Archive - November, 2009

From Bloggers to Gangs and the Future of Wine

I’ve only just returned from the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in Lisbon, but instead of collecting my thoughts and writing them up, I was straight into the next project which was to be the voice in social media of The Wine Gang at their first wine tasting.

The Wine Gang (Olly Smith, Tim Atkin, Joanna Simon, Anthony Rose & Tom Cannavan) asked me to help share information about the event they were planning with the world. It is interesting that more and more of the wine trade are recognising the possibilities of Social Media not just to do traditional things, such as get visitors to a show, but just to raise the profile of the participants (organisers, exhibitors, brands and even visitors). However, getting started is not easy, so I offered to help get the process started with The Wine Gang Live blog and even a twitter account @winegang – let’s see where these go from here!

Check out one visitor’s reaction to the event and how they learned about it:

The event took place last Saturday at Vinopolis and was a great success I believe. The exhibiting wine importers and retailers seemed happy with the orders and feedback they were getting, and the consumers learned a lot and tasted some EXCELLENT wines (Corney & Barrow had an excellent Nerello Mascalese called Passopisciaro – thx for the tip goes to Tim Atikin). It all means that The Wine Gang are likely to do this again next year, so keep an eye on their wine subscription site (I think there is lots more news to come there) as well as their blog.

I enjoyed meeting so many people I know in the trade, and to bring along some fellow bloggers. I also really enjoyed meeting some of my twitter friends in person (IRL as it seems to have become known). I have lots of video to edit and photos to sort through, BUT …

Tomorrow I’m off to Rioja for Wine Future conference with Robert Parker, Jancis Robinson, Gary Vaynerchuck and Ryan Opaz! (oh, and a few other speakers too). It will be an INCREDIBLY busy trip, but I will be live blogging the event with Gabriella Opaz so look out for lots of content about what these industry leaders make of the future of wine!

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European Wine Bloggers Conference review

EWBC Petrol Art

EWBC Petrol Art

It is too early to really be able to take it all in, but I am back from Lisbon and the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) 2009.

The conference this year was about 3 times the size of last year’s event, with around 120 bloggers and a great number of producers and other wine businesses there to support the event and promote their wines. That is a big change in a year, and makes me wonder about next year.

I have so many things in my head that writing one post seemed incredibly hard, so I thought I’d kick it off with a brief summary and a few notes of thanks to get the flow going, then over time I can post my thoughts on the sessions, the people, the location, the sponsors, the food, the practicalities of running a large conference and more. Wow, so many things to think about.

European Wine Bloggers ConferenceFirst, I need to restate my thanks to Ryan and Gabriella Opaz of Catavino. Although all three of us are listed as ‘organisers’ the load of all parts of the conference was not exactly evenly distributed and Gabriella in particular really does deserve an extra reward for making things happen as well as they did – just don’t hand her an open bottle of wine! (photo by eatlikeagirl)

Secondly, as with all conferences of this type, we struggled to keep everyone online so they could email, tweet, blog and generally record their impressions. The hotel network did not, unfortunately, seem up to the task as promised, but the boys from Adegga who are already experts in their own areas (check out their brilliant wine social site) also became our de-facto IT support setting up, monitoring and moving the network for 120 people. Thanks Andre, Andre and Emidio!

I must also mention all those who were at their second EWBC event. They too took on informal roles to support the team, welcoming new friends and encouraging the discussion, and I still think we managed to keep the tone very friendly despite growing the event so considerably. This is down entirely to the community-mindedness of all those involved. Thanks everyone!

So, briefly, what did I learn?

  • I really enjoyed Portuguese wine and must buy more of it to learn the key regional differences
  • Portuguese food is amazing and deserves a more relaxed enjoyment of it than I was able to devote
  • The people of Portugal are very warm and generous. We were always well treated despite being so unusual and being so poor at speaking their language
  • That cork is making great efforts and inroads, via people like Amorim, to gain our trust in it again as the best closure for quality wine (more on this very soon)
  • That bloggers themselves are still a strong community with an inclination to help others and share, so we need to build on this while we can
  • That differences between bloggers on certain issues that might seem important, such as monetisation, are vastly outweighed by what we have in common and we need more opportunities to meet face to face to remember this
  • That one of the main barriers to more international cooperation is language differences, something that can be easily, if expensively, overcome, and that otherwise we would benefit a great deal from working together. So, how do we fix this? Certainly not by sticking to our local cliques
  • That we still have not yet truly captured the essence of what the consumer is looking for regarding wine in social media, but we are getting closer
  • That I have a weakness for 70′s & 80′s dancefloor classics and revivals

All of these deserve a post of their own, so hopefully I’ll be able to raise some of these issues in more detail soon

In summary, if you like writing about wine and you didn’t make it to Lisbon this year, pay close attention to this site and to the event site to grab a place for next year!

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