Archive for the ‘Finger Lakes Wine Country Events’ Category

TasteCamp East: Voracious Wine Bloggers Taste Throughout the Finger Lakes

Ravines Wine Cellars Morten Hallgren sharing '07 Ravines Argetsinger Vineyard Riesling and wife Lisa's skillet breakfast pizzas

This past weekend, I was among a group of wine bloggers who participated in the 2nd TasteCamp East, this year in the Finger Lakes.  The local wine industry is the inspiration for this blog and my business as I’ve mentioned to you before.  I had nothing to do with the selection of our region as the host of this year’s TasteCamp East, but of course I was pretty ecstatic that it was chosen from several other regions by TCE organizers at The New York Cork Report.

Tom Higgins of Heart & Hands Wine Company

I consider many of you my friends and part of a significant, vibrant and beautiful industry in New York State.  I have also developed friendships with several wine bloggers since attending the Wine Bloggers Conferences and meeting many of them via Open Wine Consortium, Twitter and Facebook. This year’s TasteCamp East brought these two worlds together and I enjoyed hearing the unvarnished feedback and impressions of the region and its wines from the perspective of wine bloggers, craving info on the world of wine and winemaking intricacies and eager to educate their audiences about their discoveries.

Fox Run Vineyards winemaker Peter Bell

Posts and photos started appearing pre-TasteCamp and several bloggers posted live updates and pics via their mobile phones, bringing followers along with us as we navigated through the region, lake by lake, meeting with and tasting an array of wines and food selected for us.  I noticed excitement from some of the winery owners and staff pouring for attendees because of the keen interest and knowledge level of the wine bloggers.  It’s not every day that over 30 wine enthusiasts travel to the region from several states and Canada with pen, wine journals and lots of questions!

Anything Wine's John Witherspoon

Most of the wineries greeted our group with enthusiasm, but the ones who stood out most, from what I’m hearing so far, are the ones who brought their stories front and center, educated this wine savvy audience on their winemaking philosophy but also remembered to share a bit of their personal selves and beliefs, including their struggles and challenges.

Sam Argetsinger of Argetsinger Vineyard

If you missed out on following along, check the New York Cork Report posts tagged “tastecamp” which will be updated with a list of the bloggers posts and check out FLXTwits and the #tastecamp hashtag’s results on Twitter Search.

Thank you to Lenn Thompson and Evan Dawson at the New York Cork Report for organizing TCE and all of the sponsors and wineries for hosting us.  This was my husband Rich’s first wine blogger weekend as my date and we enjoyed seeing the region from a new perspective.

Wineries: the agenda that Lenn and Evan created for us is a good guide for the types of personalized, intimate experiences that your more advanced wine customers would enjoy.  Vertical tastings, wine and food pairing and a BYOB in a casual gathering place (ie on a boat ) went over well this weekend.  Bloggers, any other types of events that you’d like to see more of?

TasteCamp East:Bloggers Arrive in the Finger Lakes

Bryan Calendrelli, Niagara Editor at The New York Cork Report

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.

Winery Visits: Rooster Hill Vineyards, Keuka Spring Vineyards

On a recent fall weekend, Rich and I spent a couple of nights in modest digs on Keuka Lake with great friends of ours.  The house is on the Northwest side of the lake and featured access to a large deck poised above a bluff overlooking the lake.  The weather was quite chilly and windy but we bundled up and made the most of our short time there.

Our friends hadn’t been to the wineries here in the Finger Lakes before and we were eager to have them experience wine tastings in a relaxed and un-rushed manner.  After a big breakfast, we headed out to our first stop and a favorite winery of ours, Rooster Hill Vineyards.

RoosterHillTasting_Sept09

Amy and Dave Hoffman and the staff at Rooster Hill consistently provide a quality wine tasting experience.  I hadn’t alluded to my fondness for Rooster Hill wines across the board to our friends, I was interested in their opinion of the experience and the wines.  Amy guided us to Marsha, one of her weekend tasting room staff who has recently studied via WSET and engaged us in a thorough tasting from whites to reds and concluding with port.  Our friends complimented Marsha on her easy, educational approach to leading the tasting and were inspired to learn more about wine because of the relaxed manner in which she talked to us about the wines.

Marsha had us taste both the 2007 Rooster Hill Gewurztraminer and 2008 Rooster Hill Estate Gewurztraminer and there was a noticeable difference.  The ’08 is bolder with a fuller mouthfeel and longer, honeyed finish.  Among the reds, the ’07 Rooster Hill Estate Cabernet Franc shone in our opinion.  My husband prefers reds and is oftentimes lukewarm about reds beyond his go-to bottle of Chianti or Sangiovese, but he was quick to remark that this wine impressed him.

We had hopes of enjoying a bottle together near the fireplace back at the house after the guys indulged in a couple of Rocky Patel cigars after dinner, so we selected the Rooster Hill Vineyards NV Port to accompany the fire and cigars after consulting with Amy,  also a cigar lover,  about our plan.  She told the guys to dip the end of the cigar in the port and then smoke it.  We were sold.  After all of that planning though, the girls didn’t make it late enough after the fire put us to sleep quickly, so we’ll be bringing the Port to our next get-together.

We then ventured out to Keuka Spring Vineyards, just down the road from Rooster Hill.  This was a first time visit for us and we were lured by a long-time curiousity about Keuka Spring Vineyards’ wines and large terrace with view of the lake.  I had a feeling that we would stop our day here in order to enjoy the terrace with a bottle of wine and some snacks we had packed.  We enjoyed our tasting with Bill and found that my friends favored the ’08 Keuka Spring Vineyards Gewurztraminer while Rich and I went toward the ’08 Keuka Spring Vineyards Riesling.  We purchased a few bottles including a chilled bottle of the ’08 Gewurz to drink on the deck, broke out our snacks and grabbed Karma from the car to settle in for a bit.

Judy, Jeanne and Mark Wiltberger took time out to stop by our table to talk and pet Karma.  Rich and our friend Mike participated in the intimate Red Wine and Chocolate tasting and came back from it quite happy and full.  I think Rich was skeptical to pairing red wine with desserts being a die-hard milk and chocolate type of guy, but he remarked that this experience opened his eyes up to the ability of red wine to pair with the nuances of chocolate and other desserts.  The desserts for the event were created by Butterwood Desserts out of West Falls, NY which is coincidentally very close to my father-in-law’s neighborhood outside of Buffalo.

It’s funny, we’ve been buckling down, growing my business and saving for a house, so we haven’t been out to the wineries as much as I would like lately.  I’m grateful for the time we do get out and it’s a reminder of what motivates me to write this blog: the welcoming nature of the people here in the Finger Lakes wine industry, new experiences centered around wine and the ability to share those things with people you love.

group_KeukaLake_Sept09

Follow Up: First Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup

FLXTweetup_may2009

David Breeden, Me, Amy Cheatle, Morgan and Evan Dawson and Tom Mansell

Our first Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup was a success. We had a small, hard-core group of Finger Lakes wine devotees in attendance, the day was beautiful and we were shown a great time by Sheldrake Point Vineyards‘ winemaker David Breeden, wine club manager Antoinette Di Ciaccio and staff.

The Past, Present and Future Riesling vertical tasting was set in a bright but intimate room with limited seating. David walked us through the tasting and answered some tough questions. He was interviewed by one of our attendees and my fellow blog contributor at LENNDEVOURS, Evan Dawson and even after that, wholeheartedly took us to taste several barrel and tank samples from Sheldrake’s 2008 vintage.

MayJune_2009_Wines of ChileFLXTweetup 018

With a new appreciation for the ageability and finesse of “older” Riesling vintages, I grabbed up the 2001, 2005 and 2008 and have resisted cracking into them. (The ’08 will not be available for sale for around another year, but was for sale to attendees of the tasting.) I was excited by what I learned that afternoon in a setting with other enthusiasts: I detected the petrol on the nose of the ’01! I picked up beautiful honey notes in the nose and palate of several vintages! I really should hold onto bottles and cellar them more often than I do, etc.

Great day, fun company, new insights…we’ll be doing this again soon. 🙂

First Finger Lakes Wine (mini) Tweetup


Tweetup defined: a real world meeting between two or more people who know each other through the online Twitter service (source: WordSpy.com)

When:  Sunday, May 31st, 2009 at 2:30 PM

Where:  Sheldrake Point Vineyards to attend “Future, Present and Past Rieslings: A Vertical Tasting Experience” in honor of May is Riesling Month

Why:  for fun, to get together and explore wine with like-minded Finger Lakes wine geeks

I’ve had the idea to start a local wine tasting Meet Up or tasting group for some time now.  With a few more Finger Lakes wine industry members jumping into conversations on Twitter, I thought it would be fun to blaze forth with a Tweetup.  In this case, it will be a mini-Tweetup because the Sheldrake vertical tasting has limited seating, so for the next one we’ll work to include more tweeps (people on Twitter).  Ideas welcome.

Thanks to Tom Mansell of Ithacork blog for coming up with the Sheldrake tasting idea.  Watch Twitter on Sunday afternoon …you may see some live TwitPics and tweets.  More details on the next Finger Lakes Wine Tweetup soon.


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Family, Love, Wine Blog: What a Year It’s Been

WBCridesharers

Diane Letulle, Remy Charest, Robbin Gheesling and I at Wine Bloggers Conference

As a girl with a dream to bring together my passions for learning about the wine industry, its people and places and social media, I’m celebrating the one-year anniversary of my first blog post. One year ago, I didn’t know a soul in the wine business. I started devouring wine blogs and publications and most-importantly, joined the Open Wine Consortium on the recommendation of blogger and wine PR guru Tom Wark. It has been a year of wine events, tastings, classes, projects, obstacles and friendship. I have learned much, thanks to many of you who have stuck by me, rallied for me and advised me. I have grown to admire many of the thought leaders in this industry and the business world. See “Thought Leaders I Follow and Admire” in the sidebar.

And if this last year is any indication of how much fun, how challenging and rewarding this business is, I foresee pursuing it until I can no longer take a breath or communicate with you in some way (I wonder what the medium of choice will be by then!)

Thank you for returning to this blog, for telling me your stories and helping me to find my passion in life outside of my family and friends. I am happy and grateful to be a part of the wine community.

A slideshow of the highlights of my first year blogging and doing business. Cheers 🙂

Announcing Social Media Basics Seminar for Businesses in Finger Lakes Wine Country

Social Media Logos by Sean McColgan.

Have you and your staff been struggling to understand social media platforms such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube and Flickr?  Is exploring this something that is still on your to-do list?  Be on the lookout for an email invitation to an upcoming Social Media Basics seminar for businesses in our local community. In part, the invitation reads:

Dear Finger Lakes Wine Country community,

Please join Morgen McLaughlin, President of Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing and Melissa Dobson, owner of Melissa Dobson PR and Marketing, for a full-day session on Wednesday, March 4, 2009 from 10 AM-3 PM at the Watkins Glen Harbor Hotel to address the basics of social media, answer your questions and talk through how social media platforms can help you to create connections with your customers and drive sales.  This will be an intimate, interactive session where your questions and input will be welcome.

Our goal is to educate you and your staff on the different social media platforms and help you to determine
immediate next steps to get your program planned, up and running.  Details to come, but among the key topics
we’ll flesh out during the session are:

* What is Facebook, Twitter, Open Wine Consortium, Flickr, YouTube, top wine blogs and why should I spend time there?
* How do I engage in social media in an effective manner and elevate my company’s brand to my target audience?
* Best practices/worst practices.
* Who should be the voice of my business?
* Current business examples-social media.
* Blogs:  should I start one?  What do I need to consider?  What are the advantages of engaging via blog comments?
* Why should I care what someone is having for lunch?  Isn’t that a waste of my time?
* How does all of this discussion help me to sell more wine, room nights, and tickets?

I would love to hear your questions on social media here so that Morgen and I can address them during the session.

Check out this recent report from FOX Business News on how Ford Motor Company is using Twitter and other social media platforms to humanize the Ford brand and interact and connect one on one with people in an effort to engage in valuable conversations with them.

In an exchange on Twitter with social media visionary Rodney Rumford, Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company summed up their philosophy on the advantage of engaging on Twitter, “It allows us to humanize the brand by connecting 1:1 with people, and it publicly demonstrates our commitment to conversation.”

Take note:  this type of conversation and engagement is now expected by customers and prospective customers.  It’s an important part of long-tail marketing efforts.  And I think you’ll find it to be a fun and engaging way to attract like-minded customers and keep in touch with your biggest fans.