Archive

Posts Tagged ‘wineries’

Who is Seattle Wine Gal? Interview With Sacre Bleu

All Content Belongs to Barbara Evans. Into and interview questions written and conducted by Sacre Bleu

The tale of anyone who manages to map their way back from distress or misfortune seems always worth repeating.  We love the comeback story, the person who in spite of whatever crap got dumped into their life just didn’t see failure as an acceptable option.  They played it out.  That’s Barbara Evans, or as many of us have come to know her, Seattle Wine Gal.

Seattle Wine Gal is the Twitter name and emerging brand that is becoming a sort of Internet/Wine pop culture phenomenon.  Her number of followers, in a very short period, has sprung to almost 5000 and her web site look and content could be best described as guerilla minimalist.  It is at once both substantive and irreverent with no shortage of attitude and charisma.

Evan’s is a study in survivor strategy and balls out determination.  From a childhood depression and a learning disability comes a young woman with 7 years of TaeKwonDo experience at traveling tournament team level, roller derby girl, MA is Social Anthropology, aviation and pilot training with a final touch down as social media advocate/wine babe.  In short, she’s one of the important faces helping transform the ever youthful wine landscape.  Our interview with her comes at a time when her work load and popularity are growing rapidly.

When you look back to when you first began enjoying wine, did you ever have a eureka or Sacre Bleu! type moment where you realized wine was really special and what was the wine that came with that moment?

People love asking wine lovers “what was the bottle that turned you into an enthusiast”. Many wine lovers think up some super expensive First Growth Bordeaux or fine Champagne as the bottle that ‘did it’ for them… don’t believe them! I have asked this question to hundreds of people, and after some coaxing have learned that most wine enthusiasts discovered that wine was special when they bumped the price point from $8 to $12! I believe there are scads of “eureka” moments in a wine lovers life, all which make it more difficult to go back to that $8 bottle. As for me, I used to drink boxed wine. After “splurging” on a $15 of Tempranillo, I couldn’t drink the boxed wine anymore. My second Eureka moment came when someone bought me a bottle of 1999 Sanford Pinot Noir. After that I began working at a wine shop, attending seminars, and eventually traveled the world in the pursuit of wine!

You’ve managed to overcome a great deal in your life. The journey from young girl with a learning disability to licensed pilot, SCUBA certification and ultra marathon runner with an MA in Social Anthropology isn’t typical. What is it that burns inside you as motivation?

Yes, my past surprises people. I openly admit to having had a rough adolescence. I had severe depression and behavioral problems, which led me to “special kid” classes/schools, learning disabilities, and other problems which I will not mention (but thankfully overcame). I have always tried to keep my head above water and be a good kid who got good grades. To get a B, I tried a hundred times harder than many of the A students. After years of struggling to keep up, I developed an unintentional, systematic hyper drive sense of motivation. As life got easier, the hyper drive that barely kept my head above water started propelling me above and beyond. I guess I never really noticed (and still don’t) where this unique inner flame to push life to the limits leads me.

What is it about the integration of social media with wine that brings you to this level of passion and fun that you chose to carve out a career in it.

I never intended to start a business after ‘creating’ Seattle Wine Gal. One Year ago, I worked for a large online retail company. I created and managed their Social Media program. I was given no resources to learn how to create a winning campaign, and I had no background in business. I poured my own money into educating myself and spent hours and hours of my own time mastering SEO, analytics, and basic platform tech skills for this campaign. Just as I began to see real success, and a positive Return On Investment, I was let go due to a merger with another company. It was then that I decided to push the limits with what I learned. I created Seattle Wine Gal as an experiment. Everything that I wanted to do working for corporate, but was not ‘allowed’ to, I did with Seattle Wine Gal (from dropping the F bomb occasionally in my tweets, to pics of me guzzling expensive wine out of the bottle on my Facebook page). I found that people were tired of the same old ‘wine review’ style wine bloggers, and drawn to my style. Along the way I began to see the wine industry struggling to tap into one of the most sought after customer demographics right now… young wine drinkers! Wine makers and shop owners, as well as Seattle restaurants began calling on me to help them with their Social Media. Trading my know-how for wine and food wasn’t paying the bills, so I started my own business BeRealTime and do business as Seattle Wine Gal.

Do you believe that social media will reach it’s true potential in terms of engaging consumers with products? At least in the wine world it seems that so much social media bandwidth is spent with company’s and brands engaging each other more often than the consumer.

Yes, there is a very fast shift from traditional marketing to social media marketing right now, and there is no sign that it will ever go backwards. This seems to be very scary for the wine industry. They know that they need to get involved, but have no idea how or why. I see a lot of heal dragging, but I also see just as many people adopting these new marketing tactics.

As a company, it is very easy to get caught up in only engaging online with other companies like your own. To maximize Social Media efforts, businesses need to be dialed into their target audience i.e. their potential clientele. Extend your reach, find new people, and always be other focused. No one likes a product pusher (snore). I strongly advise business owners to get on board as quickly as possible. You get what you give; dedicate some time and effort to Social Media… the return on investment may shock you!

You’ve opted for a minimalist look for your site and turned away the recommendations of some who have urged you to upgrade its look. Why do you resist those urgings?

Part of this marketing shift I spoke of above is a consumer appreciation for raw, gritty, human presentation. People are tired of high production values and clean shiny print ads. At the same time Reality TV became popular, so too did reality marketing. It’s all about content. I am going to create a webpage soon (using zero dollars), but ultimately feel that it is completely unnecessary. I also feel webpage’s them selves, and text blogs (no offense) are beginning to lose interest and will fail to capture consumer attention. I am focusing my efforts more on video, and just started a fun new Youtube channel. For businesses too busy to write text blogs, I highly recommend getting into video. It’s easier and is the direction Social Media Marketing is headed! As for webpages, they are like a business card- a completely stagnant advert unless you work to bring it to life (badges to your YouTube channel, Twitter, Facebook etc). The new target audience is more likely to find your Facebook or Twitter page than your website.


Advertisements

What on Earth is a “Barrel Sample” Walter Dacon Wines Explains

February 23, 2010 Leave a comment

I had an AWESOME time this weekend at Walter Dacon Wines in Shelton WA. THANK YOU Lloyd, Ann and Holly so very much for showing me around. I feel about Walter Dacon the way I do about Obelisco Estate and Barrage Cellars– true GEMS that I am so happy to have found.  Wine Maker and owner Lloyd introduced us to his dog Belle, and then took us in the cellar for some barrel samples.

Awesome wine maker and cutie Holly talks about Twitter!

Social Media Strategy or Tacky? Putting Twitter/Facebook Info on Wine Labels

January 19, 2010 50 comments

“Oh c’mon Seattle Wine Gal, I know you’re ‘into’ Social Media Marketing, but Twitter names on wine bottle labels? That’s just stupid”. Was something like that going through your mind when you read the title? OK, OK, understandable. While it may seem a little tacky, it could also be one of the most progressive social media marketing decision a winery could make right now! Here are a few pros and cons that I can think of for an idea like this. Please comment below to share your thoughts and to add to my pros and cons list.

Con:

  1. Social Media platforms are always changing; Twitter/Facebook/your blog may not always be around, how embarrassing for you when people cellaring your wine, see an outdated twitter/facebook/blog 5-10 years later when they open the wine!
  2. You may turn off a lot of people who feel that it is tacky and tasteless; losing some of your potential/existing clientele– it’s just too risky!
  3. Wine marketing has always been about selling more than just wine; you are selling an experience. A Twitter name on a wine bottle causes the wine to lose all romantic and traditional appeal.
  4. It creates a stressful situation for winery staff or vintners, who then have to constantly stay on top of their social media efforts, even during crush and other very busy times… too overwhelming!
  5. The marketing worth of the back of a wine label is alluring tasting notes and winery history- a Facebook web address is not alluring and will not help sell wine.

Pro:

  1. MAJOR increase in visibility in online social media communities, which IS the next/new way to market products.
  2. Increase in Twitter/Facebook/blog follower counts, which will help establish industry leadership in the social media space.
  3. You will be viewed as fun, hip and appealing to a younger target market.
  4. You are making yourself immediately accessible to your clientele (they can contact you and get ‘real time’ interaction with you and your followers).
  5. People WILL talk about you for having done something so bold– this is always a good thing.
  6. Your buyers will follow you on Facebook and Twitter and buy more wine after seeing your tweets/posts about upcoming deals; it is a way of continuing a relationship with them and creating loyalty- you will sell more wine!

Lets face it folks, when t.v. came out, companies were apprehensive to spend their marketing dollars on it; they stuck with radio until they realized how lucrative it was. When businesses started creating ‘websites’, many were apprehensive to do so (some companies still don’t have one)! We are in the age of twitter now; why not strike while the iron is hot? What do you say, is a Twitter name on a wine label like screw caps- beneficial and will slowly gain acceptance but currently risky due to potential alienation?

Wine Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous: The Truth About Owning a Winery

January 13, 2010 9 comments

The Glamorous Life of a Vintner: Don Scrubs the Toilet

Thanks once again Don Phelps of Hard Row to Hoe in Chelan WA for joining me for another guest blog post in my “Ask a Vintner” series. This one’s a good one folks. Pour yourself a glass of wine.

Seattle Wine Gal:

“So Don, What is it like to own a winery? It seems so glamorous! Out in the vineyards with the sun shining on your face, lavish wine dinners and parties, 1,000 bottle cellars, midnight candle-lite barrel tastings”…

Don Phelps: I was thinking today about the nice aspects of owning a winery which includes meeting great people, living in a beautiful area, being your own boss, etc. That got me to thinking about all of the folks that come to the winery and say how much they admire the place and wish they could take the plunge to do it themselves. And that is about where reality came into the picture..

We spend the lion’s share of each day:

Paying bills

Handling payroll

Doing the taxes

Ordering wine glasses so everyone has something to drink out of

Getting change from the bank for the till

Ordering toilet paper and paper towels for the bathroom

Buying bags and boxes

Getting ice for the white wines

Taking out the empty bottles

Restocking the shelves

Cleaning the bathroom and tasting room

Picking up garbage outside

Working with vineyards to grow next years grapes

Worrying about freezing weather, insect infestations, bird damage, too much water, too little water

Ordering barrels

Spending entire days in the truck hauling grapes from up to 5 hours away

Working 7 days a week from daylight to 10 at night during Sept and Oct


Worrying about things like:

Equipment breakdowns

Enough help

Enough bins to ferment the red grapes in

Enough stainless steel tanks to hold all of the white wines

Inoculation with the right yeast

The fermentation process itself

Punch downs

YAN and FAN

Secondary fermentation…

along with a million other things that have to be done in the right manner and at the right time to make it all work; finally going to bed at night thinking about what needs to be done, and waking up in the morning still thinking about it.

And if that was not enough you still have to figure out how you can sell your product and have enough money left over to pay the mortgage. That means back on the road promoting the sale of the wine, trying to get restaurants and stores to carry it, negotiating with distributors, dealing with frozen shipments in the winter months and over heated ones in the summer, and then staying open that last 45 minutes for the straggler that just could not come back tomorrow and loves your wine but leaves with a single 15 dollar bottle.

One more thing before I forget it – you need a second job to live on.

No question about it – this is the memorable life!!

Yep, if it was not for the pure gold customers that become your friends over the years we would probably sell the place and let one of you enjoy the life of Riley – owning your very own winery.

-Don

Seattle Wine Gal: “Oh, I see”.

Wine Industry Tweetup: The Social Media Benefits of Hosting

January 11, 2010 16 comments

Sat Jan 9th Tweet-up at Alexandria Nicole Cellars, Woodinville WA

A wine Tweetup is when a group of people who ‘tweet’ about wine on Twitter meet in real life to taste or drink wine. Before, after and at the event, the attendees tweet about where they are and what wines they are drinking. Whether the host business is on Twitter or not, the business receive a great deal of online mentions and recognition for having hosted the event. In return for the mentions, they provide the group with a complimentary wine tasting (hopefully), and sometimes food as well. The level of what the host business offers can range from a complimentary small flight of wine to a fully catered wine dinners.

Lately, I have been tweeting about recent wine tweetups, and how I am planning on organizing some in the future. I have gotten a barrage of messages asking me how to organize a wine tweetup. I have also received a lot of attention from restaurants, wineries, and wine shops asking me if they can provide the venue. I am so glad that these businesses realize the benefits of hosting such an event, and how exponential the ROI (return on investment) can be for them.

Getting in good with people who have the ‘power’ to tell thousands about your business is one smart move!

Social Media methodology and tactics range greatly from business to business; within the wine industry there are very unique and exciting opportunities. Whether it be giving complimentary tastings for online recognition, or offering special Facebook or Twitter customer discounts, it is a wonderful space to utilize. I speak with many Businesses that have a social media campaign, or host tweetups who tell me of the amazing benefits. Here is what Ali from Alexandria Nicole Cellars (who hosted an excellent tweetup last week) recently told me:

“We really enjoyed meeting a group of people who love wine & introducing them to ours. We look forward to continue talking to them on Twitter, reading their blogs & Facebook pages, seeing their photos & seeing them again in person at our tasting rooms & events. We are strong supporters of social media & believe tweetups are one of many social media approaches to build relationships with a very valuable community of wine enthusiasts.”

If you have a wine or food business and would like to host a tweetup, find a few influential wine tweeters who live in the area and invite them to come to a tweetup event that you will host. Another way to be a venue host is to ask an influential wine blogger or tweeters to organize the attendees of the event, and you will provide the wine/food and venue.

A special thank you to Russell’s Restaurant for the amazing wine pairing appetizers provided at the Alexandria Nicole Cellars tweetup.

See more about this topic: What can Social Media do for Your Winery?

All content written by Seattle Wine Gal.

Social Media for the Wine Industry: How Important is Your Follower Count?

January 4, 2010 20 comments

Social Media for the Wine Industry: How Important is Your Follower Count?

I’m going to skip the quality over quantity banter for a second here and answer this question truthfully as I see it. YES, your number of followers on Twitter, Facebook, your blog subscribers etc. IS important if you are attempting to use Social Media for business. Here are a few reasons why.

1. As controversial as this can be in the world of Social Media junkies like myself, a higher number of followers DOES give you more clout. Not everyone is impressed by someone on Twitter with 15,000 followers (for reasons I will discuss below). I assure you, however, that the number is glanced at by most people who pop onto your page, and (at least part of) your ‘tweet worth’ is assessed instantly. This is done even by people like myself, who feel that engagement is second to nothing, and that large quantities of followers may say nothing about the quality of the posts and the postees ability to entertain/teach/engage me.

2. The second reason that a higher follower count is important is that if you amass your followers carefully and in the right places, a larger number of followers will spread your message further. Obviously, from a business perspective, this raises your chances of reaching new clientele by increasing your visibility. I must caution you that the more followers you have, the more work you will have to do to keep the beach ball floating over the crowd while letting everyone get a hit at it. Keep focused on your goals and strategy to increase your chances of being able to manage a larger following. Don’t ‘drop the ball’ on other peoples attempts to engage with you- answer people’s RT’s, posts, and emails, and do so as publicly as possible.

Getting back to Quality over Quantity. I DO feel strongly that posting messages to 15,000 followers who don’t care is pointless. It is extremely important to target ‘follower growth’ efforts towards people who want to hear your message, and may ultimately purchase your product. There is no point in seeking out a taxidermist in Hong Hong when you sell wine in Woodinville, WA. While I would ‘follow’ the taxidermist back, I would not ‘look’ for him. I recommend focusing your efforts first in your own backyard.

How to create a strong, quality following. While I could delve deep and start getting into cross posts, link-backs and pings, social bookmarking and even SEO visibility, I will instead offer you a very do-able Social Media 101 Twitter, Facebook, and blog subscription tip: Seek out and Follow the followers of people like you, follow people who live in the demographic of your business, do key word searches for people who may be interested in what you have to say; follow these people and engage with them. Following is so important because many of the people you reach out to and follow WILL follow you back.*

How to manage that goofy looking unbalanced number of followers/followees on Twitter? Check out Twitter applications such as TwitterKarma or FriendorFollow to un-follow people who do not follow you back.

Now go raise your follower count with a target audience in mind, and plans to engage and listen to them and you are a step closer to business success within Social Media.

If you would like to create a strong and effective Social Media Campaign and live in the Seattle area, please contact me. I am not a contractor, I do one on one sit-down appointments with people in exchange for wine or food! Also, Get on My Radar Screen!

Email: contact@seattlewinegal.com

*There is so much subjectivity within Social Media, and so many varying ideas. I encourage you to listen to other forms of methodology to find the one that fits best for you and your goals. This is just one of many ways of “doing Social Media”.

All Content Written by: Seattle Wine Gal

Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees? One Perspective by Don Phelps, Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards

December 30, 2009 52 comments

I would like to warmly welcome and introduce Don Phelps, of Hard Row to Hoe Vineyards in Chelan, WA. Don is the author and guest of today’s post “Why Do Wineries Have Tasting Fees”. Having been a tasting room administrator myself for a number of years at a wine shop, I know very well why wine shops have a fee, but I wondered if this reason differed for wineries; it does! It’s surprising how many people do not understand just how much goes into getting that one taste of wine into their glass, and why, in fact a tasting fee is applied. Here is one vintners perspective:

As a small winery (2000 cases) we (Hard Row to Hoe) elected to institute a tasting fee at our tasting room. We did this primarily to protect ourselves against large groups that come on bus tours that historically taste wine, take up staff resources and leave without purchasing. This does happen! We also found that there were a small percentage of our visitors only interested in one thing – drinking free wine!

In our case the tasting fee is five dollars and applied toward the purchase of a bottle of wine if the customer decides to buy, so you can think of it as a non-refundable deposit.  It has been our experience that most folks buy at least one bottle of wine so we actually collect very few tasting fees, other than in the case of the large group tours.  For those that do winery tours just to taste and not buy, the tasting fee allows them to taste and leave without feeling an obligation to buy wine as you might if you tasted for free.

We welcome everyone to our tasting room and encourage big limo and bus tours to visit.  We believe that even if they do not buy on this visit, they will spread the word about the quality of the wine and the good time they had in the tasting room and will eventually be back. Word of mouth is our best advertising.

The bottom line to all of this is the fact that not charging a tasting fee drives the cost of wine up to every wine buyer because a winery has to recover their costs and make a return on their investment or go out of business.

So the next time you are out wine tasting think about the effort and expense the owners went through to produce a bottle of wine to open and share with you and you will better understand and appreciate the purpose of the tasting fee.

Thank you so very much Don, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your insights on tasting fees.

Find Hard Row to Hoe on Facebook and Twitter!

Visit their tasting room: Directions from Chelan: Follow Highway 150 towards Manson. Take a right at Mill Bay Casino on to Wapato Lake Rd., Ivan Morse Rd. is the second right. Look for Hard Row to Hoe winery signs, we are at #300 Ivan Morse Rd.

Or contact them by email! jumpintheboat@hardrow.com