30 Nov 2011
Last week, I had the opportunity and good fortune to share my Thanksgiving wine picks with Spokane area wine lovers on KXLY920 radio station and KXLY TV’s Good Morning Northwest show. While some may think of me as a media whore, I love these opportunities to showcase Spokane wine and of course Nectar Tasting Room. While these opportunities sometimes seem to come out of the blue, they are not by accident, they are by design. The great thing is that anyone can develop the relationships they need for success in their industry.
Over the last few months I’ve been doing quite a bit of thinking on “relationship marketing” and building strategic connections; so much so, that I’ve started a book about the subject (only on chapter 3 of 12 right now). While I may not “do” relationships and networking correctly all the time, I have seen the power of these strategic connections in action these last 12 months. Here are three tips for turning online relationships into offline success.
1. Be genuine
People can spot a phony. Be who you are regardless of your faults and failures. There are some people I don’t get along with. I can be impetuous and quick to speak without thinking through the consequences, but I am also quick to apologize and know my shortcomings. Many people can build a wide and shallow network but it will collapse like a house of cards if the roots are not deep and genuine.
2. Be purposeful
Build relationships that can be symbiotic. This isn’t done to meet selfish needs but it is done with thoughtful intention. As a Washington wine blogger, I knew that I needed the bigger community of established bloggers. I intentionally sought out and connected with people like Washington Wine Report, Seattle Wine Gal, Paul Gregutt, Wild Walla Walla Wine Woman and more. These relationships became mutually beneficial and even spawned some great friendships.
Knowing that social media marketing and developing a brand required a broader reach, I intentionally connected with local influencers like Pam Scott, Visit Spokane, Ally Shoshana, Monte Tareski, Barb Chamberlain (and so many others) along with the growing local traditional media population on Twitter (enter the radio and TV contacts). Be purposeful about the connections you make whether it is media, non-profits, industry alliances, or popular influencers.
I would speculate that at least 90% of my great “offline” relationships began through “online” purposeful connections.
3. Be giving
Some people are consumers and users. By their very nature their endeavors dry up because at their core they are taking more than they are giving and eventually there is nothing left to take. I love what I do. I love Spokane and the wine scene here. While I have been intentional about most everything I’ve done, I also love seeing the success of those around me and promoting our area. From day one when 5 people watched a video and 3 people read a blog post, it was about adding value to the community. A good friend recently reminded me that it was this “giving” that was so attractive at the beginning. As a business owner with bills, new stresses and responsibilities, I have to admit that I briefly lost sight of giving and became inwardly focused. People often ask if a wine bar around the corner is our competition. I always respond with, “No, I love that place. I often go there when I’m not working.” I love promoting them and their events. Regardless of whether there is a direct financial return, giving should be at the core of what you do. I’ve recently learned that there is a basic principle of the universe. Where your attention goes, your energy flows. Living life with open hands to give also allows you to receive back as well. Many of the most valuable relationships I have were birthed out of giving relationships with the Spokane Symphony, American Childhood Cancer Organization INW, Make a Wish foundation, Cancer Patient Care, Cystic Fibrosis and more.
Relationships are the key to success in any endeavor. Relationship marketing is the unique combination of building and nurturing relationships both online through social media and offline through traditional means. In my opinion, relationships grow through selfless effort and sacrificing your own needs for the greater good of others. Be genuine as you intentionally and purposefully build relationships with key people. Look for ways you can give back to each of those relationships and success will be yours.
For those of you who are interested, I’ve included both the TV and radio spots here for you
28 Nov 2011
God only knows I’ve wanted to. God only knows I’ve tried. Once given the opportunity all I can say is God Only Knows lives up to the hype. In short, the Cayuse Vineyards 2008 God Only Knows Grenache is possibly the best wine I’ve had in 2011.
Sitting on 55 acres of stony riverbed soil on the Oregon side of the Walla Walla AVA is the legacy of French winemaker Christophe Baron. Planted in 1997, Cayuse Vineyards was Washington’s first biodynamic farmed vineyard and creator of some of the most sought after wines in the U.S. According to the story, Christophe Baron fell in love with the stony vineyard site at first glance. Wine grapes love to be stressed and the rocky soil creates some amazing wine.
The “God Only Knows” wine is 90% estate Grenache and 10% ‘god only knows’ according to the web site. The wine is available only to mailing list members. As luck would have it I have a friend who after four years finally made the allocation list. After paying for her three pack of wines 9 months ago, she finally received her first shipment. With a little coaxing I persuaded her to bring a bottle down to Nectar to share. According to web sites the wine is available for $170 on various auction sites. My friend paid about $60 per bottle.
With previous vintage scores settling in at 96 and 97 points from The Wine Advocate’s Jay Miller, the wine has some high expectations to live up to. The color is a light ruby rust color that is about 60% transparent. The sniff reveals aromas of violets and other floral fragrance. When the wine was first opened, there was a hotness to the nose along with an odd steely aroma. After about 30-40 minutes that fragrance was gone and additional aromas of cranberry and raspberry jumped out of the glass. Hints of clove were also present.
The first sip left me pretty disappointed. The flavor structure was disjointed and the finish left something to be desired. We poured the wine into a decanter and let it sit for about 30 minutes while we chatted about the upcoming holiday. A second effort started to reveal the true magic of this wine. An elegant layer of fruit lays across your tongue like a blanket of velvet that gives way to a rustic earthiness and lingering finish that includes raw meat (trust me it’s good), and silky cherries. About 1/2 way through the second glass I knew that I was fortunate to have a friend on the allocation list and was contemplating putting my name on the list as well.
In short, God Only Knows is a phenomenal wine…now, I know. This wine is deserving of a very rare 5/5 score.
- CAYUSE WEB SITE http://www.cayusevineyards.com/static/index.html
- Sean Sullivan’s WA Wine Report New Release Review
- Cellar Tracker score 91pts (six reviews)
22 Nov 2011
It’s the time of year when almost every wine blog and major newspaper posts their Thanksgiving wine pairing suggestions. They range from the crazy 1WineDude pairing to the regional suggestions of New York Cork Report or Washington Wine Report or the predictable newspaper offerings. Why? Well, people must want to know. I look at how people arrive to my site almost daily and Google analytics tells me people are searching for Thanksgiving wine pairings. Since I live in Spokane and I love Spokane wine, here is what will be on my table if I can make it to the store in the midst of my schedule.
As people arrive for dinner and settle in to watch the Macy’s parade or the Cowboys or Lions game, it’s good to have something light and refreshing waiting for them. A good sparkling wine is always a hit. I’ll be serving the Northwest Cellars 2001 Brut. This wine is made in Oregon from Willamette Valley Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and has a beautiful bready apple aroma and a crisp dry finish ($31) / available at Nectar Tasting Room
Another one of my favorites is Townshend Cellar Huckleberry Brut. A traditional dry sparkling wine with just a touch of huckleberry juice added for an amazing flavor that will please most discerning guests ($19) / available at Townshend Cellar and many local grocers.
Many people struggle with wine pairing at the Thanksgiving dinner table because there are so many varying flavors that compete for attention. Keep one thing in mind…acid. Wines that are high in acid help to cleanse your palate between bites and marry with the acidity that is present in most foods. Two really good options come to mind, Pinot Noir and dry Riesling.
Pinot Noir – Washington is not known for Pinot Noir but there are a few growing regions starting to show a lot of promise. Lake Chelan’s Hard Row to Hoe has a Pinot that presents earthy aromas of campfire, bacon and cherry fruit. The finish offers more structure than some candy strawberry Pinot’s out of Oregon. This wine reminds me of a traditional Pinot from Burgundy ($30) / available at Nectar Tasting Room.
Dry Riesling – Riesling is traditionally high in acid and pairing a bone dry Riesling with the traditional turkey, stuffing, gravy, mashed potatoes, and yams makes a great balance in the flavor. Rieslings subtle apple and pear flavors along with the minerality and stone flavors will enhance the meal. Nodland Cellars Bebop Riesling ($19) is a top choice for me. The wine is available at many local retailers right now for $10-$15. Arbor Crest offers a good alternative with an off dry Riesling from Dionysus vineyards. The subtle peach, pineapple and honey flavors finish with the good acidity that is needed ($10-12). The wine was selected as one of the Wine Enthusiast top 100 value wines of the year – 91pts.
Other Ideas – Some other great wines for the table include the Pinot Blanc from Bridge Press Cellars. With slight citrus and tart characteristics the flavors will balance well with much of what is on the table. I would also suggest having an earthy Syrah on the table. One of my all time favorites is the 2008 Barrister Morrison Lane Syrah. It might be tough to find, but worth it if you can.
Pumpkin pie, pecan pie, apple crisp…so many dessert options. Finding a wine that pairs well can be a challenge. Once again a sparkling wine would work well here but finding something sweet can be fun too. As a general rule of thumb, find a wine that is sweeter than your dessert. The Latah Creek Mascato D’Latah is a perfect pairing. Flavors of peach, apricot, and honey are balanced by a sweet acidity. At $15, this wine will delight. If you’re in need of fruit salad in a glass, give the 2009 Terra Blanca Late Harvest Chenin Blanc a try.
Above all, enjoy time with your family and friends. All the wine you pair over the holidays is amplified by sharing it with the ones you love. Happy Thanksgiving and THANK YOU for all of your ongoing support and encouragement.
Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
10 Nov 2011
Two years ago, I had no idea that registering the domain name drinknectar.com at GoDaddy would change my life. While the story still continues to unfold, today I celebrate the second birthday of this social experiment. The last two years has contained many challenges, opportunities for growth, and so many blessings and successes. In the midst of it all, I’m reminded of something I recently read:
“You are exactly who, what, where you are supposed to be and you are lovely.”
Last night I was reading through the ‘happy birthday, year one’ post thinking, “Wholly heck, how in the world did you find the time to write so much content?!” I guess the answer lies in the fact that now I run three businesses (while still managing a full time day job), have had some major personal changes in life, and have really taken the time to enjoy all the moments with friends that I get.
During the first year I wrote 317 blog posts (year 2 saw almost 100). The adage that “content is king” rings very true. As the content decreased, average page views declined from 20,000 per month to just under 10,000. My commitment for 2012 is to get back to what I love doing; creating. While I can’t commit to writing something new every day like I did in 2010, I can get back to video reviews, wine interest stories, and more wine exploration.
Thanks for a great two year run. Here is to kicking off the third year in grand style.
Below are the top posts for the year and few all time favorites of mine. Clicking through them brings back so many memories. I’m very proud of the interaction on the site (over 3500 comments) and the continued support, surpassing 250,000 page views. Thank you!
#5 - No I Won’t Be Your Friend – A gentle admonishment to businesses using Facebook friend profiles instead of business pages. Includes practical tips to change over.
#4 - The Social Experiment – Nectar Opens to a Packed House – Reliving the success and stress of our opening weekend
#3 - Hello Kindness, Are You There? Wine Tasting Gone Bad – by Benny Hilzinger – Ben shares his not so pleasant experience while wine tasting ‘over the mountains’ in Woodinville
#2 - Five Wine Tasting Tips For Wine Newbies by Benny Hilzinger – some practical tips to remember before going out on your wine tasting adventure
#1 - Five Things NOT to do While Wine Tasting – a humorous look at some actual things that happened at Nectar the first few months of business
All Time Favorites
Leavenworth – Bavarian for Wine? – a recap from my trip to Leavenworth for wine. Great post for those wanting to tour this popular area. Also happens to be the spot for the next Nectar Tasting Room (June 2012)
Restaurant Wine Lists Are Put on Notice – obvious that people are fed up with overpriced, lack of quality and service from many restaurant wine lists. Continues to be a top 10 post.
The Top Value Wines From 2010 – evidence that people are always looking for value. This post recaps my favorite finds from hundreds of wine reviews in 2010.
7 Creative Uses To Recycle Wine Bottles – Most Viewed All Time and still wildly popular. A look at some fun ways to recycle your wine bottles.
2011 started with the opening of Nectar Tasting Room. So many amazing opportunities have been afforded to me, it is difficult to capture them all.
- January – Opening of Nectar
- June – Selected one of the 20 under 40 business people in Spokane
- July – Attended the 2011 Wine Bloggers Conference in Virginia.
- September – Announced that I will be providing video content with national training site lynda.com
- September – Announced partnership with KXLY TV’s Mike Gonzalez to co-host a winery focused TV segment on his show “In the Kitchen” (still in progress)
- October – Nectar Tasting Room featured on MSNBC.com
- November – Issue #2 of Spokane Wine Magazine hits the streets
On the radar: Being featured in a local cookbook of the who’s who in Spokane. Talks are in the works for a weekly wine tip feature on a local radio station. Being featured in Alaska Airlines magazine February 2012 issue of top business people in Spokane.
09 Nov 2011
Over the next few weeks we’ll be gathering with our friends and family to give thanks, share gifts and raise a toast to the year that was. For most of you, wine is a natural accompaniment to these joyful occasions. We want to be there with you to help you celebrate from the pop of Northwest Cellars sparkling wine to the a playful ‘Shameless Hussy’ gift. As we say thanks, I want to thank you for all of your support. I am thankful for Nectar Tasting Room as a business and for each of you as friends (awww…mushy, I know). Enjoy life with friends, drink happy!
THURSDAY- As always, the best place to enjoy a glass of wine. 1/2 price appetizer plates with the purchase of a bottle, free Wi-Fi to study or have a business meeting, and great atmosphere.
FIRST FRIDAY – As part of this month’s First Friday, Nectar is a proud participant in the Community Colleges of Spokane SPE November Gallery Tour. On display is the art of TWO talented photographers, Erin Jennings and Michael Emme.
- MUSIC – One of our all time favorite acts is back for First Friday. Enjoy the swing, blues, bluegrass sounds of The Vagabonds Traveling Show from 6:30-9:30.
Check out all the Downtown Partnership First Friday activities
SATURDAY: Saturday afternoon is a perfect time to swing by for some wine tasting with friends. Headed out for a night on the town. Stop in for The Final Sip between 9:00-10:00.
THURSDAY – Symphony Night at Nectar. Stephanie Hatzinikolis will provide the music as Nectar will donate 10% off all the nights revenue back to the Spokane Symphony. This is a great way to support one of Spokane’s best institutions! Please join us 5-9pm.
FRIDAY – If you’re not headed to Epicurean Delight, won’t you please stop by for a night of wine tasting with friends. We’re also a great stopping point for a relaxing glass of wine, just walking distance from the convention center.
SATURDAY – Beat the crowds and get your Thanksgiving wine. Acoustic Variety from Ken Davis and Danny Rodriguez from 6:30-9:30; The Final Sip (Spokane’s favorite wine party) from 9-10pm.
November 17-20 (Holiday Wine Fest Weekend)
Get all of your holiday wine shopping out of the way with some major deals from all five Nectar Wineries. With 25 wineries in Spokane to choose from make sure you plan your route to maximize your fun. Enjoy 25-50% off select Nectar wines that will perfectly pair with your holiday activities. We will also have great deals on our annual membership and 2 for 1 wine tasting too (great stocking stuffer)!
Get the full scoop on the 26th annual Holiday Wine Festival here. Holiday wine fest runs Friday – Sunday.
Friday – Music with Maxie Ray Mills
Saturday – Music with Michael Dwyer
Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy time with your family and friends!
RED WHITE and ROSE FRIDAY – The shopping season officially begins with black Friday. We’ve got the cure with red, white and rose Friday. Bring in any shopping receipt from the day and get a FREE wine tasting. Relax after a long day of shopping with live music from 6:30-9:30.
The deals continue Saturday and Sunday (yes Sunday Noon-5pm). If you missed out on the Holiday Wine Festival, stop in and save!