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Finding the Perfect Online Wine Case Study Candidate: Beaux Frères

With good traditional distribution but no discernible consumer marketing activity, especially online, I have found that rare gem of a winery – under-promoted and pedigreed, positively old school in marketing; a winery who can act as the perfect foil for demonstrating the positive impact that online engagement represents for wineries and the wine world.  This winery is a veritable wine blogging and online marketing case study waiting to happen. 

By way of background, I’ve been thinking about finding a winery to “discover” based on the ongoing dialogue about the evolution of wine writing online.  What could be better than helping a specific winery “get” the gospel, so to speak?

My motivation is simple.  If the elder statesman of wine criticism rebukes wine bloggers derisively as Robert Parker, Jr. did recently, then wine bloggers (I prefer “online wine writer,” by the way) need to get serious about their craft and the positive impact of their craft.  A rising tide raises all ships and, in addition to convincing wineries at-large, some rehabilitation needs to occur with Parker, as well.  Not all “wine blobbers,” as he referred to online wine writers, are writing hackneyed purple prose and bad reviews.

I’ve been aided in my thinking by several other independent sources of information, as well.  There was a recent post at Tom Wark’s Fermentation blog about the nature of wine samples and the ethical implications of their receipt by a wine reviewer.  The premise of his post is the notion that wineries should liberally send out samples and serious reviewers should request winery samples – all in the name of fostering a vibrant community of wine writers.

Now, creating a vibrant community of online wine writers is something I can get behind!

On Monday, research conducted at Sonoma State University concluded that, yes, wine bloggers are an influential community, though mileage will vary, and that, by and large, wine blogs were talking about under-promoted wines, mentioning that, based on a content analysis of 212 wine blogs, there were 813 different wine brands mentioned with just three brands listed more than three times.  The study analytically demonstrates the richness of the conversational funnel that occurs online around wineries and wines – essentially what is promotion of a winery via word of mouth advertising – word of mouth advertising that can be harnessed.


If you combine the above with a post I wrote in February of this year in which I said the value of winery sampling is in creating awareness, mindshare and, ultimately, a brand ambassador that works alongside the correlating benefits of content creation that aids in online search engine optimization, than what you have collectively is a pretty good case for wineries to seriously consider an expansion of what they view as traditional media.

I’m no brainiac, but the thought of organizing readers of this blog to contact a winery who is not a participant online and encouraging them to send out samples to demonstrate the power of creating conversation online seems like a benevolent exercise that can yield very positive results!

Located in the Chehalem Mountains, a sub-appellation to the Willamette Valley in Oregon, Beaux Frères produces world-class Pinot Noir and Grenache from estate vineyards.  With just four to six thousand cases of production, Beaux Frères is well-distributed in the U.S. with representation in 36 states and exporting relationships to 14 countries.

In an interesting twist for a serious winery of this size, in our current Pinot mania, despite good reviews, their winery/brand recognition is under-developed. 

Again, this is perfect for an online wine marketing experiment!

That said, one might suggest that a small Oregon producer like Beaux Frères (that has distribution relationships in 36 states with an export relationship to 14 countries) is in the catbird seat without need for additional mindshare and awareness. The fact that they’ve managed that level of development in their sales infrastructure might be a minor miracle not to be tampered with.  But, the reality is that the wine isn’t allocated per se, but does have a mailing list. The wine can be purchased off of their web site, and it’s not inexpensive—$50 - $80 for the Pinots.  In addition, a mere distribution relationship is no guarantee of sales.

They could use the help—Beaux Frères could benefit from the conversational spark that that the wine blogosphere provides! 

Without much buzz online about the brand, a Google search that yields very little in the way of consumer based activity (mostly retail-based information), no discernible social media engagement via a blog, Facebook, Twitter, or consistent content or updating of their web site, this winery represents a great opportunity to increase mindshare, brand awareness and purchase intent with the help of the online wine world.

But, I need your help to convince the winery. 

Here’s where I’m asking you to do:

1)  If you’re a wine consumer please Google “Co-Owner of Beaux Frères Vineyard” and find the co-owner’s name who is not the winemaker (I think his name is Bob) and then send an email to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and tell them that you think they should send wine samples to your favorite wine blogs – please state your favorite wine blogs by name

2) If you’re in the trade please Google “Co-owner of Beaux Frères Vineyard” and find the co-owner’s name who is not the winemaker (I think his name is Bob) and then send an email to .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and tell them that as a colleague in the wine world you think Beaux Frères might be missing an opportunity to expand their awareness in the world of wine in a positive way.  Provide the co-owner with any positive anecdotes related to your engagement online that comes to mind.

3) If you’re a wine blogger please Google “Co-Owner of Beaux Frères Vineyard” and find the co-owner’s name who is not the winemaker (I think his name is Bob) and then send an email to: .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) and tell them that you think they should send wine samples to you.  Please cite your URL, your tenure in writing online and anything else that you think lends credibility.

Together we can do this.  By harnessing our collective power, picking a benevolent winery to support and engaging with them, we can help demonstrate the power of online wine writing as a part of a larger support mechanism for a winery to engage in social media.

Again, this is very important.  At a minimum, please Google and send the note.  I’m pretty sure the co-owner’s name is Bob, but you’ll want to get his last name to make sure you know who you are addressing (after all, we’re a polite bunch).  That Google search string one last time is “Co-Owner of Beaux Frères Vineyard.” If you can’t find the co-owners name who is not the winemaker, you might be able to find information at this link. We need to help these winery owners understand the power of the Internet and the power of wine bloggers – power that can be harnessed for the greater good, categorical “wine blobber” rebukes by major critics notwithstanding.


Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (14) |


On 08/19, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

I think its pretty widely known that Parker is a partner in BF….

Nicely constructed rationalization for getting samples BTW.  Good luck in getting a free BF.

On 08/19, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

Yeah, interesting post, Jeff. I know that you know there is some sort of law against collusion…

On 08/19, Jeff wrote:

Thanks for the comments, gents.

Phil - thanks for reading and checking out the blog equivalent to the Dayton Daily News. wink

I’ll be waiting with bated breath for the BF ...

Thomas - collusion?  I know nothing of which you speak.  I’ve been too busy organizing Republican flash mobs to show up at Democrat Town Hall meetings.

All the best and thanks again for reading!


On 08/19, Fred wrote:

Why would this winery dirty its hands with sampling—or more troublesome, communicating with—online wine writers when their inventory is fully-allocated and sold-thru? They’re not feeling any pain, unlike so many other producers at (and above) their price-point.

On 08/19, Jeff wrote:


Did you Google search for the co-owner?  I was making a subtle point bigger than sampling to bloggers.



On 08/20, Wine of Month Club wrote:

Interesting question, we really would need to know what amount is actually allocated.  Are their export services simply asking for 75%, or more, off retail.  There isn’t enough info here for me to come to any real conclusion about how the winery is functioning from a sales perspective.

On 08/20, .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) wrote:

From other bloggers I have read similar comments about obtaining samples. With more and more bloggers entering the scene, is it practical to dole out samples upon request? Do bloggers state their viewership to justify samples? Lastly, are you not able to attend trade tastings where typically well over one hundred products are made available including BF? I regularly see Josh Raynolds, who has reviewed BF wines, at trade tasting in NYC when I was evaluating as a retail buyer. Were I to start blogging, I would have notes and comments on thousands of products.

On 08/20, Jeff wrote:

Thanks for the comment, Tom.

I think my inside joke has sailed wide right of the upright.

This post was intended to be a slight jab because Robert Parker is a co-owner of Beaux Freres.

Parker denounces wine bloggers, bloggers ask for samples from the winery he is a co-owner of ... en masse ...  it’s social commentary ...

Sorry about that, definitely too insider-ish.

Thanks again for reading the site and feel free to come back!


On 08/21, Fred wrote:

Jeff, it’s not that your post was insider-ish. I’m guessing many/most of your readers know the Parker-BF connection, know that BF has enjoyed a bump because of it, know Parker’s rear-guard media mentality, etc. I think you just buried a worthwhile point (about the value of engaging new voices) in pursuit of a gag. Irony is a tough read online…

On 08/21, Thomas Pellechia wrote:

“Irony is a tough read online…”

The understatement of the century.

Jeff should have called this entry one from—maybe that would have secured its irony for all.

I still think Jeff and BF are in some sort of collusion, but I can’t figure out who stands to benefit from it wink

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