Tweet My Grape: Wine and Social Media

social media and wine
Wine glass photo by Dave Dugdale

Tweet and Taste
Recently, Twitter co-hosted a nationwide wine tasting tweet-up. The event blended the virtual and the actual as people chimed in from Twitter headquarters in San Francisco and across the country from wine stores in cities such as Chicago and in Washington DC. Other Twitterers, like me, followed along, online, salivating at the tasting descriptions, "the Sauvignon Blanc tastes like liquified summer" said one Twitter visitor. Tweet-ups like this one, which was also hosted by Hanh Family Wineries, are frequent online events. They are the perfect use of social media: one part mixer, one part marketing.

tweet from Twitter wine tweetup bin36hq

Not a New Relationship
The synergy between wine and technology predates the web. Wine billboards, like the CompuServe Wine Forum which started over twenty years ago, served as a way for wine enthusiasts to come together and enjoy their favorite juice. The site is still around in the form of the Wine Lovers Page. In this age of the omnipotent wine critic, more and more people are talking directly to each other about their likes and dislikes and that has been a game changer. Some of the most popular blogs and websites include: Vinography, Dr. Vino, Jamie Goode's blog, Fermentation, Snooth, OpenWineConsortium (a Ning website where you can connect with tons of different people in the industry, bloggers and wineries) and last on this list but not least in my book, Women and Wine, both the popular blog and Facebook site. Really, the list goes on and on and on. Got a favorite wine site? Tells us!

Vaynernation
The Internet has its own sommelier in Gary Vaynerchuk. A Russian Immigrant who helped grow his family's New Jersey wine business, Vaynerchuk has used social media to create a multi-million dollar brand. In 2006 he plunged head first into online video, via YouTube, with a series of very passionate daily wine tastings and reviews. That same year he founded Wine Library TV, joined blogs and forums and began to take advantage of the social web. Ala Tony Robbins, Vaynerchuk has written two books about following your passion (in his case wine and the N.Y. Jets) and appeared on several TV shows such as Oprah, Ellen and The Big Idea. But it’s Vaynerchuk’s daily appearances on the internet, and regular interaction with his fans, via Facebook, Twitter and his blog, that have gained him fame and helped his family’s retail website become such a success. I am loving his new smart phone app. "Daily Grape," is a shorter more nimble version of Wine Library TV.

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The Social Winery
Hoping to cash in on the new wine market, several wineries have turned to social media sites to up their sales. St Supery, Wente, Barefoot Wine and Bubbly are among the few out in front. Rick Bakas, head of Bakas Media and past Director of Social Media Marketing at St. Supery Vineyards and Winery, has said that social media can help with sales and wine club retention. Quoting his website, "You have to put faith in knowing your trust will create a tighter bond with consumers, which in turn will lead to sales." And don't think wineries are building Facebook and Twitter accounts only for their millennial consumers, the over forty crowd also uses social media and has more spending power. This realization has prompted Bill Leigon, President of Hahn Family Wines in the Santa Lucia Highlands, to re-focus his marketing efforts more on boomers and the parents of boomers, according to February's Vineyard and Winery Management. If a winery can’t afford to hire it’s own social media director it can go outside. This year, Dry Creek Winery hired Healdsburg-based Social Candy to design and help manage their Facebook fan page. The company creates, video, graphics, and special "Fan Only" Promotions through a Facebook-friendly template system. Murphy-Goode is having some of the most fun with social media. The winery held a 'wine country lifestyle correspondent' contest and launched the blogging career of the very clever and goofy Hardy Wallace.

What’s Next?
If Facebook, blogs and Twitter are the social web tools for today, what’s around the corner? Wine apps is the short answer. The longer answer includes sites with more immersive experiences such as games and animation, interactive store labels and smart corks.

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Next post -- a look at the best wine apps.

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