July 2009 Archives

My head is still spinning. Just when I thought I'd gotten the hang of this blogging thing, I attended the 2009 Wine Blogging Conference.

Now, I don't know what to think.

This is my second year at the conference. Nearly 300 bloggers from all over the world came to learn about wines, blogging, and the future of social media.  The creator of the conference and wine blogger extraordinaire, Tom Wark (Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog), was on hand to give out the annual wine blogging awards. (Sadly, this blog came in as a close runner up.) But that was just the beginning. The weekend was chockfull of seminars and presentations on social media, blogging, and building online communities. When we weren't listening attentively to social media wizards and techie types, we were tasting wines, visiting wineries and touring vineyards. I spent an entire day in the Napa Valley learning first hand about how “they” do it. (It was great being on the other side of the table for a change!) On Sunday, the group gathered here at Dry Creek Vineyard.  We, along with neighbors Rued Family Winery and newcomer Gustafson Family Vineyards, hosted a luncheon to introduce everyone to the wines of Dry Creek Valley.

One of the things about attending a conference like this is you realize how little you actually know. Furthermore, you realize that keeping up with the changing times could be a full time job. And, while I've come a long way since I started this blog, (true confessions…I don't even like to text message!) it's clear that I haven't even scratched the surface. Furthermore, I'm a dying breed. Case in point: I was the only person in the room taking notes…the old fashioned way, by hand.

Nonetheless, I came away inspired and enthused. Even though I fondly remember the days of handwritten notes, lengthy phone chats, and face to face interaction, I now know the value of a well thought out social media strategy. So if you haven't gotten on board the train, you better hurry up. It's coming fast and will change the way people get their information forever.

Here's a snapshot of what I learned:  

?   First, let me dispel a myth. Bloggers are not young, tattooed, or pierced. Well, some may be, but there were just as many middle aged/senior types as well as 20 somethings.


  If you think you're going to make money at this, think again. From a show of hands, only 5 or 6 said they were generating revenue from their blog.
?   Time is the biggest factor in determining whether you should have a blog for your business or your passion. That, and the ability to be authentic, engage the reader, and stick to it.
?   Find a niche. Whether it's reviewing Albarinos under $20, sharing new winemaking tricks, or an insiders look at the “wine country life”, find your niche and stick to it.
?   Twitter in 2009 is like the CB Radio in 1975. It's hot and it's growing, but it will probably fall by the wayside as soon as the next new thing is developed.
?   Wine bloggers, especially the ones that review wines, are busting down the traditional barriers of wine media. There might even come a day when your computer provides you with more information than your favorite magazine.
?   Consider Facebook, but only if it's personal and authentic. And, never use it to sell!
?   This new era is creating a society of socially stunted multi-tasking digital goof balls.  OK, this last observation is purely personal. But it comes from seeing how teenagers “talk” to their friends, which for the large part is entirely through texting and online conversations. Now grown-ups are becoming this way too. Does anyone, besides me, wonder how our thumbs will hold up over time??

Next year's conference is June 25-27, 2010 and is moving to Walla Walla Washington. Learn more at www.winebloggingconference.com.

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First, a great big THANK YOU to my guest bloggers! Bill and Erin did a super job filling in for me and I'm hoping to have more guest bloggers like them in the future.

While it's been over a week since I got back, I'm still pinching myself. We actually saw the Pope. That's right, the big guy himself. Not only did we see him, we got to attend a private mass at the Vatican. It was a case of being in the right place at the right time. Oh, and having a pretty teenager in tow, didn't hurt our odds for getting in either. While I'm not Catholic, I must admit it was an awe-inspiring experience and one I'll not soon forget. You could even call it divine.  Of course, daily ingestion of truffle pasta, red wine and gelato wasn't hard to take either. I will be forever grateful to my dear old Dad for making this trip possible.

It's a rare thing to go away as a family and leave the business completely behind.

It takes trust and a terrific staff, both of which we're fortunate to have. The customer quotient is important too. Without loyal friends and fans for our wines, none of this would be possible. I'm particularly grateful for our wine club members who are among the most loyal and diehard customers we have. Just the folks you need to thank from time to time.

So, once a year, we throw a party at our home that is exclusively for our Vintner's Select wine club members.  It's our way of saying thanks and getting to know people on a more intimate level. I run around trying to hide all the dust bunnies while the kids promise to be on their best behavior. Then it's show time. And I mean this quite literally, since my daughter and I were part of the live entertainment!


This year's theme was “all things lobster”.  Fresh Maine lobster was flown in from our good buddies Captain John and Brendan Ready of Catch a Piece of Maine. You have never seen lobster prepared in so many ways… lobster rolls, lobster shooters, lobster crostini, lobster salad, and lobster bisque. To top it off, we gorged on my Aunt Mary's famous blueberry slump, a favorite family recipe from Maine. For many club members, this was a repeat performance (last year we threw a wild boar pig-out party) with a new lobster twist. For others, it was a whole new experience and the first time attending a Dry Creek Vineyard wine club event. In both instances, friendships were forged, relationships cemented, and not a single word was uttered about the troubles of the world.

Now this is my idea of a nice welcome home.

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So what do public relations, wine sales and softball all have in common?  Answer: Absolutely nothing.  

When I first started at Dry Creek Vineyard almost 5 years ago (gulp!), Wilma brought me aboard to be the winery's communication conduit.  Writing, interfacing, schmoozing – call it what you want, but when it comes to communication and public relations outreach, Wilma relies on me.   Well, in the past six months, things have changed a bit – check that, they've changed a lot.

With the economy sputtering along, Wilma and The Husband came to me in January with one simple request – help SELL wine!  Not that I was surprised.  Everyone in the wine industry is in the same boat.  When times are tough, businesses need all hands on deck (pun intended).  Hey, I'm a team player. Why not?  This sales thing is a piece of cake, right?  Uh, no, not exactly as I would come to find out. 

Over the past six months, I've been knee deep in the sales world, working with sales people, attending distributor meetings and trying to keep my positive glass-half-full attitude.  Not easy.  That being said, it's been really rewarding work.  I've met lots of very talented sales people, who spend their days out working the streets.  I'm not sure there is anyone I admire more than a distributor salesperson – these people are some of the hardest working professionals I have met.  Sometimes their job is totally thankless and yet most of the time they manage to still get their job done with a smile.  I've learned about sales reports, business reviews, and how wine is sold in the real world.  I have to admit – I think all wine industry PR people should be required to do this kind of work.  Sometimes we PR people get caught up in our lofty PR ideals and forget that there is a certain reality to how the market works.  Being in sales over these past few months has taught me a ton about how I need to think and look at the big picture as a PR person. 

And so, as we continue to fight the good fight, selling one bottle at a time, I have this to fall back on – the winery softball team.  Yep, that's right.  Every Wednesday night we Dry Creek Crushers lace up our cleats and head to the diamond, with just one thing on our mind – okay, two – kick the stuffing out of the other winery team and then enjoy an icy cold beer at the local pizza joint after the game.   After all, it's the little things in life that keep us happy, right?  That and beer.  Okay, and a W – we won 9-6 last night, defeating The Sexy Wine Bombs!

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from July 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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