Archive for the ‘Wine Bloggers Conference’ Category

Social Media Quick Tip: Add Social Media Info to Signage

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I bet a bunch of you are already all over this one.  I spotted this signage from Faust Winery in Napa Valley during the Grand Tasting of Napa Wines at Quintessa during the recent Wine Bloggers Conference.

This is a simple, low-cost branding strategy to promote your social media efforts.  Once you get your customers there, you know what happens eventually: they’ll start talking to you and hopefully providing valuable information on their likes and dislikes, preferences and experiences with your wine brand.

Although this sign was on a table at a tasting, you can also create signage that is representative of your brand’s look and feel and post them in your tasting room, create postcards, add your social media info to your business cards, print out pages and include in the bottom of customer shopping bags, include in your shipment boxes.

If you’re a winery who is already promoting your pages this way, I would love to have you upload your photos to the fan photos section of my Facebook fan page.  That way we can see each other’s signage and use the photos for info on how to fan each other’s pages.

And it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a smiling staff member to promote the info either.

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2009 Wine Bloggers Conference: Fewer Words, More People Pictures

Live Blogging Fast & Furious

Live Blogging Fast & Furious

There’s been so much buzz about the Wine Bloggers Conference in Napa and Sonoma, CA this year.  With close to 300 attendees (and 75 waitlisted) the WBC has been a dominant topic of conversation for months now among many in the wine community.  There have been several posts already as I’m late to the game.  But I had to show you the Wine Bloggers Conference in pictures.  Recognize anyone?

Jeff Stai aka El Jefe-one of the best social brand builders in our industry

Jeff Stai aka @eljefetwisted-One of the Best Social Brand Builders in Our Industry

Here we are at the Russian River Valley Winegrowers After Party

Here we are at the Russian River Valley Winegrowers After Party

Jeff Lefevere Diving In Before Live Blogging

Jeff Lefevere Pouring for Dinner

Murphy-Goode's Hardy Wallace Bringin' On the Fun

Murphy-Goode's Hardy Wallace Bringin' On the Fun

Bottleshock's Marc Lhormer-Double Fisted

Bottleshock's Marc Lhormer-Double Fisted

For truly exceptional blogger photos, see Bricks of Wine’s Eric Hwang’s photostream.

Wine Bloggers Conference 2009-Live Wine Blogging Impresssions

Okay, a couple of quick impressions for you from the Live Blogging segment.

2008 Fish Eye Pinot Grigio NV:  a bit astringent on the nose, described as “light, fruity wine”, Central Valley. $6.99 for 750 ml, also comes in a 3 L box.  This is recommended by the winery representative for newer wine drinkers, for fun, mass appeal.  RS .70%

Pinot Evil Pinot Noir (France):  promoted as quality, value and eco-friendly.  Decanted but still tannic, light in style IMO.  Premium wine cask category grew by 30% in 2008.  Good for entertaining, put in carafes for guests.

2007 Cupcake Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon: 100% malolactic fermentation, aged in American Oak for 12 mos. This is marketed as an adult treat (cupcake).  Dark cherry in color, toasty on the nose, smooth rounded flavors.  $13.99 or on special for $9.99.  This is a good value wine to seek out.

Snows Lake Two Blend:  250 cases each of 2 varietals.  72% Cabernet Sauvignon 28% Cab Franc.  French Oak and New French Oak. Dark, dark in color smooth and supple for young fruit.  Retail $45. Available in NY/NJ as well as many other states.

2007 Line County Petite Sirah Lake County: Oak on the nose, described as afull-bodied Petit Sirah, but I found it to be more medium-bodied. Would pair well with many dishes similar to pairing ability of Pinot Noir.  Nice value at $10.

2007  Cline Ancient Vines Mouvedre: little oak (25% new French Oak) so as not to mute the fruit.  Mostly Mouvedre. Mouvedre was very popular in the ’30s but has almost disappeared. $16.00.  Peel back label.  This is my first Mouvedre and I will explore more of them.

2007 Tandem Manchester Ridge Chardonnay: family operation, Manchester Ridge.  Paired with Old Wente.  Skin contacting for 32 hours.  I got lemon on the palate.

2007 Foggy Bridge Chardonnay:  Australian winemaker formerly with Penfolds.  Very light straw in color.  190 cases.  Single label.

2006 Clif Gary’s Improv Syrah: dark cherry color, toasted oak nose.  Tasting a bit young though should round out with age or decanting.

2007 Benovia Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir: Pinot Noir focus, Russian River AVA, 370 cases, $55.  Minimal intervention, cold soaked.  Unfined, unfiltered.

2007 Lion’s Pride El Molino High School Russian River valley Pinot Noir: high school students have a winery permit .  100% of proceeds go back to the high school Ag program.  A labor of love. Celebrity winemakers donate time and materials to make the wine.

2005 Rockaway Single Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon: Rodney Strong.  Sugary cherry on the nose like a cherry tart, hillside fruit.

Bringing the Wines of New York to the Wine Bloggers Conference

032When Lenn Thompson, Publisher and Editor of LENNDEVOURS blog, and I decided to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma last month, the wheels in Lenn’s head started turning, looking for an opportunity to get our beloved NY wines in front of a group of wine bloggers from around the country and beyond sometime during our gathering. He asked me to help him to gather a selection of wines from the Finger Lakes AVA and have them shipped out to our wine blogger friend, Russ Beebe of winehiker witiculture, the official blog for californiawinehikes.com who took great care of them for us. The tasting was structured as a casual, and self-guided overview of NY wines with Lenn opening the bottles and placing them on the countertops of the kitchen area at the center of the gathering of around 40 bloggers who were invited. As Lenn outlined in his post about reactions to the New York wines, it was the end of a long day with many wines already poured during the day’s earlier events, so this casual setting was well-received. For reactions to specific wines, please see Lenn’s post and watch for updates on Open Wine Consortium.

034Thank you to all of the wineries who submitted their wines for the tasting. A recommended next step would be to follow up with some of the bloggers in attendance with additional wine submissions for their review (for those who accept submissions), from the comfort of their homes, now that they have had an overview of NY wines.  Feel free to contact me directly if you’re interested in discussing this strategy.

Dr. Konstantin Frank was one of the winery sponsors of the Wine Bloggers Conference and a review of the submitted 2006 Rkatsiteli is posted on my new friend, (and fearless WBC chauffeur) Remy Charest’s blog The Wine Case.

How Do I Feel About Finger Lakes Wine Country After Visiting Sonoma?

As you know, I recently returned from the first North American Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, CA in Sonoma County. This was my first trip out West and only the second wine region I have visited. One of the reasons I was anxious to explore Sonoma was for a new perspective on both the offerings and challenges of our region here in the Finger Lakes AVA. Realizing that one can become jaded by not looking outside of the wine country landscape that has become home, I ventured forward excited and looking for new perspective.

Although a good bit of our time during the conference was spent at the Flamingo Resort and Spa, the opportunities to explore bits of Sonoma were good ones. Saturday included our choice of Zephyr Adventures vineyard walks that I previously posted about. Here’s what I took away after visiting and experiencing Michel-Schlumberger.

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Beyond the amazing experience that Zephyr Adventures provided on these vineyard walks, I immediately noticed how down-to-earth and friendly winemaker Michael Brunson and General Manager Judd Wallenbrock are. I felt as if we were old friends invited to spend an afternoon in the vineyard with them. The people I encountered in Sonoma overall reminded me of the friendly, warm folks who make up the Finger Lakes Wine industry. To me, this is one of the reasons I fell in love with our wine country when I first started visiting tasting rooms in the Finger Lakes just two years ago. More than anything, in my mind, the people and the way they make you feel when you visit a new place create a connection to the region that you want to bring home with you (in several bottles!) and tell your friends and family about. And of course return to visit again.

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Remember this coming from a wine lover who has a discerning eye for detail and who is looking at the numerous choices of wine to drink and wineries to visit, in hopes of adding a new favorite to my list. What are you and your staff doing to capture your new visitors hearts and create a memorable experience that will assure repeat visits and purchases of your wine? Do you have programs in place to excite your tasting room staff each day and make them feel special so that they in turn can project that feeling to your tasting room visitors? Are they personally consulting on wine purchases for visitors (when possible) or just letting them walk around the tasting room after finishing their tasting, possibly without purchasing any bottles? I’m not suggesting that your staff hard sell anything, but rather take a few extra steps to direct and help select wine that could lead to interest in your wine club down the road and return visits to your winery. Remember, people connect with people and this could make a difference. Visitors will walk out feeling special, more so than at the tasting room where they were not given that bit of personal attention.

Am I missing anything? Feel free to chime in.

More ideas to come…

Wine Bloggers Conference Report: Our Vineyard Walk at Michel-Schlumberger

One of the items on our itinerary for the Wine Bloggers Conference was a Zephyr Adventures vineyard walk. The vineyard walk I chose after a recommendation from my friend, Tom Wark at Fermentation was the vineyard walk at Michel-Schlumberger. I have to admit that this was one of the highlights of the weekend itinerary for me. I was excited to see a vineyard in another wine region, especially one in Sonoma County which has been on my hit list of wine regions I have been dying to visit.

First let me tell you that I was impressed with Allan Wright and team from Zephyr Adventures for our vineyard walk. They kept us on schedule but were unobtrusive during the walk. I appreciated many things about this experience. Of course the beauty of the vineyard, but also the intimate experience of a small group walking and hearing about the winery and vineyard from Michel-Schlumberger’s Sr. VP and General Manager Judd Wallenbrock and winemaker Mike Brunson. Both are down-to-earth and friendly and clearly passionate about the wines of Michel-Schlumberger. We wound through 4 miles of vineyards and ended our afternoon with a true vineyard lunch complete with long table for our group in the most beautiful setting. After watching many episodes of Michael Chiarello’s NapaStyle on Food Network, this setting was Heaven on Earth for me. (I realize that I was in Sonoma and Michael films from Napa) The attention to detail, gorgeous plates of Tuscan-inspired dishes from nearby restaurant Santi’s Chef de Cuisine, Liza Hinman included family style braised pork with fresh greens and farro with a mixed greens salad of fresh figs, grapes, and goat cheese. YUM!

Here’s what made my experience at Michel-Schlumberger so special and one I will remember until I’m a very old lady: it was an intimate experience with Judd and Mike and their entire staff, the setting was absolutely beautiful and we were treated like gold during our visit. I’m impressed with all of the people I met while in Sonoma and will surely return to visit on a leisure trip sometime in the future.

I hope you enjoy this video of our halfway stop and wine tasting with Michel-Schlumeberger’s Mike Brunson. Listen in as he explains the unique qualities of the Cab 6 grape. Enjoy!

For another blogger’s post on our experience at Michel-Schlumberger, see this post from AnotherWineBlog.com.

Posts from Attendees of the Wine Bloggers Conference

Would you like to keep updated on many of the posts from the attendees of the Wine Bloggers Conference?  If so, visit the page where attendees are posting links to their blog posts on Open Wine Consortium.  And check back often to see the latest.  I think it will take quite awhile for us to complete all there is to write about from the Wine Bloggers Conference!

Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma: An Online Community Connects and Demonstrates the Collaborative Nature of Social Networking

My expectations for the first Wine Bloggers Conference were high when I decided to attend early this summer. After months of getting to know several wine bloggers on Open Wine Consortium and Twitter, I was going to have the opportunity to meet my friends and fellow wine bloggers in person. I know it may seem strange to hear me call a bunch of people I’ve never met in person my friends, but that’s what they are.

As a community, we have cheered on each other’s achievements and new ventures. We have jumped in to provide insights, ideas and resources with enthusiasm. We have comforted each other when one of us is down in the dumps or not feeling well. And like all other friends, we can pick good fights in jest, debate a point of relevance (or non-relevance!) and be mad at one another one day, but not the next. We have come to count on and deeply respect each other, whether or not we agree on things.

We share a love and passion for wine and those involved in the industry. We are excited to learn more, share our insights and push the envelope forward to better ourselves and our blogs. This is a strong, vibrant and exciting community and I’m very honored to be a part of it.

This weekend, I met many of my blogger friends and happily recognized several by face from their avatars which made it very easy to walk up and introduce myself or have someone seek me out. The awkwardness that usually accompanies breaking the ice with conference attendees was not an issue, as was pointed out by Joel Vincent of Open Wine Consortium, one of the Wine Bloggers Conference organizers when he addressed us during his wrap up speech today. Another tremendous advantage of social networking, in my opinion.

This first post on the conference is a foundation for the others that will follow to report on more specifics and important take aways. I have some new insights on the Finger Lakes Region after seeing some of Sonoma County. I will fill you in on new ideas that were uncovered at the conference. And I’ll walk you through some more specifics of our weekend activities as soon as I am feeling back to myself. I am still not well after suffering from motion sickness on the bus ride back from our dinner at Sebastiani, but I’ll report more soon and have some great photos to share with you as well.

Cheers! From Melissa’s Desk

The Vista from Atwater Estate Vineyards

The Vista from Atwater Estate Vineyards

For Week of 10/6/08:

  • This week, freelance writer Patricia Savoie featured The Finger Lakes in a seven-page spread in Sommelier Journal. The publication has carved out a niche as “the only magazine specifically targeting restaurant wine professionals. Wine retailers, importers and distributors, winemakers, and serious wine consumers will all be strong secondary markets. In fact, anyone who is serious about wine will be interested in this magazine.” There is also a forum post about the article beginning a discussion debating whether or not one of the reasons that the Finger Lakes wine industry has not been able to break out into the mainstream is due to lack of production. Thus far, only Bob Madill of Sheldrake Point Vineyard and Finger Lakes Wine Alliance has responded with his views. If you have a moment, and would like to provide your insight into the wine industry in the Finger Lakes, go to the forum and set up a profile so that your views can be heard. These types of forums are valuable, free educational and marketing vehicles that can create two-way conversations and drive further understanding and awareness to the region as well as to you and your winery as a source of information and quality wine.  And it shows that you’re plugged in and interested in supporting the efforts of your fellow winery owners.
  • Looking for further insight into how social media can help you?  See a recent post by Judd Wallenbrock, Owner & Founder, Humanitas Winery; President/GM, Michel-Schlumberger Wine Estate, and check out the comments section to decide for yourself.  Judd explores how blogs and other social media platforms allow for the return of two-way conversation in the wine world.
  • The Wine Bloggers Conference is just over a week away with over 150 wine bloggers from across the U. S. expected to attend and participate.  Lenn Thompson at LENNDEVOURS blog was the driving force behind creating an opportunity for an informal tasting of New York wines during the conference.  See Lenn’s post and thoughts on the upcoming conference here.  Lenn and I are both planning on representing and educating attendees about the wines of New York within casual conversations as well as during the tastings.  Many of the attendees originally connected via a social network called Open Wine Consortium.   I highly recommend visiting the site, poking through the content, forums, groups and members and setting up a profile for yourself.  This site attracts the thought leaders in the industry, those who are pushing the envelope and embracing new technologies because of the power these strategies have for wineries and wine businesses.  If you haven’t participated in social networks much, I recommend setting up a profile, filling it out completely including links to your website and a clear description of who you are and what your business is.  Then you may want to “lurk” for a bit, or just look around at the conversations taking place, utilize the search function and look for content relevant to your wine business, AVA or related subjects and once you feel comfortable, start by joining into a discussion and posting your views.  Avoid pitching yourself/your business or using marketing speak in your posts as these types of posts will be seen as self-promoting and will turn off members.  The purpose is to collaborate, educate and add to the conversation rather than push your wares.  There is a strong sense of community among members of OWC which is now being taken offline and to the Wine Bloggers Conference.

Cheers to you until next week and thank you to all of my wine friends who have been extremely supportive and helpful in introducing me to their wine friends…it is very much appreciated!

Melissa

Update on Wine Bloggers Conference

In my previous post announcing the first Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma this fall, I mentioned an opportunity for wineries to have your wines tasted at a NY wine tasting as part of the conference. That NY-specific tasting is being put on hold for a future Wine Bloggers Conference, however there is an opportunity for sponsorship of the conference via a Winery Sponsorship for $250 that would include participation in the Live Wine Blogging segment of the conference in which one of your wines will be tasted, rated and blogged about by participants. The complete details of this and other sponsorship levels can be found here and more information on the Wine Bloggers Conference is also available.

At the time of my writing this post, there are only five of 12 total Winery Sponsorships still available. So here are the benefits as I see them for your winery:

  • An opportunity to showcase your signature or favorite wine to at least 50 wine bloggers from across the US who will be tasting, rating and live blogging to their readers about your wine. ( low-cost publicity)
  • If you choose to personally pour the wine for the bloggers, you can introduce yourself and create awareness of yourself and your wines to them. (personal connection)

If you’re intrigued and would like more information, feel free to contact the event organizers directly at info@winebloggersconference dot org. Also, you can contact me directly to discuss this opportunity because I’ll be attending the conference by emailing me at melissa dot dobson@avantguild dot com.

Let’s generate some buzz for our beloved NY wines!