The Splendid Grape

Discovering Life Through Good Wine and Good Food

Chateau Miraval Under New Celebrity Ownership, Oh Jeez February 16, 2013

Filed under: Business & Marketing,World Tour of Wine — Chloe Nichols @ 9:04 am
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When my husband informed me on Thursday that Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie purchased Chateau Miraval, my first response was: “of course they did.” I also assume they adopted a village of orphans and found a cure for some rare disease.  #BitterMuch?

I first stumbled upon Chateau Miraval and their Pink Floyd Rosé during my French wine tour extravaganza.  I loved, loved, loved the fact that the wine was named Pink Floyd because The Wall was recorded at the winery.  I felt so cool and hip for once!

And now….well, blah….

But, I shouldn’t be so quick to judge.  It looks like Brangelina’s intentions may be good.  They are, after all, working with the Perrin family, a renowned name in the Rhône Valley, and per an article (Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie launch wine with Perrin family)  on Decanter. com, the Perrin’s have been involved since last year and have some good ideas for the soil…hmm…

I think what makes me so bitter is that they are renaming the Pink Floyd Rosé.  It will now just be called Miraval. I guess I shouldn’t be too snide, I mean, wasn’t it Shakespeare that said something about a rose still smelling sweet even if you called it something else or whatever?  Plus, the new bottle looks kind of cool.

This weekend, I plan to go out and purchase a bottle or two of Pink Floyd for old time’s sake.  And when this new Miraval comes out, I will give it a try. Maybe I will even write a post about how great the wine used to be or something, just to sound angry and snooty.  Who knows -

LOL! Listen to me, you would think I am some huge wine critic!  Could this be me actually starting to get a grasp of wine and my likes and dislikes?  Or is it just me being bitter and jealous, because I too would love to just purchase a winery on a whim and start pumping out wine.

Looks like it is time for me to have a glass of wine and chill out.


Drawing on Inspiration from all aspects of the Wine World January 23, 2013

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 9:17 pm

A few weeks back, I read an article on Dr. Vino about a wine importer, Martine Saunier.  Something about Martine or the article stuck with me and I couldn’t shake it.  The article, Martine’s Wine, an importer, changes hands, discussed Martine Saunier, a woman wine importer who started her import business in 1979.  She is now turning her business over to Gregory Castells and Kate Laughlin, and while it appears she will still have a hand in the business for awhile, she is basically retiring.

The blog post led me to an article about Martine in 7x7SF, Martine Saunier: Rock Star of the Wine World. Martine not only knew her wines, but she also knew how to take any wines she imported to the next level.  I was in awe as I read about Martine, imaging her sitting on the terrace, sipping wines every day or like one of those fashion designers in Vogue, amazing and untouchable.

But I would have to imagine that being a wine importer is not an easy task, especially not as a woman starting out in the 1970s. Not only do you have to know your wine, but you have to get a winery to trust that you will not only sell their wine, but start to establish a following.  Hmm…not an easy task.

As I continue my journey to learning about wine, I am going to use Martine Saunier as inspiration – someone to look to and to try a few of her selections.  There is always something to learn.


A Deeper Look into How Wineries are Using Twitter Part 2 June 26, 2012

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 7:39 pm
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Using Twitter is harder than it looks. And I am not talking about keeping your tweets to under 170 characters.  Being active on Twitter takes time and engaging on Twitter takes nerves.

I wrote my initial post, wondering why Wineries were not engaging with their followers and consumers. I am sure that anyone who looked at my Twitter profile would see that I have a small handful of followers and am not tweeting all the time. So, really, who am I to judge.

Not to mention, I have heard on various accounts how wineries have reached out through Twitter, and I experienced this as well.  When I went to visit Bartholomew winery, for example, the owner, Bart Fawbush automatically responded to my tweet.  He also shared the post I did reviewing his winery to his network – thank you Bart!

My brother got into a conversation with a Mezzacorona over Twitter and they suggested a wine for my brother to try.  I have also heard of others who have Tweeted about an issue with a wine and received responses from wineries right away.  So, wineries are trying.

I have to admit, I was being naive.  I put myself in the “shoes in the clients” trying to promote my last post and engage with those that responded to me, and I found it to be a mighty big task.

First off, Twitter takes time.  For a winery, or any business, to be successful at Twitter, and other Social Media, there needs to be designated resources.  With tight budgets and limited personnel, having one employee designated to tweeting and engaging with followers is next to impossible.  Especially for the smaller wineries.   I am just one person, trying to manage a personal twitter account, and I find it challenging.  I could only imagine it being even harder for a business.

Secondly, Twitter takes nerve.  I was a littler nervous about tweeting my initial post (Part 1), to my few followers.  But I held my breath and pushed enter.  Then I got a few responses – which surprised me.  I went to respond and got so nervous composing my replies, reading them over and over.

That is when it hit me.  If I were to be laughed off the “Twitter-verse”, I could easily delete my profile and start over.  If a company gets laughed at or picked on, it is not as easy to recuperate. There is a lot more at stake for a winery.

So, long story short, I now have a better understanding of where wineries are coming from and why they are slow to engage.  I don’t think it is a lack of want, it is more a lack of resources and slow experimentation to see what works and what does not.


A Deeper Look into How Wineries are Using Twitter Part 1 June 7, 2012

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 8:01 pm
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Social Media has been around for a while, but its use and power have really only recently been discovered.  Granted, there have been the few smart companies and professionals that have been using these tools since their birth, but for the rest of us, this is all pretty new.

I recently read an article in Harpers Wine & Spirit Trade Review, Wine trade’s use of Twitter is like ‘verbal Prozac,‘ that discussed how Winery’s are using Twitter.  According to Burgundy’s School of Business Damien Wilson, many wineries are on twitter, only few are using it successfully.  He had conducted research on how wineries are using twitter and his study produced interesting results:

It found that most of the trade’s communication is “a one-way street”, “promoting itself” rather than engaging in conversation with consumers. On the other hand, when consumers tweet about wine they focus on “how wine is part of their lifestyle”.

The key that is missing is the engagement factor.  And it is not just wineries, in fact many businesses are missing this key part of twitter (well, really any social media tool). But before I jump onto a soap box, I have decided to do some research to learn a little more about wineries and their relationship with twitter.

Read Write Web wrote an article titled 94% of U.S. Wineries Are On Facebook, 73% on Twitter, that nicely summarized the findings of a study done by ABLE Social Media Marketing regarding winery social media usage.  While it showed that wineries are having success from the use of social media tools.  To me, the most striking tidbit was what wineries use Facebook and Twitter for:

It’s interesting to see the wine industry using Facebook and Twitter for different reasons. According to the study, Facebook is the superior social media platform for generating sales (48% for Facebook vs. 28% for Twitter). But Twitter is seen as better at capturing media attention (53% for Twitter vs. 32% for Facebook).

Hmm, now this is interesting.  Wineries see Twitter as a way to get the attention of a consumer, but not to take it any further – more of a tease. And while this has been a successful tactic for the short-term, I can see that it is not sustainable. (It also gives me more insight into the many articles I have ready by other journalists and bloggers encouraging social media usage for wineries.)

But why fix (er change) something that is not broken.  For starters, it is social media, with emphasis on the word ‘social’.  When it comes to the Twitter users, these are people who are looking to get information, to share and to engage with others.  Twitter is not a one way street for a company to push out its product, but an opportunity to interact with customers.  So, while using Twitter to get attention may have grabbed followers at first, if a winery (or any business) is not providing anything of value, then there is no reason for a consumer to stick around.  And unfortunately with Twitter, “unfollow” is just as easy as “follow”, one click and the consumer is gone and off to follow someone else.

When a winery commits to any social media tool, it is important to have the mind-set of “go big or go home”.  This takes time, some thought and a little planning.  And don’t forget commitment.

So, I am going to continue my research and get a good idea of what is going on with wineries in the twitter-verse. In my next post, I am going to look into successful twitter usage by wineries and room for improvement.


Winery Advertising, Social Media and the FTC May 5, 2012

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 9:43 am
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The FTC has decided to review its policy in regards to alcoholic beverage company advertising and social media.  OK, makes sense – I am sure it is antiquated, as-are most government policies and regulations.

However, it looks like the government may be taking it a bit too far – in an article by Michael Doyle, published in the Kansas City Star – US to Review Online Marketing of Beer, Liquor and Wine, the FTC is requesting advertising data, including tweets and Facebook posts, from large alcoholic beverage companies:

In an ambitious venture, the Federal Trade Commission is requiring 14 major alcoholic beverage producers to release information about their Internet and digital marketing efforts. The parent companies for storied wineries including Kendall-Jackson, Robert Mondavi and Beaulieu Vineyard, as well as the likes of Anheuser-Busch and Bacardi, are all being tapped for precious data likely to shape future advertising rules.

I do understand that it is necessary to make sure all products are represented accurately and that alcoholic beverages are not being advertised to minors. I get it, I have a young child.  But I have to agree with the Steve Heimoff, and his article – Federal Trade Comish to Demand Winery Tweets? Don’t let it happen:

People under 21 (and I think the legal drinking age should be the same as the age to serve in the armed forces, 18) will do what they do: smoke pot, drink beer, whatever. And people will certainly say whatever they want on social media: that is social media’s DNA. The government can’t stop it, certainly not by spying on winery tweets.

Honestly, the wine industry does not have much to worry about.  Wine is not the alcoholic beverage of choice for tweens, teens and even college students – enter Mike’s Hard Lemonade, beer and the wonders of things such as Four Loko. So while this does pose some challenges to wineries, summarized nicely by Vintank’s article – Nothing Like a Good FTC Probe to Bring Another Headache to Wineries, I really don’t see too much of a shift in how wineries are interacting with consumers.

The advertising and social media interaction I have seen with various wineries has all been age appropriate and mostly educational.  <rant>I don’t think the government needs to worry about tweets that discuss wine pairings, a 16 year-old isn’t going to worry about which wine would go well with her Cheetos. And how often to you get a group of teens approaching you in a parking lot asking if you will buy wine for them…isn’t it normally beer?

And Big Brother – some food for thought – drug dealers, pushers – they aren’t opening Facebook pages and LinkedIn groups to push sales on dime bags, yet their business is booming.  So maybe, just maybe, think about focusing your efforts (albeit the best of intentions) somewhere else.</rant>


Wine Tasting Experts vs the Average Wine Consumer – Is there Hope for the Rest of Us? March 31, 2012

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 8:48 am
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There has been quite a bit of discussion surrounding (and bashing) wine experts. There is a feeling of hostility towards the experts, and I am sure there is a suspicion that these experts are being bought off by wineries, especially the more expensive ones.

I am neutral when it comes to this issue.  Maybe it is because I am new to the wine industry and a touch naive. Or maybe it is that I am not put off by an “expert” of any kind.  In my humble opinion, there has to be an expert on basically everything.  Someone who has spent a majority of their time living, breathing, researching and learning about a specific subject or item.  Right?

I came across an article by Tyler Colman, author of Dr. Vino’s Wine Blog.  In his article, he references an article done by Matt Swayne which basically states that the wine experts are “super tasters,” making them just a little bit better than the rest of us.  I like Tyler Colman’s view on all of the chatter surrounding wine experts:

So, yes, there may be biological differences in tasting ability. But in this nature-versus-nurture discussion, I vote for nurture as being more influential: it’s the catalogue of knowledge and tasting references, the experiences with wines in the glass, that make most of the great tasters I know really good. Also, many wine experts are self-styled and have varying capabilities, so I am skeptical there’s a genetic explanation for superior wine tasting ability.

So why should I care about all this?  Because if it is more of a nurture-vs-nature thing, then maybe, just maybe, I can be an expert too.  And while I may never be a world-renowned, much sought after expert, I can at least been an expert in my circle and be able to recommend a good bottle of wine every now and then. There is hope for the rest of us.



Wineries and Social Media Challenges March 7, 2012

Filed under: Business & Marketing — Chloe Nichols @ 9:36 pm
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I came across a post by Joe Roberts, discussing Social Media and Wineries.  While I am new to the wine industry, I am not new to social media. I have been working at a social media company for the past two years.

I agree with Roberts, social media is important for wineries (well any business, really) and I especially love how he refers to social media as “engagement”.  That is what social media is “engagement.” It is reaching out and communicating. But, social media can be scary, it is really putting yourself out there for everyone to see and to comment on.  In fact, it sometimes feels like high school.

How do you get past those initial reservations and get started?  Start slow, only participate in outlets that you can do 100% – so if you are not interested in Facebook or Twitter, don’t create an account that you will never use or update.  This doesn’t help. Know that it will take a little time to gain momentum.

Think of social media and engagement like old-fashioned client development, but now with a tech twist. Social media is like “word-of-mouth” advertising only now in 140 characters or less.



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