15 Dec 2009
“Having a Twitter account and not using it is like opening your business without any inventory. People may stop by, but they’ll never be back.” – J. Wade
Are wineries leaving money on the table? Social Media / Social Networking (whatever you choose to call it) is not going away. 2009 may be thought of as the year that Twitter hit the mainstream, but 2010-2012 will prove to be the years where money is made (and lost) through social mediums. We are finally living in a time where businesses can have real time conversations with their consumers; real time feedback, real time promotions, real time complaint resolution, and real time viral excitement. As a winery, do you want to look back in a few years and think, “Boy I wish I got in on that in the early stages?” The longer the wait, the tougher the upstream swim.
“Social media offers new opportunities to activate…brand enthusiasm.” – Stacy DeBroff, founder and CEO of Mom Central
In my analysis of the Spokane area wine market, I discovered that 11 of the 15 wineries have Facebook fan pages and seven have twitter accounts. Of these forward thinking wine lovers, there are two that are actually taking advantage of Social Media to stay connected to their customers. The remaining are just stores with no inventory. Social Media is a two-way conversation with your fans/followers. Having a Facebook fan page is a start – fans can interact with one another, but think of how much more effective it would be if you responded to their comments? The interaction generates greater brand and product loyalty.
Good friend and Social Media Guru, @SeattleWineGal (Barbara Evans) has a fantastic post on the benefits of Social Media for wineries. It is an insightful post and worth the hop over to read it! It starts with trust, continues with reputation building and ends with increased sales.
“Social media efforts that have a strategic focus, plan, and goal, as well as a properly maintained and executed campaign, will result in an increase in sales.” @SeattleWineGal Barbara Evans
What is your Social Media strategy?
I realize that many wineries, specifically Spokane wineries, are smaller operations that keep busy maintaining the day-to-day tasks of growing, harvesting, fermenting, filtering, bottling, and distributing their passions. “I can’t afford to take time out to tweet or update my Facebook status.” Upcoming harsh tone is intentional – Can’t afford free advertising. Can’t afford free word of mouth. Can’t afford free brand loyalty. Can’t afford increased sales. Attitudes like that will lead to obsolescence as customers vote with their wallet and move to products they can engage and build loyalty with.
Three Tier Tactics
Web sites are static information mediums. A web page is a necessary business card element as customers are in the habit of searching for businesses in the .com .net world, but they don’t provide an opportunity to interact in real time. Keep your web site fresh by including feeds from your twitter account and current event, product information, or even a blog if you have time (heck, you can link to mine or any of the thousands of well written blogs out there). Web sites are often a first impression of your product and are a great place to push people larger amounts of information as you interact through Social Media.
Facebook Fan Page:
Facebook fan pages are Social Media, static information, and fan interconnectivity rolled into one. With 3 out of 4 Americans using social media and Facebook being the king, NOT having a Facebook page immediately puts you at a significant disadvantage. Just having one isn’t that much better. The key (as with Twitter) is to use it. Fans and followers want to connect. The conversation is part of the brand experience. Sharing pictures of the crush, responding to user tasting notes, sharing upcoming events (along with event pictures and then responding to users who attended) will do way more for brand loyalty than thousands of dollars spent in magazines and trade publications. Imagine the romance your customers will have as you describe the process of the 2009 vintage that you’ll be releasing in 24 months. They will have felt a part of the process. Your customers are online, now more than ever.
I could talk at length about ways to maximize Twitter (and Facebook) use, below are five key steps!
- Build your base: Invite customers to follow you on Twitter (and Facebook) by including links in all e-mail, newsletter, web site, print publication, etc. These links should become a part of every distribution avenue (including your business card).
- Follow your followers’ friends: Chances are your followers/fans have friends who are interested in the same things they are…YOU! There is no need to be overzealous. Take it slow, follow 30-50 at a time and then add more as they follow you.
- Be Social! Small Town Rules: When you see interesting posts, retweet them. “RT @personname Great post on such and such topic. Excellent read! http/hyperlink.” Putting the RT and @personname is the handshake and endorsement. Reply to people as they follow you or if they re-tweet your posts. Over time you’ll see exponential interaction…if you follow the next step.
“Remember to put the ‘social’ in Social Media. Meeting in person and talking on the phone are still great ways to connect. The digital space is an extension of actual human interaction, not a replacement.” – Rick Bakas @RickBakas St Supery Winery
- Tweet informative and often: It can be a challenge to keep content to 140 characters, but be creative! Don’t be afraid to tweet the same information several times in a day. Tweets (and Facebook updates) are real time feeds. If you tweet, “Hey wine lovers, stop by our tasting room today and receive 10% off our newest release,” it’ll be off of most peoples radar within the hour (or even minute). With your frequent updates and potential re-tweets, your single post can quickly reach hundreds and thousands of people.
- Don’t sell, offer incentive: Fans are less likely to respond to 2007 Cabernet for only $19.99 (unless it’s normally $50) than tweets of, “Stop by, watch the bottling, and receive $5 off with mention of this tweet.” These incentives will also give you the opportunity to track effectiveness.
Much more could be said to maximize social media, but putting these five principles into play will begin the process of building trust, brand excitement, loyalty and increased sales.
If you’re reading this thinking, “where do I start” or “this sounds good, but I think I need more help,” feel free to reach out to me. If I can’t answer your question of provide the time you need, I can certainly point you to the right person. (email@example.com)
Don’t miss out on the opportunity. Will you be the one to stand out? Your fans are waiting. DRINK.HAPPY!
14 Dec 2009
I realized it had been a while since I’ve done a coffee review. I’ve visited some great local coffee shops (Coffee Social – see review and Taste Cafe - review coming soon) and I’m excited about the local scene.
I was in a small local market picking up some wine for review and saw a display stand of coffee I’ve never tried. Moka Joe roasters is from Bellingham, WA. They import and roast only Fair Trade sustainably grown coffee. While some coffees designated as ‘Fair Trade’ may be a marketing ploy, the concept does provide greater profits to the local co-ops of farmers that participate. Traditional imported coffee is largely controlled by middle eastern religious groups that only funnel 1-2% of the profits go back to the local farmers. Farm profits for fair trade coffee run around 10%.
The coffee’s tasted in this episode are both $10.95 for 12oz and can be purchased online at http://shop.mokajoe.com
Why review? I think these reviews not only help me, but they help YOU decide what to buy. These are my opinions. I often taste things I have little or no experience with. The side by side comparisons facilitate the decision-making process when you see the product in the store.
Cafe Feminino Peru – Medium Roast
- The Swirl: Milk chocolate in color, cloudy
- The Sniff: Mild aroma with characteristics of earthiness, mocha, and nutty. Decent, but only a medium low on the wake me up in the morning meter.
- The Sip: Smooth with mild acidity.
- The Score: If you like smooth coffee I would give it a 3+. Typically a higher premium for Fair Trade coffee, so at $10.95 per 12oz you may want to look for a better deal.
After the review, learned from the web site that this coffee is made by Peruvian women high in the Andes: (From Web Site) This is the story of women. Not just the women of rural Peru, but women throughout developing nations. Many of these women have no rights, are abandoned, are abused, and alone with children and no income.
Bolivian – Medium Dark Roast
- The Swirl: Darker than the previous coffee with less cloudiness
- The Sniff: Much more aromatic. Hints of cocoa, woodiness, and cherry fruit. Scores much higher on the wake me up in the morning meter
- The Sip: BAM – this coffee woke me up. While the other was boring to me, this one had spice, acidity, and a more bold nutty chocolate flavor.
- The Score: At $10.95 per 12oz I score this coffee a 4- I would buy it again to try in my single brew machine to see what flavor I get there.
Both coffee’s can be purchased at the Rocket Market on 43rd and Grand in Spokane or on the company web site.
Brew some coffee and enjoy life with friends and remember to DRINK.HAPPY!
13 Dec 2009
I walked into the dimly lit room and they immediately caught my eye, seductively sitting in the back corner begging to be approached. Their style was intimidating. They had a sense of class that the others didn’t. I wrestled with how to approach. My senses were mixed. There were others in the room who seemed more my type; familiar and safe. I walked their way, struggling with what to say. Do I fumble to speak their language, do I remain silent and just admire their beauty? Their embrace was welcoming. After some stimulating conversation and laughter, I decided to take them home for a petite gorgee de trois.
French wine can be intimidating. With the long noble history, elegant labels, strict regional rules, and challenging names many Americans shy away from some great new experiences. Tonight, I decided to take two beautiful French ladies home for a little romance. Both wines hailed from the Rhone region, specifically the Cote du Rhone area that is known for its production of Grenache, Syrah, and Viognier.
These elegant sounding wines were 60% Granache and 40% Syrah (tasting notes below)
While it may be intimidating to try new things (especially ones that are difficult to pronounce), it is important to broaden your wine horizons to be able to order intelligently or even know what to enjoy (or avoid) when presented with something new. Starting with the basic offering from Rhone, Loire Valley, or Bordeaux is a perfect way to expand your taste experience.
These were not French nobility. The French maids were available for under $12 at the local wine shop and represent a lower price option for wines from the region (think Chevy vs. Cadillac). Neither were overly impressive, but I was glad for the experience because now I know what to potentially buy and what to definitely avoid.
A few words of wisdom before having your own French connection: Do your homework – investigate at Cork’d or Cellar Tracker; check your local blogs, do a Google or Bing search. The information you find can help you avoid the nasty and discover the jewels. Be confident – don’t let the fancy labels or foreign language intimidate you. Finally, be safe – have protection in the form of a designated driver. Too much of a good thing, even pretty French ladies can lead to your ruin.
2007 Domain de Couron
- The Swirl: ruby garnet and well filtered
- The Sniff: Cherry, Earth and Paper
- The Sip: Moderate dark berry fruits, chalky, cedar. Mild alcohol and mild tannins
- The Score: At $12 USD I score this a 3+ Better than your average $12 Australian Syrah with more structure and interest.
After thinking about this one further, I would buy it again for an alternate taste and would recommend to those wanting to slowly work their way into the world of new tastes.
2006 Paul Joubolet Aine Paralelle 45
- The Swirl: Ruby garnet cherry color with moderate legs
- The Sniff: Aromatically challenged but does present some earthiness and musty basement prior to the fruit.
- The Sip: Not much fruit, a little dry chalk with a hint of blackberry finish
- The Score: Even at $11 this is just a 3- in my book. Much better wines at this price. The wine does have a balanced flavor, just not one that I prefer.
I would pass on purchasing this wine again.
I hope this information is useful at some point (as well as entertaining). Enjoy life with friends, especially over a glass of wine.
10 Dec 2009
“I didn’t have the skills to be a plumber and the aromatics are much better.” This was the response from Lone Canary wine maker Mike Scott when I asked “Why did you get into wine making?”
**UPDATE MAY 14, 2010**
After 30 years of wine making in Spokane and 7 years as the co-founder of Lone Canary Winery, Mike Scott is no longer with Lone Canary. They company was sold in late 2009 to Spokane wine maker Don Townshend. While efforts were being made to bring the company into profitability, financial issues forced a change in direction. “The only thing I regret is not having the proper goodbye for the people who have grown to love Lone Canary and Mike Scott wines,” says Mike. After efforts of a third party investor fell through to purchase the winery, Don has decided to move Lone Canary to his Caterina Winery location on North Washington. What will become of Lone Canary? Will the wines be distinct and different from Don’s other brands? In this writer’s opinion, Lone Canary is on life support without Mike Scott’s involvement. The two are inextricably linked. How Lone Canary can survive is a story for another post…until then…thank you Mike for all the great years and all the fine wine.
Wine selling transformed into wine making which gave Mike the first real creative spark that he experienced in life. After learning the wine making craft at Latah Creek through 1990, Scott moved on to work for Steve Livingstone which led to the birth of Caterina Winery in 1993, in which he worked as the head wine maker. In 2002, Steve and Jeanne Schaub approached Mike for a business partnership that gave birth to Lone Canary in 2003.
Choosing a name was not only a difficult task but a potentially costly one. After researching a name that was memorable and conveyed Washington, they came across the state bird, the American Goldfinch also known as the Wild Canary. Perfect! The name was available and they proceeded with logo design, packaging, Federal approval, promotional materials…until…a call from lawyers representing bourbon maker Wild Turkey. Evidently the powerful Kentucky company owns the rights to the name “wild” on an alcoholic beverage – especially when paired with the mighty American Goldfinch (canary). Rather than pursue expensive litigation, the name Lone Canary was born.
With that behind them, Mike, Steve and Jeanne moved forward with the wine making operation. Six years of success – and a few missteps - has brought the operation to 4000+ cases. Crushing is done in Pasco and aging occurs in the Spokane tasting room / warehouse. Brand popularity necessitates growth, prompting the team to look at larger locations in the area. Current wine offerings are the 2007 Barbera, 2007 Syrah (reviewed below), Bird House Red (blend), 2007 Cuvee Rose, 2007 Late Harvest Sauvignon Blanc, 2005 Merlot, 2007 Sangiovese, 2008 Sauvignon Blanc, and a 2008 Pinot Grigio.
My final question, “What’s next for Mike Scott and Lone Canary?” Mike’s eyes lit up as he talked about his newfound passion for the Italian varietals that grow so well in the Yakima region. He’s excited about the Barbera, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, and the future release of Dolcetto and Nebbiolo at some point. I find it interresting that an English man moves to America to make Italian wine! “We were meant to drink wine,” says Mike, “I want people to be impressed with the quality of the wine in the bottle, rather than the price on the bottle.”
From everything I can see, this funny little bird that went toe to toe with a wild turkey (and lost) is one to watch (and taste).
2007 Syrah (100%) $21.95 – only 40 cases left
- The Swirl – Very dark and opaque, low legs – indicating lower alcohol content
- The Sniff – An initial blackberry earthy smell is first. Subtle oak gives this smooth smelling wine enough anticipation heading into the sip.
- The Sip – a soft front with a little lilac floral component, mild acidity, and smooth fruit (definitely not a fruit bomb). Dangerous sipping wine because of its contagious taste.
- The Score – At $22 I score this wine a $$$$ (out of $$$$$) This is a Washington Syrah to put on your list to try. If you’ve grown tired of the $8 Australian Yellow Tail, give this Yellow Finch / Canary a try.
Visit Lone Canary at 109 S. Scott / www.lonecanary.com / Twitter @clooneycanary and Facebook at www.facebook.com/lonecanary. Stop by Thursday – Sunday from Noon – 5PM for your own tasting experience. Enjoy live music every first Friday of the month as a part of Spokane’s First Friday 5-9PM.
Enjoy life with friends and DRINK.HAPPY!
08 Dec 2009
The following post is in response to a fellow wine bloggers inspiration and challenge – Check out follow, tweet, Facebook @TheWineWhore http://bit.ly/5LjxI9
Prior to 2004, I was not a wine drinker. At 32, I came across a wine that changed the course of my entire direction in life. Okay, it was actually a woman but wine was involved from the beginning. I was coming out of a 9 year relationship and she was coming out of a 14 year relationship. Expectation was strong, desire was thick, and the anticipation of when we could see each other was unbearable. It’s the kind of feeling that makes you love falling in love. At 32 I felt like I was 15 again. Finally, time and fate allowed our complicated lives to come together and we were able to meet for something other than a work related event. Hours of conversation provided me the insight that she was a wine drinker; years of chasing women taught me that you don’t show up without flowers. I stopped at the local grocery store, quickly picked out the flowers and headed to the wine section. Entering this unknown land caused panic and anxiety foreign to me. Each label brought futher confusion. White or red? California or WA? What were all these names, Cabernet, Merlot, Syrah, Zinfandel? What did they mean? At the risk of not seeming cheap, I quickly ruled out the under $10 crowd. At the risk of overextending my recently single finances, I kept it under $20. I grabbed the bottle and hastily made my way to the checkout, to the car, up the hill, to her house.
I parked around the corner (it was complicated) and with my flowers and brown paper bag of juice, I quietly knocked on the door and entered a magical world of new experiences and passions. Over the next few years the youthful infatuation blossomed into an unbreakable soul mate kind of love. She introduced me to the beautiful, intricate, complex, and sexy world of wine. Things become les and less complicated and we moved forward with the next stage of our life. We purchased a house.
I had yet to ask her hand in marriage, but I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life with her. The closing of our home was quickly approaching. We signed the papers and awaited the final word that everything had recorded so we could get the keys. The weeks leading up to the closing, I had devised a plan. I arranged to pick up the keys a day earlier than what was originally communicated to us. I grabbed an old bistro table, CD player, went out and bought a few new house decorations that we had our eyes on and set up a magical after dinner surprise. This time I was at the same local grocery store picking up flowers, dessert for two, and headed to the wine aisle. The last two years had taught me that my first selection was on the generic side of a mass produced wine, but I knew exactly which wine I wanted and quickly scooped it up.
We headed to dinner and then went to a local hardware store to dream and scheme about all the changes we were going to make to our house. We decided to purchase a house warming plant (a palm tree that still lives in our front room) and headed back to the apartment. I suggested we make a detour to drive by the house. We walked up to the door with our plant and I pulled out the keys to our new life. Excitedly we entered. She was at a loss for words, overcome with joy and excitement. I quickly lit the fireplace, turned on the CD I had prepared, got out the dessert and opened the ‘special’ wine. The moment was perfect as if scripted from a movie. When the CD began playing ‘our song’ I quickly got up, went to the cabinet and slipped her final surprise on the wine charm and sat down. She immediately saw the sparkle and tears began to flow. I was barely able to choke out, “Kimberly, I love you, you are my soul mate, will you marry me?”
The wine: 2002 Meridian Merlot – CA $12 – The fondest memories are not always etched with the finest of tastes, it is the whole experience that stays with us.
P.S. She said yes!