Wine takes to Internet in a big way
Published: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 3:58 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 28, 2009 at 3:58 p.m.
A naked lady riding a bicycle is the image on the label of Cycles Gladiator wine, but marketing to the millennials, the offspring of the baby boomers, requires more than sex appeal. It requires a Net-savvy courtship.
The black hole of the Internet offers people an endless opportunity to chatter, to banter, and yes, to market.
Katey and Nicole Bacigalupi of John Tyler Wines in Healdsburg spend 20 hours a week updating social networking Web sites that focus on wine.
“It’s all free,” said 26-year old Katey. “Isn't that crazy? The Net is endless outreach. The sky is the limit.”
Here are some Web sites that will pique the interest of wine-lovers:
Wine2.0 (winetwo.com) — This social networking site, which features wine events, focuses on millennials, the offspring of the baby boomers. It has forums, blogs and videos.
Twittertastelive.com — This is a crossroads between Twitter, the technology that allows people to chat in real time, and people tasting wine in real time.
Cruvee.com — This is a social media monitoring site. It interprets measures and engages in online chatter. It feeds information to online sources and provides near “real time” wine consumer insights to help wineries know their current target.
Wineconsortium.com — A site that seems entirely industry oriented at first glance, but there are actually some great perks for everyday wine consumers such as discounts, specialty tastings and nifty products like decanters.
Vinography.com — This wine blog by Alder Yarrowfocuses on wine and food adventures in San Francisco and beyond. It reviews food and drink, as well as offers event wine coverage.
Fermentation.com — Writer Tom Wark puts it best: “It’s a blog inside the world of wine public relations, where the media, culture and I mingle.”
— Peg Melnik
Hahn Family Wines, which produces the Gladiator label in Soledad, has supported and participated in Wine 2.0 Twitter Taste Live and wine blogger forum events. Closer to home at John Tyler Wines in Healdsburg, marketers Katey Bacigalupi and twin sister Nicole spend 20 hours a week on social networking Web sites to promote their wine.
Last weekend was the signature Passport to Dry Creek Valley event, and with more wine events in the months ahead, vintners are keeping an eye on the millennials, a demographic that ranges in age from 21 to 31. Wineries may want to monitor consumption, yes, but they also want to tap into this generation that is now “driving the wine market as key agents of change,” according to Vic Motto, a wine analyst with Global Wine Partners in Napa..
“Every generation redefines culture,” Motto said. “The trends toward social networking in part define this generation and the rapid communication of information supports this.”
The millennials are, by all accounts, as information-savvy as a computer chip.
“Despite the information overload of the high-tech age, these new consumers are not overwhelmed by a large quantity of information,” Motto said. “They are willing to take chances on new things, but they sort them out and filter them very quickly. So, with rapid communication, there is unprecedented consensus about what’s hot and what’s not.”
Motto said his hip “resident millennial,” Harvard-educated son Scott Becker, tells him one of the most popular Web sites is Cruvee.com. This media-monitoring and networking site helps wineries promote their brands by measuring, interpreting and engaging in online doings. The site’s home page says it “feeds” information to online sources and offers “real-time wine consumer insights” to help wineries know who their current market is.
What exactly are sites like Cruvee interpreting? The chatter of course. The rapid-fire conversations on sites everywhere in our global village, like Twitter, Twitter Taste Live and Cellartracker.
Twitter, a social messaging site, has revolutionized the way people communicate — minute by minute. Twitter Taste Live is a hub for twittering wine tasters, a site that’s a crossroad of social networking and wine tasting. Cellartracker is yet another popular site where viewers browse wines and take part in tasting note forums. It offers a link to Wine Library TV, the video blog of zany Gary Vaynerchuk of Springfield, N.J.
The pulse of the Net is not lost on wineries like Hahn. President Bill Leigon said that “within the last year our staff members have been immersed in social media as part of their job (twittering, blogging, etc.). We have built a growing online community and following.”
But how does the online wine community translate into real life? What do wineries need to do or expect when 20-something enthusiasts decide to visit the tasting rooms?
“At (Healdsburg’s) Bella Vineyards we can speak from experience in the tasting room that some groups of visitors are walking the line between being good guests and otherwise,” said Tim Nordvedt, wine club director. “As anyone who has worked in the service business knows, there are limits and rules. We cannot serve anyone who appears drunk and there are some obvious lines of respect for staff and other customers that cannot be crossed. But, from my experience, millennials are very respectful ... When they are out of line, they tend to accept the limits that we ask of them and back down.”
Benziger Family Wines in Glen Ellen has a tasting fee and that limits crowds “looking for free drinks,” according to Jessica LaBounty, senior marketing manager. The winery also has a reservation policy and a bus policy that helps control larger groups. “With all our guests we practice responsible hospitality, meaning we don’t over-serve or tolerate inappropriate behavior in the tasting room.”
When behavior isn’t an issue, wineries can court the millennial on the other side of the counter.
“The first step in getting millennials to pay attention to your brand is to stop acting like they’re anything but intelligent, well-researched, conscientious consumers,” said LaBounty, who at 27 is herself a millennial. “Because if you don’t, they’ll Google you, find out what you’re really about, and blog about it later.”
Another tip is to “think geography.” Julien Gervreau, 27, an account manager at Marie Gewirtz Public Relations and Marketing in Healdsburg, said the agency encourages its client wineries to “establish a firm sense of place. ... Millennials are ever-conscious of where their food and the other items they consume come from, and the wineries that can help them bridge this gap, stand out.”
Yet another way to channel their enthusiasm is through wine education, according to Ellen Hunt of Napa’s Scion Advisors. “Millennials pride themselves on being informed consumers. ... Wine education can include wine knowledge, as well as wine and food pairing information. They also want to seen as savvy entertainers .”
Whatever strategies wineries choose, they would be wise to remember “online conversations are king,” according to Lisa Adams of Napa’s Adams Walter Communications.
“Forward-thinking wineries are actively engaged in social media and are having conversations with their consumers online,” Adams said. “Wineries that choose to ignore social media are missing out as there are consumers out there right now, talking about wine worldwide, every minute of the day. Why not be part of the conversation?”
Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at 707-521-5310 or email@example.com.
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