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Around the Wine Blogosphere

Commentary on the happenings in the wine world, online.

The 3rd Annual American Wine Blog Awards were announced on Friday afternoon by Tom Wark of Fermentation.

In addition to running an airtight awards program, Tom has announced a line-up of new sponsorships, further legitimizing what has become a very anticipated and respected awards function for wine bloggers.

Mutineer Magazine is a media sponsor, offering print coverage of the awards and Riedel is on board with prizes, both nice additions to the awards.  Open Wine Consortium, not content with their Wine Bloggers Conference, is on board, as well.

One of the key aspects of the American Wine Blogs is its nomination and awards process.  A multi-step process, Tom has judiciously assembled a changing group of independent voters from the wine industry that ensures a truly objective opinion that is less influenced by popularity, an increasingly important function given that, at its core, a blog is about writing—conveying information and offering insight.  With social networking coming to the fore in such a big way, it will be important for both the voting public and the independent judges to separate a bloggers visibility in the various social platforms – OWC, Twitter, Facebook, etc. from the fundamental quality of their blogging.

I do not envy the judges, that’s for sure.  This will be the most difficult awards yet with the explosion of so many new, quality entrants in 2008 and newer blogs from 2007 hitting their stride in the last year.  My 2-year run of being a finalist may be up, I fear.

On Tasting Notes and Angel Funding

I ran across a blog post at TechCrunch on Snooth, the wine social tasting site. 

They raised another $1M in angel funding to further compete in the social wine review/ tasting note niche, an area that is overcrowded even if the herd should thin this year based on natural selection, not to mention cash flow.

An interesting fact to note is the CEO from Inertia Beverage Group, Ted Jansen, has anted in on the funding round with Snooth.

In a conversation I had with Raghav from WineDrip this past week, an emerging leader in the wine/mobile space, I speculated that I thought the winery ecommerce space was being negatively slowed based on the distraction of social networking.  That’s my opinion, at least.  The number of wineries that are selling online has met a temporary stalling point as the combination of a completely freakin’ confusing compliance environment coupled with the notion of gaining online friends causes wineries to completely take their eye off the actual online wine selling ball.

It may be that Ted Jansen sees the same thing and is hedging his bets as business models shift to winery aggregation-to-commerce from the one-to-many model that Inertia was built on. 

On another note, 2009 should be an interesting year with a couple players making their moves and showing their cards.

CellarTracker, an overlapping competitor to Snooth, with a slightly more straightforward service model, and a less advanced interface, announced in a letter to members of the site that they had big plans for 2009, including:

New user interface
API –the ability to technologically hook into CellarTracker
More infrastructure support for a smooth user experience
Partnership development

I have long thought that CellarTracker had the most traction, if lowest profile of any quote / unquote “Wine 2.0” company.  Founder Eric Levine has taken a slow and steady approach that should pay big dividends for him as user loyalty and critical mass now allows him to look at expanding for the right reasons.

Not to be outdone, also in the social tasting notes space, is Cork’d, owned by Gary Vaynerchuk.  He promises a greater focus on the site in ’09, after a waning, but benevolent focus over the course of the last two years.

Recession or no recession, 2009 should prove to be an interesting year with a number of outcomes (and winners and losers) in the space.

One thing is certain – 2008 was a watershed year in terms of usage of the Internet for the online wine space, moving from muse and curious mistress, to centerpiece for many, many people and wineries.

That trend should continue into 2009.


Posted in, Wine: A Business Doing Pleasure. Permalink | Comments (5) |


On 01/19, Eric LeVine wrote:

Thank you for the kind mention!

Eric LeVine,

On 01/19, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

In what way is winedrip leading? it looks like another copycat competitor?

On 01/19, Jeff wrote:

Hi Fred,

Thanks for the comment.  I indicate that WineDrip is “emerging” because Raghav made me privy to some plans that aren’t being duplicated in the wine technology space, though they aren’t quite ready to be revealed.

Though, I agree, true innovation amongst wine/tech is exceedingly rare, it’s more taking existing capabilities and making them fit the niche.


On 01/19, Raghav wrote:

Hi Jeff,

I agree with you. Social media can be a distraction to selling wine when the strategy is unclear and when everyone competes for the same audience. I call it “wine-store syndrome”-the same bottle with a different label hoping for some attention.

There are many bright minds in the wine industry who will develop unique brands and services in 2009. I can’t wait to see what unfolds!


On 06/29, square peg web wrote:

Thanks for the comment. I call it “wine-store syndrome”-the same bottle with a different label hoping for some attention.


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