04 Feb 2010
I do not proclaim to be a social media guru, expert, or marketing maven. I am, like many of you, learning to use the tools through observation, success and failure, and absorption of the mass quantities of information. While my journey with Twitter began only three months ago for DrinkNectar, I have been using social media for two years for Real Estate and personal connection. There is so much great information out there for businesses to digest. Getting started can be a challenge and once you’re involved, filtering the knowledge can be downright overwhelming.
Many sites are dedicated to collecting and distributing Social Media tips and information. Mashable is among the best. I highly recommend bookmarking their site and following them on Twitter for a real time stream of new information. Below are items I’ve bookmarked over the last few months that may be valuable, regardless of if you’ve been using Facebook / Twitter since they came on the scene or are just getting started.
Building the Brand:
This great post by Rick Bakas, Director of Social Media for @StSupery Winery, helps businesses clarify each of these categories. Before launching any Social Media strategy (or any marketing strategy period), it would be beneficial to start here and identify the difference with your own brand.
Develop your Strategy:
Once you’ve established your brand, logo, and marketing strategy, you’ll want to include Social Media as a part of that strategy. Social Media is not your strategy, it’s a part of your overall brand voice. I recently asked Oregon winery Sokol Blosser about social media strategy,
“We didn’t want to just jump in and hope that social media worked… we created a plan that mapped out several specific things: what kind of information we would post, the “voice” of our brand on social media, how many times a day we would post… goals, etc. Having a plan from the beginning helped us to have a clear understanding of what social media could provide for us, spared a lot of headaches and helped us to feel confident.” – @sokolblosser
In this video Gary V talks about the four “C”s to social media strategy: Content, Community, Customer Service, and Care. Gary is enthusiastic and his passion is contagious. Check out this short video to help light the fire.
For more on strategy, I really enjoyed this post from Eric Hwang @bricksofwine. Eric’s post is geared for wineries but contains great information for all businesses developing a brand, marketing and Social Media strategy.
Going to Social School:
Learning the tricks of the trade can help make Social Media tools more efficient. When you are efficient, you can be more effective. On the surface these tools look to be simple but as you’ll soon find out, there are several nuances that can make using them infinitely more powerful.
The folks at @enobytes are on to a great educational series on Twitter. Parts one and two contain information that is beneficial for the ‘new’ user as well as the ‘veteran’ of Social Media. These two posts (and I’m sure there will be more) are great starting points for using and understanding Twitter.
Twitter and Facebook are two powerful Social Media tools. They are not interchangeable and a smart business will be on both and have modified strategies for using each. Tweeting your Facebook status to Twitter seems to be a major turn off to Twitter users. While Twitter is a real time stream of information for interacting and connecting with your followers, Facebook provides a landing page where fans can interact with you AND each other AND your content.
Time to Take Action:
Ok, you have your brand strategy set and you’ve tackled the basics of integrating Social Media into that strategy. You’ve take some steps to become educated on the key tools of Social Media. Now you’re ready for action!
Barbara Evans (aka @seattlewinegal) is an excellent resource for action oriented Social Media advice. In this post she talks about six great action items that can come out of using Social Media tools.
This post is one I wrote to provide specific action that businesses can take when jumping in to the Social Media world. The post covers three high level ideas, 1) Connect with connectors, 2) Go local, 3) Don’t be shy. Specific granular suggestions are given for each are.
I love specific ideas and suggestions. Eric Hwang shares 17 very specific ideas that can help your winery generate good content for Twitter or Facebook. Great resource for overcoming the all too common ‘writers block.’
Shannon of @michbythebottle pulls back the covers on eight very simple ways wineries should use twitter to engage the wine community and their customers. If you need some very basic steps to follow, this list will help drive your success.
Still on the fence about Social Media? Watch this!
04 Feb 2010
Wineries on Twitter: @sokolblosser 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.
How long have you been using Twitter?
Sokol Blosser has been using Twitter since the fall of 2008.
What prompted you to dive in?
A few of our consumers and colleagues were using Twitter and other free social media outlets to express their food and wine interests, share information, and quickly get the word out about events and other industry news. We wanted to be in that “inner circle” and make sure Sokol Blosser stayed in the forefront of our consumers’ minds.
What type of strategy or approach do you use when posting content?
We didn’t want to just jump in and hope that social media worked. Once we learned how to use sites like Facebook, Flickr, and Twitter, we created a plan that mapped out several specific things: what kind of information we would post, whether or not we would use social media to sell wine (promoting deals and sales), the “voice” of our brand on social media, how many times a day we would post, what our goals were for social media, among other things. Having a plan from the beginning helped us to have a clear understanding of what social media could provide for us, spared a lot of headaches of the “figure it out as we go” method, and helped us to feel confident.
What have been the benefits of using Twitter/Facebook? (increased traffic, increased brand awareness, customer connection, etc)
The biggest benefit to us is the connection to our consumers. We don’t use our social media for promoting deals, simply for relating relevant content to fans who are interested in what’s going on at the Winery and in the wine industry. We get a lot of visitors to our Tasting Room who say they’ve been following us online and just had to come out and see what Sokol Blosser is all about.
Is there a single success story that you can point to with using Twitter/Facebook?
There are many! We have seen more visitors to our Tasting Room in the past year than ever before, more RSVPs to events, and more press releases being picked up by the media. By connecting with people using social media, we are taking advantage of a free tool to tell our message to an audience that is interested and wants to learn.
What do you think is the single biggest barrier to why we don’t see more wineries actively using Social Media tools?
I believe that most wineries think that social media tools take up a lot of time – time they can’t afford with their already full schedules. Sure, it takes a little time to get your social network set up, but those wineries might be surprised to know that we really devote very little time during the day to social media – we’re just consistent. Every day there are more tools available that make networking easier, and with the possible return on what is actually a very small time commitment, I’m surprised more wineries aren’t jumping on the 2.0 bandwagon.
What advice would you give to wineries joining the stream or getting back into the stream?
Create a plan! Know what your company’s goals are for your social networking endeavor, how much time you plan to invest each day, and who will be in charge of the “voice” of your brand online. Then – and this is the tough part – stick to the plan and be consistent.
Also, keep it real and stay positive. Nothing turns fans, friends and followers off faster than promising something you can’t deliver, over-posting about certain topic or special deal, or bashing other companies, wines, or people.
Briefly tell us about your winery, a new release, or something unique about you?
In 1971, Susan Sokol Blosser and her husband planted grapes on just 5 acres in the Dundee Hills. As one of the pioneering wineries of the region, Sokol Blosser has played a key role in developing and shaping the now-prominent Oregon wine industry. The winery is still family owned and operated, with the second generation now at the helm: siblings Alex and Alison Sokol Blosser. While the estate has grown to over 85 certified organic acres, the winery works to create wines of world-class quality, produced in a sustainable manner, which reflect the distinctive flavors of the grapes, soil and climate.
What is your favorite rock band and why?
Personally, my favorite rock band is No Doubt – I dig their hip style and the way their music has evolved over the years. Around the winery during harvest time we listen to a lot of Beatles tunes, though – gotta love that!
03 Feb 2010
Liberty Lake Winery’s story is not uncommon; a hobby that grows beyond the boundaries of a single cellar. What separates Doug and Shelly Smith is their passion for the Liberty Lake and Spokane community. “If we could just enjoy a glass of wine with everyone in our area, we’d be happy,” says Doug. Originally Doug was experimenting with home brew when Shelly encouraged him to make something she could enjoy too. Realizing that their concentrated kit wine wasn’t up to par with what they were experiencing at wineries, they asked for tips from places they visited. “Good wine comes from good fruit,” was the response. Obviously not one to ease into things, Doug and Shelly went from experimenting with 20lbs of grapes from Costco to buying and crushing 4 tons of grapes from the Walla Walla area.
Their 2005 vintage was released in 2008 and their current vintage (from Red Mountain AVA) consists of Syrah (sold out), Merlot (reviewed below), Second Generation Red Blend, and a Cabernet Sauvignon (reviewed below). The tasting room / production facility, among the treetops overlooking Liberty Lake, is where Doug and Shelly crush, ferment, store and sell their max capacity of 500 cases. While slightly out of the way for most Spokanites, Liberty Lake Wine Cellars is a must stop on your to do list. In this reviewers opinion, the tasting room view is the best in Spokane (yes, I realize Arbor Crest’s view and property grounds is amazing but you don’t see it from the tasting room).
While Doug and Shelly enjoy masquerading by day as city employee (Liberty Lake) and health care consultant respectively, you can’t help but notice the glint in their eye when they talk about their love of wine and sharing it with the community. “It’s hard and dirty work with lots of long days but we always have fun,” says Shelly.
“Our goal is to make wine we enjoy and hope others enjoy it too.” Stop by their tasting room and you’ll become a fan.
Liberty Lake Wine Cellars tasting room is open most Saturdays (call ahead 255-9205). You can stay in touch with all of their events and release dates at www.facebook.com/libertylakewinecellars
2006 Red Mountain Merlot
- The Stuff: 100% Single Vineyard Merlot aged 20 months in new/used oak combination 13.4% ABV
- The Swirl: Magenta purple color and moderately opaque
- The Sniff: Fantastic fruit (cherry and strawberry) with hints of eucalyptus vanilla and chalk
- The Sip: More mild on the palate than on the nose, above average structure. A slight minirality throws the balance off on the front end. Just enough back end support and acid to work well with food.
- The Score: At $22, I score this wine a 4 (out of 5). An excellent well crafted Merlot that speaks to why WA Merlot rocks the world!
2006 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 100% single vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon from Red Mountain AVA
- The Swirl: Mild plum color with moderate clarity. Wine is lighter in color and less extracted than a typical Cabernet.
- The Sniff: A nice balanced nose of blackberry and mild green peppers
- The Sip: More fruit than spice with a solid tannin and acid structure. The finish falls off quickly. Definitely made in a new world way. Could cellar well for 3-5 more years
- The Score: At $25, I score this wine a 3+ (out of 5). Could imagine this to be a good food wine with a hearty steak or roast.
From back label: We believe that wine is about living and enjoying life with family and friends. Wine is an ingredient in the building of social community. It is with that belief that we share our wine with you.
02 Feb 2010
January has come to a close. Thankfully we haven’t been snowed in this year. The 31 days of January contained over 800 tweets, 28 wine reviews, 19 posts and 1 very cool wine tweetup in Phoenix with a new friend Tim @wklywinejournal
At the end of each month I look back and compile some of my favorite tweets, posts, and wines. This very special honor should be put on par with the Grammys, Emmys and Academy Awards. Be sure to show love to those nominated by visiting their pages, commenting on their tweets / status updates.
Wines of the Month
Best Value Under $15: Bogle Petite Sirah ($9-$11)
On the quest for great value wines, this Petite Sirah is big and bold. Watch the video review
- 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.
*Runner Up: Yellow + Blue Sauvignon Blanc (Review coming soon)
Best Wine: Barrister NV Rough Justice ($20)
I purchased this wine during my review of Barrister Winery. This proprietors style blend is seductively amazing and has such immense fruit and a nice balance. Not only is this a ‘best wine’ it is very affordable. Watch the video review of Barrister Winery
- 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!
* Runner Up: 2005 Signorello Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($80)
Random Favorite Highlights from January
Post that made me spit wine out my nose: From @supplewine and his Box of Red comic (by Brett Underhill) http://www.supplewine.com/comics/box-o-red/2010-01-15.php
Best Wine Quote: From @TishWine 1/9/2010 tweet “Wine tasting notes are like greased pigs. Best hope is to have fun in the process, because very little chance of capture.”
DrinkNectar Most Viewed Post: Is Facebook Tweeting Hurting Your Business? (25 comments)
01 Feb 2010
Today’s video review is unlike anything you’ve ever seen in the wine blogging world. Never before has such a unique collaboration occurred. Two reviewers spanning over 3000 miles simultaneously taste the same wines from Kiona Winery (@kionawine on Twitter). You’ll be seduced by the music. You’ll be aroused by the Florida beaches. You’ll be amazed at the wine. The review is wrapped up with a virtual jam session with me on guitar and Randy from @thewinewhore on drums.
I love the line on Kiona’s web site, “You know you’ve got to start a winery when you make more wine than you can drink.”
Kiona more than started a winery, they were part of propelling Washington wine into the mainstream of becoming the second largest producer of wine in the country (second to California). When only a handful of wineries called Washington home, Kiona planted its first grapes in 1975 and produced its first wine in 1980. At that time there were less than 15 wineries in the state (now there are over 650).
Kiona Winery calls the small Red Mountain AVA home. Kiona is home to 1/3 of the planted acres of grapes in the AVA. The 300 acres of Kiona fruit serve as the magic for the 20 wines they produce and grapes for several other Washington wineries. Today’s cross country review is of their Late Harvest Riesling, Dry Riesling and the 2003 Cabernet Sauvignon.
2008 Late Harvest Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Riesling; 10% residual sugar 10% alcohol
- The Swirl: A beautiful peach juice and honey color. Even on the swirl, I get the impression this is going to be like a nice light syrup
- The Sniff: Intoxicating aroma of honey, tropical fruit, and a field of wild flowers
- The Sip: Obviously as a dessert wine this is sweet. It is not overly done and has a nice balance on the back end. Could pair nicely with spicey food. I personally could only experience it in small 2-3 oz pours.
- The Score: I’m a fan, but not a huge fan of this wine (only because I’m not a fan of sweet wines.) If you like dessert wines, you’ll love it. At $10 per 1/2 bottle, I score this a high 3+ (out of 5)
2008 Dry Riesling
- The Stuff: 100% Estate grown 30 year old vines 13% alcohol 100% Stainless Steel
- The Swirl: This dry Riesling has a nice yellow straw and honey color.
- The Sniff: Apples, Pineapples and rose pedals oh my. Very aromatic wine. The sniff gives a hint of carbonation too.
- The Sip: Very nice, slightly sweet but not over the top. Good sipping summer wine or pairing with Asian food, Sushi, or Thai food. The peaches and apples come off the palate. Moderate acidity to make your mouth water. A little aluminum on the back end throws off the balance.
- The Score: At $12-$15 this is a very good Riesling, I score it a 4 (out of 5).
2003 Cabernet Sauvignon
- The Stuff: 85% Cabernet 9% Merlot 6% Cab Franc.
- The Swirl: A dark purple brown color. Good aged looking wine.
- The Sniff: Leather, earth, smoke, and then finally the sour cherry fruit. Nice smelling wine.
- The Sip: This is a good complex wine that offers enough fruit (cherry and plum) with the smokey tobacco flavor. There is some minerality that keeps me from scoring this higher. This is a nicely aged wine that drank very well for 2 days. I found it interresting and offered a variety of flavors. Not huge on tannin but enough acid to eat with smoked beef, and even some hickory smoked salmon with a dark reduction of some sort.
- The Score: At $20 retail, this wine easily gets a 4 from me. If you find it for under $15, buy more than one bottle.
Kiona is a Washington pioneer and a consistent maker of great wine. This is a label that can ALWAYS be trusted in the store and in the restaurant. Visit their tasting room in Benton City, WA just West of Richland, WA.