Of Millennial Mistakes and Wine Blogging Blunders

Vinted on May 12, 2009 binned in best of, commentary

The latest issue of Wine Enthusiast has some advice for wineries and wine wine marketers on how to handle the next generation of wine consumers – and it’s probably wrong.

Well, it’s at least incomplete.

In the May 2009 issue of Wine Enthusiast, which I received as a sample from the recent TasteCamp East in Long Island, has an interesting article by Kathleen Buckley titled “The Millennial Effect.”  I’m not a Millennial myself, but I can appreciate the challenge that PR in general will have to overcome to engage that target market.  After all, they don’t respond to the mindless, unidirectional marketing tactics that have been the staple of the “traditional” marketing machine.

Apparently, according to the WE article, Millennials think about wine first and foremost as fun, don’t drink to get drunk, want a story and a compelling value proposition if they are to be a marketing target, and they love sparkling wine.

In my book, all of that simply means that the Millennials aren’t morons.

The advice from WE?

“Get into Social Networking.  Think Facebook… Flikr a label or Twitter a wine recommendation… If your phone does tricks, use them.”

In my book, that simply sounds like a recipe for disaster.

At least, it’s not a complete recipe for engaging Millennials about wine.

In fact, it doesn’t say anything about actually engaging wine consumers.  Twitter, Facebook, Flikr, even blogs… last time I checked, these are just tools.  If you want to engage Millennials – hell, any wine consumers for that matter – here’s some advice that you can take to the bank: actually engage us about your wine / clients / products / etc.

Yeah, it’s that simple.

In fact, if you’re in the wine world and you were serious about how to get your message across to the Millennial generation, you’d already know how to do it, because Millennials regularly give this advice away for free nearly every day. Don’t believe me?  Check out millennier.wordpress.com.

Sure, use the tools that everyone is using to engage each other, but don’t use the tools without having the desire to engage in a two-way conversation.  Otherwise, that marketing-savvy next generation of wine consumers will eat you for lunch on Twitter.

The WE article doesn’t mention much about wine blogs, but there’s plenty to talk about on that front now that Vintank, the wine and technology think-tank firm headed by Inertia Beverage founder Paul Mabray, has released their new report, titled The state of Wine Industry Social Media.

The latest Vintank report is one of the few available that has any meaningful statistics on the influence of wine blogging, and it shows that if you’re in wine PR and you’re ignoring wine blogs, you’re probably making a big blunder.

Some highlights of the Vintank report findings:

    • Every blogger that has an audience over 20 people has influence that is relevant.
    • Wine bloggers in aggregate may be more powerful than traditional online outlets.
    • According to data from Compete, the top 20 wine bloggers in aggregate have a larger audience than the Wine Spectator online.

That last one is my personal fave.

Vintank has confirmed what many have suspected for a long time, and it’s something that sponsors of events like the Wine Bloggers Conference and TasteCamp “get,” which is that wine bloggers may have small reaches individually, but collectively have a potentially enormous reach.  Ignore us at your marketing peril.


(images: babble.com, winemag.com, vinfolio.com)





  • Ed Thralls

    Nice post, Dude. I think you point out an important point that many folks new to social networking, or IT in general, in an effort to boost business or share information… many just don't get it. If you just have a blog, or search a label via google, or start throwing comments on Twitter, the dollars just don't start rolling in. There is an underlying "purpose" that needs to be determined and focused on, much like a mission statement, which you would think business people would understand. But too many are looking for the quick hit.

    The purpose should be around building a community, sharing information that makes a connection between you, your organization and the reader. Hence the name "social networking"… it's simply an extension of our human nature to want to engage with like people with like interests, etc. It's not a silver bullet and it's not magic that works by itself. Thanks again.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Ed – well put, there is no silver marketing bullet on the web (at least, not anymore!). Cheers!

  • RichardA

    Sorry Joe, but I have to take issue with your "personal fave," that: "According to data from Compete, the top 20 wine bloggers in aggregate have a larger audience than the Wine Spectator online."

    First, we are all familiar with the adage that statistics can say anything we want them to. Plus, such statistics can make for compelling sound bites, even when they are not fully accurate

    Second, I previously addressed issues with the accuracy of that statistic over on the OWC forum. What it does is count blog readers multiple times, artificially inflating the aggregate total. It is possible that some individual blog readers are being counted as many as twenty times. The top 20 bloggers clearly do not have a "unique" aggregate larger than Wine Spectator online.

    How many people read a single wine blog? Most people read multiple ones, and if you are considering the top 20 blogs, I am willing to bet plenty of people are easily following 5 or more of those blogs. Such people though should not be counted multiple times when trying to calculate the aggregate total blog readership.

    • 1WineDude

      Great point, and one that I've thought about in terms of my own blog readership and traffic before. It's sort of like saying that WS, WE, and TWA combined have X reach, when in fact that number would likely count the same individuals at least three times. I think you're pointing out that this could be an even more acute issue for counting the reach of wine blogs, since the nature of the medium (and it's cost, which unlike the wine mags. is free) means that there could be much more overlap / double-counting in the numbers for blogs (I'd agree with that).

      However, we shouldn't ignore the key take-away that collectively wine blogs have a big reach now and it's growing (even if it's not growing quite by the numbers Vintank have captured).


    • Arthur

      I have tried to encourage the VinTank group to develop a server-side stat counter that would more reliably tally unique visits and unique visitors that Google Analytics or StatCounter do. The technology for this exists, it can be customized and if bloggers are interested in developing their brands and "contending" they should adapt this app.

      • 1WineDude

        I'm game…

        • Paul Mabray

          Working on something :)

  • RichardA

    I certainly agree that wine blogs are reaching a large audience, and that it is growing. I don't think that is really disputable. The actual extent and numbers though are very unclear.

    I can see this Vintank sound bite though getting posted again and again all over the blogosphere, without considering the problems with its accuracy. For me personally, the more I have thought about it, the more questions I have about the entire Vintank report. I certainly need to review it again, but I have concerns about the rest of the statistics put forth by the report. It may very well be a nice introductory report, but I am very wary about any of its conclusions, which might be premature and require additional study.

    • 1WineDude

      Paul Mabray told me he will be chiming in on this discussion later today, hopefully we'll get some responses from him on the accuracy of the data and on the conclusions that Vintank drew from their data.

  • RichardA

    Over on the OWC forum, Paul previously addressed my question concerning this issue.

  • Paul Mabray

    Richard – we CLEARLY called out that challenge in our report as a statistical challenge. We also have that called out in or press release. The soundbite is going around because any metaphor of David vs Goliath is a good story.

    However, even with the probability of cross over for blog readership, there are only 20 blogs represented and they are only the ones that filled out the survey and we were able to validate the numbers. As I stated on the OWC:

    "You are correct – we never hope to claim that the blogger's influence is greater than the Wine Spectator only the Wine Spectator online. However I would argue that the searchability and the longevity of the content for the blogs exceeds the print publication. Moreover, remember that this is just 20 blogs that are verified, not the top 20 wine blogs. Even with only a 10% penetration, that is a significant growth in only three real years of true hard core wine blogging. If you take all the wine bloggers stats that did our survery (unverified and all) you see a much larger stat. Add in the wine bloggers that didn't take the survey, Dr. Vino and Eric Asimov then the statistics are way more relevant. The problem is that the wine bloggers are both fragmented in their platforms, their ideologies, and their content so advertising or a PR effort with them as AN AGGREGATE is more difficult than the Wine Spectator."

    As to your last line Richard. You and I have been online acquaintances for some time and we have much respect for your blog. While I understand skepticism, your calling our statistics into question was a bit concerning. We put INCREDIBLE work and discipline into farming our data and only had challenges (which were disclosed) with the blogger stats. However you are correct, as we said in the introduction, this is only the first signpost to hopefully much more study and conversations about wine social media. We look forward to more and more conversations and comments about "availing", the different networks, regular social media, and the power of wine social networks. We do hope you lead some of these as we think a deeper understanding of wine online will benefit all parts of the industry (wineries, wine retailers, and consumers).

  • 1WineDude

    Hi all – the discussion on this topic to which the above comments are referring is over at the Open Wine Consortium at the following link (bring your popcorn!):


  • RichardA

    Hi Paul:
    My primary issue was the accuracy of the soundbite issue. The gist of that point was repeated twice in your report, p.60 & 61. I failed to see, and correct me if I am wrong, anywhere in your report indicating that the the blog reader aggregate number included duplicate readers. I think it is only common sense that some individuals read multiple blogs. I certainly know that I do and I know plenty of others that do too. So, the aggregate figure is not an accurate measure of blog readership. And because of duplicate readers, the 2 statements listed above are not properly supported by the evidence. The failure for the report to address duplicate readers seems a significant and material omission.

    –Let me pose a brief hypothetical. If we assume that the average person reads 2 blogs (certainly a reasonable assumption), then the aggregate total would have to be halved. And that would bring the aggregate below the online WS readership.

  • RichardA

    There is a note on p.61 notifying of difficulty with blogger stats for advertising or samples. But that does not address the aggregate issue. What leads to my potential questions about other stats in the report, all center on the aggregate issue. To me, the failure of the report to address duplicate readers in the aggregate totals (which would seem to be an obvious issue), made me wonder if other matters might have been omitted in other places of the report. At this time, I am unaware of ANY other problems with the stats, but I am reviewing the report further.

    I certainly appreciate all the hard work that went into the report. And I do respect the individuals involved of who I know. This aggregate issue just kind of stood out to me and I do think it is rather important.


    • Paul Mabray

      Richard, thanks for the kind words at the end about our hard work and our team. We will try to work on adding language to address the notion of aggregate – this was such a huge undertaking that sometimes in our haste to get the report to market, we overlooked some phrases. Our apologies and it wasn't meant to be misleading.

      I agree with the aggregate issue and trying to address that challenge. We hope others follow in the wake of our report to get the answers to that challenge (perhaps you Richard?)

      Again, thank you for the comments and the conversations. Please keep them up and we are looking forward to discussing more about blogger's influence as well the other key parts of the report such "availing" and the reports of each of the individual networks.

    • Derek Bromley

      Sorry to chime in late here and thanks guys for the great points. There are some additional points to consider around this duplicate readers conversation, first of which is that there is no line in the sand between blog readership and Wine Spectator online traffic. That is, while WS does represent the "old guard" to many, I think it's a fair assumption that there is crossover between WSonline readership and the readership of the 20 verified blogs. How much? I'm not aware of any feasible way to answer that question currently, but if you are discounting any crossover readership then you'd have to discount some portion of WS readership too.

      Also, the 20 verified blogger Compete numbers were substantially higher than WSonline, in fact a bit more than WS and eRobertParker combined…and that's just site traffic, not including RSS feeds which can't easily be measured but further raise the blogger numbers (more so than WS numbers, if you assume that much of WS traffic is ratings search-driven).

      Taking the above points into consideration, if you strip out the dupes across all 21 platforms, I don't think it's a stretch to estimate the 20 verified blogger audience in the neighborhood of WS online.

  • 1WineDude

    Thanks to all for the good discussion here.

    I wanted to add that, while the first Vintank social media report is probably not perfect, it's certainly an important step forward and we're all going to be better for them having done it. Without efforts like theirs, collectively we will miss out not only on the discussions and ideas it engenders, but also on the the opportunity to help improve similar future efforts.

    Ok, thus endeth my soapbox…

  • Todd Havens

    Great post, Joe!

    "Millennials," as if it's even possible to describe an entire generation, are just plain savvy. They understand the rules of advertising forward and backward and are in on the joke. Marketing can be effective when it's smart or if it, as we're all saying, contributes to the conversation in some meaningful way. Especially in the fickle world of wine where an individual's personal tastebuds rule, the consumers and bloggers who gives a thumbs up to a particular wine can and should be a winery's biggest brand evangelists. One would hope that a winery's marketing division knows exactly who those people are.

    You hit the nail on the head, too – we'll all be saying this until we're blue in the face, but it's all about conversation-conversation-conversation. Bring something of value and interest to the table as push marketing rides off into the sunset.

    Case in point: my friend called me several days ago from a BevMo where he was looking to get a bottle of wine as a thank-you gift for an exec at NBC/Universal. (That's not name-dropping, is it? Company-dropping, perhaps. :)) Rather than research ratings online, scan the in-store advertising displays or ask someone who worked there, he called me. I am, by far, no sommelier, but I know what I like and in the span of a minute or two, he had a great cab (or zin, I can't remember now) to send along, confident that the personal recommendation was his best resource for the purchase.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Todd. GREAT example of how people reach to trusted sources, and sometimes even over (potentially more knowledgeable) sources right in front of them! It's the conversation, trust and interaction that gives those consumers a comfort level, I think.

      A great place to turn to for interesting takes on the psychology and habits of different generations is Penelope Trunk's blog (in fact, she posted on that topic today!): http://blog.penelopetrunk.com/


      • Todd Havens

        I LIKE this Penelope Trunk…Brazen Careerist with a dash of sass, indeed!

        All of her points in today's "How to recognize bad advice about work" are spot-on with regard to the generational differences. I worked at MTV for five years and it was a fascinating to sit back and watch the Boomers at the highest levels try to make sense of the Millennials that were showing up on their airwaves and in their morning/afternoon elevator rides.

        Thanks for the heads-up on her blog!

        • 1WineDude

          My pleasure – she rocks. She also follows me on twitter which in a shallow way makes me feel special! :-)

  • Paul Mabray

    Great, great conversations, the type we hoped to inspire from our report. Keep em' coming.

    • 1WineDude

      Totally agree – everything I could have hoped for when writing this post. Thanks to YOU for the report!

  • Dennis

    The VINTANK findings validate some comments to your previous Parker Chasing Shadows blog post and the closing line in my comment post – "From the collective whole [of bloggers] will come truth."
    – Every blogger that has an audience over 20 people has influence that is relevant.
    – Wine bloggers in aggregate may be more powerful than traditional online outlets.
    – According to data from Compete, the top 20 wine bloggers in aggregate have a larger audience than the Wine Spectator online

    Off topic comment — Just spent a nice evening in the barrel room inventorying, sampling and doing 07 & 08 pre-bottling label counts for print orders

    • 1WineDude

      Yeah, I think it's the power of the aggregate that you touched on there, we have yet (in my opinion) to realize the full extent that may be possible through that (it sounds like hippie idealism, but I do believe it).

  • Tom

    Great post & discussion. I'm a nobody in this realm although I do come from an extensive marketing background. I just want to relate a real world experience & stats that references this medium.

    I have a small "amateur new enthusiast" for lack of a better description blog 2,800 uniques monthly, a facebook page for it 32 fans, a twitter account 229 "wine" followers, a regular FB account w/215 friends. Small change.

    Ran a blog poll for next review & tweeted it > brand marketing rep from Napa saw it & re-tweeted it saying vote for Gnarly Head Old Vine Zin > it won > I reviewed it paired w/ribs liked it > I cook meals (P.T Retirement Job) & offer pairings in a retail store next to a 2,300 sq foot wine section > I made a bbq rib dish paired with Gnarly Head that I displayed next to my mini kitchen > I can't post sales but lets just say they should have got a bigger truck. Most of these people had never tried an old vine zin & now that category is trending up. The residual sales can be seen on paper.

    A minuscule blog poll and a tweet turns into real world sales. There are lots of small blogs & particularly video reviews that take the 1st page of google for sub $15 common wines. They may barely make a blip on the radar but collectively they likely influence. A sale is a sale :)

    I would wild ass guess that many Millennials will follow a favorite blog that speaks to them vs subscribing to a print publication.

    • 1WineDude

      Tom – thanks, what a fantastic example. I've seen similar things myself – the *potential* reach shouldn't be underestimated.

  • westcoastwino

    OK, I am not sure how far reaching we are as bloggers. But I can tell you in less than a month on Twitter, I am over 1,000 Twitter Followers and my site has gone nuts! I have great conversations with others looking for information I have!

    I think people are looking for honest opinions. Not something that takes years to understand or a certain vocabulary. I have been drinking and enjoying wine a long time.Does that make me an expert, not really. I know what I like and don't like and pass that one with out much judgment. Apparently the new wine drinker likes that and uses this information to make decisions on buying wine and trying new wines.

    I do it because I love it, and I appears many out there like it as well.

    • 1WineDude

      The interesting thing is that we can't really predict where it will go – which makes it exciting for us, but I am sure drives marketers totally nuts ;-).

      Hey – what's your URL?

  • Richard

    Another good post Joe. I am embarrassed to say I had no idea what a Millennial was until I read this and then searched around for other information around the web. Thanks. Here is a link to Jancis Robinson http://tinyurl.com/ocqh7q that dovetails nicely with what you and others have written on this subject. Cheers!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks for the Jancis link! I especially like how she starts with saying she won't speak for too long and the speech is about 150 paragraphs… ;-) I suffer from the same afflictions….

  • Johnathan

    I just read the entire Vintank report. It's a mouthful to say the least. I never really understood all the ways wine social networks made money. I was particularly interested in the section about Snooth potentially having a conflict of interest with producers regarding duplicate product listings. I think the key to having clean data is an active membership base that has the power to combine/edit product info as users do with a wikipedia articles.

    I participate on a few networks, although regularly on only one, and really appreciated the previews of Cellartracker new site! It is the one site I LOVE as a research tool. I haven't tried Vincellar yet, but have browsed vinfolio quite a bit. It seems that these two guys should get together before there is a website brawl for top position. Sorry, but Snooth blows. It's reviews are as relevant to me as graffiti. Although at this point, I'm a cellartracker man. I've never looked up a wine and not found well thought out reviews with CT.

    Regarding the traffic stats from the 20 or so bloggers…..I don't see what the debate is here. WineSpectator.com provides some great information and archive, and yes I have an online subscription, but I have great issue with the consistency of their reviews. If wine spectator reviews a small production wine, it either sells out right away or they jack up the price. What's the point? I don't need to read about small production wines I can't get. Guess that's the downfall of their success. So, I guess what I'm saying is that the articles I read on the less successful (meaning less traffic) blogs are a hell of a lot more pertinent to my purchasing decisions. I hope this is considered when defining the value of a site beyond that of just how many people come to the site, how long they stay there and how many pages they view.
    Anyway, loved the report. Read it at work instead of working. Great way to spend a Wednesday afternoon.
    Now….to actually do some work.
    btw, great site 1winedude!

    • 1WineDude

      Hey Jonathan – thanks for chiming in, and for the positive vibes!

      I take your point about the WS reviews – at some point, they're a victim of their own success in that there's a danger that they lose some touch with the majority of wine buyers out there, especially when they're covering wines that are next to impossible to get for the average Joe. Gotta admit, I've been guilty of that myself (though in most cases, the wines were still accessible when I reviewed them, before Gary V. and then WS gave them major high scores and sent t he prices up! :-).

      I agree with you that it would be a big disservice all around if blogs were engaged by wine PR folks only on the basis of their traffic. I can't tell you how many 'ranking reports 'I've seen that list me in the top whatever wine blogs based on stats, then another list won't even have me in the top 100. So, the current ranking approaches are far from consistent and far from perfect anyway. Of course, quality content isn't ranked anywhere as a means of success :-(.

  • Steveraye

    Good discussion all around. And a big shout out GREAT JOB to Derek and da’ boys…not just for doing such a fantastic job on pulling it all together, but by making it free to the world at large.

    So here’s my two cents (as background, my company provides social media marketing services to wine and spirits brands)… lets boil down the discussion from “influence” or “reach” to the 800 lb. gorilla-question in the room and the one we get asked by prospective clients all the time: “Does social media marketing (SMM) impact sales, and if so is there a correlation between specific programs (Blog outreach, a Facebook fan page e.g.) and results (e.g. mentions in blog posts, hyperlinks to brand websites, # of group members et al.) to sales?. And to take that question further, if there is a correlation, is it predictable or projectable?

    And the follow up to THAT question is, how much does/should SMM cost, and how does it compare with other traditional marketing tools like media advertising and PR?

    Lots of meat on that bone, and I’ll post more as the discussion continues.

    • 1WineDude

      Do tell, man! I want to hear the details!

      As a blogger, I don't want to be relegated to the backwoods of never receiving samples or advertising, or never hearing from PR folks because I didn't rank in a certain category of traffic, etc., etc.

      As a business person, I would expect to correlate samples, programs, spend, etc. into something – reach, estimated eyeballs on a product, sales….

      • Todd Havens

        Yes, yes…do tell! :-)

        Those are the $25,000 questions. (Boy, inflation has really sucker-punched that gameshow.)

        I'm also curious about the wine industry, specifically, in terms of the negative impact of direct shipment laws from state to state. Don't those directly affect a winery's scalability in terms of e-business?

    • Derek Bromley

      Hi Steve,
      Thanks for the props, and for the great questions. Your post brings to mind a recent blog post by Jeremiah Owyang (http://bit.ly/7cXIH) talking about how he gauges the relative social media sophistication of his potential clients based on which of 5 different questions they are asking. Your clients seem to be asking you questions similar to Jeremiah's #3.

      We talked about this issue in the report but did not call out in a specific section; to summarize we talked about a "mashup" of what CPG marketers call brand commitment stages (Unaware/Available/Accept/Adopt/Adore/Reject) and what sales managers call a sales funnel (lead/prospect/1-time customer/occasional customer/regular customer/former customer) On page 11 we refer to it as a "sales/brand acceptance funnel." The gist of what we were trying to say relative to this concept is that wineries should not gauge the success of their social media spend ($$ and time) by ecommerce transactions alone. A well-executed social media strategy should be advancing consumers forward through this brand acceptance funnel (at least until they reach the Adore/regular customer stage!) Every stage except the first and last should be gaining consumers from the previous stage AND losing consumers to the next higher one. Consumers advancing through your brand acceptance funnel should be positively impacting your sales both online and off, which is where the measurement gets tricky. The Diageos of the world have the big budgets to do consumer focus groups selected from random samples of the wine drinking population and extrapolate an approximate number of consumers in each stage; small wineries unfortunately do not have such a luxury (although cheap/free online surveys can help bridge the gap somewhat). So the short answer is yes, SMM should impact sales if done correctly, but measuring the full scope of impact is a challenge (though less a challenge than traditional advertising.)

      As for specific tactics, I think that question is highly brand-dependent–a luxury Napa Cab would likely see a bigger impact focusing their efforts engaging the VinCellar/CellarTracker communities, while a Millennial-targeted $15/bottle brand ought to be leveraging Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and the like to the hilt. There are tools emerging, like Cruvee (disclosure: Vintank portfolio company), that can measure online chatter, which can then be measured up against the use of specific tactics.

      As far as cost, I think it's again brand-specific–what is the total marketing spend for Brand X (cash plus man-hours)? Of that total spend, what is the company willing to dedicate to SMM? Probably smaller amounts initially (when a company is asking Jeremiah's question #3), and probably a higher proportion of man-hours vs. cash initially. As Brand X begins asking question #4, the spend will likely increase provided it has satisfied itself with the answers to the ROI questions.

      These are just some "quick and dirty" answers to your above questions, I hope others will weigh in with their takes too!

      • 1WineDude

        Thanks – great stuff there.

        What about brand exposure? Is that something that is measured (or at least attempted) as well – not in terms of increased customers, but just in terms of free exposure via SMM vs. paid advertising, etc.?


        • Paul Mabray

          That also is a KPI – impressions and exposure are very important. The problem is that these present softer tangible results but also can very easily be measured (and SHOULD BE).

      • Paul Mabray

        I was going to weigh in as well but all I can add is bravo to Derek. The key is establishing measurement goals and KPI's. "How can you tell if your trip was a success if you don't have speedometer and destination?" as my mentor used to say.

        • 1WineDude

          Seems to me that one of the big concerns on the part of bloggers is, what if they don't have enough traffic to be deemed successful by PR/media/wineries? Should those blogs be ignored by PR?

          My gut tells me no, and I think your Vintank report i saying that the situation can't be treated that simply. But… what's the alternative for the PR folks?

          • Paul Mabray

            No, blogs should NOT be ignored. Even smaller ones. If a blog has 50 readers and the blogger only rates Iberian wines I think it would be prudent for a Iberian producer's PR agency to engage with that blogger. The problem with engaging blogs is the difficulty in trying to reach them all with one effort and one methodology making ROI on the effort much harder.

  • Dylan

    I am a Millennial and Joe nailed it. My advice, which I also give out for free (I know, in this economy?), is that if you're going to run in the social media race have a finish line. A lot of people just jump onto these networks without any goals or specific action course. Twitter can be used in so many different ways (proper and poor) that you need to know what kind of approach to take. Of course, the simplest advice when it comes to any of these networks is to engage with us. That means a dialogue, not a monologue. That means taking an interesting what we are saying and responding to it.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Dylan – I gotta admit, the new world of engagement is more refreshing… I mean, even if deep down it's more about sales than connecting, at least it's still somewhat about connecting! :-)

  • Paul Mabray

    Todd – the disparate shipping laws are a KEY friction point in the success of online wine sales. Not only from a customer experience, but from the challenges to participate for a winery, virtual winery (17/20) or a wine retailer and how much cost/work it is to have the maximum penetration. These laws need to equalize out to make wine online more successful as well as better tools to correctly manage compliance than what currently exist today.

    • Todd Havens

      Thanks for jumping in there, Paul.

      Wow. This is a major obstacle to e-business and for quantifiable ROI in terms of social media campaigns for wineries, in general. When the interwebs don't discriminate, but the laws do…those past political decisions (Prohibition fallout, I'm guessing) clog the commerce pipes for everyone.

      I know I'm not saying anything new here, but it sounds like a successful future for wineries and wine retailers lies in e-commerce with strong social media marketing coupled with a major awareness campaign and political action drive.

      These are exciting times for the wine industry!

      • Paul Mabray

        Yep, it's like the wild west out there. Can't wait to see how things unfold over the next 2 years. Exciting times indeed.

        • 1WineDude

          Let me tell you guys a little story about wine shipping laws…

          Several years ago, I was in Napa and stopped into Cakebread with my then girlfriend. We talked to one of the assistant winemakers (I think) at the time, and was asking him for recco's of lesser-known Napa wineries that we should check out. We got into a discussion about buying wine and taking it home from those wineries.

          "Well, where do you live?" he asked.


          "ohhhhhhh brother…. that State is *the worst* for shipping wine!"

          "Yeah, but we're getting a new Governor, and he seems really focused on change, and it could be a good thing and he might…"

          He interrupted me, laughing his ass off, basically told me that we'd all be long dead before the PLCB was out of PA and it would probably be even longer than that before the state laws on wine shipping achieved any semblance of balance.

          So… the moral here is that I doubt that this is a road block that is anywhere closed to being removed…

          • Paul Mabray

            Actually I spoke with the head of the PLCB and you'd be surprised. ;) These times they are a changing.

            • Todd Havens

              Well, now this is turning into quite a conversation!

              Joe, next time you're on the Left Coast, give me and Paul a shout-out and we'll see what industry ills can be solved with a little savvy and a bottle or two of great wine. :) Of course, I'll need a little lead-time since I currently live in Los Angeles.

              • 1WineDude

                Now *that* sounds like a plan!

                Are you planning on attending the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma? If so, we may have an opportunity there…


              • Paul Mabray

                I'm in!

            • 1WineDude

              Hmm… well, I'd be willing to bet that they ain't changing so much that the Commonwealth of PA would give up a multi-billion dollar monopoly just to benefit its wine consumers… :)

              • Paul Mabray

                The monopoly won't break but the concept of them allowing wine to go direct to consumers in the state might (cross your fingers). They'd just have to give the PLCB a slice.

              • 1WineDude

                Ah, true – the political and philosophic augments about what the hell a state-run monopoly is doing in a free market would still be off the table. :-(

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