14 Dec 2011
Keith and ReNae Pilgrim are pleased to announce that they have selected award-winning Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar to be their exclusive caterer for the winery event facility and for the winery’s weekend cafe, Café Orsa.
“Since we opened the new building and event facility on Red Mountain in 2006 the winery has worked with a variety of restaurants and caterers but with the movement of Twigs, a longtime winemaking partner, into the community we were presented with a unique opportunity,” said winemaker Keith Pilgrim.
“We’ve been creating wines for Twigs and the Blackwell family, who own the Twigs restaurants up in Spokane, for five years. We kept talking about having Twigs in the Tri-Cities because we enjoyed their food and liked the family nature of their business. ReNae and I recognize the trust they put in Terra Blanca by having us make the house wine for their restaurant, TnT, so we know going into this partnership that we have a close working relationship.”
Trevor Blackwell, Owner & Chief Operating Officer for Twigs said, “This is a great opportunity for us to work with a business that mirrors our beginnings. Twigs and Terra Blanca are both small, family-owned businesses with roots in eastern Washington. We’re not big corporate chains, we live where we work and we know where our food and grapes are grown. That means guests at the restaurant or at the winery can count on us to showcase the best of local produce, meat, fish and Terra Blanca’s wine.”
Beginning January 1, 2012, Executive Chef Jonathan Holden will be working with the Pilgrims and Director of Banquet Sales Gretchen Wiseman to create menus that are exclusive to events held at Terra Blanca including weddings and corporate meetings and dinners. Menus will focus on sustainable and Northwest cuisine for the winery’s increasingly popular Friday night Happy Hour late openings and weekend hours.
“Twigs brings not only up-and-coming cuisine and spectacular food and wine pairing knowledge, but also a commitment to exemplary customer service. Our clients have come to expect a superior level of service and the chef and staff of Twigs along with our wine staff will allow us to exceed even those expectations,” said Wiseman. “The combination of Red Mountain wine, with beautifully prepared local food, served in a thoughtful way in our stunning facility? There’s nothing else like it.”
For more information about booking events at Terra Blanca Winery, contact Gretchen Wiseman at 509.588.6082, ext. 110 or email email@example.com
About Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard
Keith and ReNae Pilgrim started Terra Blanca Winery and Estate Vineyard, on world-famous Red Mountain, in 1993. Winemaker Keith Pilgrim oversees production of some 30,000 cases of wine each year that include premiere red wines; ONYX, a red blend, this year’s Seattle Blend People’s Choice award winner; white wines; and dessert wines. Terra Blanca occupies 300 acres, 91 of which are planted with grape vines. The Mediterranean-style facility on the southwestern slopes of Red Mountain, with panoramic views overlooking the Yakima Valley, comprises the tasting room, 8000 sq. ft. of interior event facilities, the state’s first and most extensive series of barrel caves with capacity for 4000 French oak barrels, a state-of-the-art bottling facility, and crushing/fermentation production areas. Terra Blanca also operates a satellite tasting room inside of Nectar Tasting Room at 120 N. Stevens in downtown Spokane.
About Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar
The Blackwell family started Twigs Bistro and Martini Bar in Spokane WA in 2001. Over the last ten years they have expanded their operations to five locations in Spokane. They are continually voted awards by Spokane residents’ in categories of “Best Cocktails,” “Best Appetizers,” “Best Martinis,” and “Best Patio.” In early 2011 they started looking at opportunities outside of Spokane and felt that Tri Cities was a perfect fit. The Columbia Center Mall location opened in October of 2011 with a 7600 square foot state-of-the-art restaurant. Twigs proudly employees over 300 people between Spokane and Kennewick.
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.
One week ago today I was frantic. The blog that began in November 2009, with the intention to start a business, was finally fulfilling its vision. Just hours before opening we were still waiting for fire department approval, decorations were still arriving, catering for the evening had yet to arrive, and the credit card terminal still wasn’t processing. As someone who prides themselves on being organized, I felt overwhelmed and under prepared. How would the weekend turn out? Could social media marketing motivate people to action? Would the whole event be a non-event or would we experience success?
For those that regularly read this blog, I hope you are not tiring of the recent posts on the new adventure. I plan on returning to a regular schedule of wine reviews, wine business, and entertaining observations of the wine world (or at least I hope they are entertaining). This post is less about the tasting room and more about the power of social media in action.
I’ve long known and believed in the power of social media to call people to action. In March, and again in June of 2010, we (I and several other Washington wine bloggers) used Twitter and Facebook to draw hundreds of people together online AND in wineries to celebrate Washington Merlot and Washington wine. These events showed me that people are listening online and those people are passionate about wine.
The Social Experiment
Nectar Tasting Room was built using social media and I’m committed to continuing this social media experiment for as long as I can. Other than the capital costs of web design, logo development and some interior and exterior signs, I spent zero marketing dollars on Nectar Tasting Room. I don’t say this to pat myself on the back; actually I pat you on the back for being passionate ambassadors of the business. The results were overwhelming:
- Prior to launching, using Groupon and LaunchPadINW, we sold 120 Club Nectar memberships. This annual membership provides savings and rewards frequent visits. To have 120 members for a business that has never opened its doors is powerful. Memberships are $75 if you want one.
- Weekend receipts were nearly $8,000, over 25 cases of wine (no, I don’t mind sharing this).
- Friday night was standing room only from 6-11pm (people stayed way after the open sign was turned off every night).
- We have already booked 6 private events with inquiries coming in daily. P.S. we can host your group from 10-75 as well. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
At one point at the height of our busiest time, a good friend of mine, Ed Reese from Sixth Man Marketing, leaned over and jokingly said, “This whole wine and social media thing…it’s never going to work.” Now, I’m do dummy, I don’t expect these results every weekend. In fact, I fully expect this weekend to be half as busy. We’ve got a few marketing ideas in place but most of them were either focused on last weekend or upcoming weekends.
Why Did It Work?
The success was actually a result of hitting the sweet spot of relationships, social networking, and traditional media. It has been fun getting to know each of you (virtually and in real life). The relationships we’ve built online and through local networking events have generated what I like to call “brand ambassadors.” YOU are my marketing team and you didn’t let me down.
The immediate reach of social media and the power to instantly share the blog posts, Facebook updates and Tweets provides a force of marketing. The post referencing the grand opening was shared on Facebook and Twitter over 100 times. This reach translates into tens of thousands of impressions. The final piece to the puzzle is traditional media mentions. Still a force to be reckoned with, the newspaper and local entertainment magazine, The Inlander, mentioned our opening and the result was traffic.
What Did We Learn?
“For one of the most organized people I know, a lot sure did take you by surprise this weekend,” said a good friend of mine. Well…yeah…it sure did. I think I can attribute that to the lack of brain power. I was so focused on all the details surrounding the opening that I lost sight of some of the most basic process pieces.
- Hot water tank was not sufficient to run the dishwasher over and over again on a busy night. We remedied this by installing an instant hot.
- Bottle neck at the register as we hunted and pecked to find the products. Solution, UPC codes entered, and UPC sheets printed for an easy scan of glass pours, flights, and tasting fees.
- Food. We provided a very small catered menu this weekend and we are still working out a long term solution for our small plate and dessert menu.
- Too many menu options on First Friday. I was warned but I ignored the advice. First Friday will always be super busy, going forward we will only offer glass and bottle sales for this night.
- We were under staffed. Solution – I hired someone who starts this weekend and another person will be starting in February.
- Process – I am a process nut at my day job. Everything is documented and has a written procedure. This is on my next steps list to help with the flow at the tasting room.
This is my first business. Every day I learn something valuable and I rely on a team of people around me to give me good advice and help me succeed. So, here we are, continuing with this social media experiment. So far, so good, check back with me in six months and I’ll let you know how it went.
P.S. Come on in to the tasting room this weekend (January 13-15), mention this blog post, and I’ll give you $1 off your order.
27 Dec 2010
Several stories dominated the 2010 wine news wire. The themes ranged from economic struggle and contraction to the emancipation of grape distribution. 2010 also marked the tipping point of wine blogging and wineries began to embrace new technology and social marketing strategies. The Wine Blogger’s Conference came of age in Walla Walla and the Hosemaster of Wine went into retirement. James Suckling left Wine Spectator to pursue an online site and the original wine blogger, Robert Parker began tweeting.
What news stories will dominate the 2011 landscape? Will the economy continue to impact the wine industry? Will the grapes finally be free to travel to any state they choose, or will the shackles of HR5034 keep them trapped at the borders?
Below are my predictions for 2011. Vote at the end of the article for your top news story of 2011.
- HR5034 goes down in defeat and the American Wine Consumer Coalition rallies to push for the freedom of wine shipment across the US.
- The wine economy continues to contract with several large wine conglomerates selling or closing poor performing brands. Small wineries struggle with building dept and close their doors.
- Social media goes mainstream as wineries large and small hire social media gurus as part of their marketing teams.
- The Hosemaster of Wine misses the glow of the spotlight and returns to his post of average satire and pre-pubescent roasting.
- Wine bloggers who started to “crush it” in fall of 2009 will begin to drop off the radar as the romance of their passion starts to become hard work to keep it going.
- WBC11 in Charlottesville, VA causes an international incident as wine bloggers get lost at Monticello and discover some ancient US artifacts.
- @bparkerchuk identity is revealed causing a disruption in the twittersphere for 3 days.
What are your predictions? Vote and share in the comments.
21 Dec 2010
These days everyone is looking for a value. $15 is the new $25 when it comes to wine prices. Finding quality wines at $15 and under can be little bit of a challenge. Never fear, I have tackled the often unenviable task of sipping through some swill to present 10 wines worthy of showcase. My top 10 list for 2010 contains several local favorites and a few nationally distributed stars as well. As I looked back through the reviews I discovered that 105 wines competed for these 10 spots. The white wines stood taller than the reds and Washington was a showcase for value.
Tasted during a whirlwind tasting tour of Maryhill wines, this flagship red wine is available for anywhere between $10-$15 – “Dark red fruits with fragrance of lilacs and campfire with a medium mouth feel, well integrated oak and tannin.”
While this blend of Merlot, Cabernet and Syrah may be bottled in Oregon, the fruit comes from the Desert Wind Winery vineyards on the Wahluke slope. A slight sweet cherry fruit on the front palate with a woodsy chalkiness that settles on the back part of the tongue. Moderate acidity with subtle vanilla and cocoa spices on the finish. A fairly complex wine with good structure. Leading with heavy oak keeps this one from scoring high. It’s a great value and a wine for lots of occasions. Better with food. $10-$12 3+/5
Very tight on the nose with only slight floral blossom and citrus present. What was lacking on the aroma comes out to gently play on the palate. The Cono Sur is what you would expect from a traditional Sauv Blanc. Tropical fruit, pineapple, good minerality. Wine blogger, winefoot, described this wine as a grassfield creamsickle. I couldn’t agree more. At only $13, this classic presentation of Sauv Blanc showcases the potential of this Chilean variety. Easily the best value Sauvignon Blanc I’ve had in a while! 4/5
100% Sauvignon Blanc from Bacchus Vineyards in Washington. Cut open a pineapple, squeeze some lemon and spray a small spritz of vanilla room spray and you have the nose of this wine. Strong acidity on the upper palate with a smooth citrus and lemon peel flavor across the tongue. There is no tartness and the alcohol is not hot. Not overly huge in structure but has great flavor for the price. $11 retail but only $7 at Cost Plus World Market. 4/5
Aromas of boysenberry, toasted almonds, and dark red fruit on the nose. Very aromatic and full with subtle notes of campfire. Medium bodied Syrah that is slightly thin on the front but opens up nicely to dark red fruit, hints of smoke and a beautiful long velvet finish. An easy sipping Syrah that will have you wanting more. Retail is $15 but I scored this wine for only $10. At that price this well balanced, nicely flavored Syrah scores a 3+/5 and will be a definite re-buy.
A fantastic display of character on this wine. Wonderful flavors of honey, granola, and peach make for a very enjoyable experience. A touch of sweetness balanced with good acidity make this an elegant mouth feel that begs for more. At only $15, another fantastic display of quality and value from Finger Lakes. The 2007 Heron Hills Riesling is a lesson in quality and value for the region. Classic Riesling aromas of petrol, mint, and citrus translate into elegant medium-dry flavors of honey, granola and peach. A fantastic showcase that scores 4+ out of 5 ($15)
Overheard on Twitter:
|canapes45:||RT @pinotblogger: Heron Hill! Wow petrol. I’m smitten. Perfumy fruit balancing it. Off dry, great acid, long finish. Price is right. A fav! #flxwine|
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. At only $10 this is a big wine with some big back end structure that deserves a 3+/5. I would definitely consider this for a future purchase to pair with food.
100% Paso Robles Cabernet Sauvignon – Moderate hints of black and blue berries. The strongest scent is green briar or evergreen. Nice notes of spice dance around on the back end. A pleasing front end with some sweet fruit that is Syrah-like. A subtle vanilla oak pokes through right before the tart tannins grip your tongue on the back end. It’s not a Darth Vader death grip, but still pretty stout. At only $14, this is a heck of a value and a well made every day Cabernet. If you ever find this wine on sale for $10-$12, buy several bottles. 4/5
100% Chardonnay from Connor Lee Vineyards with 100% Malolactic fermentation. Two months in French oak. 760 cases Thicker viscosity, more pale yellow than a traditional CA Chardonnay. Mild nose with hints of pear and honey. Big and rich butter, vanilla and pear. No oak to speak of. Felt thick and meaty. Finished with a beautiful acidity that washed across the back of my mouth. At a retail price of $12, this is a very well made Chardonnay. I score it a 4+. So far this is one of the best “value” Chardonnay’s that I’ve had. Kudo’s, Mike! I’m not really a Chardonnay fan but this was an incredible offering for the money. I would venture to guess that it could be found for under $10 in certain locations, depending on sales.
The Kiona Lemberger has quickly become a go to wine for around $10. The wine pairs well with a variety of food and is gentle enough to enjoy without. On the nose I enjoy bright strawberry and cherry with moderate earthiness and minerality. In the mouth a sweet wash of cherry, vanilla and some cola flavors. The wine is sweet and soft with more substance on the back end with some spice and tannin. At just $11 this is easily a 4 (out of 5). This is another incredible Kiona value and a stand out in their wine arsenal.