I wanted to wish you and your family a very Happy Halloween! As you can see, our dog Karma is ready for the trick-or-treaters tonight.
Archive for October, 2008
The first Wine Bloggers Conference begins tomorrow afternoon in Santa Rosa. The conference organizers actually had to close registration at just over 170 attendees!
This will be my first trip out to the West Coast, so I’ll be reporting back on my impressions of the region as well as WBC attendees I’ll be meeting and my experience at the conference. This might seem funny, but I’ll be meeting Lenn Thompson at LENNDEVOURS blog for the first time in person. Do you know how we “met” in the first place? Via Open Wine Consortium. We discovered that we share a passion for telling the story of the NY wine industry and engaged in discussions solely via OWC, email and Twitter. And you probably know that this friendship has developed into an offer from Lenn for me to contribute to LENNDEVOURS as an additional voice for the Finger Lakes as the new Finger Lakes News Correspondent. It has been a great experience for me.
I will also have an opportunity to meet Tom Wark, Partner at Wark Communications, a wine marketing communications firm in Sonoma and very well-known wine blogger at Fermentation. Tom and I have also struck up a friendship and have been collaborating on a project that I will reveal down the road. How did I meet Tom? Earlier this year, I decided to research my idea of starting a business that would focus on Public Relations and Marketing for the wine industry, with a special interest in promoting Finger Lakes Wine Country and other wine businesses both locally and nationally. A Google search revealed Fermentation, a daily wine blog where Tom addresses issues in wine PR, culture, and wine politics as well as his personal experiences as a wine PR guy for almost 20 years. What better way to get an insider’s view of the business that I was researching than to read about the experiences of someone who has been in the industry for awhile. Back to how I met Tom. After devouring many of his posts, I saw a topic that a newbie like me could chime in on…and posted a comment including my name. I have followed Tom on his blog since then and have left a handful of comments. In one of the posts, Tom had revealed that he had been seeking Freelance Public Relations consultants for Wark Communications, so I then submitted my credentials and an email expressing my interest in working with him. A few months later, he had a need for extra hands on a project and contacted me about it. So we’ll also finally have the opportunity to meet this weekend.
Why am I telling you all of this? Because I want to share my experiences of the power of social media. I would be remiss if I didn’t tell you about the opportunities that I have had come my way because of dedicating some time to social networking. If you have been thinking about getting involved in some form of social networking, just give it a try. Do it within your own comfort level at first, and then start engaging. Give me a call if you’re unsure of how to get started or where. There are some valuable conversations going on out there that can help you promote your winery or solve a nagging business problem by finding a great new vendor…or even let you have a good laugh at the funny stuff going on outside of your winery’s doors.
I’ll be back in touch during the conference to keep you updated on how things are going. Tomorrow Lenn and I will be pouring Dr. Konstantin Frank’s Rkatsiteli during the Live Blogging session scheduled for 3:30 PM Pacific, 6:30 PM EST. Dr. Frank’s signed on as a winery sponsor for the session as outlined here and will have Rkatsiteli in front of the bloggers who will be tasting and blogging about their impressions of each of the 14 wines that were sent from sponsors as they go along. The 14 wineries that have signed up to pour live include:
- Bink Wines
- Boho Vineyards
- Clos LaChance
- Dark Horse
- Dr. Konstantin Frank Wine Cellars
- James David
- Kanzler Vineyards
- Killer/Angel Juice
- Pinot Evil
- Sean Minor Wines
- Small Vines Wines
- Twisted Oak
- Yellow & Blue
I’ll be back in touch soon with updates.
Interview Series: Finger Lakes Visionaries #3-Frederick Frank, President of Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars
I was recently honored with an invitation to the celebration of the release of Dr. Frank’s N90 Riesling Clone and had an opportunity to meet and share lunch with Frederick Frank, President of Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars. I found him to be gracious, down-to-earth and passionate about the future of the Finger Lakes wine industry.
Melissa Dobson: Tell me about how you selected the Finger Lakes region to pursue your passion for wine.
Frederick Frank: I spent many summers while in school working with my grandfather, Dr. Konstantin Frank. I enjoyed learning from him and realized at an early age that I wanted to continue the family winery. My father, Willy, took over the winery in 1984 from his father Konstantin who started the winery in 1962. Willy encouraged me to get a good education and experience before joining the winery full time. I received my B.S. from Cornell University School of Agriculture. After graduation I went to work for Banfi Vintners as a sales manager in New England. In 1982 I left Banfi to attend the Geisenheim School of Viticulture and Enology in Germany. I was then rehired by Banfi Vintners to be their Managing Director for Banfi Vineyards in Old Brookville, New York. In 1993 my father was hospitalized and asked me to return to Dr. Frank’s Winery as President. I have enjoyed working at Dr. Frank’s Winery and look forward to passing the reigns on to my son, Kyle, after he has completed his education and gained experience.
MD: If you could deliver a “State of the Finger Lakes Wine Region” speech today, which main points would you include?
FF: I have seen the Finger Lakes Wine Region experience many changes in the last 45 years.When my grandfather started the family winery in 1962 as an all Vinifera Winery he was laughed at and ridiculed by many industry and academic leaders. He was called ,”the crazy old doctor on the hill”. Today many of those industry leading wineries are no longer in business because they failed to adapt to changing consumer tastes demanding higher quality wines made from the Vinifera grapes. Recently the New York Wine & Grape Foundation hired the market research firm, Wine Opinions, to do a study on brand awareness among the 240 wineries in New York. The winery with the highest brand recognition among New York wineries was Dr. Konstantin Frank which was picked by 17% of the respondents. The winery that came in second had a 5% recognition rating. We have worked hard through three generations to increase the brand awareness of our winery and the Finger Lakes region. We have improved quality and increased production at the same time we have expanded distribution of our wines to over 30 states and several foreign countries.I believe the Finger Lakes Wine Region is becoming known as the best cool climate region in America. This gives us an advantage in producing wines from the Northern European grape varieties. Our cool climate then becomes an asset and allows us to compete among the best wines in America.
MD: Are you satisfied with the visibility and progress of the region? If yes, please explain why. If not, what are the strategies that you favor to raise awareness?
FF: We need to continue to work to improve the visibility and progress of the Finger Lakes region. This starts with wine quality and ends with wine marketing. Awareness for the Finger Lakes region will be improved by working together with all the wineries and attractions to promote the region.
MD: What are your greatest challenges in promoting your wine, both to consumers and to the trade?
FF: We need to continue to gain more recognition for our wines and the Finger Lakes region. We are a small region that has to gain more credibility by producing world class cool climate wines.
MD: What hopes and dreams do you have for the future of the Finger Lakes Wine Region?
FF: I believe the Finger Lakes Wine Region will continue to grow and gain more credibility as America’s best cool climate region. I am excited to see more of my fellow Finger Lakes vintners following Dr. Frank’s lead and planting Vinifera grapes. I want to thank you for your fine coverage of the Finger Lakes Wine Region.
Thank YOU, Frederick.
Picking Grapes 2-Dr. Konstantin Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars, originally uploaded by MelissaADobson.
One of my latest projects is to compile a 2008 Harvest Report of Finger Lakes wineries to include photos and quotes and/or harvest observations. This project was developed by Morgen McLaughlin and the Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association. The Finger Lakes Wine Country office will distribute the report to their media contact list in an effort to tell our harvest story for this year. I’m also creating slideshows to be uploaded to online photo sharing sites such as Flickr and the photo section of the Open Wine Consortium.
So please send me your Harvest photos and observations by end of day 10/31/08 if you would like to be included in the report and media outreach efforts. You can send to me at melissa (dot) dobson (at) avantguild.com. If you’re interested in having me come out to shoot photos and make observations in person, let me know. I have several wineries signed on for an in-person visit, but I’ll get to you if possible.
Come on Finger Lakes wineries, let’s show ’em how beautiful and bountiful Harvest time is here in Finger Lakes Wine Country!