31 Jan 2010
Baseball season is quickly approaching. The beginning of another year of great expectations only to be frustrated by June, slightly excited in August and utterly depressed in September. I am a Mariner fan. We are the only team who can win 116 games in a season and not make it past the first round in the playoffs. We are the only team who trades away all star after all star. Ahhh…I digress.
While the Mariners consistently field a team of high priced underachievers, I’m a fan of Billy Beane ball. Billy is great at fielding a team of underpaid over achievers. My goal, in the wine world, is to field a quality under $10 team. In today’s economic conditions $10 is the new $20, but with all the inventory and variety on the shelves, not all labels can be trusted. You don’t want to spend your money for a Richie Sexson only to devote four seasons of wasted expectations…again I digress.
In previous episodes I’ve found a starting Sauvignon Blanc from Arbor Crest and am thinking of a bringing the Dancing Bull Zinfandel up from Triple A.
- Cabernet Sauvignon
- Pinot Noir
- Syrah / Shiraz
- Bordeaux Blend
- Sauvignon Blanc / Pinot Gris
- In the bullpen a nice alternate red and white (Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Mourvedre, Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer, etc).
Below is this trip to the minors to scout new members for the team. What suggestions do you have? Share below some of your wines who are performing well and deserve a chance to be called up to the “Field of Dreams.”
Tonight we are watching the work out and batting practice of a 2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon, 2007 Bogle Petit Sirah, 2006 Renwood Zinfandel.
2007 Columbia Crest Grand Estates Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 95% Cabernet Sauvignon 5% Merlot, Cab Franc, Syrah; Barrel aged for 16 months (1/3 new oak)
- The Swirl: Deep plum with watery edges
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged for fruit. Did display characteristics of vanilla, cocoa, and woodiness
- The Sip: Overall a very smooth with that is tight on flavor. The vanilla and cocoa presents itself with a moderate dose of blueberry fruit. Very little back end structure.
- The Score: Considering the $8.88 price I would score this wine a solid 3. There is nothing offensive about the wine and the smooth vanilla, cocoa combination could be a hit with a lot of people. Serious wine drinkers will be disappointed with the lack of character and structure.
This wine will be sent to AAA ball for potential call up if I’m unable to find a starting Cabernet Sauvignon.
2007 Bogle Petite Sirah
- The Stuff: 100% Petite Sirah
- The Swirl: Very very dark plum, completely opaque, nice legs indicating some stronger residual sugar
- The Sniff: Once again a restrained aroma profile. Some dark cherry, dark blackberry fruit and a hint of spice trying to come through
- The Sip: Wholly wow, this is a big wine. There is some decent fruit on the front end which is immediately attacked by the strong tannin on the back end. This wine needs food! I look forward to pairing it with some BBQ, spicy pork, or a steak.
- The Score: At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food. NOT A SIPPING WINE.
This wine makes the team as a pinch hitter. Petite Sirah is not your mainstream varietal but this one showed some serious power to bring in during the late innings of a close game.
2006 Renwood Zinfandel
- The Stuff: 100% Zinfandel
- The Swirl: Very light in color moderate brownish plum color. Can see through glass very translucent
- The Sniff: Not much on the nose other than hints of cherry, vanilla and leather spice
- The Sip: Very watery and non-substantive in flavor. A hint of smoke and spice as it lingers in the mouth. In my opinion a very underwhelming wine.
- The Score: At $9 I would not buy this wine again and score it a 2 (out of 5).
The wine definitely is sent back to single A ball to work on its structure and character.
The $10 quest continues. So far, I think I’ve sound a staring Sauvingon Blanc, and two potentials who are in AAA (Columbia Crest Cabernet Sauvignon and the Dancing Bull Zinfandel). Tonight’s Petite Sirah has made the team as a pinch hitter!
Please leave your comments and suggestions below!
29 Jan 2010
Wineries on Twitter – Woodward Canyon @woodwardcanyon on Twitter
The goal of this series is to connect with wineries and wine business that use Social Media (Twitter and Facebook) effectively. These interviews can serve as a catalyst to help other wineries and wine businesses to see the benefits (and pitfalls) of joining the social revolution.
The Interview: Woodward Canyon
How long have you been using Twitter?
We’ve been on Twitter for only about 8 months now.
What prompted you to dive in?
I’ve personally had a twitter account for a couple of years and I knew that it was the direction that marketing and social media was heading. When I approached our GM and our marketing coordinator they had also heard about twitter and knew that it was something that we needed to get into before we were doing nothing but chasing the market.
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
It really depends on who is posting that day. There are a couple of us who try to keep it updated and we each have our own style. But, I like to try to post and re-tweet anything with relevance to the wine industry, Walla Walla Valley and Woodward Canyon. I’ve tried to develop more of a connection with others but will also throw out specials or things going on at the winery as well.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook? (increased traffic, increased brand awareness, customer connection, etc)
We’re still fairly new in the whole world of social media even though we’ve been on Facebook for over a year now. I hope that having a profile on both makes us a little more accessible in the eyes of the public and increases brand awareness.
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
I know that there have been a few times where I’ve posted something about a wine being released or poured for the first time and someone has seen it and they’ve come in specifically to taste it. The first time it happened was fun for me because it meant that someone was actually reading the stuff I was posting and I wasn’t just posting things for my own enjoyment.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
Social media is a hard one. I’ve seen some who join because it’s the new thing or fad and then they fall off in a couple of months. Others are still going strong. It’s definitely something that you have to have a plan to follow. It’s not a form of marketing that usually shows immediate results or sales and I think that this deters people. It’s definitely a large amount of time spent on building up your brand awareness and making connections with people rather than trying to directly sell them wine. It is such a foreign concept.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
If you’re interested in social media then you should definitely do it. Make sure that you have someone who is somewhat familiar with what is going on or is willing to learn. Enthusiasm for your company and the different forms of social media are necessary along with enough time to put everything into action.
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
We are a small, family owned winery in the Walla Walla Valley and we are the second oldest winery in the valley. Rick and Darcey Small started the winery in 1981. Rick and Darcey are both a part of the every day decisions at the winery. Rick, our original winemaker is now head of production and Darcey is our general manager. I love working for them because they treat all the employees very well. We just finished birthday lunch for Kevin, our winemaker, which consisted of Thomas burgers, Rick buns, salad, sweet potato fries and white chocolate raspberry cheesecake. We don’t mess around here! And of course I wouldn’t be talking about Woodward Canyon and some of my favorite things without mentioning our wood fire oven out back. I didn’t realize what I was missing in terms of good pizza until I had one of Rick’s very famous, homemade, garden fresh pizzas! Rick makes the dough himself and then most of the toppings are either from our Estate Garden or from local merchants. Yum, I’m getting hungry again just thinking about them!
What is your favorite rock band and why?
Hmmm … that’s a good question. I’m not sure I have a favorite rock band. There are so many good ones out there. I guess I’ve been following Pink Floyd for years now so they would have to be one of them. Floyd just brings back so many fond memories from high school and college and gathering with friends. I’m a big fan of Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Dave Matthews Band. And then there’s Kings of Leon – I love this upcoming band!
28 Jan 2010
Climate. Soil. Fruit. Walla Walla is home to this trifecta of wine perfection. Trio Vintners is a trio of wine makers coming together with a common purpose of pursuing their passion, pursuing continued education(in Enology and Viticulture) and emphasizing the region of Wallula Gap. The result is wine with structure, character, and flavor (a trio of perfection).
I received a trio of wines from Trio Vintners, but I chose to save the third (a red blend) for another review with other quality Washington Rhone style blends. Wine makers Steve Michener, Denise Slattery, and Tim Boushey each has their hand in the process from sourcing to marketing. The trio works their magic with only 1200 cases per year of Riesling, Rhone Blend, Sangiovese, Zinfandel, Carménère, Tempranillo, Mourvedre, and Syrah. The prices range from $16 – $30 respectively.
Before I get into the NectarView, I want to provide a little background on these two grapes for those who have yet to experience their joys.
History buffs vary on Carménère’s past but most point to the Bordeaux region of France as its main original stomping grounds. One of the original six Bordeaux blend grapes, Carménère is now rarely found in France. Benefiting from the long growing season for optimal ripening, Carménère’s prominence is in Chile. American Carménère is grown in Walla Walla and regions of California. Mostly used as a blending grape to soften a wine and add an earthy fruit. The pure varietal will showcase a nice smoky cherry that is crimson in color and very smooth in flavor.
Spain’s noble grape, Tempranillo is often bottled with Granache or Syrah. Tempranillo is very susceptible to weather changes and imparts qualities of the soil. Blending with Granache or Syrah tends to add balance and acidity. Tempranillo benefits from hot days and cool nights and tends to have plum, leather, vanilla and herb flavors.
2007 Carménère Walla Walla Valley
- The Stuff: 95% Single vineyard Carménère; 5% Single vineyard Sangiovese, from Walla Walla and Yakima Valley respectively. Only 46 cases produced.
- The Swirl: Beautiful dark Garnet jewel tones
- The Sniff: Mild aromas of cherry, vanilla and my wife said, “Powell’s Book Store in Portland” – I think she was referring to a slight earthiness
- The Sip: Very nice pairing with our Spanish chili. The wine is mild on the front end, but opens up well to a nice fruit. The balance is rounded off with some mild acidity and a little tartness.
- The Score: At $28 retail, I score this wine a 3+. This is better than the majority of Carménère that I’ve had. The flavor was balanced but the fruit was mild and the finish was moderate. I really enjoyed the unique varietal. If you like medium bodied wines like Merlot, then you’ll enjoy this.
2007 Tempranillo Walla Walla Valley
- The Stuff: 82% Tempranillo, 9% Carménère, 8% Sangiovese from Walla Walla Valley and Yakima Valley. Only 75 cases produced.
- The Swirl: Slightly darker than the Tempranillo but still moderately translucent
- The Sniff: First aroma was bright bold red fruit (like a Mike and Ike). After sitting out for an hour or two, the fruit turned to a nice sour cherry, dark chocolate, and a spice I couldn’t quite identify (like an herbal garden or something)
- The Sip: A medium bodied wine that jumps out with a nice cherry and cocoa and vanilla. The sweet acidity and medium tannin make this a nice well rounded offering. The finish lingered for quite some time.
- The Score: At $28 retail, I can score this wine a solid 4. The combination of a beautiful bouquet, balanced fruit, spice, acid and alcohol, and a rounded finish make it a stellar purchase.
*Both wines were provided as industry samples with the intent to review.
26 Jan 2010
Does Facebook Tweeting Hurt?
Facebook offers a way to connect your status updates to Twitter. Sounds like a great way to kill two birds with one stone. Does “tweeting” your Facebook status actually hurt your marketing efforts? Do Facebook tweeters frustrate users and risk alienating their customers? Let me answer that question by briefly exploring the difference between Twitter and Facebook. If you already understand the basics of these two networks, feel free to skip the next section.
A Facebook Fan page allows you to stay in touch with your customers and allows customers to post their thoughts and experiences about your business / product. Status updates are limited to 461 characters (at last check). Facebook also lets you post events, images, discussions, and even notes (blogs). As your customers interact with you through “likes,” comments and posts, two things occur: 1) They show up in the Home stream of your fans status updates or feeds 2) There is a central “page” that your fans can visit for all of your posts and other fan responses. Facebook is sticky, provides a connective conversation between you and your fans. As an example, www.facebook.com/drinknectar has 130 fans. These fans see my periodic posts in their feed/status update and they may occasionally click on one of my links or visit the fan page. Rarely if ever, does one of those fans actually share that information with their ‘friends.’ My reach typically ends with the 130 people.
Twitter is a fast paced stream or feed of real time information. Tweets are limited to only 140 characters. When you begin to follow people you see their tweets. The people who follow you conversely see your tweets. The only way for your tweets to reach a larger audience is to get more followers or to have one of your followers re-tweet it (RT). When they do, all of their followers will see it. Twitter does not directly have the ability to host any other content except the tweet. While you do have a profile page that people visit on Twitter, it does not readily show the complete story of a tweet or conversation. Example – My www.twitter.com/nectarwine account has close to 1000 followers. When I tweet something interesting, provoking, or of value, it is very common for that tweet to be re-tweeted 5-10 times. Some of these re-tweets are by people with 50 – 15,000 followers. The potential reach of my tweet can be upwards to 30,000 people, all across the globe.
Each medium has its own culture. Is one better than the other? Each has its place. Marketing and networking with the two is not always done in the same way. Here is where Facebook Tweeter goes wrong.
Problems with Tweeting Your Status Update
1) You run the risk of diminishing your returns
The Issue: You are posting a link to an awesome blog, asking for feedback from your fans (i.e. your customers), or promoting a special event. For argument sake, let’s say that the status update was interesting enough for me to care enough to click it. You’ve now taken me to Facebook where I have to click something else to either be taken to your blog, see the rest of the question, or read more about the event. Asking your followers (i.e. your customers) to be interested enough to click two things in the ADD world of social networking diminishes your returns.
The solution: If you want someone to go to a blog link, tweet the actual link. If you’re seeking feedback, keep the status update to less than 140 characters. If you’re promoting an event, link directly to the event page in your tweet (use a service that shortens links like bit.ly)
2) You will alienate your followers (i.e. your customers)
The Issue: You have a Twitter account and you have a Facebook page. With the nature of your business, people naturally start following you on Twitter. You, however are a Facebook Tweeter that neglects your Twitter account. Occasionally, your followers (i.e. customers) mention you in a tweet, they re-tweet your cool event (because they like you), and occasionally they ask you direct questions. Because all you do is tweet from Facebook, you never see any of it. Your followers associate your lack of response with lack of care, they get disinterested and they un-follow you (take their business elsewhere). As a test this week, I asked direct questions of local businesses and event promoters who I suspected of Facebook tweeting. The result: zero response, and loss of my interest in them as a company.
The Solution: Check Twitter. If using the standard Twitter page feels cumbersome (which it is), use a free product like TweetDeck to easily monitor your direct messages (DM), mentions and replies.
If you are going to be on both networks, one simple rule will govern your success: Caring, observant, conversation. If fans post to your wall or comment on a post, respond to them. If followers mention, re-tweet or direct message you, respond to them. You wouldn’t ignore a customer who was standing right in front of you…would you?
Do you agree? Is Facebook tweeting bad? Do you know people who are guilty of it?
25 Jan 2010
The journey of Barrister Winery began as two lawyers, Greg Lipsker and Michael White, were vacationing with their families in British Columbia and they stopped in a local shop to buy wine and walked out with a five gallon Zinfandel wine making kit. When I asked how it was, Greg responded, “We thought it was wonderful.” “But it wasn’t,” Mike quickly joked.
Five gallons turned into 50 gallons, which then turned into crushing 1 ½ tons in their garage in 2000. “Friends and family were so supportive. When they heard we were making wine, they were eager to help.” Trial and error, conversation with local vintners, and a few courses at Walla Walla College led Greg and Mike to the launch of Barrister Winery in 2001.
Validation came when they submitted their wine to an independent wine making competition and walked away with three gold and a silver. In fact, when you look at the history of Barrister, you’ll see award after award and consistent 90+ point scores in wine magazines. Two lawyers with a small hobby are making quality wine that is drawing world-wide attention.
Barrister is located in an historic 100 year old building in Spokane’s downtown core (Railroad Ave, west of Jefferson). The 25,000 square foot facility houses production, a large single stack barrel room (see video), storage, and an expansive tasting room and event facility. Barrister offers a unique space to host your wedding, reception, corporate event, or special family dinner. Barrister is also the best stop on the First Friday Art Walk in Spokane (often times we’ll stop at Barrister and never leave).
In the early years, Barrister made a name with a unique varietal, Cabernet Franc. Traditionally a blending grape, Mike and Greg have been able to coax something special out of each and every vintage. As you taste through the Barrister collection, you’ll notice a consistent style of fruit forward, full bodied, smooth wines that each have a complex flavor profile. Barrister’s current wine line-up includes the Cab Franc, Syrah, Merlot, Sauvignon Blanc (their only white), and the incredibly delicious Rough Justice blend (reviewed below).
In addition to their current selection of wine, Barrister is excited to launch their wine club. The wine club offers fans the ability receive three bottles, twice per year. Each delivery is two regular Barrister wines and one small lot production wine specially made for wine club members. Club members also get exclusive privilege to buy additional bottles. I’m excited to try the 2006 Pepper Bridge Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon.
“Making wine is much more fun than practicing law,” was Greg’s closing argument. The verdict: Barrister is one of Washington’s premier wine makers and Spokane is lucky to have them.
2007 Cabernet Franc
- The Stuff: 88% Cabernet Franc and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon Columbia Valley; 690 cases
- The Swirl: Dark plum, opaque, well filtered and beautiful streaky legs
- The Sniff: Bold spice with dark berry fruit, black currant, and hint of blueberry on the back end.
- The Sip: Strong pepper spice, big berry flavor and huge acidity (but not in a bad way). The wine was amazingly smooth and the finish was long and evolved as it dissipated.
- The Score: At $27 retail, I am happy to score this wine a 4 (out of 5). This is a solid wine that is an impressive purchase for any gift, dinner party, or special dinner!
NV Rough Justice Red Blend
- The Stuff: 35% Merlot, 28% Syrah 26% Cabernet Franc, 11% Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Swirl: Beautiful dark jewel tone with translucent clarity.
- The Sniff: A-MA-ZING fruit and spice. Very aromatic blackberry, plum and vanilla on the nose. A moderate dose of leather pokes through as well.
- The Sip: A mouthful of jammy berry. If you like bold fruit that is not overly sweet but balanced out with a nice strong acid and spice, you’ll love this wine. The structure of this wine is impressive. Made in a very new-world style that is very impressive.
- The Score: At $20 I score this wine a 5 (out of 5). The wine is beautiful in aroma, strong and balanced in flavor, and immense in structure. This is one blend that if seen on a restaurant wine list that would instantly get my purchase!