Archive for November, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving!

As you’re rushing around today, getting ready to gather with your family and friends for Thanksgiving tomorrow, let me stop you for just a moment to say thank you.  I sincerely appreciate your interest in my posts and the fact that you continue to return here, even though my posting schedule is oftentimes sporadic.  This blog houses my passions, both personal and professional, and being a bit of a creative soul, passion oftentimes comes in spurts.  I plan to continue to improve the content here as I learn and grow and I hope that it helps and entertains you.

Pictured above are the bottles I’m bringing along for this Thanksgiving weekend.  The 2008 Red Tail Ridge Barrel Fermented, Estate Grown Chardonnay is a gift for my sister to congratulate her on a big promotion she just got.  Anthony Road Tony’s White is for those who enjoy a bit of sweetness in their whites and the 2008 Bloomer Creek Reserve White Riesling blend will accompany Thanksgiving dinner.  When I select wines to share, I tend to think about the style preferences of those I’ll be popping the cork with, not just what I prefer.  I enjoy mixing it up, bringing some of my favorites and new discoveries. What are you bringing to share over the holiday?  (Disclosure: I purchased all of the bottles shown)

Happy Thanksgiving and safe travels!!




Winery Marketing: “Trust Agents” Outlines How to Win Hearts and Minds

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Chris Brogan & I at SM2Day Conference

As I mentioned in a previous post, I’m a huge fan of Chris Brogan and the book he co-authored with Julien Smith entitled “Trust Agents.”  (And Chris’ blognewsletter…) Okay, I know I’m gushing.

This isn’t meant to be a blatant push for Chris and Julien or their book.  But one of the things I believe you come here for is my opinion on discoveries that can help you to grow your business and keep you on track to continue to engage with and build a community of enthusiasts for your winery brand.  I understand that your days are busy so I love to bring you resources to help you to do that.  Being a solopreneur affords me the flexibility to watch out for things for you that I strongly believe can help you to tell your winery’s unique story to those who want to hear about it the most and will in turn tell their friends about you.  “Trust Agents” outlines best practices for using the web to build influence and teaches you how to earn trust and build relationships that can benefit you and your community.

If you’ve been reading my posts on social media, have attended workshops or webinars but still feeling like you’re not sure what to do next or if you can improve results on what you’re already doing out there on the web, Chris, Julien and “Trust Agents” offers guidance and actionable steps.  And there’s a really cool story about J Vineyards and Winery in Sonoma and how one of their staff members won the trust of tech blogger Robert Scoble and got him to buy a case of wine from the winery after winning him over.  Plus, there’s a bit on Gary Vaynerchuk and how he makes us want to buy his products.

The book was also recently listed as one of the recommended books for those interested in digital marketing for the wine industry by Paul Mabray, founder and Chief Strategy Officer at VinTank in a post on John Corcoran’s Think Wine Marketing blog.  If you’d rather listen to an audiobook version, there’s one available via Amazon.

Have you already read “Trust Agents?”  What are the takeaways that resonated most that can be applied to a winery’s business plan?

Chris Brogan: “Ways to Be Human From a Distance”

Photo provided by Wendy Piersall (@eMom)

Do you ever read a blog post and want to shout out loud, “Yes, exactly-what he just said!” while you eagerly devour each word to the finish?

That’s how I felt, although I didn’t shout it aloud, when reading a post titled, “Ways to Be Human at a Distance” by Chris Brogan, Community and Social Media thought-leader and co-author of New York Times Bestseller “Trust Agents.” Like many of you, I’m challenged every day to keep in touch and up-to-speed on my clients and fellow bloggers virtually with very little face-to-face time.   Being human, showing my face as much as possible on Twitter and Facebook primarily and on my blog is one way that I stay “in touch” with my clients, prospective clients and colleagues.  Just how well it works or to what degree you should incorporate Chris’ recommendations are up to you and based on your individual strengths and weaknesses.

A couple of key items that resonated strongly with me for you to consider for your own personal branding efforts:

  • Chris says, “Faces matter – On all online accounts, use a picture of you, or you with a logo, or you in front of a logo, to represent yourself.”  I encourage my clients and anyone who asks me about social media to please, please show your face instead of just a logo on all online accounts.  I also strongly recommend adding people pictures on your About Us or Our Team pages on your websites as well.   Nothing feels more sterile and unwelcoming than an About Us page with text only. Seeing people’s faces is much more engaging and establishes a layer of credibility.
  • Chris says, “Make each conversation unique to the platform – By this, I mean that I prefer individual conversations on Facebook that aren’t cloned into Twitter and/or back again. I believe it’s more authentic to be in one place at a time. Even if you say similar things in both places, I prefer it that way than to blanket automated clatter.” I may be too particular about personalizing things, but when I read that a post or content was pushed out from platform to platform, it doesn’t feel as authentic to me either.  I completely understand that it’s a time saver to hook up platforms to republish content automatically, but it loses something in translation in my opinion.  Months ago, I fed my Twitter tweets to auto-update my Facebook profile.  I was doing this to save myself time but wasn’t considering that some of my friends on Facebook aren’t on Twitter and were reading updates they didn’t care about or understand.  The exception to this is in auto-publishing your blog posts to your Facebook fan page.  For some reason, that feels okay to me and I do it.
  • Chris says, “Remember – When someone says their cat is sick, it’s good to make a note to inquire about it later. People like when you remember. It goes far in making a relationship feel two-way, because believe me, they remember about you.”
  • Chris says, “Pictures help – I use Flickr to share photos of events, of people I meet, of my family, of whatever catches my fancy. I do this also because they connect us, they give us common experience points, they share faces with we humans (who have a thing for faces, if you didn’t know). Pictures are a strong way to add humanity to what you do.”  Twitter photo sharing and Facebook personal profiles and Fan Pages are great places to “take us along” with you, show us what you’ve been up to and keep us feeling like we’re a part of your business’ successes and challenges.
  • Chris says, “Mixing Personal and Professional – I’m for it. People ask me all the time whether they should talk about personal things on their business account. I say yes, absolutely. But be measured. There’s a huge difference between self-aware and self-involved. In my personal case, I’m lucky. I’m my own brand, so if I want to scare you with tweets about my doctor’s office, I can. You might not be as lucky, but please, in the name of all that is holy, don’t be boring. That’s a worse crime.”  People bring this up frequently when I speak to them about social media and I’m for it too.  It has helped me tremendously in the little bit of time since I created my business.  I thought about it before venturing out to pursue my dream of breaking into the wine industry where I knew very few people.  How can I win the trust of the local wineries when I’m an outsider and how do I stand out to my long-distance client prospects and stay in touch with all of the awesome wine bloggers that I’ve met?  Social media posts and blogging about my passion, my family and friends and my hopes and dreams has brought ideal clients to me and repels those that don’t share my outlook or care for my personal approach, saving us both time in the end.  I’ve noticed a sense of warmth and welcoming from the prospective clients who have researched me and read my blog when we meet in person or have our first phone conversation.  It also helps to break the ice for me at the Wine Bloggers Conference each year.  I welcome this because I’m a bit shy when just getting to know someone so breaking down the walls helps me feel more at ease and lets me focus on the person in front of me.

Take some time to consider these points.  Chris has won my trust and respect by doing the things he outlines in his post.  So much so that I bought and read “Trust Agents” just after release and will be attending the SM2Day Conference in Rochester, NY where he’ll be speaking next Wednesday.  Wouldn’t miss it for anything.

Seneca Lake Wine Touring on a Beautiful Fall Day

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Cynthia, Janelle and I at Red Tail Ridge Winery

It’s not often that I have the opportunity to have a “girls weekend” like I used to before I met Rich, and I definitely miss my girl time.  (Don’t worry, Rich is well aware of this and was brave enough to offer not only to host my friends for the weekend, but also to drive us for our wine tour on Saturday  🙂 )

It really is a blast to get together and explore the beauty of the region along with the wines and especially to see who likes and dislikes each of the wines we taste together.  The only things I knew about my friends Cynthia and Janelle’s wine personalities was that they both dig Sokol Blosser’s Evolution, an Oregon State produced, stainless-steel fermented  blend of nine grape varieties: Muller-Thurgau, White Riesling, Semillon, Pinot Gris, Gewurztraminer, Muscat Canelli, Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, Sylvaner and that they’re both partial to drinking California reds ranging from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon.

We ventured out on what was supposed to be a rainy, windy Saturday afternoon but turned out to be sunny and warm, starting at Red Tail Ridge Winery.  The first thing we noticed was the privacy and beauty of the winery setting.  It’s set back from the road and the tasting room is small and intimate.  This was my first visit to Red Tail Ridge and also my first taste of their wines.  Our group was partial to the whites over the ’07 Estate Grown Pinot Noir and I explained to my friends that the style of Pinot Noir here is much different than from other regions and that with their palates being accustomed to West Coast Pinot Noirs, a Finger Lakes Pinot Noir would be of a unique style that they may or may not enjoy.

Our overall favorite wines were the ’08 Estate Grown Semi-Dry Riesling (1.8% RS) and the ’08 Semi-Sweet Riesling (4% RS) and I mentioned in jest that I’m one of those wine drinkers who professes to prefer dry wines, but in fact I like a bit of sweetness as long as there’s nice structure, balance and acidity which both of these Rieslings have.

Our day included stops at Anthony Road Wine Company from which we posted pictures to our Facebook pages. Anthony Road Wine Company is among our favorite wineries and we enjoy their reds and whites across the board and always highly recommend them to newbies seeking Finger Lakes winery recommendations.   We agreed that the value discoveries to please a crowd were Tony’s White made of the Cayuga White grape ($8.99)  and the new 1.5 liter offering called PN II Red Table Wine (around $15), from pinot noir grapes that are the second selection of the sorting process.  I told the girls that although I’m enmeshed in the wine industry and love and appreciate special bottles like anyone else, I’m truly an everyday wine drinker in that I’m driven to find wines to enjoy of a high QPR and save my special bottles for sharing at get-togethers or to celebrate with.

We also visited Glenora Wine Cellars, where we discovered that Cynthia much prefers sweeter reds and doesn’t like sparkling bruts.  This is where Janelle and I disagreed with her and both chose ’07 Pinot Noir Rose’ and newly-released ’08 Merlot.  We had an incredible view of Seneca Lake from the back tasting bar and we had a blast watching Cynthia grab up every pair of Santa Pants wine holders they had out on the floor.

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Our last stop was to Fulkerson Winery.  We’ve consistently been treated very well each time we’ve tasted at Fulkerson and Vincent is one of our favorite red hybrids in the region.  The tasting room is spacious and beautiful with bright sunlight streaming in the large windows.  We had the opportunity to say hello to John Iszard, Wine Sales and Marketing Director at the winery and, of course, the topic of interest among my group of Buffalonians and John was football.  We “admitted” to our love for the Buffalo Bills and I wished him luck in cheering for his favorite team, the Pittsburgh Steelers.  It’s just this type of banter and low-key conversation that I have come to cherish among the members of the Finger Lakes wine community.  During our day, we spoke to a group of out-of-town tourists who are regular visitors to the region.  They reiterated the importance of wineries selling not only their wines but the experience of each winery and their backstory.  More on that in a post to come.