Monthly Archives: March 2010

Just The Three Of Us

Image via WhatAreRecords.com
It’s been a while since we’ve just caught up on what’s going on with the world out there. Kaz and Randy riff on several current events, and Boy once again brings something interesting to taste from the “G.O.” Randy gets to talk about the bestest thing about raising dairy goats.

It’s truly not to be missed, start listening!

Live Goat Tummy Fermentations

Image of goat with all kinds of freaky callouts labelling anatomical features
Image via Propartganda

A sickening title to be sure, but you gotta pick the low-hanging fruit, people!

Tom Wark comes in and talks all about the latest in the war over direct shipment of wine. Also, Kaz and Randy experiment with calling Josie Gay over and over to talk about this weekend’s Savor Sonoma event in the Kenwood and Glen Ellen area.

More information than you can ferment in a live goat tummy. We mean it!
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Stephen Tanzer, I do believe the gauntlet has been thrown down

Stephen Tanzer, world-renowned wine reviewer and tastemaker, publisher of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar has joined the blogging world.

Called Stephen Tanzer’s Winophilia, the humbly-titled blog is written by Stephen, other members of the IWC staff, and, presumably, guests. But how is it different from other wine sites?

Luckily for all of us, the About page answers just that question with, and this is just a snippet, the following:

At Winophilia, we’re not armchair tasters who pretend to speak knowledgeably about regions we’ve never visited. We’re not amateur bloggers whose coverage of wine is limited to a handful of random samples we’ve just received, a trade tasting we’ve attended, or a press junket we’ve just been treated to. We live wine. Each of us spends several weeks to several months on the road each year, visiting wineries and tasting thousands of wines annually with their makers. And that’s not even including the thousands of bottles we taste each year in our own dining rooms.

Well, that’s quite a mouthful, Stephen! As an armchair taster who pretends to speak knowledgeably about all sorts of things, I’d like to personally welcome you to the wine blogging world by saying go back to your dying print medium, jackass.

In the wake of flagging circulation numbers and decreasing revenue, wine publishing luminaries have been migrating online, albeit slowly, for the last year-plus. Robert Parker did it with eRobertParker.com, and now Stephen’s here. But why the denigrating tone? Why simultaneously join the party and piss in the punch bowl? What could be the point? The impetus?

Since I’m already an armchair taster pretending to speak knowledgeably about blah blah blah, allow me to put on my armchair psychoanalyst hat (while the former apparently pisses off Stephen, the latter may make my wife, an actual PsyD candidate, throw up her arms in frustration. I’ll take the chance.) and give it a go: he feels threatened.

I’m not sure why. As we all know, “[w]ine blogging is the attention-seeking barking of lonely poodles” (thanks, Ron), not the to-be-taken-seriously challenge to the traditional wine cognoscenti that Stephen must view it as in order to leap in to the deep end of blogging while, at the same time, decrying the existence of water in the pool. Or maybe of other swimmers. See, I’m just an armchair wordsmith pretending to speak knowledgeably about analogies, so I’m not sure there.

Frankly, the “traditional vs blogging” catfight is getting tired. I don’t really care what Stephen Tanzer thinks of me. We’re never going to meet. I’m never going to have to ask him for a letter of recommendation, and he’s never going to ask me to design and develop a website for him (my career)–although incidentally, Stephen, Winophilia looks like a high school class put it together–so really, our effect on each other is minimal.

Unless my words here (collectively, of course, with the words of other wine bloggers) are actually making an impact on his bottom line. If I’m right up there in that pedestrian psychoanalysis, and he does indeed deem wine blogging to be a threat to his dying medium. If so, then boys and girls, we must be doing something right. Apparently, blogging is having an effect. People like it. Maybe they only like it because it’s free, but I doubt that. As my personal hero, Walt Disney, liked to say, “quality will out.”

Maybe it has to do with being unpretentious nonjackasses. If you’re an unpretentious nonjackass, please step forward.

Not so fast, Mr. Tanzer.

(photo: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpockele/ / CC BY 2.0)

Steve Paulo’s vitriol aside, he raises a good point.

With remarks such as Robert Parker labeling wine bloggers as “wine blobbers” (Jeff LeFevere at Good Grape has a great summary on this) as well as Anthony Dias Blue, we can look at the latest salvo by Stephen Tanzer as more of the same.

Wine bloggers should rejoice that they are getting such traction that old-guard wine reviewers such as Tanzer and the International Wine Cellar feel threatened enough to jump in the wine blog pool and swim with the… um… what is it that you call capable incumbents who occupy the market segment that you hope to enter?

Oh yeah: sharks.

Posted via web from Wine Biz Radio Industry Commentary

Pissing Off The Print Media

Apparently, I got Steve Heimoff’s dander up.

I don’t know if it was my calling Steve a curmudgeon or not, but we appreciate that he likely has a Google Alert set up for his name and checks it regularly. Good on ya, Steve!

Timeframe

I don’t believe I stated in the original post that the so-called “tipping point” for ad revenue was coming soon, even though I mentioned that the “transformation is fully underway”. While this may appear to some to be backpedaling the issue, let’s start by quoting the paragraph above the one he excerpted from the original post:

The ad dollars that originally went to print newspapers and subsequently into the paychecks of wine writers have been consistently (if slowly) moving toward wine blogs. Ad networks set up by online wine publishers such as Palate Press show a technique that bridges the old print world and the online world, one that advertisers can relate to and they reasonably understand. Friends, the transformation is fully underway.

I may be living in “lalaland” as Steve says, and there’s no reason to think that any individual wine blog will clean up in ad revenue. However, I specifically called out Palate Press, since it’s closer to a magazine model than an individual blog model. I was also happy to see that David Honig was kind enough to weigh in with his impressions in the comments section. I think online-only wine magazines have a real future, as do hybrid online/print vehicles (which of course Wine Enthusiast is a participant).

On the Palate Press Ad Network site, we see the following testimonial from Paul Mabray of VinTank:

“We at VinTank believe in The Palate Press Advertising Network. As our wine social media report illustrated, the aggregate audience of wine bloggers is powerful but so fragmented that leveraging them for any marketing activities used to be too cost ineffective and virtually impossible. Palate Press has changed the game and aggregated key bloggers for a powerful and easy to use new marketing channel that targets wine enthusiasts. We intend to use this new market continually for our wine digital strategies.”

So it’s not just clueless radio gasbags such as myself that believe this is happening. People who have a track record of innovating the industry believe it too.

An Aside

I don’t kid myself that we have a huge audience. Heck, I’m just thrilled we get interesting folks to come visit us or talk with us over the phone about the wine industry. I’m also not a relentless salesman capable of selling freezers to Eskimos. However, I do possess the ability to see trends, even ones that don’t appear obvious.

For example, I first saw the World Wide Web in 1993, looking at this thing called a browser running on X Windows written by students at the University of Illinois’ NCSA. I saw it and thought, “What the heck is this thing? Who would want to use this? How stupid!” and went back to playing in my text-only world. That was the last time I took for granted the small game-changing things that look insignificant at first glance.

Does this mean that I have facts and data to back up my supposition about where ad revenue is headed? None that I have cataloged tirelessly and have at hand to display as bona fides. I don’t know if it’s is a divination thing. All I know is, I have a feeling about this, and I trust my hunch.

Why My Point Isn’t Pointless

In an age where devices such as the Apple iPad are emerging (which, by the way, I believe will wipe the floor with the Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook when it comes to “e-Magazines”), why would anyone believe that print magazines have some compelling advantage? The means to produce an e-Magazine are basically in the hands of anyone with an Internet-connected computer, layout skills, and writing skills and a ton of determination and follow-through. Just because an incumbent possesses the experience of running a firm that can publish and layout and otherwise stuff the same content you’re used to seeing in a print magazine onto a screen such that it looks exactly like the print edition (in fact, it looks so similar, it fails to take advantage of the interactive capabilities of the new platform — do you hear me, PDF?) doesn’t mean that a determined and skillful entrepreneur won’t come along and do it better, and drink the incumbent’s milkshake. To believe anything less is, to be perfectly honest, just kidding yourself. Such is the coming change to the wine print media, and wine bloggers are a part of it.

So I’ll stick to my opinion that ad dollars are moving online. Sure, Wine Enthusiast may see their ad numbers increase again and folks can use that as the argument why my opinion is not valid. Or, it could be that due to the economy climbing out of recession, stalwart advertisers will once again resume their ad buys for magazines like WE, to which we congratulate Steve’s publication that they still make money at this. However, time will tell whether in five years we’ll still see print media puffing out their proverbial chests at the online upstarts that happen to possess really long straws.

Posted via web from Wine Biz Radio Industry Commentary

Go For The Bowling

Hospice du Rhône 2010

Boy is back, and Kaz and Randy rejoice by inviting Sondra Bernstein (of The Girl And The Fig) and Faith Wells (of Hospice du Rhône) into the studio to talk about the upcoming HdR event! Lots of other events popping up all around as well. Heck, it’s just that time of year, people!

As one listener says, it’s “reDONKulous“!

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Hardy Asks A Haunting Question

Why Worry About Social Media and Dominating the Millenials when Your Wine Sucks?

Awesome Band

While most are strategerizing about social media and how to target millenials with leftover 3rd label juice, a handful of people are still out making wine that tastes like this.

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Sales of our third label are down, way down.  It is mindboggling, because the goofy-ass name we gave it did great in test markets-  Who doesn’t want a wine named Crazy Bear Charbono-nay– a tasty blend of smoke-tainted Charbono and stainless steel Chardonnay?  (More on Crazy Bear in coming posts).  The data said it was supposed to flow like energy drinks this year in the parking lots of the Nickleback tour we sponsored, but something went wrong– horribly wrong.  Now sales blames marketing, marketing blames production, production blames sales, and whoever the people are who are on the other side of the conference calls have now hired consultants that say “You need to turn on social media now, or Crazy Bear is farked!”

Heads ready to roll, we’ve set up killer twitter #hashtags (#crazybear), recruited thousands of “friends“, and started tweetin’ like a mother-clucker (even if they just RT stupid stuff, #crazybear is getting out there!) Soon everyone will be talking about Crazy Bear (The crazy wine that cares)!

In 3months Crazy Bear is going to be way on top- Getting guzzled by dudes on iPhones falling out of party buses shelling out hundos and coming to make it rain all up in your tasting room!  Because what the consultants tell us we need to realize is that lovers of Crazy Bear will soon grow and become lovers of our pricey main label– Bear Creek Ridgeline Springs (An exclusively bold wine for successful couples sophisticated indulgence, for sharing with other like-minded, but not quite as successful couples). 

It is a good thing that It is hot as balls down at Bear Creek Ridgeline Springs, because to score big and get that cheddar, you’ve got let those balls hang.  Lovers of Crazy Bear relate to that and it is just a matter of tweets and moving out of their parents house before they cross the line…

Crazy Bear Wine on Twitter

Hardy can play wild-and-loose sometimes, but despite the hilarious post he’s written, the underlying question is insightful and compelling. It’s all well and good that you spend exorbitant amounts of money on selling your product; but if your product is terrible, sub-standard, or just plain lousy, should you really be worried about taking a “bleeding-edge” approach to marketing and selling it, rather than just relabeling it as paint thinner?

The moral of the story: as a business, please don’t get swept away in the euphoria of social media (which, by the way, feels frickin’ AWESOME) without having a product that you’re passionate about marketing or selling and that is WORTH marketing or selling to a receptive audience. To do anything less will inevitably backfire on you.

And seriously, don’t mess with Crazy Bear Wine. These guys are going to crush it. Just you wait.

Posted via web from Wine Biz Radio Industry Commentary