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Wine Blog Round-Up

Wine_restI recently did a little wine blog round-up, nearlyimpossible to keep track of by the way, by checking out the Wine Blog Watch andthen corroborating against a couple of other sites that have fairly extensivelists and I came to a count of about 230, more or less. I deleted a lot of sites that hadn’t beenupdated in a couple of months. Then, Iran across a site called Globe of Blogs that included an entire sub-section ofwine-related blogs that seem to be out of the Wine Blog Watch jetstream. 

Wow. There’s a lotof content out there. Not all of it isinteresting and, in general, the folks that likely garner the most traffic arealso producing the most compelling content with the most clearly definedwriting voice. On the whole, though, Ilove it when people are passionate about something and commit to beingproactive, so in that sense it’s a win for wine because the industry itself isnotoriously reactive. 

Iread feeds everyday, but just like reading a newspaper, sometimes you cultivatea pattern … front page, sports, comics, entertainment, metro … done. Just the same, I read Vinography, WineSediments (and my fellow writers’ blogs), Dr. Vino and 15 or so others everydayor so …

However,through this process, I got caught up on over 1200 posts in my reader from wineblogs that get read less frequently.

I’mgoing to update my blogroll here shortly, but in the meantime, here’s are acouple of the items (in no order whatsoever) that I clipped in my Bloglines RSSviewer:

Michael Stajer

Michael’ssort of a feisty chap by writing style and the CEO of the company WineCommune and here he writes on the need for auniversal wine database—interesting in that I doubt this will happen in thenear future. But, and a big but, otherindustries have somehow done this—witness the way that your music CD isrecognized by your computer and the album art and song titles appear. Though, that may be encoding on the CD.

San Francisco Chronicle

Top10 Wine Movies of all time. Not at areabout wine—just that wine is a noticeable prop in many.

Stormhoek Winery

Inthis must-read blog post Jason Korman talks about preserving wine by freezingit—he’s under the impression that the wine is no worse for the wear, or deepfreeze.


Anunintentional companion piece to the Stormhoek freezing post is Alder’s post onweird wine questions and using the ‘ol microwave.

Wine Science News

Thisarticle, clipped from talks about the Tupperware of wine—inhome tastings. A concept whose time hascome?

Wine Whines

Here’sa very good post on wine aromas and their origination

All in all, somepeople are doing some interesting things with their blogs. On the whole, a lot of blogs (myselfincluded) could do a better job of the conversation aspect of blogging, asopposed to taking the linear information route, but I see wine blogging ascontinuing to develop as a communication medium and I’m still looking for thatone wine layperson to break down the 4th wall of wine media and gomainstream. 


Tell Me What you Drink ... Part II

I finished up part II of the wine/cork project.  This is the third one I’ve completed.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with three of these things except to use them for very ostentatious and oversized trivets when we have a party.

Nonetheless, they are interesting to look at in totality because it does represent a pretty good chunk of my recent wine drinking life. 

A couple of revelations:  #1)  I drink more regional and local wine than I thought  #2)  I’ve drunk more La Boca Malbec from Trader Joe’s than I thought.  #3)  I prefer a cork on my bottle; I previously didn’t think I cared, but I actually do.  I want a cork, preferably a real one #4)  I found one cork from a Beaujolais Nouveau and aside from the novelty of it and the fact that I like to say "Beaujolais" for the way it rolls off my tongue I think it sucks as a drinkable product #5)  Only one wine out of the whole lot had a bad seal—Gaia Wines, a now defunct Indiana winery  #6)  For my money Bogle and Rosenblum turn out consistently above-average wines #7) On the whole, I feel my palate turning more expensive and I’m fighting it ...



Stormhoek Winery in the Age of ‘Net Bubble Nostalgia

TulipI saw a post here that calls Stormhoek wine, perhaps a bit playfully, the drink du jour for the Valley harkening back to the go-go days of the 90s:

"It can’t be a 90s bubble party without Absolut," says Dot-com marketer David Parmet. "Could we say Stormhoek is the new Absolut?" With marketing blogger Hugh MacLeod pimping this wine in the Valley through branded prints, blogging, and sponsored geek dinners, Stormhoek is the official drink of the Valley alcoholic.

The larger context of the blog posting on the site is whether the parties (which are getting better from the dark days of 2001 - 2004) are up to snuff with the old days circa 1999.  But, this time they’re covered not with the tulip-like mania that accompanied the stories back in the day, but now it’s a hipster detached sort of irony.

Instead of buying First Growth Grand Crus with the vested options, now it appears that the order of the day may be to sock a little money away and drink some Stormhoek. 

Stormhoek oughtta set-up some sort of pink sheet stock investment program for all of the new Internet fans they are cultivating.

In correspondence with a couple of the guys from Stormhoek, they sent me a link to a podcast and the contents to this brief speech given at a Stormhoek wine dinner. I thought both were sufficiently interesting to include here.

Stormhoek Dinner speech attributed to Andrea Rodenberg:

StormhoekDinner Speech

"Lotsof people will tell you how the internet changes everything, and
they are usually willing to tell you how, but their how’s are
generally quite contradictory. We are more isolated, more connected.
We know more, which is great: we are overloaded with information,
which isn’t. The internet makes our lives better, it makes our lives
worse. Whatever.

It all goes back to the first frivolous human impulse: story telling.
Art originates in the same place writing originates, and with the same
purpose: to say it was so. We’ve come a long way from cave-drawings
and oral traditions. Now our desire to have a story, tell a story…
be a story is co-opted by people who want to sell us something. Every
where you look, advertisements are out there telling you what kind of
a story you could be in, if you only wore their clothes, bought their
furniture and so on.

But here is the first thing that the internet actually changes: our
relationship with the products we enjoy is no longer that of an
audience. It is now a conversation. Stormhoek is a wine company that
gets it. They have provided the wine tonight, not because they have
something to say to their customers, but because they are interested
in what we have to say. They want to participate, here and now, not in
the story they are making for us, but in the story that we make for

If you like the wine you’ve had tonight, fantastic. Blog about it,
tell your friends, tell Stormhoek. If you don’t like it, that’s okay.
You can still tell Stormhoek, though I’m sure they’d rather you not
tell too many friends about it before they have a chance to respond.
Their thank-you for being here tonight is a signed print from the guy
who helped make their ethic a reality: Hugh Macleod, the only thing
they’ve asked in return is that we send them back a signed guest
sheet, which is by the wine. So write a note, sign your name, pick up
a print and drink up."

Stormhoek is imported by Palm Bay Import Co.—the same folks behind the hugely popular Cavit Pinot Grigio from Italy.  You can see more on Stormhoek at the Palm Bay web site


Why I love Incognito Wine!

Red_wineI live in Indianapolis, IN

One of the interesting things about the supreme courtruling and the additional state-level rulings is that wine laws arechanging everywhere.

But,I’m not sure who is keeping up with it. Not that it matters, because it seems to be working out okay forconsumers.

Thenet result of the laws and the swirling changes taking place is that theSupreme Court said something to the effect that states cannot prevent wineriesfrom shipping into the state from out of state, if they allow in-state wineriesto ship to customers in-state.

Or,something like that.

Thisopened up a can of worms, because in Indiana the law was very gray regardingwineries shipping in-state and, worse, it wasn’t enforced, so a lot of localwineries had businesses built up around shipping directly to consumers that washalted and then potentially ready to be legislated against allowing—preventingconsumers from receiving wine from in-state wineries and out-of-state wineries.

Thelong story short of it is that Indiana law changed to say, essentially, thatyou can buy wine from any winery that you want to—in-state, or out of state aslong as you first visit the place in person and sign some sort of affidavitthat says you are over the age of 21.

Thisthing is really a non-entity, though, as the local wineries are following this,but the out of state wineries and the out of state wine clubs and commerce sites are selling to Indiana consumers with  seeming abandon. 

Witness:in the last three weeks alone I have received wines shipped from retail in NYCand my wife just signed me up for a wine club for the next six months; Ireceived my first package on Monday.

Thisleads me to why I love Incognito wine.

Myfirst package of two bottles from Gold Medal Wine Club showed up the otherday.

This wine could be absolute swill fit not even for a bad coq au vin and it would still be great! For reasons unrelated to the actual wine.

Though, the wine itself is pretty good.  It’s what I call, “imminently drinkable.”

Thismutt of a wine is made with 30% Mourvedre, 30% Syrah, 20% Petite Sirah, 5%Carignane, 5% Cinsault, 5% Souza.

Made my Michael-David Vineyards in Lodi, this is a Rhone style wine that drinks fairly big.

This$18 wine is slightly herbal, which is funny because I opened it after having aglass of the Buchli Station Pinot Noir (around $18), which was really showing alot (read: too much) vegetalcharacter. So, I open two bottles of wine within an hour of each other toavoid some off notes and they both demonstrate them slightly differently. Nonetheless, the Incognito opened up in theglass and made it a nice, if unassuming, drink that showed some cherry and black raspberry in a discretely oaked package.

But,again, while the Incognito is nice, the real reason I love it is because it is a harbinger of thingsto come in changes in wine shipping laws and really symbolic of the factthat Indiana is no longer incognito in the wine shipping trade.


Stormhoek Winery and the Marketing Conversation

Gapingvoid_trust_2 Stormhoekand their wines continue to be a more than significant thread in the wineblogging community and soon to be the wine business community in the U.K.

Hughat Gapingvoid has created a 16-page marketing guide that will be inserted intocopies of The Drinks Business magazine in the U.K.

ThePDF is available for download and you can find it here. I recommend checking it out.

It’sa mix of Hugh’s trademark cartoons and pithy insights on blogging and new economymarketing.

Willthis be provocative in a business-to-business magazine with the Brits? Likely. And, it will probably be met with some confusion, too—which is okaybecause confusion at least invites a question that can then be answered.

Thegenesis for the organic marketing effort is, of course, Stormhoek wines. The basis for the content, to a certaindegree, is blog digerati/Internet Nobel Laureate, Robert Scoble—ex Microsoftemployee and one of the 20 or so bloggers online that garner incredible mindshareand traffic amongst bloggers and those that read blogs.

WhileI think the Stormhoek marketing launch in the U.S. is a brilliant idea I’m verycurious to see what the net result will be. 

Apart of me says that in the U.S., with such a cluttered and confusing consumerenvironment, they will need much more in order to break in and gain mindshare.  Or, at the least, that marketing should be targeting a specific demographic, separate from wine drinkers and wine bloggers proper.   

Meanwhile,I’m surely interested in their wine and thankful they sent me eightbottles—which, to date, are still queued up to be drunk at a TBD date with alocal wine shop (the wine shop itself and the owner is somewhat difficult topeg down, but it’s completely understandable when you consider the concept ofwine blogging, free wine from a S. African winery that just secured an importerin the states and the fact that said wine shop has a horrible web site). I don’t think he completely gets the wholething—or what a blog is, for that matter. 

Overall,  youhave to give credit to Stormhoek and Hugh for breaking new ground. 

Hughhas some recent thoughts on the wine biz  and the ongoing debate about customers and wine marketing that areinteresting. Jamie Goode, author andnascent U.K. wine expert, commented around the customer wine and customerexperience in the comments to that post noting:

Ifyou make wine, your best hope is to create a strong brand that the retailers’need’. Otherwise, you’re always negotiating from a position of weakness,because they have what you need - customers.

Coincidentally,I touched on this in a post earlier today. 

Really,I disagree with Jamie. This is a topic for anentirely different post, but that opinion is the "Wal-mart-ization" opinion thatholds "he who has the customer has the keys," but, that’s for mass markets and allindicators in the world talk about markets being conversations within thecontext of micro-markets or niches.

It’snot that I don’t think wineries don’t need to create a strong brand, because Ido, it’s just that I don’t think most wineries have the financial muscle tocreate strong brands in the way that we throw that term around. The numbers don’t add up, when you considerthat there are 5000 wineries in the U.S. alone and 30 or so wineries/conglomeratescontrol 85% of the market. That’s notan 80/20 rule, that’s a 99/1 rule. And,by consequence, it’s not good enough to say that the rest need to create abrand. 

Therest need to participate in a way for a potential customers to find them,deliver a quality product that encourages them to try it again and then letthat lead to developing a brand.

Maybe,what wineries should consider doing is, instead of creating a quote-un-quote“brand” they should micro-slice a target and go after that i.e. trying to targetlegal age female college students in the state of California college system UCDavis, UC Berkely, Cal-Poly, etc.

Onceyou have penetration in that customer base, you target another and then anotherone until they grow on top of each other iteratively. 

But,all of this building a brand thing is really a red herring for addressing thelimitations that are in front of you.  Nobody achieved anything byacknowledging what they couldn’t do, instead of what they could.

Inthe meantime, this conversation is really snoozers for most people and I haveeight bottles of wine to drink from a little S. African winery that justsecured an importer and is trying to do something unique and different. 

Perhaps I should poura glass while I ponder this heady brew of a conversation.


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