This is one of my favorite times of the year. I’m fortunate enough to be included on the list of wine bloggers and writers who get asked to attend TasteCamp East, organized by Lenn Thompson and Evan Dawson at The New York Cork Report.
Last year, Long Island Wine Country hosted our group and although Rich and I lived in NYC together for a few years, I hadn’t heard much about LI’s wine region while living there. Reading Lenn’s posts familiarized me with the key wineries and varietals. But to meet, taste and explore first hand along with a group of friends who live and breathe wine…that’s the part I love most.
So here we are, the night before the 2nd TasteCamp East and it will be in our new neighborhood…Finger Lakes Wine Country. The people and wines in my own backyard. The wineries who have signed up to pour for TasteCamp East attendees recognize the opportunity to start or enhance their relationships with savvy, enthusiastic and influential wine bloggers. They’re not turning their backs or questioning the “authority” or “credibility” of wine bloggers. They’re not holding out because wine bloggers aren’t traditional wine writers. They see this group of wine bloggers as the wine influencers that they are. Influential over 5 or 50,000– opinions of trusted peers and like-minded enthusiasts is increasingly important to millennials and others skeptical of marketing messages. If a wine blogger is willing to devote their weekend time (um, it’s Mother’s Day weekend to boot) pay for travel to a region and immerse themselves in what it has to offer, both positive and negative, these are the types of wine lovers that any winery should welcome.
The fact that over 30 wine blogger enthusiasts are coming here to our region is huge. Many other regions are lining up to be the next hosts for TasteCamp East. As a business person who wholeheartedly loves the people in this region and tosses and turns regularly trying to make a difference here, I’m not sure I’ll be able to sleep tonight. In my heart, I know that our region’s winery personalities will shine and embrace the first-hand feedback they’ll receive. My recommendation to participating wineries: take every bit of feedback from the attendees, both positive and negative, and look at it. Is there some consistency to what you’re hearing? While you have their attention this weekend, be yourselves, make a personal connection, show an interest in them. Find out where this group of bloggers is active and keep talking with them…not AT them. Oh and have fun with them and show them what makes you special. They’re eager to learn about you.