit their families. 

So now I’m weighing the marketing potential of this trend and mindset for my friends in the wine world.  How can wineries and wine retailers make their offerings more attractive to these Chief Thrift Officers among their customer base?  Is it via free or one-cent shipping offers?  Possibly adding to the line of magnums and larger sizes available?  Expanding the number of wines in boxes and venturing into higher quality wine offerings in this category?  Creating shoppers clubs with exclusive discounts and offers for members?

This mindset is evident everywhere these days.  Morning shows, news reports, magazines and newspapers are weaving shopping tips into their daily agendas and it is glaringly obvious that there has been a shift toward weighing value and price in our purchases.  Although I don’t believe that we’ll stop buying wines above $15-20, we may see an uptick in demand for those in the everyday category and women hungry for “a good deal.”  Is it time to consider launching that second label? Or how about that fun, tasty blend that you’ve been tinkering with? 


Winery Marketing Idea: Local Focus Groups for Wineries

As I dig deeper into the wine industry and look to identify the needs of both wineries and wine lovers, I had an idea.  I have noticed that it seems to be tough for wineries to gather consumer preferences and desires when planning ahead and that oftentimes wineries are counseled to resort to online surveys to gather this information.  Or the dreaded comment card! 

As the legion of wine lovers grows, I wondered if there would be interest in establishing monthly wine tastings that would also serve as a focus group for wineries to submit questions and gather feedback from a small sampling of wine consumers. Trying to decide between two label designs, the next grape variety to plant, innovative ideas for your wine club?  Ask away. 

Perhaps wineries would provide a few bottles to the members of the group in exchange for picking their brain.  This would be a very non-scientific sampling, but could be helpful and cost-friendly! This could complement any survey findings or other feedback gathered.   And if the winery owner/marketer/winemaker attended the meeting, there would be an opportunity for them to interact with new potential customers, creating a bond and potentially driving sales.  The local wine bar, an intimate restaurant or the winery would make for fun gathering places. 

I found a couple of hits on Google for a few random wine tasting focus groups, but I’m thinking of more of a regular, monthly opportunity.  What do you think?

Support a Great Cause: Turning Wine into Food

My friends at The Wine Spies are teaming up with the San Francisco Food Bank and Napa’s Humanitas Winery to help turn wine into food this weekend.  For each bottle of Humanitas 2006 Pinot Noir that you purchase over the weekend of June 21st and 22nd via The Wine Spies web site, Humanitas and The Wine Spies will each donate at least $1.00 per bottle sold to the San Francisco Food Bank.  You’ll also receive a 20% discount while supporting the Food Bank.  For more details on the fundraiser including coupon codes, please visit

Help by turning wine into food this weekend!

Note:  The Humanitas 2006 Pinot Noir will not appear on The Wine Spies website for purchase until Saturday, June 21st.

UPDATE:  The Wine Gives online wine sale to benefit The San Francisco Food Bank has been extended through Wednesday, June 25.  Additional winery participants include Iron Horse Winery of Sebastopol, CA; Michel-Schlumberger of Healdsburg, CA and Pengwine of Chile. 

NY Wineries: Interested in Getting Your Wine in Front of Top Wine Bloggers?


Lenn Thompson at top blog LENNDEVOURS just announced the first Wine Bloggers Conference 2008, October 24-26 in Sonoma, CA.  In his post, he presents a golden opportunity for NY State wineries:

“There will be speakers like Gary Vaynerchuk and Alice Feiring, vineyard walks, tasting competitions and wine dinners. There will also be an informal (or maybe even a formal) New York wine tasting if I can get a handful of NY vintners to sign on with me.”

If you’re interested in the opportunity to have your wines featured at this gathering of the top wine bloggers, please contact Lenn Thompson directly at lenndevours (at)  He’s still working out details with the event organizers at this time.

UPDATE:  I will be attending this event, my first time in Sonoma!  My husband is the best!!!  I’ll keep you updated as we get closer to the date.

Wine 2.0 Is Amazing!


Wine 2.0

 I just had to share my excitement about the tremendous opportunities available to those using Wine 2.0 technologies.  If you are in the wine industry, or aspire to be, social networks such as Open Wine Consortium, micro-blogs such as Twitter (I like to describe Twitter as more of a broadcast instant messaging service where one-way and multi-way communication messages are distributed via a network of followers) and participating in forums like the Rochester Democrat and Chronicle’s Conversations on Wine can help you expand your network by exchanging ideas, creating relationships for future collaborations and adding a great deal of value to your brand by creating a presence for your winery or related service in front of key targets. 

In one week, I exchanged ideas with two people that may be interested in collaborating down the road, reconnected with an editor I had previously met at a Manhattan press event and was asked for some advice from a reader of this blog…all via social networks, my blog and Twitter.  The key, in my opinion, is to create value for others.  Educate, share and give some personal insight and you’ll see that opportunities will present themselves, adding an addtional layer to your marketing and branding efforts. 

From my experience, the wine industry is full of passionate, smart, resourceful and helpful people who love to talk about bettering the industry.  I highly recommend spending some time poking around on the sites, creating profiles and getting involved.  Even if you’re not ready to create a blog, these little steps into the social media space will help you to advance your business.   If all of these terms are putting you off or if your head is spinning trying to figure it all out, don’t hesitate to contact me.  I would be happy to walk you through a better understanding in layman’s terms, without all of the “geeky” tech ones!    🙂 

Consumer Wine Judging Event: The Golden Nose Awards

After much anticipation, (sorry to those who had to hear about how excited I was about this event…more times than once!) I participated in the third annual Golden Nose Awards  at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, NY.   The event is a dream-come-true for Finger Lakes wine lovers, no matter what your level of understanding.  (Photostream here:

When I first heard of the event, I was a bit taken aback.  There’s an opportunity to participate in a wine judging panel among other consumers just as anxious to learn how to properly judge wines as me?  As a publicist who is just breaking into the world of wine, with a special interest in Finger Lakes Wine, this was a great opportunity to gain more intimate knowledge of the wines of the region and learn from an esteemed panel including Peter Bell (Fox Run Vineyards), Lorraine Hems (Rochester Institute of Technology and The New York Wine and Culinary Center), Laura Kudla (MadderLake Cafe), Tim Moore (Imagine Moore Winery), Ann Raffetto (Wagner Vineyards), Lindsay Stevens (King Ferry Winery), Barry Tortolon (Rooster Hill Vineyards), Dave Whiting (Red Newt Cellars), Derek Wilber (White Springs Winery) and Jim Zimar (Prejean Winery).

After mingling with fellow judges during a reception at the Rockwell Museum of Art on Friday night, Saturday morning began with a 2 1/2 hour training and judging session that included a Wine Judging “How To” session by Lorraine Hems, Wine Components Tasting by Peter Bell, Wine Flaws and “Off Flavors” demonstration by Derek Wilber (yes, we smelled hydrogen sulfide and cork taint during this one), Representative Wine Tasting by Jim Zimar and a Varietal Comparison Session by Dave Whiting for those who had participated in past Golden Nose Awards as judges.  Okay, now we’re ready to get judging!

Judges were broken into smaller panels led by a panel leader who tabulated each wine flight’s scores.  Each wine was judged and awarded points for Clarity, Color, Aroma, Taste, Balance and Overall Quality and given Double Gold, Gold, Silver, Bronze or No Award.  A Double Gold indicated that the panel unanimously voted the wine a Gold Award winner.  In our group, we only awarded one Double Gold.  My panel judged wine flights of Sparkling Wines, Riesling, Pinot Gris/Grigio, White Hybrid Blends, Cabernet Sauvignon and Melomels (Mead w/fruit).

I could see that the Golden Nose Awards judges were engrossed in the judging process and took it very seriously.  Our panel was so fortunate to have one-on-one time with Jim Zimar, our panel leader, who was a wealth of information and anecdotes and gave us insight into a winemaker’s life.  He grew up working during school breaks at wineries in the Finger Lakes, and became a winemaker at Prejean in 1986.  I very much appreciated the time he took during our judging to explain winemaking process, growing conditions and his thoughts on how our emotional associations with certain smells can determine if we’ll like a wine since smell is such a large component of taste.

The day concluded with the Dinner Reception, Grand Tasting and Awards Ceremony at the Corning Museum of Glass.  The food was excellent and was prepared by CMoG’s Chef Christian Chiron.  Attendees also had free reign of the wine tasting tables featuring the award winning wines of the day.  The awards were presented by Morgen McLaughlin, President of The Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association and Assemblyman Jim Bacalles, who was part of an Assembly Minority that secured funding for the New York Wine and Grape Foundation and for the Farm Viability Institute.  Local favorite Virgil Cain performed for the “hard-working” judges, their guests and dinner attendees. 

Complete results are posted at

Best of Class awards:
Sheldrake Point Vineyard – Summer White
Lakewood Vineyards – Riesling
Goose Watch Winery – Viognier
Goose Watch Winery – Cabernet Sauvignon
Hickory Hollow Wine Cellars – Liquid Wisdom
Seneca Shore Wine Cellars – Sherry
Red Newt Cellars – Cabernet Franc

Double Gold Awards:
Billsboro Winery – Cabernet Franc
Earle Estate Meadery – Peach Perfection
Glenora Wine Cellars – Alpine White
Hosmer Winery – Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards – Dry Riesling
Lakewood Vineyards – Riesling
Torrey Ridge Winery – Niagara
Congratulations to the winning wineries!
Next year’s Golden Nose Awards are tentatively scheduled for May 30, 2009.  I noticed
that this event drew wine lovers from other states including Michigan, Pennsylvania
and Missouri and the crowd was friendly. If you have a love of wine and would like
to learn more about its components and the wines of the Finger Lakes, mark your
calendars for next year’s event.   As I reflected on the day,  I found myself thinking,
“It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it!”
For a blog post from a fellow Golden Nose Awards judge, the Finger Lakes Weekend Wino, see