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Wineries and social media: time to take a deep breath

65 comments

It’s hardly surprising that wineries are increasingly turning to social media, especially Facebook, Twitter and blogs, to grow their business, according to this report from Reuters about a study conducted by the Wine Industry Financial Symposium Group and the University of California-Davis Graduate School of Management.

You can read yourself that use of all three forums by wineries is exploding, and for obvious reasons: social media is cheap and easy to use, it can’t hurt, and it quite possibly can help a winery.

As we near the end of 2010, it’s amazing to think that, when I started blogging 2 years and 5 months ago, the Big Question wasn’t whether wineries should embrace social media. Instead, it was how rapidly their use of social media would enable them to make money. The blogosphere was much quicker than the mainstream media to address this issue. Most of the bloggers were confident that the rewards for a winery using social media would come in quickly. I wasn’t. I expressed skepticism from the beginning that social media was the magic bullet some of the other wine bloggers thought it was.

Now here we are, racing into 2011, and I think we can take a breather and ask, What’s up with wineries and social media now? In my opinion, the first phase is over, and the results are mixed. Many, if not most, wineries are doing something or other online, but I think those that are have been disappointed by the initial lack of stellar results. There was a brief Golden Age of going online that extended, roughly, from the time of Rockaway (summer, 2008) to the Murphy-Goode Really Goode Job thing (summer, 2009). Everybody rushed online, people hired Social Media Directors, and the wine world braced itself for the Second Coming, in which P.R., marketing and sales all would morph into one big digital pudding, and everybody’s troubles would be over.

I remained skeptical throughout that period, too. It just seemed too good to be true. In the long, often sordid history of Selling Things, human entrepreneurs have discovered that success involves blood, sweat and tears, not the instant gratification of typing a few words on a keypad and then pushing a “send” button.

So back to the Reuters article. The key sentence in it is “…it’s not surprising that the growing use of social media has coincided with the continuing hangover of the recession in the wine business.” Indeed, it isn’t. The recession has forced wineries to cut back in all sorts of ways, with one result that social media’s appetizing affordability makes it all the more desirable for a cash-strapped proprietor. I’m sure that wineries would be using social media even if we still had a healthy economy (and wouldn’t it have been lovely if this damned recession never happened), but I don’t think they would be using it as aggressively as they are now. What that tells me is that there’s still some magical thinking on their part concerning social media’s usefulness. When you’re depressed, you think about things that will make you feel better, even if they’re straight out of fantasyland. That’s just human nature. I still think there’s something fantastical about social media, but hey, if people feel better believing in the tooth fairy (or whatever), bless their little hearts.

And now for the most controversial sentence in the article: “Consumers are also less interested in wine ratings, in what some experts think is a positive trend because they believe the industry has relied too heavily on scores at the expense of educating consumers so they can make their own judgments about wine.

I’d like to see the evidence supporting this. The study was based on a poll of “109 grape growers, distributors, retailers and other wine experts” in California. No consumers, apparently, were included, so how does the study come to any conclusions about what’s going on in their heads? Maybe the grape growers, distributors, retailers and other wine experts think consumers are less interested in wine ratings, but I don’t believe they are. Are they less interested in wine reviews? I don’t think so, and ratings are simply one form of review. The use of ratings is growing, not shrinking, on shelf talkers, in print advertisements, and in winery P.R. materials. It may be true that the industry has relied too heavily on the use of the scores from a small, limited number of critics; and to the extent the blogosphere is creating more critics, that’s good. But ratings (be they 100 points, 20 points, 5 points or whatever) aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. If you can offer factual evidence consumers are turning away from ratings, I’d love to see it.

A puzzler:

The following thought experiment was prompted when I drove past the Hall Winery, on Highway 29 in Napa Valley.

Let us supposed Kathryn Hall builds a manor house. It would be called Hall Hall. Let us now suppose that there is a hallway in the manor house. It would be the Hall Hall Hall. Let us further suppose that there are several hallways in the manor house, and they decide to name the grandest one after the Ambassador herself. It would be the Hall Hall Hall Hall.

Can you add a fifth “Hall” to the construction so that its meaning makes literal sense? Send your suggestions to me here. The winner will get a one year free subscription to my blog, and will get his or her name in print. Bragging rights!

  1. I think the next generation of wine consumers is shaping up to be less score driven, although that is not to say scores are going away anytime soon. As the current leaders of wine consumption, who have scarcely known a time without wine ratings, begin to drop out of the market, it will be interesting to see what kind of consumer fills the void.

    I think some form of scores will always be driven by us men, with our natural desires to make claims that our wine scores are bigger than our fellow man’s.

  2. Steve, thank you for continuing to point out the emperor is not wearing any clothes. Only you and Tom Wark have been willing to suggest that social media is not a marketing strategy by itself. It is amazing to me that so many people not only defend the reliance on social media but they also become angry when you point out that the data is not supporting the focus and attention.

  3. Mark, Tom Wark taught me a lot about this stuff. He’s a very smart guy.

  4. The lady of the Manor decides to remodel the eponymous Hallway and hires a crew to remove all of the old furniture, empty wine boxes, etc. And in order to inspire the unity this crew will need to complete this gargantuan task she outfits each with a t-shirt celebrating the great 2010:

    “Hall Hall Hall Hall Haul!”

  5. Steve,

    Interesting post – and interesting information Reuters. It is quite surprising that they based much of their information on the opinions of wine professionals and not consumers. To me, this certainly is a mistake.

    Are wineries using social media more heavily now then a few years ago? Of course they are. Are they using it ‘successfully’ to either increase brand awareness, increase connectivity with their consumer base, increase their consumer base, or ultimately increase sales? Maybe . . . and maybe not.

    There seem to be many more wineries cluttering the facebook and twitter airwaves now, but that does not mean they are actually using the medium to say anything ‘useful’.

    As far as points go, I think the argument could be made that they are not as important as they have been in the past – and I think this argument would be dead wrong for the majority of ‘every day’ consumers purchasing wine from supermarkets, CostCo’s, BevMo, and similar places. What has changed is who consumers may be listening to – and that’s because there are a lot more voices now out there giving out points and awards then ever before. And retailers are not afraid to tout any scores they can to help sell product.

    There certainly is a growing minority of wine drinkers, who also tend to be more active on wine boards and blogs such as yours, who continue to claim that numbers don’t matter, and that reviewers are not as important as they once were. But as soon as scores come out from one of the ‘big’ reviewers that ‘reinforce’ their own purchases, they are quick to tout these . . . very interesting phenomenon indeed!

    I’ll be curious to hear what others have to say about this – and your ‘bigger picture’ thoughts as well, Steve.

    Cheers!

  6. My “Bigger picture” isn’t much bigger than yours, Larry. I’ve seen wines at retail marketed as “95 points!” without any mention of who the reviewer was! But I’m also told that when Costco puts up one of my scores, the wine flies off the shelf. So we’re in a transitional time but it’s hard to know just where it’s going.

  7. Steven: laughed out loud!

  8. Good old social media. First, I manage several Lodi winery Web sites and can see that getting face-to-face with new customers at winemaker dinners or other events is still one of the best triggers for on-line orders. You can’t beat a smile and a handshake for selling wine.

    Second, broadcasting a special offer on one-penny shipping or a discount on a featured wine is a fairly successful on-line order trigger.

    Just posting great video, photos, Tweets and Facebook posts isn’t going to bring in a bunch of orders, though it will plant those important seeds for better future recognition.

    Enthusiastic third-party recommendations from trusted individuals – be they recognized critics, a favorite retailer, or uncle Joe who knows a lot about wine – are also often important order triggers.

    Regarding scores, personally, when I read most wine reviews (written by the select few critics or one of many bloggers), I can’t really discern what the writer REALLY thinks about the wine until I see the score.

  9. I don’t feel much like opining on Social Media today, but your puzzler caught my attention…

    If Kathryn Hall were to divorce and then marry a man whose last name is Hall and she decided to hyphenate her last name for hahas, the Hall you speak of would then be renamed:

    The Hall-Hall Hall Hall-Hall Hall

    hahahahaha :)

  10. Jessyca: hysterical!

  11. And, adding to Jessyca’s suggestion, if Kathryn Hall were to put a bottle of her Hall “Kathryn Hall” Cabernet in the hallway, the bottle would be the Hall-Hall Hall Hall-Hall Hall Hall Hall!

  12. Steve, while you’re on the topic of using the latest in technology/ideas to further wine sales, what’s your take on the latest craze: the ipad for wine lists at restaurants? Latest fad or something that could stick? Is this something you could see wineries start using in their tasting rooms as well?

    Keep up the great writing, enjoy reading all your stuff.

  13. Nick, I don’t know a whole lot about it.

  14. Before going to a local presentation on wine and social media a couple weeks ago, I spent a couple hours surveying wineries and what was going on in their Facebook pages. What I saw was a mixed bag. There were a number of small wineries who were diligently posting stories and photos of their harvest and other vineyard or winery activities. But they had few fans, no comments. It was like they were shouting in an empty forest. Then there were larger wineries in the high end who had rather static pages, with a post every month or so, more fans, but little participation. Opus 1 was an example. These seemed to be neglected and often were clogged up with spam ads about housewives earning thousands of dollars working out of home. Then there were a few that were very active, like Miner, Coppola or Beringer. Much of the chatter was from members of wine clubs sharing experiences and photos of visits or events they attended.

    What I took away from it was that just being there and posting stuff about the winery in cyberspace on a social network doesn’t create much interest or business. You don’t bring in customers by creating a social network page. Joe Blow doesn’t taste your wine in Peoria and go to your Facebook page to talk about it very often; sometimes maybe it they are wine clubbers, but not often.

    And Facebook seems to provide little in the way of wine criticism. It does not seem to be a substitute for the wine critic.

    But it does seem for wineries with active visitor centers and frequent social events at the winery, the social network served as a place for ongoing interaction of their guests with one another and sometimes the winery. It seems to be mostly a social thing not a promotional thing. The social interaction is less between winery and fan, more interaction between fans themselves. How much in extra wine sales this social interaction creates, who knows? If I were to guess…I’d guess nada!

    I have also seen a backlash in the media recently toward businesses trying to use social media to overtly promote their products. It engenders the same anger as spam in the inbox. Particularly in Twitter.

  15. Morton has put his finger on it. Social media allows the flock to stay in touch from back in Peoria, but they will participate only if they have already been to and have a connection with the mother church. And this is exactly the core function of facebook for friends (of the winery) to stay in touch with each other and the winery. Strengthening loyalty can’t help lead to continuing sales mostly via the wineclub, not so much “extra” wine sales but continuing with sales, unless by extra one means special deals which probably do boost sales.

  16. My citation for reinforcing brand loyalty in cyberspace would be V.Sattui.

  17. And Tablas Creek

  18. Cheap, Fast, and effective if used correctly–

    7mos ago I switched from MG a tiny winery with zero marketing budget… Social Media is our only option (it is the only thing we can afford).

    It has helped us drive traffic to our tasting room, get multiple stories in regional and national news outlets, get placements at amazing restaurants, and most importantly allowed other people to share and forward our story with their connections.

    We don’t spam, don’t have a huge FB fan base, and I only spend an hour or two a day even thinking about it for biz purposes

    It is all we have, and perhaps all we need.

  19. What Hardy said. But I am also pouring at wine events what seems like every other night this month. You do what you can and should.

    I see the “Hall” haul is up to eight. I can add one more. Suppose after the marriage for the Hall-Halls and the placement of the bottle, they decide to donate the place to create a great university. They could name this esteemed place of learning after the bottle:

    Hall-Hall Hall Hall-Hall Hall Hall Hall Hall

  20. Nice post Steve and it isn’t surprising the range of responses posted. Here is some perspective from the Finger Lakes. New York (state) is vastly underfunded in wine and tourism marketing as compared to California, Washington, Oregon, Texas, and even Virginia. We look at affordable new technologies as a way to stay competitive in communication and marketing strategies with other regions. The main thing for wineries to remember is that social media should be just one marketing tool in your overall plan.

    Social media platforms are affordable communication tools, not dissimilar to e-mail marketing. There are not many successful businesses in today’s market place that don’t use e-mail to communicate with customers. I remember when e-marketing was in its infancy. There were skeptics who thought that the “internet” was a fad and a waste of financial and human resources. Others were exuberant about the change and launched highly successful businesses using e-marketing as the main driver of business. In 2010, we know that for most businesses, the truth is in the middle. Having a successful Web presence layered with targeted e-mail marketing is crucial to any successful winery business plan.

    Since 2008 we have seen the rise of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, and the fall of MySpace and Friendster, among others. Wineries that have successfully embraced Facebook, Twitter, and now Foursquare have a competitive advantage in the highly competitive wine and tourism industries. Following up on Facebook posts and Tweets is no different than responding to emails. Brand building and sales are ultimately based on how well your business communications across all channels. You wouldn’t leave an email unanswered from your best customers would you?

    Finger Lakes Wine Country is now more than ever invested in these exciting new communication platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, blogs, YouTube, and mobile devices. However, our marketing strategy is very well integrated with media relations, TV and radio commercials, Web, and print. Yes, we also believe that print isn’t dead. In fact, we are launching our new travel magazine in early 2011 with mobile tags throughout to connect back to all our social media platforms.

  21. Social media is a tool, NOT a strategy or an endpoint for marketing/advertising. As was said above, “There’s not substitute for a handshake and a smile.” Sales will always be (primarily) about the relationship between the producer and the consumer; sales tools can (secondarily) reinforce that relationship. In bad examples, such sales tools can also undermine the relationship – I’m sure we’ve all seen too many examples of bad ads, poor FaceBook pages, etc., that tell the consumer that their relationship with the producer isn’t valued.

    Re: Hall — so after all the above activity, the winery is acquired by the company that makes those famous “Menth-o-lyptus” cough drops — yes, Hall’s ad infinitum

  22. Morgen, this social media revolution is like the Oklahoma land rush. An official shot off his gun, and thousands of pioneers set out to stake their claim to some land. There was nothing stopping any of them — but some of them eventually made it, while others didn’t. So it’s back to Darwinian survival of the fittest. I have no doubt some wineries embracing social media will turn it to their advantage (and some already have). But in the end, it will be the smartest, most creative and highest quality wineries that succeed.

  23. Jefe, I now have a headache. Thank you.

  24. Young wine drinkers, IMHO, take more issue with the metaphorical, adjective-based litany employed by wine critics, in their tasting notes, than with numerical rating systems.
    The unprecedented availability of data and information is also allowing consumers to rely (more & more) on facts, rather than opinions or individual judgments.

  25. Hardy, did that 100 point score from Parker help?

  26. I’ll take a shot…

    If Hall’s Hall’s Hall hall was remodeled to be contain a Hall of Fame
    to wine critics or great Bay Area Radio Dj’s it could then correctly be called The Hall Hall Hall Hall Hall of Fame.

    Hall yea!

  27. “Suppose after the marriage for the Hall-Halls and the placement of the bottle, they decide to donate the place to create a great university. They could name this esteemed place of learning after the bottle:
    Hall-Hall Hall Hall-Hall Hall Hall Hall Hall.”

    To which I might add that a tour guide, with a strong southern accent, might point out to visitors that “this is the Hall-Hall Hall Hall-Hall Hall Hall Hall Hall, y’all!”

  28. Christophe Hedges says:

    “But ratings (be they 100 points, 20 points, 5 points or whatever) aren’t going anywhere, anytime soon. If you can offer factual evidence consumers are turning away from ratings, I’d love to see it.”

    Steve,

    It starts with the trade. Then it infects the populous. And before you know it, scores will no longer accompany a written review.

    ch

  29. David Jacobson says:

    as a consumer I’m always disappointed in the fact that wines are produced by the big business model – the score system is useless because it compares dissimilar products on a directly comparative scale – by that rate I could move to Antarctica, have my grapes shipped there from all over the world and create a high rated wine; By this thinking wine is a product and no longer reflects place or the romance behind why we buy it in the first place so why even care?

  30. Steve, you and I don’t see eye to eye on much when it comes to whatever it is you’re writing about. However, in this case, I can agree with you that social media is not for every winery. However, if you’re hanging way out there on the long tail of wineries (out where no distributor knows who you are, let alone gives you the time of day, and where you wait to win the “I got a great score” lottery that suddenly makes your wine sell itself), social media is perhaps the most legitimate business tool you have in order to promote yourself.

    Hell yes, it’s about survival of the fittest, but does it hurt so much to try and encourage those who are scratching their heads about how to get ahead (let alone stave off business closure in this recession) by telling them that social media, and specifically the effective construction of a viable social network using Twitter and Facebook can be the thing to transform their business model? The data may never back up a true ROI assessment, but it beats just doing the “buy ads and pray” marketing model, or the “Family Winemakers meat market”, or even the old-school “shop your juice around” approach with buyers. Social media should rank at the same level as any of these approaches, and perhaps higher than some of them.

    Properly building a social network that can drive traffic/commerce to your website or tasting room is not rocket science any more; it’s just hard work like any other channel, and requires certain etiquette and behavior to avoid tripping on your shoelaces, just like any other channel.

  31. Hey Randy, I never said it hurts to try. I do encourage wineries to get out there. For 2 years, whenever I have a conversation with an owner, be he superrich or of modest means, I tell him/her to go on the Internet, start blogging, etc. You’d be surprised at some of the people I’ve told to do that. Many of them poo poo it, and the richer they are, the less they get it. I think everybody should be out there on the Internet. I’m just saying, as I have for years, that it’s not the alpha and omega of success. First and foremost, these wineries have to MAKE GOOD WINE.

  32. Christopher, duh. I know it starts with the trade. But realize that the trade [stores, restaurants] are influenced by the distributors. And the distributors are mesmerized by scores. So it trickles down. I can’t see anytime soon when scores will stop accompanying written reviews.

  33. Re ratings and descriptions.

    All this talk of them going away is belied by the fact that there is zero falloff in the numbers of people who pay money to read them.

  34. …oh, and after the Menth-O-lyptus folks take over, they decide to resurrect a long-dead spokesperson to be the face of the brand on their new social marketing FaceBook page — hosted by Monty Hall.

  35. Christophe Hedges says:

    Distributors are not mesmerized by them. Unless of course you mean the large ones. And it’s the large ones that don’t need scores to sell the wines. They pay to play. Strange how that works.

    Mr. Jacobson: Yes, you are correct. Wines must be honored in the context for which their origins are relevant. Reviews are fine, lets all talk, but the assignment of a numbing number is destructive to creativity.

    Sincerely,

    Christophe (r) Duh.

  36. Steve- 100pts? That’s for the little guys– we got 100* pts !!!! ;)

  37. There would be portraits of the Hall family… thus Hall Hall Hall Hall of Halls’

  38. <>

    Well, there is a useful generalization. The assigning of a number, especially in connection with a quality description, consists of nothing more than distilling the words into a symbolic notation, a shorthand. It adds to the words and has zero impact on the process by which the wine was made, has zero impact on how much the wine will be enjoyed and has zero impact on the writer of the words. It is nothing more than a communication.

    Destructive? Balderdash!!

  39. Chris Duh says, “the assignment of a numbing number is destructive to creativity “.

    Somehow that quote dropped out of the post above.

  40. Just because people use social media does not mean they are stupid.

    In fact they are becoming more aware and more skeptical. We, that is all of us, become inurred to superlatives and hype. If people see ‘hype’ or what they read as hype or read simply as cheap advertising they will get shy.

    There is no one single silver bullet cure for the recession so why would any thinking person think that there is one for the wine recession. LOL

    A long time ago I heard that a GM president said that is something was good for GM it was good for America. So the goodness was touted and the consumer ingnored. Where did that lead?

    All it takes for a consumer to loose confidence in any one media source and its recommendations is to try a highly rated item and hate it. “Once is happenstance, twice is enemy action.” The stop believing.

    The quote is actually a misquote from Ian Fleming.

  41. Charlie, actually main reason numbers are assigned by wine professionals is that results can be evaluated statistically. Let’s say you are doing pilot plant experiments and want to see if some treatment makes a difference. A defined blind tasting regimen and trained tasters can deliver detailed results that can be evaluated with a high degree of certainty. You can look at an element of the wine’s character and analyze the treatments affect on it. It is the reason numbers are used in the Davis scorecard and many others.

    I do not include critics in the aforementioned category. For a critic a numerical score is usually a meaningless affectation or a short hand for I liked it or I disliked it… often intended to imply some scientific basis to the process.

  42. nothing beats old fashioned shoe leather in the market place!

  43. Could be decorated with cherubs. Then Hall Hall Hall Hall Hall’s Angels.

  44. Steve, interesting article with some very good points. I want to mention that while I can’t put a quantitative number on how our winery’s social media effort have paid off I know that they are working. I don’t really view social media as a way to drive sales though; rather, I see it as a means of customer interaction. A way for our customers to see/hear about what’s going on here at the winery as well as find out about upcoming events throughout the country.

    As I said, I can’t quantify how it has affected sales, but I know it has as we have got our wines into new restaurants based on suggestions from followers. I have been able to point out where people can find our wines when asked (which happens rather frequently). I always mention that they can get it through our website, but I also give them a few options locally which helps drive sales at the retail level. So, while it is not the be-all-end-all of a marketing/sales strategy I have found it very useful in keeping our customers informed, up to date and helping them find our wines.

  45. Larry Chandler says:

    There was an old New York joke that if singer/socialite Alice Tully married Communist Party leader Gus Hall she would be known as Alice Tully Hall.

    (You may need to be a New Yorker to understand this one.)

  46. Larry, I’m a New Yawkah and I get it!

  47. I have seen successful social media and resounding failures. The main reason for most successful social media is developing a following and feeding their needs. The problem is the skill set needed to do it correctly takes time to develop and websites lose interest or lose their social media guru.

    Hardy’s statement that he takes one or two hours a day and has developed a successful social media is a little deceiving. Hardy has a social media following who will follow him to whatever winery or product he hawks. This is great if you can afford to hire him but it does nothing for your brand. Just ask Murphy Goode.

  48. Greg Brumley says:

    Randy,

    You ask, “does it hurt” to convince a winemaker who can’t grow sales, or who’s facing liquidation, that the “construction of a viable social network using Facebook and Twitter can be the thing that transforms their business model?”

    The answer is yes, it does hurt. Here’s a story to indicate why….

    A Sonoma County winemaker for some decades found himself with no tasting room, a tiny shriveling wine club and zilch distribution. He was Bill Foley’s ideal prospect: Someone who makes very good wine, but who couldn’t sell ice water to a millionaire crawling across the Sahara.

    At under 10,000 cases, the winemaker couldn’t penetrate distribution channels. He had to go DTC. He was persuaded to offer tours at his beautiful mountain vineyard. The unusual venue was attractive, and hotels / tour companies immediately began to come aboard.

    The winemaker did not want to meet the vineyard visitors, himself, because that was uncomfortable and an imposition on his European vacations and sailing his 60’ sailboat. So, he limited visits to 8 hours spread over two weekend days and assigned a newcomer to do them. After 3 weekends, he was unhappy that the response wasn’t yet overwhelming.

    His office manager’s girlfriend persuaded him that, by hiring her to pump up his Twitter and Facebook and web pages, he would realize instant attention. He was sufficiently ignorant of social media to presume the online clicks would become wine sales. So, he stopped the vineyard and tour campaign and surrendered his prospects to the miracles of social media. I doubt he’ll survive 1Q 2011.

    In Wine Country, there are scores like this guy – though they work harder. Having built little or no sales apparatus, they tie their hopes to 3 pipe dreams: (1) Wine Spectator will give me a 97 and all those distributors who ignored me will come begging; (2) Bill Foley will buy me out; (3) I’ll go social media and thousands upon thousands will buy my wine online tomorrow.

    So, does it hurt? Not if feeding salt water to somebody stranded in the middle of the Indian Ocean “doesn’t hurt”. I mean, after all, it quenches his thirst, doesn’t it?

    As others have eloquently said here, social media’s value is as a SECONDARY sales tool. It can effectively support well-executed direct-to-consumer programs or well-established distribution networks. Social media does not sell wine. Other industries — not just wineries — are finding social media’s ability to “drive traffic” to a location (or even a website) is overblown. It will not, of itself, “transform a business model.”

    To answer your question, Randy, advising a struggling winery to throw everything into social media – no matter how well executed – is to advise a strategy which is self defeating if not self destructive.

    John Bjork and El Grumpo put it well. ‘Ya gotta shake their hands and look ‘em in the eye. That takes work. Persistent, every day grinding work which demands maximum resources. To suggest a small winery supplant that hard work with the “easy answer” of social media does hurt. It urges the winery to take its eye off the ball by moving resources to a most dubious salvation.

    Greg Brumley
    mail@brumleygroup.com

  49. Greg, I would not be as hard as you on Bill Foley. He buys what is available in a slumping market, and he has shown an ability to support his brands, not run them down, like some big conglomerates do. But I totally agree with you that “Ya gotta shake their hands and look ‘em in the eye.” That is the way to succeed these days — of course, you have to make good wine also. You can’t make crap and look ‘em in the eye and convince them a sow’s ear is a silk purse.

  50. Joe, I tend to agree with you. My hunch is that Murphy-Goode did not sell more wine due to Hardy’s tenure. That is not a condemnation of Hardy. He did the best job he could. It’s just to say that you cannot yet move quantities of wine through social media.

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