Posts Tagged ‘Twitter’
Simple Hedonisms receives a fair amount of invites to attend live Twitter tastings – a format where you receive the wines, and then join other bloggers on Twitter, tasting, chatting and discussing.
I turn more of these down then accept these days, often either because of ‘day job’ travel conflicts or
often the wines are more mass market and just less interesting.
However I was super excited to receive an invitation to taste the great wines of Steven Kent (Mirassou) and his other label La Rochelle. La Rochelle specializes in Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.I discovered the La Rochelle Pinot Noir, some years ago at Pinot on The River and was a big fan.
Live, virtual tastings on Twitter can be quite fun to follow, and better yet, join in. Hand selected bloggers will be comparing notes, and engaging the winemaker in questions and dialog.
You can follow along on Twitter hashtag #StevenKentWines – simply search for it on your Twitter browser or application. (You can also go to search.twitter.com and enter #StevenKentWines .)
On Twitter, you may join in and ask questions, reply to the winemakers or bloggers etc. (Twitter account required.)
You can also purchase the wines and share your thoughts!
Wine shops like K&L Wines, JJ Buckley, and Beltramos carry them, amongst others.
- Winemaker Steven Kent Mirassou – @StevenMirassou
- Steven Kent Winery – @skwinery
- La Rochelle – @larochellewine
From 4-6 pm, Pacific time, the bloggers will taste through these wines with the winemaker:
- 2011 “Lola” (Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend) $24
- 2010 La Rochelle Chardonnay, Dutton-Morelli Lane, Russian River Valley $65
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Santa Lucia Highlands $38
- 2009 La Rochelle Pinot Noir, Donum Estate, Carneros $75
- 2009 Steven Kent Petite Verdot, Ghielmetti Vineyard, Livermore Valley $50
- 2009 Steven Kent Cabernet, Home Ranch Vineyard, Livermore Valley $65
Find one and join us!
For those that miss it, I will add notes to my Cellartracker tasting notes – now over 1,000 notes recorded!
See you on Twitter, and cheers.
Seeing California Chardonnay in a New Light: #Chardonnay Day Greenhouse Tasting, Attendees Top Picks. Up Next – Aug 18 Pinot Day
May 26th was international #Chardonnay day, organized by wine social media entity Rick Bakas. I am a believer in the varietal focused Live tastings, so to support of this, I held a private tasting of selected, 12 distinct producers, showcasing a variety of regions.
Rick did an excellent job covering the results in his article recap. Some highlights:
- Reach was over 4 million people.
- 29 MILLION impressions
- 12,000 related tweets
So…as a chardonnay producer, why didn’t you take part?
Combating Chardonnay Backlash
As this event drew near, I was observing some murmurs of backlash. One wine writer/blogger whom I respect and consider more knowledgeable than myself, reacted on Twitter by saying “celebrating Chardonnay day was like celebrating McDonalds.” Wow, jaw dropping, how did we get here? Even if you took the opinion that California produces no good chardonnay (somehow out of the thousands of Vintners)….you are writing off this varietal and all of the amazing French, widely varying styles? The Grand Cru white Burgundies? Steely, minerally Chablis? Really?
If there is one thing I stand for as a wine writer, its pursuit of assisting others in their wine education by exposure, and ending some of the inane myths. Calfornia chardonnay has come a long way, as highlighted by Chronicle wine writer Jon Bonne’ in Chardonnay regains respect – now to maintain it.
It’s slightly ironic – a wine writer & evaluator who often expresses support for lesser known varietals, rushing to the aid of Chardonnay? The ‘Rhonehound’ himself battling against the ABC (anything but chardonnay) crowd? The United States Number One white varietal hardly needs my help, right? Don’t get me wrong, I can’t stand vineyards in Europe have ripped out traditional unique varieties to plant this chardonnay. I scratch my head at very hot regions growing chardonnay, when the vineyard would do so much better with whites intended for warm climates.
But, this reaction, and some of the feet dragging I was also getting from industry friends in supporting the tasting, made me all the more determined to provide some perpective. Much of the ‘ABC’ backlash, in my experience, comes from exposure to only the big California, oaky butter bombs, like the popular Rombeur chardonnay. This style has earned the term ‘cougar juice’ – its a valid style, and if you like it, great. But what a shame to write off one of the most diverse white wines there is, just because of one style.
Chardonnay is like a blank canvas, and responds, expresses well the many options available to a winemaker from fermentation vessels (new oak, neutral oak, concrete, stainless), aging vessels (same), primary and secondary fermentation options, climate, ripeness, clone selection and so many other variables. If you like a steely sauvignon blanc, or a modest Rhone white blend, odds are there are styles of Chardonnay you will like.
If you are one of those “real wine drinkers don’t drink white” or “I don’t drink white” …your journey of exploration and awareness has far to go. Once you truly open up the world to white wine and its hundreds of varieties and styles, globally, and its more subtle nuances, your world is forever changed. Never stop trying, tasting, or exploring.
The Producers I Gathered
At first, not knowing how many I would get for this tasting, I extended offers to friends and producers I liked. As word got out and the day got closer, last minute requests flooded in, and I had to say no to some, not because I didn’t like the wines, but I had space constraints, keeping the audience to around 80 people, wanted focus, and most importantly, diversity, by region and style. I had originally planned only six producers.
This is the great lineup I ended up:
- Rivino Winery from Mendocino poured their stainless/no ML chardonnay.
- kopriva – 2009 Carneros unoaked Chardonnay paired with Hog Island Oysters.
- Inspiration Vineyards - 2008 & 2009 Russian River for comparison
- VineCrowd (representing k. furtado & Hirsch) VineCrowd is a new site that provides wine drinkers with the opportunity to connect directly to a handfulof cutting edge, independent wineries through a user-friendly social web driven website. Poured the 2009 Hirsch Vineyards Chardonnay and the k. furtado Bien Nacido Chardonnay.
- Donelan Wines poured their 2009 Donelan Nancie Chardonnay (also with Vinecrowd.)
- Gloria Ferrer – Started with a splash of Blanc de Blanc bubbles, then their new release 2008 Carneros Chardonnay.
- Old World Winery 2008 Chardonnay, Tweek Block.
- Jordan 2008 & 2009 Chardonnay.
- Vintage Wine Estates Chardonnay from Sonoma Coast Vineyards, and Windsor Vineyards RRV.
- Chamisal Vineyards from San Luis Obispo: -Chamisal Vineyards (Edna Valley) – 2010 Stainless Chardonnay and 2008 Estate Chardonnay-Pine Ridge Vineyards (Napa Valley) – 2008 Dijon Clones Chardonnay (Carneros)
You can view a more detailed 2 page spreadsheet that attendees received that have more notes on each wine, here on Google Docs.
Event Feedback – A Huge Success
I have been writing and discussing regularly that wine tasting events need to evolve to new formats. Based on feedback both from attendees and producers, and we may have hit on one here. Since the event was private and went to mostly friends, most of the crowd was very knowledgeable, with a heavy mix of industry.
Feedback was gushing next day. A PR wine veteran shared they had been reluctant to come and came away with a completely fresh perspective on California chardonnay. Many echoed similar. Producers expressed they were very happy with the very high level of enthusiasm and sincere interest. The greenhouse was abuzz with energy and excitement. It was one of the most lively tastings I had observed in some time. Most of the photos are courtesy of Damon Mattson Photography – you can see the whole Facebook album here.
We couldn’t have fit any more people inside. I had expected people to come in waves, but for the most part they clustered around the same time. Space got a bit tight, and noise a bit loud, but neither became unmanageable. To accommodate more people – additional space outside the greenhouse, and/or two different times would be needed. I am examining a number of tweaks for the next event.
The Top Picks By Attendees
With 12 producers and 17 wines, not everyone tasted through them all. (Self included.) There were several surprises for me, and some wines I really liked I had not had before. My personal favorite of the ones I tried was the Donelan 09 Nancie. Twenty four hours of skin contact gave great aromatics and texture, the wine maker Tyler exercises restraint with oak, and produced and elegant, unique expression of Chardonnay. I was pleasantly surprised with the new 2008 Gloria Ferrer. Their still wines are made for food pairings, and thus their Chardonnay is often more robust, but this year had greater balance than previous vintages, and I thought was an excellent value. The Rivino stainless, no malo chard was also a standout. Unoaked chard can sometimes be a bit too bright and austere, but this had excellent round fruit and weight.
I hope to do a review of all the wines, as I only got to about half, and had little time to really focus. Each producer donated a bottle to that effect.
Below is a chart of the attendee picks. I almost hate to publish top picks, as by design, these were all quite different, and feedback from attendees was that it was hard to pick.
For this ‘contest’ attendees picked their top 3. Not everyone voted, (only about 35% did) and as mentioned, not everyone tasted through all 17 wines poured. I will streamline consumer feedback for the next event with improved handouts, and perhaps may use simple scores of 1-10.
The chart is simple: it shows the number of votes each wine received as an attendees’ #1, 2 or 3 vote. As you can see, the votes are very spread out, with all wines receiving some votes.
‘Total Score’ is the unweighted total number of votes. The ‘Winner’ was determined by the ‘Weighted Score;’ 3 points for a #1, 2 Points for #2, 1 point for #1. I also highlighted in gray, the top 3 in each ranking.
1. kopriva : No matter how you slice the data kopriva was the favorite of the day. (I have always been a big fan). This wine is a direct opposite of a California cougar juice. The kopriva team were also brilliant to pair it with Hog Island oysters, who’s briny minerality make it shine. Indeed, in bragging about to kopriva to a friend once, she thought it was decent, but a bit plain for her. We then paired it with some oysters, and she fell in love too.
kopriva garnished 22 percent of the #1 picks, as well as the highest #2. Weighted or unweighted, they had the top overall score – bravo!
2. Donelan 09 Nancie chardonnay: Their inaugural release, inched out a #2 choice. The 2nd highest weighted score.
3. Hirsch 09 : The Hirsch 2009 had the 3rd highest weighted score.
From here the numbers quickly clump, again reflect a wide like factor of all the wines. Pine Ridge, Chamisal, Rivino, and Gloria Ferrer also did well.
What’s Next – Pinot Day, August 18th – Taking Applicants
As I did with Chardonnay, I will be seeking a certain profile of Pinot. There has been moderate wine press recently by Jon Bonne’, Jancis Robinson and others, discussing Pinot Noir starting to return to its more elegant form. Over the years Pinot has crept up in color and alcohol, over ripened and over extracted, chasing the new World Palate, and trying to lure less knowledgeable drinkers weened on Cabernet, who think there is something wrong with red wine that is light in color.
I am looking for Pinot that is more reflective of the vintage, terroir, and is balanced, with good acidity. If you are a Pinot producer that fits this, and would like to pour, or have someone represent you and pour, please contact me. If I am not familiar with your wine, I may request a sample prior to accepting. Right now we are focused on OR and CA, but I would love Pinot from any region and importer that fits the targeted intent.
I also intend to lead and organize a Rhone varietal tasting this fall, on behalf of the Rhone Rangers.
Next Event – Venue Tweaks
During the event, I thought there were a few glitches and areas of improvement:
Parking: Thanks to last minute unexpected rain, one side of the road was bad for parking, and despite warnings in the email update, AAA pulled out 4 cars! Winter tastings and parking will be a challenge in the winter I will need to address, as both sides of the road become unparkable in wet season.
Temperature: Luckily we had a normal Russian River summer evening and the weather cooled down. That is normally the case, but a summer heat spike out of the norm, could impact our Pinot day tasting.
Twitter Coverage: All in all things came out well, but there is always room for improvement. I had a lot to do to pull this off and get my place ready, and I ran out of time on a few things I had planned. Technical glitches prevented me from projecting the Twitterfeed. AT&T works poorly on the farm, so I had extended wifi coverage to reach the Greenhouse, but many people were not aware. One producer shared disappointment, they only saw their brand mentioned once. I was so busy, and I think people were so engaged, social media coverage became secondary to face to face interaction. Personally, I only had time to Tweet twice! There is also the challenge that people know the hashtag, secondary hashtag, and your Twitter handle. I will improve signage and communication next time, but people don’t often read details. More check-in help would also be useful.
Wine Sales: I’d like to explore permits so wineries could take orders. Again, the cost must be low. Wineries don’t want to pay table fees, and consumers don’t want to pay high entry fees; so keeping costs low is a part of this. Even just selling a small amount of wine, helps offset the ROI for the winery for the event. (Time, travel, wine.)
Crowd Breakdown: I’d like to perhaps divide the tasting into two times and groups, and perhaps start with a Trade (Retail, restaurant, distribution) and Media Tasting, and then an everyone else. Part of the problem is that despite all the events I host; I haven’t done a good job creating a trade list – something I will need to work on.
Thoughts and Feedback
I’d love any comments, ideas and suggestions. Also if you were one of the 80 attendees or 12 producers pouring, share your thoughts and comments.
In a few hours I hit the road to Paso Robles, for the 19th Hospice du Rhone a mecca of education & tastings of Rhone Producers all over the world. (See: A Rhone Event Like No Other – Hospice du Rhone April 29-30 Paso Robles (OR – The French are Coming!)
Coming along with me are the ‘tools of my trade’ as a wine writer for live coverage.
- Netbook (way faster to take/tweet Tasting notes, and software tools on a PC are much better than a smartphone
- Laptop (most for the IRL job emergencies)
- iPhone 4 – for immediate upload of pics, and tasting notes during the walk around tastings, and the AWESOME iRhone iPhone app.
- Verizon Mifi – Portable Internet for the Netbook, and iPad, iPhone when AT&T conks out
- iPad 3G – not sure I will actually use, but I always schlep it so I feel like I bought it for a good reason.
- new DLSR camera (still don’t know how to use properly. )
- Messenger bag to place all said items and stuff in goodies, literature, and energy bars.
- wine stems, wine, and microbrew (need I explain?)
How to Follow HdR in More Than Just Spirit
I will also be uploading some pictures and updates as I go on the blog Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/SimpleHedonisms.
If you are attending, please do come introduce yourself – I always love to meet wine people!
Cheers and lets get ready to Rhonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnnne!
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.
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.
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.
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.
- 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.
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.
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!
I generally try to keep my articles focused on Consumers, and not tie in the occasional Social Media, Marketing consulting that I do. However given that the blog does have many Winery readers, I thought I’d share a small excerpt from a recent presentation.
I have a more detailed presentation on the relevance of Social Media, branding, and consumer interaction. I’ll Cliff Note it here to say: if you aren’t actively communicating with consumers via Social Media ask yourself why. Facebook has 400 million users, who spend an average of an hour a day, 4+ times a week, with an average 130 friends each. Numerous case studies show the positive financial benefit, and increased customer loyalty via a well run Fan page.
The last Wine Road event; Winter Wineland had many success stories, attributed to heightened consumer awareness, via Social Media. It was my personal experience from polling wineries: those active in Social Media achieved positive sales and growth attendance over the previous year. Catch the wave!
Wine Road Barrel Tasting is widely attended both by the local Bay area, as well as people who fly in from all over the US, many on a ‘stock up’ buying trip. Here are some suggestions to help increase ‘buzz’, traffic, and perception.
- Facebook: Promote your event on Facebook with an ‘Event’ and via Status Updates. Too many businesses overlook the value of the Facebook event feature: Consumers can RVSP to an event; Share it on their Wall, or even Export it right to their Smartphone calendar. (This is how many events get on my Blog Calendar.)
- Twitter: If you are only using Twitter on a web browser, you are missing 90% of its intrinsic value. Use the Tweetdeck application to scan for attendees via hashtags and key words #barreltasting, #sonoma, #drycreekvalley etc. This is fast and easy, and websites like Mashable offer tips on how.
- Put event details, info on your website, email your wine club members, and your consumer Newsletter lists, since they Opted in to receive email.
- Offer sales promotions on excess inventory for larger purchases, and additional incentives for new Wine Club members.
- Offer a 4Square Promo for checking in: Visit Discounts, Event drawings, etc
- Have knowledgeable staff on hand, and train them how to pick out the serious wine enthusiast from the party-mongers.
- Have a Pep talk with staff, set expectations. The tasting room experience defines the impression of each visitor, what they buy, if they join the wine club, or will ever return. Yes, barrel tasting gets crazy, but customer service must remain a top focus. At least if you hope to sell some wine.
- Get some volunteers to help with parking guidance, greeting, tracking visitors.
- Social Networking is viral; its success is based on others spreading ‘your’ words, posts. Make it easy for them.
- Many areas in Dry Creek, others have poor cell coverage. Most smartphones can use WiFi when cell coverage is poor. Consider spending $50-$100 at Best Buy and install second basic WiFi router that’s open for attendee. You can share the same broadband Internet connection, but do keep it separate and secure from your work network. Get your local IT person, or Geek Squad to help, it’s not hard.
- Get a PC or Laptop and set up a customer Social Media Station; encourage them use Facebook and Twitter and share their experience. You can also create a sign-up page for mailing lists.
- Have an employee (or you) occasionally post on Facebook and Twitter; pics, fun comments. The occasional promotional post is ok, but your primary goal is interactivity and audience participation.
- Track attendees, sales, wine poured, new Wine Club Members: create an ROI. Also track post event, correlated DTC transactions. How can you measure the benefits of marketing initiatives if you don’t keep track?
- Offer sales incentives on inventory, Wine Club: upsell.
- Promote but don’t hard sell the Wine Club. People should hear about it, but don’t be overly aggressive, it’s a turn-off.
- Get visitors to sign up for email updates
Use as many consumer touch points as you can!
It will be busy, but have fun, and more importantly make sure you visitors will have fun. Remember, for the visiting consumer, it’s often as much about the personal experience as the wine, so do the best you can to ensure visitors have a positive experience, so they will buy wine, tell friends, and come back!
Hope that was helpful; questions, comments always welcome.