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Update: Stormhoek Winery U.S. Debut

StormhoekA couple of weeks ago I posted on Stormhoek Winery—a S. African winery that had extensively used the blogging community as it rolled out its product introductions in various geographies—the U.K. and elsewhere.

Stormhoek is set for their U.S. debut and Hugh at the popular blog Gaping Void has been the lead on their introductory marketing.  A recent article from the BBC had this to say and in, general, Hugh is following the "wine blogging as marketing disruption" model.

In the firstphase, he sent out free bottles of wine to about 100 bloggers in the UK, IrishRepublic and France. Only those who had regularly kept up a blog for at leastthree months could apply, but the size of their readership didn’t matter -"just so long as they were genuine bloggers".

As a result, a lotof those bloggers ended up writing about Stormhoek wine. In the wake of hiscampaign, sales doubled, rising from 50,000 cases in 2004 to 100,000 last year.

Micro-brandboost 

In the next phaseof the campaign, Stormhoek has started sponsoring "geek dinners",offering to provide free wine for bloggers’ dinner parties.

As part of itsforthcoming launch in the US, the firm wants to have "100 geek dinners in100 days", running from 1 May to 9 August.

"WhatI’m interested in is what I call the global micro-brand," says Mr Macleod.

"Now with theinternet, creating global micro-brands is cheaper and easier than ever before.You can start off and have a product and market it on a global level much moreeasily than even 10 years ago." 

I find this incredibly fascinating.  I’m supposed to be on the dinner list for the States, and in fact, I need to follow-up on my initial confirmation.

Hugh, at Gaping Void, for his part, is a smart, interesting guy, at least based on his blog.  And, even though I try and draw some loose and fast correlations in between the world of wine and the Cluetrain Manifesto, Hugh is really doing it.  In the blogosphere, which is still a small community, overall, this is akin to a high school sophomore (me) and a college professor—Hugh.

An excerpt from a Gaping Void post on Stormhoek:

I told Nick Dymoke-Marr the Managing Director of Stormhoek: "You’renot competing with Jacob’s Creek or Blossom Hill. You’re competing withGoogle and Microsoft and Apple and Skype.

Yes, the product category is always irrevelvant. It’s not what you do, it’s the way that you do it etc etc.

So I’m now on the hunt for a label & bottle design thatbetter reflects the whole post-Cluetrain/Hughtrain schtick thatStormhoek is slowly becoming internally, that telegraphs this instantlyto the external market.

Why shouldn’t a small wine company see Apple or Google as its competition? Think how more interesting the world would be if more small, non-techie companies thought the same.

Hugh admits on his blog that his cartooning/art isn’t paying the bills, so he’s taken a small slice of equity in Stormhoek  in exchange for the marketing support he’s providing and  according  to him:

Hey, if you want to put the work on paper, t-shirts,business cards, stickers, homemade greeting cards, Powerpoint slides,or whatever, as far as I’m concerned, as long as you’re not trying tomake money off it directly, and giving me due accreditation, I’mtotally cool with the idea.

So, if people aren’t paying me for my work, then how do I make a living?

A good question.

Well, years of messing around in various enterprises have led me to the following conclusion: People don’t buy art. Not really. But they do buy wine.

Which is why I have a commercial interest in the Stormhoek winery. Basically, the more cases that sell, the bigger a car I get to drive. It’s that simple.

Check out http://www.gapingvoid.com and search for "Stormhoek" to see all of the re-occuring posts.  What’s happening here is very interesting and compelling.  If the wine delivers, this could be the seeds of the next great wine case study ala Yellowtail. 



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Posted in, Good Grape Daily: Pomace & Lees. Permalink | Comments (3) |


Comments

On 04/26, jens at cincinnati wine warehouse wrote:

Stormhoek comes to Cincinnati on May 6th for a Derby Day Wine Tasting.  Yes, there seems to be a lot of buzz for a small winery launch. Hmmm!

On 04/26, wineguy wrote:

I am supposed to be hosting an event as well, but to date I have not heard from them.  I hope this is actually going to happen!

On 06/23, atmgreetings wrote:

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