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Field Notes from a Wine Life – Cluetrain Edition

Miscellaneous items from a life lived through the prism of the wine glass …

Cluetrain Manifesto

I applaud the effort the folks at VinTank put into the release of their white paper on The State of Wine Industry Social Media.  For wineries still getting their social media feet under them it is an interesting read that invites bigger questions.  In this regard, the report serves the purpose of inciting conversation.  Hopefully, this will be the first edition of what will be many editions, or at least iterative versions, because the report, comprehensive as it is, touched on just the tip of the iceberg in many areas of social media and its application.

Overall, credit the VinTank team for tackling a very difficult subject and something that is often hard to quantify.

To me, understanding social media is like teaching math.  Not that I teach math, in fact, I am horrible at math, but the analogy is apt because to “get” it you have to do two things – start out with the small items and build upon the concepts until it gets to a larger, functional understanding and you have to assign homework because the best way to learn is by doing.

Speaking of concepts, I have long been a proponent of a book called the Cluetrain Manifesto published online in 1999 and published in book form in January of 2001, right before the bubble burst for the dot-com boom.

Because of the bubble burst, this book was all together ignored at the time outside of the hardcore Internet geeks.

It was only later, years later that the book was dusted off and given credit for being incredibly prescient in terms of identifying trends that led to the Web 2.0/social media revolution in the Internet space.

A must-read book, Cluetrain Manifesto breaks down the concepts of social media at a macro-level.

The 10th Anniversary updated and revised edition is to out this summer, but for my money, buying the used 2001 version for anywhere from $0.28 to $3.00 is money well spent.  Or, if you want to read it for free, which is never a bad idea, all of the content is online at

Tasting According to the Moon

I frequently write about BioD, mostly because I find it utterly fascinating.  I find it intriguing in the same way that I find Ouija boards interesting.  Plus, it is always fun to be sympathetic to things that we don’t understand, kind of like having a multi-national bi-sexual set of friends. 

For the same reason, I read my horoscope everyday.


In an underreported news item from a couple of weeks back, Maria Thun, a Rudolf Steiner disciple, and author of an annual European biodynamic equivalent of the U.S.’s Farmer’s Almanac called Maria Thun’s Biodynamic Sowing and Planting Calendar has a widening base of influence for her lunar calendar.

With that calendar, she indicates that wine has “good” and “bad” days depending on where the moon is in the sky, lunar cycles that affect ocean tides.

I love this for the mind-bending tweak of convention …

What is interesting though is that U.K. retailers are buying into this …

From a recent BBC magazine article:

Wine merchant David Motion has recently been won over to Maria Thun’s “biodynamic” calendar theory.  “We tried eight wines on Tuesday, which was a leaf day and then the same wines again on Thursday, which was a fruit day. And it was totally conclusive.

“It wasn’t that the wine tasted bad on the Tuesday but it was much more expressive on the Thursday. It was more exuberant and on-song. It was like the heavens opened, the clouds parted and the wine just expressed itself.”

In fact, according to the article, two large British retailers, Tesco and Marks & Spencer, acknowledge that they only invite critics to try their wines on favorable days according to the calendar.

At the end of the day, what I suspect is really at the root cause of the BioD backlash amongst some producers is that there is a consumer audience for the wines.  Non-BioD wineries cannot turn on a dime to use it as a marketing tool, and there isn’t even a piece of the halo they can pick up, you are or you are not. Secondarily, UC Davis educated graduates are, largely, taught an empirical correctness and science to winemaking, an Émile Peynaud version of quantification which makes BioD smack of the mainstream dark arts like fortune telling and new age mysticism.

Nevertheless, to me, watching the friction BioD causes in the wine world is the closet thing possible to having tabloid headlines … without being accused of schadenfreude, I can’t wait until a shop or two picks up the lunar cycle tasting days here in the states, a sure eventuality.  When BioD sales can be broken out and measured, kind of like the roiling, years long debate around the 100-point system that is when the real fun will start.


Posted in, Free Run: Field Notes From a Wine Life. Permalink | Comments (2) |


On 05/11, Paul Mabray wrote:

Thanks for the kind words and the support.  Your blog is one of the cornerstones of the wine blogosphere.  We look forward to the conversations about the content of our report in the upcoming weeks.

Paul Mabray
Chief Strategy Officer

PS - I love the Cluetrain Manifesto too.

On 05/11, Dylan wrote:

In regards to Biodynamic growing, I welcome the fresh perspective it brings to the wine industry. While it may not be for everyone it has merit by establishing a separate school of thought. What comes of these wines? What is unique to their final product over non-biodynamic growers? What we may find is that there are wine-makers who will still shun some portions of biodynamic growing, but take little aspects they approve of and implement them in their own growing. This freedom to think and experiment will always lead us down new, interesting paths as new schools of thought emerge.


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