social media

Gary Vaynerchuk retires

Gary Vaynerchuk retires

Gary Vay-Ner-Chuk!

Gary Vaynerchuk is arguably one of the biggest names is the wine business and social media.  He built a $65 Million wine empire out of the Wine Library through passionate daily wine videos.  He pioneered the idea of personal branding through the new media.

Late last year Gary announced that he was pulling out of his daily wine community website,  Then on his 1,000th Wine Library TV episode he announced that he was retiring from WLTV, to pursue a new venture called The Daily Grape.

Yesterday Gary announced that he is retiring from producing wine related content altogether.  The news came as quite a surprise to much of the social media and wine blogging community.  In explaining why he was doing this Gary explained in episode #89 of The Daily Grape that he just felt ready, he felt that it was time to move on.  He explained that he has always been an entrepreneur first and that he sold lemonade and baseball cards before he got into wine.  He is going to be looking for new opportunities,  unrelated to wine.  Many people have speculated that this has something to do with his Social Media and Branding company, Vayner Media, but Gary also said that he is not retiring so he can do more of Vayner Media.

It will be interesting to see what he comes up with and how long he can manage to abstain from making wine videos for!

Review | Narcisse Champagne and Tea Lounge Grand Opening

Champagne bubble lightsNarcisse Champagne and Tea Lounge put on what is sure be regarded as one of the biggest and best parties of 2011 last Thursday night.  The Grand Opening Celebration was an all out extravaganza.

I arrived a little before 9 p.m. and the lineup was huge to say the least.  So thought I’d try the VIP side entrance.  There was a security door and a little velvet rope section with two security men in suits with ear pieces.  There were people attempting to bribe, con or name drop their way in.  These guys were professionals, they didn’t even look at the list and politely informed them that the entrance is around the other side.  I gave them my name and for once in my life I was “on the list” !

Scottsdale Champagne Lounge

A packed house

Security escorted me in the building, down a utility hallway to an elevator.  He swiped a card, the door opened, he punched in some numbers, the doors closed and the elevator rose.  The doors on the other side opened into a small room with a black door.  I could hear the music thumping.  I opened the door.

crowd at a big partyThe VIP entrance is at the end of a little hallway next to the DJ stage, as I walked in I was hit by a wall of sound.  The music was loud, but appropriately so.  I finally entered into the massive main room.  Narcisse is a 6,500 square foot rectangular shaped room with massive windows on 3 sides.  There are two balconies overlooking the über fashionable Scottsdale Quarter.

night club bar

The Bar

This party was packed!  Shoulder to shoulder wall to wall.  There were photographers flashing away, there were party goers dancing all over.  It felt like New Year’s Eve, or an Oscar after party.

Narcisse gogo dancers

The Dancers

Then there were the go go dancers.  They were dressed edgy and just classy enough to make it appropriate.  There’s a lot to be said for a gal dancing in lingerie with feathery wings and a masquerade.

I wandered around and found some champagne and quickly began recognizing faces from the social media/public relations scene.    Narcisse promotional strategy was second to none.  They managed to invite pretty much every Twitter personality, blogger, PR firm in the metro Phoenix area.  The tweets and retweets and the facebook albums should keep the initial buzz going for quite some time.

World Wide #Cabernet Day

If you are on Twitter and enjoy wine you won’t want to miss #Cabernet on Thursday September 2nd, 2010.  With over 50 wineries and over 100 restaurants participating from all over the world this is sure to be the biggest online tasting ever.  You can participate by following the hashtag #Cabernet.  This online gathering is the brainchild of Rick Bakkas and St Supery.  Rick is a  social media expert and works for St Supery winery in California.  Rick has hosted online events like this before, but this one is definitely getting the most “buzz” pardon the pun.

Check out the Event Brite listing to see a list of participating wineries and restaurants.  If you are in the Phoenix Metro area give Morton’s Steakhouse a call  (they are one of the sponsors)  They are offering BV Coastal Cabernet for $6 a glass.

Morton’s Phoenix: 602 955 9577

Morton’s Scottsdale: 480 951 4440

If you are hosting a party or event and want to promote it, please leave your info in the comment section below!  Cheers!

Innovative Branding: Wine Tasting and Concierge Mixer at the Wrigley Mansion

In July I attended a Wine Tasting and Concierge Mixer held at the Wrigley Mansion.  The featured winery was Arizona Stronghold.  I received an email with the event details, I quickly scanned the email and noticed two things:  Free and Wrigley Mansion.  Sounds great!  The day of the event I just wanted to make sure of the time so I quickly googled the event.  Nothing came up…I went on the Wrigley website and checked out the calendar.  Nothing.  Finally I logged in and checked my email, and as I had previously thought it said 4pm.  I always double check these things.

I arrived at the mansion and was greeted by the friendly staff who directed me to the wine event.  Once there I checked in at the greeter station and picked up a name tag.  A quick glance around

Jeff Hecht

the room and I started to recognize people, some of whom I have never met!  How is that possible?  Twitter.  Most people have a picture of their face as an avatar, which is very helpful in situations like this.  I started out with a conversation with Molly Maguth.  She coordinated the event and is a public relations account manager for MMA advertising, a premier metro phoenix advertising and PR agency.  The pieces of the puzzle started to fall together.  MMA handles the Wrigley account as well as the Arizona Stronghold account.  I found the idea to piggyback the two clients into one event to be very interesting.  The even more interesting thing was the very deliberate selection of guests.  I had a chance to ask Ms. Maguth and Jeff Hecht, director of public relations for MMA about the reasoning behind the selection process.  They explained that everyone that had been invited was either a Concierge at a metro Phoenix resort style hotel, or a prominent member of local social media.  So what was I doing there I wondered!  Then it hit me.  After 8 months of wine blogging, the Weekly Wine Journal might have actually crossed the relevance threshold!

Back to the guests…  every year millions of people visit the Valley of the Sun.  And some of these people stay at wonderful resort style hotels complete with a full time concierge.  The concierge deals directly with the public, often answering questions about the local community and giving recommendations on where to eat and where to visit. They are influencers in every sense of the word.  The second angle on the guest list was the local social media influencers.  I have written about the power of social media over at as well.

This event was a great case study in guest selection.  Although I wasn’t able to meet all the guests I did run into the following Twitter personalities:

@AZVineyardGuy, @AZWineries, @AZVinesandWines @Noshtopia – also known as @skinnyjeans, @CChaserun @ReneeMoorePR

Just these personalities alone have a combined 50,000+ followers on Twitter ( Stephanie @skinnyjeans is responsible for at least 48,000 of them) but Twitter is not  only about how many followers you have, it’s also about your influence.  @AZVineyardGuy, Josh Moffit is Arizona’s go to guy for vineyard real estate and has over 2,500 acres of land in his portfolio.

Josh Moffit

His lovely wife, Rhonni Moffit ( @AZWineries and @AZVinesandWines) is the executive director of the Arizona Wine Growers Association.  @CChaserun is Colleen Chase, and she runs a joint venture wine tour company with her sister called Arizona Grape Escapes.

Collen Chase

They take up to a dozen people on Arizona wine country tours every weekend.  @SkinnyJeans is Stephanie Quilao.  She is a professional blogger and has really taken it to the next level with her Noshtopia website.  Renee Moore is in PR as you might have guessed from her Twitter handle, @ReneeMoorePR.

This event was the best wine tasting I’ve been to.  I’ve been to a few, and I thought this was so well coordinated in terms of the guests, the setting and the wine.  I noticed that all the wines were being taken care of in terms of proper serving temperature.

Nice work keeping the wines cool!

Arizona is very hot and my pet peeve is people serving red wine at room temperature in Arizona, so I thought that attention to quality control and detail was very refreshing.  Secondly the guests were extremely engaging.  We would have stayed all night talking!  Right now MMA has no plans to handle other wine accounts as they want to focus solely on the Arizona Stronghold brand.  However, they do handle other accounts, large accounts such as The Mayo Clinic, Harkins Theatres and Desert Schools Credit Union.  MMA has a combined 70 years experience in Advertising branding and PR in just it’s 3 principals.  They really know there stuff, and especially the new media way of doing things.  They get social media, they get viral marketing.  It was exciting to be a part of this event, and I am looking forward to future events by MMA and Arizona Stronghold.

What say you?  Branding and PR, have you seen good/bad examples?  Is marketing and branding a wine different from say branding a potato chip?  What do you think of social media’s role in branding?

go ahead, don’t be afraid…comment! 🙂 If I missed anyone out please let me know, I will add them

Molly Maguth on Twitter
Jeff Hecht on Twitter
MMA Homepage
Wrigley Mansion Homepage
Arizona Stronghold Vineyards homepage

Roadtrip to Jerome Arizona for “Blood into Wine”

On Sunday August 8th I took a road trip to Jerome Arizona to watch “Blood into Wine”.  Blood into Wine is a documentary directed by Ryan Page and Christopher Pomerenke and stars Maynard Keenan and Eric Glomski.  Jerome is located in the Verde Valley which is in northern/central Arizona, about 120 miles north of Phoenix and a world away in terms of climate.  Jerome is a former copper mining outpost situated on the steep slope of Cleopatra hill at an elevation of over 5,000 feet above sea level.  It was once nicknamed the wildest town in the west.  The documentary was playing at the appropriately named “Spook Hall” in Jerome.

I arrived early and the first thing I noticed as I stepped out of my truck was the air.  Humid and cool!  Clouds and fog were caressing the top of the mountain, I could see them passing by, almost as if the earth was rotating right in front of me.  I took a stroll through the town, looking in the store fronts and getting a general feel for the location.  I decided to head over to Spook Hall early, I didn’t know what to expect as there were rumors that Maynard Keenan would be showing up to answer questions.  And as I thought people were beginning to gather, an hour before showtime.  As showtime drew nearer the anxious crowd lined up down the street.  I have never seen the rock concert experience at a movie theatre before, it was quite interesting.  There was an eclectic crowd, some Tool fans, some children, some senior citizens, locals, out of towners.  The doors opened and the crowd surged, but managed to stay composed enough to proceed in an orderly single file.  I sat down in the front.

The film:  I wouldn’t say that I’m a documentary buff, although I do enjoy watching the History Channel.  However, this film is not your average documentary.  The film makers manage to incorporate a real sense of humor.  A quirky sometimes under stated sense of humor.  There were quite a few moments that had everyone in the hall laughing out loud, heartily.  Other times the jokes would elicit chuckling.   One of the funniest bits in the movie is the part where Maynard is interviewed on a show called “Focus on Interesting Things”  I won’t spoil it for you, but that refrain was quite funny.  One of the things that really comes through is that although Keenan is a very serious artist, he does also have a sense of humor.  He has made a career out of not revealing too much about himself outside of what he conveys through his lyrics.  He has been a master of maintaining and protecting a personal brand, the Maynard brand, the mystique,the aloof and sometimes angry rock star.  However, in this film we see that he is also capable of self effacing humor, and that he is also capable of hard work.  Very difficult physical labor.  If you think owning and maintaining your own vineyard is easy, think again.  In fact, if you are up for a REAL challenge go and volunteer at a vineyard during harvest.  Preferably a small one on a very steep rocky slope in the thin air at 5,246 feet.  You’ll feel your oxygen depleted muscles burning in no time.  It’s quite apparent from the film that Keenan is not just lending his name to a wine label, this is not just passing fancy for him.  This is what his life consists of:  He lives in Jerome, tending to his vines and making wine.  To take a break from that he sometimes goes out on tour.  Not the other way around.

After the film  Keenan and one of the films two directors  Christopher

The crowd for the 2pm showing

Pomerenke and Producer Chris “Topper” McDaniel got up on stage for a quick Q&A session.  At this point you could feel the excited tension in the air.  I managed to ask a question.  I wanted to know more about how Tim Alexander managed to “get” Maynard to Jerome.  Keenan answered me with his deadpan humor: “Tim brought me here, he left, and I stayed”  I wanted to know how Tim managed to convince Maynard who was living in L.A. at the time, to get all the way over to Jerome in the middle of nowhere, in Arizona.  Then I remembered a little info from the film.  Maynard said he had a dream about being in Arizona.  So maybe when Tim made the suggestion he thought to himself  “wow that’s a weird coincidence, I just had a dream about that, well okay mr Tim, how do I get there?”  and Tim might have said something to the effect of you go to Phoenix and turn left, left again and then another left.  It would have been interesting to witness that initial response.  The response of the man who wrote about L.A. and California so lovingly in the song Aenema .  He might have stepped out of his vehicle much like I did, surveying the expansive view of the Verde Valley and the Mogollon Rim in the distance.

The view that Maynard Keenan might have seen!

He might have taken a deep breath of that fresh cool mountain air.  He must have realized quite quickly that this is where he was to live for the next 15 years.

One of the more interesting questions which elicited the most forth coming response from Keenan was a question about fame and wine.  The questioner asked if the recent successes and awareness created by the film would allow Caduceus to expand and ship wine out all over the world.  Keenan said that was not the goal.  The goal is to operate a sustainable operation.  A representation of the local terroir, sourced from the local land and for the local people.  Putting the wines in trucks and ships and planes and expending energy and resources to send the product all over the world would defeat the purpose.

After the film everyone in attendance was treated to a free glass of wine at Maynard’s Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards tasting room, in Jerome.  I had the Merkin Vineyards 2009 Shinola, which they informed me has not even been released yet.  The 2006 Shinola was a blend of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet Sauvignon, and only 140 cases were produced.  It was a decent inexpensive representation of Arizona wine.  Good fruit, not to0 ripe, solid tannins.

Also after the film I ran into Christopher Pomerenke on the street

Christopher Pomerenke

and he allowed me to snap a couple of pictures of him.  Totally cool, down to earth guy.  In retrospect I should have asked him if he would do a little video for the Weekly Wine Journal’s Youtube Channel.  Maybe next time.

Blood into Wine comes out of DVD September 2010, look for it, or buy it from the website:

Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards website

“I’m a Blogger” is the new “I’m in a Band” !

The late ’80’s and early ’90’s was an amazing time for live music if you lived in the Pacific Northwest.

Old School

During that time it seemed that everyone was in a band or starting a side project with members of another band.  Bands like Green River, Mudhoney and The Melvins were DIY before DIY even existed.  Bands like Mother Love Bone, Soundgarden and The Screaming Trees brought the Seattle Sound a step closer to the masses.  And eventually the movement exploded with the success of Pearl Jam and Nirvana.  There were over 80,000 people at Lollapalooza ’91 at the King County Fairgrounds in Enumclaw, Washington State.  Organizers were completely overwhelmed when 4 times as many people as they had expected arrived.  All pretty much by word of mouth and one ahead of the curve radio station,   Unfortunately I missed Lollapalooza that year as I had only $2 to my name at the time and decided to spend it on a couple of cans of Chef Boyardee instead. “Back in the day” in the city of Vancouver, British Columbia there were dozens and dozens of bands all contributing to a vibrant local scene.  Independent record labels like Sub Pop from Seattle were springing up across the city.  Scratch records and Zulu records were just a couple.  By the summer of 1993 my own band was ready to move out of the rehearsal space and begin playing shows at bars.  Unfortunately or fortunately most bars were still mostly interested in bands that could play cover songs all night.  In 1993 there was really no internet and very few cell phones.  So how did bands promote themselves??  Word of Mouth and networking.  If you had friends in a band, you would always make sure to go to their shows, and they would return the favor.

Live bands tonight! $5 Cover. Full Bar!

We would put up posters on vacant buildings, we would print up handbills and hand them out the night of our shows.  Shows would be held in small art galleries, in empty warehouses, in restaurants.  A whole underground music culture developed independent of the gate keepers at all of the local bars.  At a decent boozecan show you could expect hundreds of people to show up, all looking for cheap drinks and LIVE music.  I managed to get in contact with most of the bands in the city by placing a $20 ad in the local independent newspaper: “bands wanted” and my home phone number.  I had an answering machine with a voice message to the effect “leave your band name and number’.  I stored all of this information in a Rolodex.

Fast forward to 2010.

The Door to the Future

There have been huge advancements in communication technology, but I think the basic time tested system is still the way it works.  Build a network by word of mouth.  These days blogs are exploding in number like bands were 20 years ago.  Everyone has a blog or writes for a blog, or is starting a new blog, branding themselves promoting themselves just like before. Some blogs are better than others.  Content is like songs.  Catchy songs helped people remember your band just like great content brings people to your blog nowadays.  If you visit a blog and comment, they’ll do the same, we trade links on our blog rolls, we attend each others tweetups just like the band scene and community provided mutual support in the past. We share in each others successes, we say things like “I knew so and so before they made it’.  We are building communities around the subjects we are passionate about, just like we built a fan base centered around different genres of music.  In the music scene of the past eventually bands would jam with each other onstage and form side projects.  The most well known side project ever is probably Temple of the Dog a collaboration between members of Soundgarden and Pearl Jam.  These days bloggers regularly make guest appearances on each others blogs and many bloggers have decided to start multiple blogs.

And I have noticed that “I’m a blogger”, is the new “I’m in a band”  It elicits the same response “Really?  what kind of music do you play, where do you play? Do you have a tape/CD?  or Really? what do you blog about? How much traffic do you get?”  People are genuinely interested. They view blogging in the same way as being in a band was viewed.  You are viewed as an influencer,  a trend setter in the community.  And secondly blogging has largely been a response to being shut out of the system by the big gatekeepers of our day.  When we couldn’t catch a break back in 1992, we would rent a hall or gallery and make our own shows.  In Vancouver, a whole music showcase called “Music Waste” was developed as a response to the exclusive and industry/radio friendly “Music West”.

Something else I’ve noticed is that a lot of bloggers are actually musicians too!  I guess creative types are drawn to mediums in which they can create right?

What do you think?  Are you old enough to remember the Seattle Scene? Was there a scene like that in your town “back in the day” ?   Hows your local blogging community coming along.  Are you making the effort to connect in real life as well as online?


Is Twitter the new eHarmony?

I don’t remember where I heard it but someone said “Twitter is the new eHarmony”.

Art Department budget: $0

Initially I scoffed at the idea.  Twitter is for professionals.  Professionals don’t mix business with pleasure, ridiculous!  But then…

Tweetups.  Meetups of people on Twitter.  In my case, wine tweetups.  Suddenly I am surrounded by social people who share a passion for wine, for exploring their senses and who are interested in learning.  Twitter is still very new, there is much to learn, it is still evolving, so I think at this point Twitter is attracting a sort of trend setting crowd of early adopters.  Nevertheless I am noticing a vibe, a trend at the tweetups I have been to.  People are genuinely interested in each other!  Who are you?  What do you do?  What are you passionate about, and what do you do to pay the bills?  Sometimes they are one and the same.  Sure there is an element of networking and a professional theme (somewhat)  but after you start to meet the same people and get to know a group of like minded individuals, I can honestly say that they become friends.  Can that lead to more than friends?  Probably, I don’t have any examples as of yet.  Do you?  What do you think?  Keep it professional, or go with the flow see what happens?

Wineries and Tweetups: How to

I get quite a bit of email from wineries on the subject of Tweetups.

Imagine a Tweetup this big!

I wrote a guest article for Gary Vaynerchuk’s on the subject to touch on the benefits. See the article HERE.  This resulted in a whole bunch more emails with specific questions about the nuts and bolts, the details of how to do the Tweetup thing.  So I put together a quick little reference specifically for wineries based on the email help I provided this weekend.

Participate in every #varietal tweetup #cabernet #merlot #shiraz ect.  Varietal Tweetups promote wine in general and a specific varietal.  Successful examples are @rickbakas ‘s #calicabs which featured California Cabernet’s.  Josh Wade’s ( @nectarwine) #WAMerlot featured Merlot from Washington State.  Shannon Casey (@michbythebottle) put together Tweet and Taste Michigan and used the #hashtag #TTMI so that people could follow along in real time on twitter.

So step one would be to participate in every #varietal tweetup.  The next BIG BIG event is #Cabernet.  This event is being hosted by Rick Bakas and many well known wineries will be participating.  Wineries like Duckhorn, Cakebread and St Supery.  If Cabernet Sauvignon is (or whatever the next varietal tweetup is)  a wine that you make and have in stock then host a tweetup at the winery.  These events are almost always on a Thursday night, and if your winery is a long way for people to travel don’t expect much more than a few locals to attend, but be sure to email, phone and visit people to promote the fact that you are participating and fun will be going on at your winery or tasting room on that night.  Promote the tweetup on Twitter, Facebook, on your website, on and
If the winery does not have the particular varietal you can still participate just by yourself by going to another winery in the area who does make/carry that varietal and tweet from there.  Or you can have a private party and people can bring their own wine to taste and tweet about.

For tweetups intended to promote your specific brand I suggest contacting  via Direct Message (DM)   Twitter “influencers” and invite them to your tweetup. Or get their contact emails from their blogs.  Most prominent Twitter personalities have a blog.  Tell them that their tasting fee will be waived and there will be some complimentary food for them.  In order to be considered an influencer I would suggest a minimum 1,000 followers and a ratio of pretty close to 1:1  People who follow 10,000 people but only have 1,000 followers are not very influential. Also suggest some local accommodations incase they want to stay over night. Then come up with a hashtag# to identify the event and DM the influencers with the hashtag a few weeks in advance.  Do a soft launch tweeting information about the event with the #hashtag.  Then begin to actively promote the event about 2 to 3 weeks in advance. I believe that you don’t want to be tweeting about the event every day for months before it happens, it will be overkill and people will tune it out.  I would send out a tweet several times a week leading up to the event and then just before it I would step it up and then the day before and the day of the event tweet more as the event draws closer and tweet often when the event starts. Tweet about who is at the event, what people are drinking, how many people are there, how much fun it is ect.  ENGAGE with others, don’t just blast out your information.  Thank people for retweeting your message ask them if they will be attending, ask who else will be attending, be enthusiastic!  According to Dan Zarrella most Retweets happen between 10am and 12 midnight on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.  This is apparently Eastern Standard Time, but I believe the same is true no matter what time zone you are in.
Getting back to hosting a tweetup to promote your winery. I would pick 2 or 3 influencers offer them a free tasting and food.  I would also put out a general tweet to all other Twitters and offer some other kind of discount, possibly complimentary cheese plates.  I would do the same on facebook, wineevents and Then when people show up and mention the discount you will be able to track how people heard about the wine tasting and see which form of media is most effective.
another great way to promote events is thru

During the Tweetup I would take lots of pictures for your Facebook Page, and videos for your Youtube Channel which you can embed to your website/blog.  I would limit the length of each video to 1-3 minutes maximum.  People have short attention spans.  If you visit my Youtube channel you will see that I don’t always follow the time limit rule, it’s mainly because I don’t feel like it!

One more useful event to participate in on a regular basis is #WIYG.  Barbara Evans @Seattlewinegal came up with the idea.  It stands for Whats In Your Glass.  Most Friday and Saturday nights if you sent her an @ message with the hashtag #WIYG and a photo of what you are drinking, she will Retweet it.

Please email me any questions or feel free to contact the references below:

Josh Wade @nectarwine

Rick Bakas @RickBakas #Cabernet information

Barbara Evans @Seattlewinegal

Shannon Casey @michbythebottle

Brian Solis’s post analyzing Dan Zarrella’s information