Posts Filed Under commentary
“A warning to the crews out there who think they’re hot, if you’re not original rockers you will get shot
down by the kids neglectin’ your art, the stuff you did, eventually it get so bad puts you to bed
’cause when the lightning flashes sweet electricity, all the world then stands revealed with the clarity
of raw voltage, briefly we see and the hope is you’ll be able to tell just what dope is…”
– Come Original by 311
Earlier this month, I attended the 2014 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, CA, as a speaker on a panel titled “How The Pros Taste.” I was actually in town primarily to help a friend of mine, Wandering Wino, kick off a post-WBC tasting event (called “Authentic Press”) that focused on small SB-area producers (happy to report that was well-attended, and nary a drop of under-performing juice was to be found among the stellar lineup that he selected to pour at the event), so the timing all worked out splendidly.
I enjoyed WBC14 (well, ok, apart from the big dinner, which always seems to fall flat at WBC for some reason, excepting Alan Kropf’s entertaining WBA presentation), and thought this was one of the best incarnations yet, particularly for those new to wine blogging. The WBC keynote address by Corbett Barr seemed divisive based on the twitter chatter, but I also enjoyed that talk; and for anyone who doubts Barr’s assertion that character trumps everything else when it comes to building up your brand online, consider as some evidence that what I make for writing about wine puts me in the top 5-10% of all U.S. wine writers (and it’s a sad commentary that amount is only bonus-level money compared to my previous corporate gig).
I won’t comment on the Wine Blog Awards. No offense meant to the winners (there are some fine blogs in that group), and I’m always touched to be nominated and to be named a finalist, but I’m still pretty “fringe” and gonzo when it comes to wine writing (which, after all these years blogging, is also a kind of sad commentary, when you think about it), so the things I value and want to see recognized (in almost any genre, not just wine writing) are usually not what get rewarded. Just imagine how I feel about the Grammy’s!
A few hiccups involving LA road rage delays impacting fellow panelist Patrick Comiskey aside, I also had fun participating on my panel (for those of you who were thinking that I was stroking moderator Steve Heimoff’s crotch under the table on stage, I was actually petting Steve’s adorable pet dog Gus, who was sitting quietly in Steve’s lap the entire time; that’s my story, anyway), waxing philosophic about how I go about critically tasting vino (and getting totally fooled by the final “mystery wine” of the lineup). I’m good for at least one or two re-tweetable money quotes per panel, and the one that got the most attention during the panel seemed to be my comment on negative wine reviews (“some wines need to be kicked in the crotch”), so I thought I’d talk a bit more about that stance here.
My view on negative wine reviews is that they, like serving rare vintages of the world’s finest wines, ought to be reserved for special occasions. I say this because only a few wines are epically bad enough –and were created with sufficient malicious intent – that they deserve your finest writing work…
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Disappointed that your wine sales aren’t seeing an impact from your social media efforts?
Then this study of the social media impacts experienced by nearly 400 U.S. wineries strongly suggests that you are approaching social media incorrectly. Which will come as a surprise to exactly.no-one who reads this big regularly.
A quick quote:
“The results show that 87% of wineries in the sample report a perceived increase in wine sales due to social media practices.”
That’s it, we’re done here, the end. Seriously, go read the summary, and then if you decide that you’d rather not increase sales, don’t bitch and moan if your winery or band tanks eventually.
The debate on this topic is over. If you still think social media has no/little place in wine, then in the words of Obi-wan Kenobi, “you are lost!” If that remains your stance, I cannot help you; go back to sticking your head in the sand in your flat, 3,000-year-old earth where humans didn’t evolve from primates and the climate isn’t warming.
My friend Paul Mabray, of Vintank, recently gave a speech at the 2014 Wine Communicators of Australia event. The topic was, roughly speaking, the digital divide in the wine world. You can read a transcript of the entire talk given by Paul here. And if you’re in the wine biz, you really, really need to read the entire thing.
Yes, all 70+ pages of it. Because this speech shows just how bad the wine biz is at digital right now. How bad? Calling the wine biz staggeringly, hilariously bad at digital is probably slightly understating the scenario a little bit.
This is the wine biz at digital in 2014:
And here’s what the wine consuming populace wants wine to be when it comes to interacting with them in the digital space:
The disconnect is immense, which is what Paul’s speech deftly demonstrates in the kind of blood-splattering, gory, Mortal Kombat (“FINISH HIM!!!”) detail that is representative of ass that the wine biz ought to be kicking when it comes to digital (but doesn’t). Now, while I certainly appreciate that there will likely be at least some complainy-pants moaning criticism regarding the details of this topic, please read Paul’s entire speech before levying them. Seriously, there’s that much ammunition in this lengthy but excellent talk.
Below I offer some of the money-shots from Paul’s speech (emphasis mine), that I think illustrate just how far we in the wine world have to travel before being able to collectively call ourselves up-to-speed on the digital consumption of wine media…
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We have (rather strong) anecdotal evidence that purchasing fine wines as investment vehicles is, for most people, an absurdly bad idea.
Those examples, as strong as they are, could be criticized as falling under the “fallacy of small numbers” category, however, which might lead the hopelessly duped eternal optimists out there to conclude that in their cases, investing in fine wine for profit will somehow be different.
A recent article in the Wall Street Journal, however, should dispel that myth for all but the most hopelessly duped. The bottom line is that the WSJ dug into what might be the most comprehensive scientific study yet performed on the returns of the fine wine investment market, going back over historical selling prices of the last one hundred years or so, and its conclusions are sobering (see what I did there?):
“After mining historical price data for top clarets going back to 1899, including the prices fetched in auctions before World War I, the researchers calculated that over the entire period, the prices of these wines beat inflation by an average of 5.3 percentage points a year.”
While that might sound encouraging, it’s not. Any such returns and performance have to be adjusted for expenses in order to show the actual rate of return. When that was done, the results looked a lot less profitable, particularly when compared to good old fashioned, boring stock index funds…
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