Posts Tagged ‘iphone’

The North Sonoma Wine Road launches their iPhone App: Review & User Tutorial

I have repeatedly given kudos to the Wine Road organization – in my opinion one of the leaders in Wine AVA marketing, innovation, and social media integration. Despite the economic downturn, their events continue to sell out and show year over year growth, no small feat in these last few years. Beth Costa, the Executive Director embraces tools and media, old and new, giving their 190 members a voice that is consistently heard.

The Vision of the App – More Timely, Updated Information in the Hands of Consumers

Launching an AVA (region based) wine app isn't new.  But bleeding edge isn't always leading edge and early release of an app that has minimal value in today's crowded world of iPhone apps means you risk losing attention after a poor first impression. The Wine Road app is a great example of 'measure twice, cut once.' Premature launch can be the death of a product or concept.

Beth said she is thrilled to finally have this option to tell guests about when they are planning to visit the Wine Road.

Historically we have been known for our printed winery map, but in the past few years more and more travelers rely on their phone for directions and information. We are also seeing more last minute travelers, who don’t have time to order a map in advance. We needed to address the changing needs of our guests and this app  hit it right on the head. The Twitter feed is also a great way for folks to join in the conversation with all of our winery and lodging members and I know customers are going to appreciate our Wine 101.

Are you an Android user? Not to worry, Beth  confirmed that a droid version is in the works!

Getting It Right

This app gets it right in a several key functional themes.

First – much of the reference information is available without Internet access. This is critical as Internet access, via phone or WiFi, is not assured when in many wine regions, and Wine Road has its dead pockets, just like any other.  (Although I can't encourage wineries enough to put WiFi in their tasting rooms.) North Sonoma is full of small, non palace wineries, off the beaten track.

A online only map to your next location,or a directory, isn't a lot of good if you don't have 3G access on your phone. Yes, even Verizon has pockets of spotty coverage.

This core benefit isn't  by accident, the developer is Darwin 3D, the brilliant husband and wife team who have designed apps for Hospice du Rhone and Paso Robles to name a few. The former being the best based event app I have used, the latter representative of a wine region who has a fair number of wineries who also have no 3G coverage.

Sorting and filtering is a another key feature. In the first release you can tell the app to filter by the 5 'regions' in the Wine Road maps. (Russian River, Dry Creek, etc.) Thus you can tell the app to only show you the venues in say, Healdsburg.  In the second phase, due shortly additional criteria will allow for very specific information filtering, such as varietal, picnic areas, tours and more.

Mapping – Online & Offline

When you open the app, it immediately wants to know your geographic location, and requests permission. This allows the app to hone in on wineries close to you. You can of course over ride this, and choose between maps one of two ways: (1) Google based maps or (2) Wine Road Maps (offline) by clicking the 3rd button 'Maps.'

Google Maps

This can actually be used if offline, but it's best functionality is when connected. Like many iPhone apps, you can 'pinch' with two fingers to zoom in and out. In my opinion the best 'wired' mapping integration comes from clicking the second button 'Wineries' then “Distance' and then a list, in order of distance from you, is displayed. You can then click a winery and see all its details. Then you can click on its address, and go to the Google Maps app, which will give you turn by turn driving directions. (Note, do not drive and do this. Its obviously not safe, and if witnessed by the law, comes with a big fine, even at a stop light.)order diflucan

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Key iPhone app direction tip: If the list of wineries by location close to you is wrong, your iPhone needs a map 'nudge'. This happens frequently in my experience with any location based app. To fix it, launch the Mapss app that came  pre-installed, and let it triangulate your location. If THAT needs a nudge, click the tiny arrow in the lower left of screen.

Offline Wine Road Maps

If you touch 'Mapss' then 'Wine Road Maps' you now have the ability to view the same maps as on the Wine Road website and printed map, with the very latest updates and new members. It starts with the overall view, which is good only for reference. Too see wineries, you left and right scroll, and choose between the various sub maps like Dry Creek, Russian River, Healdsburg. You can then pinch to zoom in and out as desired.

Sorting

The last button of the app, Settings, allows you to filter wineries, restaurants and lodging by the 5 Wine Road sub regions. Simple touch which ones you want in or out, and thats all you will see. Very useful to unclutter the app and just focus in on where you are. As mentioned earlier, the next release will expand upon this theme greatly.

Other Key Features

If you start at the home page of the app, you can see a number of features.  Some, (the Buy Tickets, Book a Room, and WineRoadWine101 buttons) launch to external website. Others are completely integrated such as Lodging, which like wineries supports and lists lodging by distance and region; and Concierge, which does the same for restaurants. There is some basic Twitter integration in Phase 1 (you must first authenticate the app) with more coming in Phase 2 and beyond.

Phase Two of the App, and Shiny New Wine Road Website – Coming Soon

Targeted for mid July the Wine Road is gearing up for a major new website update. Substantial effort has gone into redesign to clean up the look of the new site and really focus on the pages that  customers use frequently: events, maps and the videos.

One of the new features will be a “Wine Road on the Road” link where wineries will be able to post all of the special tastings they are participating in throughout the country. If you live in Phoenix and can’t get to here, you can see who will be pouring in YOUR area.

The site will offer an expanded photo gallery, more videos and every member will have links to their Facebook and Twitter accounts. Wine Road also wanted to make it as easy as possible for visitors to share any and all pages with their friends, so they have  included “share this” buttons on most pages, and have updated to Google maps.

Other useful features like lists of new wine releases and an easy to use “book a room” feature with Wine Road lodging members.

iPhone App Phase Two

The new web site release then triggers Phase 2 of the iPhone app which will offer more search features for the

wineries, such as varietals, tours, wineries with picnic areas, and their tasting fee structure. Annual event information streamlined along with their full event calendar and a small version of our photo gallery… so you can see what you are missing, if you’re not here along the Wine Road. New members, events, release etc will be updated in real time –  every time they update the website, it will automatically update the information on the app!

Download the App  – Its Free – and Give it a Whirl

You can search in the iTunes store for Wine Road or simply click here. Don't forget these work on iPad and iPod Touch as well!

I am pleased to have been able to personally help with its progress and criteria. Wine Road Executive Director, Beth Costa reached out to me for input for suggestions and design criteria, knowing my technology background, combined with my social media and marketing integration focus. The Wine Road and its members are dear to my heart, and after using too many Wine apps that didn't hit the mark, I was happy to assist. I think the end result is excellent, and Phase 2, only weeks away, even better.

Please feel free to post comments, questions, and suggestions here.  Thanks for reading – and if you find the article useful, take a second to share it with your Facebook and Twitter friends, cheers!

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iPhone Wine App Review – Hospice du Rhone Event app

Today the Hospice du Rhone team launched a very cool iPhone app for its upcoming,  globally attended wine event in Paso Robles, April 29th – to May 1st.

Apps for wine events seem to be coming into vogue, and less expensive to do. Last month Sonoma County launched its iVisit Sonoma County App, which had a feature on the Northern Sonoma Wine Road’s Barrel Tasting.

I am a bit of a closet geek, after many years as an Exec in the Tech sector, before geek was chic. I buy lots of tech toys and gadgets, and won’t give up my iPhone, despite lack of a keyboard, because of my 8 pages of apps, one for Wine apps alone. Fortunately I like wine more than being a geek, so this Wine blog, not a gadget blog!

I have played with a lot of regular apps, travel apps, and wine apps, and use most 1-2x and toss them. Obviously an app for an event maybe one you just use for that event (although I intend to use this after) so it really needs to be useful.

This is a very cool, useful app with 5 sections. I will do a walk thru of each.

Producer:

This is a well organized sub-app that sorts all the Producers pouring. Its familiar as it functions like Contacts on an iPhone, with the Same A-Z quick find on the right.

Clicking a Producer shows their address website, email address, and most importantly what the winery is pouring, at the Friday and Saturday events.  e.g If I click on Denner Vineyards, I see Friday they are pouring their 2009 Viognier, 2008 Ditch Digger, and 2005 (!) Grenache, and then what they are pouring at the Saturday Grand Tasting. (5 Wines…just reviewing this app is making my mouth water…!)

Well done, very useful, my only suggestion would be to add a  search section at the top, as the iPhone contacts does.

Variety

Next on the sub app is a list of Wineries by Varietal, in Alphabetical order.

Looking for Cinsault, a Rhone red, and you can see only 4 wineries are pouring.  I see Frick is one of the four, I can then click on Frick and see what else they are pouring, which day.
This app is great. My only suggestion: It’s a very long list; I’d recommend putting a alphabetical sort key on right like the Producer, and/or a search tool, for quicker navigation.

Region

Not really appellation sorting, more geography clusters. Arizona stands by itself with one Winery, Dos Cabezas. Clicking on that brings up the same data as the others sub apps do; a handy list of what the winery is pouring, which day.

Regions consist of: AZ, Australia, CA-Central, (the largest), CA-Northern (wineries like Arnot-Roberts a few miles from me never been to!, CA-Southern (2 entries), France, OR (one entry), South Africa (wow – 7), Spain, and WA state.

Fun Stuff

  • HdR2010 Twitter Feed: (In case you don’t know how to make a # tag list in Tweetdeck.) Don’t plan on Me tweeting 20x a hour like some wine event attendees; with so many Rhone wines, and so few days, my hands will be on a glass, not an iPhone!
  • Rhone Grape Variety Quiz: Fun quiz where you try and match a picture of a grape with what it is. Enthusiast mode offers flavor profile descriptors to help, Expert mode just a picture of the varietal. (Good luck on that one.)
  • Hospice du Rhone trivia quiz: Match up artwork from previous HdR to the Year it was held.

Fun sub apps, would be nice if they offered up the answers at the end.

Settings Tab

A great way to make the app more focused; if say for the next hour you just want to focus on certain varietals, or the ‘regions.’ You can click on each varietal and region to have it excluded/included from your search. You can also chose whether to show just the Fri or the Sat tasting. It also shows totals for each varietal, and Region.

This is where you also setup your Twitter account. Twitter Integration with this app is excellent. When you click on a Winery, there is a red ‘t’ icon, and you can see the Twitter feed for that winery, and Tweet to it. You can also view the main #HdR2010 Twitter feed, and Post to it.

Summary

A GREAT app, that in my opinion sets the bar for Wine events, and jumps passed the rest. It’s fast, functions very well in off line mode (use it on the plane to plan your tasting!) easy to navigate, and useful for quickly looking up data I want for the event.

This will be much more useful, that flipping through a paper guide 25x a day. I may even have to get one of those around your neck wine glass holders I chuckle at so I can keep my hands free when using the app!
Kudos Team HdR2010 – Well Done!

p.s. Don’t forget your chances to win free Grand Tasting Tickets, a $100 Value, first drawing this Wed night!



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