Archive for the ‘Wine Blogs’ 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?

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.

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


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 🙂

First Online Wine Blogger Tasting: The Wines of Chile


I had the opportunity to participate in the recent online wine blogger tasting for the Wines of Chile.  The tasting included a live webcast moderated by Michael Green, Wine & Spirits consultant at Gourmet magazine.  Eight winemakers were  available via live webcast from Santiago, Chile…cool.  Michael led the tasting and asked each winemaker questions as we swiftly tasted through the eight wines.

There was also much activity on Twitter as the bloggers tweeted their impressions live.  The hashtag #winesofchile was used and the Twitter conversation was one of the highlights for me. Check out the tweets related to the tasting.  I did click to the Tweet Chat room to read and engage with the live tweets and minimized the winemakers and Michael in my browser, but listened to their conversation as I tweeted.

Key Takeaways:

  • Although not a replacement for in-person or group tastings, the Wines of Chile online tasting was a fun way to learn about Chilean wines, regions and the winemakers in a virtual group setting.
  • I enjoyed that the winemakers were available live.
  • The pace was rapid, I would have preferred a bit more time to taste and tweet about the wines.
  • Like some others, I was impressed with the 2008 Cono Sur Pinot Noir from Colchagua Valley.  I had no impression of Chilean Pinot Noirs going into the tasting, but liked the elegance of this one and Chilean Pinots will now go onto my radar.
  • Prior to the tasting, bloggers were actively Tweeting and updating Facebook statuses with a countdown to how long until the tasting began.  (“one more hour until Wines of Chile tasting!”)
  • Some bloggers posted pictures of their tasting items to Twitpic.
  • This tasting lends to positioning of the Wines of Chile brand as forward thinking because they demonstrated that they embrace technology, social media tools and wine bloggers.

One idea for a next step:

  • Create a Facebook Public Profile (fan page) for Wines of Chile with video of the tasting, videos of winemakers, tab with technical info including bottle shots and invite participating bloggers to become a fan and invite others.  Keep these excited bloggers engaged with the Wines of Chile brand.
    • Encourage blogger questions and have winemakers respond directly there
    • Create a page of links to blog posts about the tasting
    • Promote Wines of Chile events and tastings via Facebook events, targeting via location

There was a nice mention of the tasting in a round up story on  The article is titled, “The New Way to Learn About Wine:  Twitter.”   I’m not sure if live tweeting was a part of the strategy developed by the team at RF Binder, the agency representing the Wines of Chile, but it happened organically and was a very relevant part of the tasting.   Another fun thing was that my husband, Rich tasted along with me.  His palate is different than mine but overall he liked the wines with his favorite being the ’06 Los Vascos Reserve blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Carmenere, Syrah and Malbec.  Mine were the ’08 Emiliana Natura Sauvignon Blanc and ’06 Veramonte Primus, a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Merlot and Carmenere.  One of the first things he said to me the next morning was that the tasting was a lot of fun.  We’re packing up what’s left of our bottles for a trip to visit our good friends to taste through the wines again with them.

Winery Resource Alert: The State of Wine Industry Social Media


More than likely, if you’re reading this post, you have an interest in gaining a detailed understanding of social media platforms and those that are most relevant to the health and happiness of your winery’s business. A group of the industry’s top thought leaders at VinTank, Derek Bromley and Tom Wark have compiled the first whitepaper specifically for the wine industry entitled, “The State of Wine Industry Social Media.”

The paper contains some tech-speak that may look a bit scary at first, but hang in there and read through to the end. These guys are in-the-know, have strong relationships in the wine industry with bloggers, traditional media and developers and seek to help you, the winery principal, to navigate and gain an understanding of the social media landscape. Facebook, Twitter, Wine Blogs, Wine Social Networks, Gary V and Wine Library TV are detailed specifically pertaining to their relevance to wineries and wine retailers.

Paul Mabray and team are eager to receive questions or input on the report and can be reached at: ADDRESS: 1250 Main Street Suite #270 Napa, CA 94559 • PHONE: 800.605.8265 • WEB: • EMAIL:

Or comment on the Tasting Room blog at

A special thank you to the VinTank team for mentions of myself, my client Andrew Kamphuis at Vin65 and senior strategist and wine blogger friend, Michael Wangbickler, on their thank you page.

UPDATE (5/12/09)

If you would like to listen to Paul Mabray discuss some of the key findings of the report, check this out

Social Media Quick Tips: Blog Commenting Do’s and Don’ts

As a follow-up to the Social Media Workshop I conducted with Finger Lakes Wine Country Tourism Marketing Association last week, I will be offering quick tips on best practices and worst practices in social media engagement.

We discussed the value of commenting on wine blogs to build your personal brand and expertise.  One of the things I advised was to comment in a way that isn’t self-promotional, full of fluffy marketing speak, etc. but rather as a way to continue the conversation that is already going on in the post, to add a new perspective on a topic or to educate.  Of course most blogs allow you to include a hyperlink to your winery’s website or blog so that if a reader wishes to he/she can click on the link to find out more about you.

I forgot to mention that it is not advisable or looked upon favorably to promote your own events or  products directly in the comments section.  Bloggers decide what they feel is relevant in creating the content for their readers.  If you write your own event or product content as a blatant way of using the blog for advertising purposes, the blogger and the blog’s readers are likely to be offended by that.

By all means, don’t let this advice scare you from commenting.  I read recently that fear of attack is one of the reasons most readers lurk and don’t comment on blogs.  Just think it through and be authentic, provide insight, resources, a fresh perspective on topic and you’ll see that your comments will be well received.

Winery Marketing: People Connect with People, not Wine Bottles

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Crew at Harvest

Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards Crew at Harvest

One of my current projects involves creating content for a local wine association’s new website. I found
this post by Ben Chinn, Director of Web Design and Development at Inertia Beverage Group. Ben refers to winery websites as “virtual tasting rooms” in that they are another extension of your winery, its people and your winery’s story.

“What are you saying on your website? Can you imagine an employee in your tasting room talking like the text reads on your site? You have an opportunity to connect directly with customers on your website – don’t lose sight of the human being on the other side of the screen.”

It’s been my experience that today, customers are seeking personal connections and want to establish relationships with people, not bottles or vines or views. Although gorgeous shots of your winery’s views, vines and bottles are important to include, remember to feature your winery family and customers on your website. What makes them special? Why would a new visitor to your site want to come in and meet your staff, sample your wines and come back for more?

As Ben says in the post, “You need to create a memory of your winery that stands out among the other tasting room visits that day. On the web the competition is even more severe. You are competing with millions of other web sites and all of them are only a click away. How have you distinguished yourself and made sure the memory of your web site stays with each customer?”

Take a good look at your current web site content. When was the last time you updated it to tell your story and capture the interest of wine lovers with many, many choices of winery websites out there? If your content and events are stale, you may find yourself clicked away from in an instant.