Tag Archive - events

How to Effectively Engage International Participants in Tech and Wine Events?

What happens when you step out of your own “filter bubble” and participate in open discussions? We all need our assumptions and outlooks challenged on a regular basis to encourage ideas to develop and for the events to meet the actual needs of our audience, not just what we think they are. Gabriella decided to attend Vinocamp Lisboa to do this with a great bunch of friends and here are some of the lessons learned.

For those of you unfamiliar with Vinocamp, it is a technology and wine un-conference co-founded by Grégoire Japiot and Miss Vicky in 2009. Based on the Barcamp philosophy, the conference aims to merge wine and technology through informal participant initiated workshops as opposed to formal top-down lecturing.

Though previous editions of Vinocamp were hosted in Paris, Beaune and Carcasonne, this one was the very first to have trekked off French terroir and onto the Opaz home stomping ground of Iberia; hence, we felt it was doubly-imperative that we supported the event. Additionally, as we’re always trying to diversify the European Wine Blogger’s Conference (a Vrazon project), it was only logical that we spread the good word among groups that we typically don’t have enough interaction with (e.g. the French – a group very well represented at the last EWBC). So last week, I hopped on a plane and headed west, and returned with many great topics churning in my head.

The Power of Presence

Living in a virtual bubble, we have a tendency to assume that our support of an event through Twitter, Facebook, Livestream, etc is powerful enough to make a significant impact. We retweet relevant information, offer a salient comment on blog post, or simply parlay questions on live video, thus showing our interest in the given discussion. Though this methodology has its merits, the power of one’s physical presence, especially if you’re adding to the conversation, outweighs the virtual presence. Relationships are stronger when people come together in the same physical space, and the goal of what we do online should be to create more offline interaction, not replace it.

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The Wine Show Merry-go-round

It is a really busy time, and a great time to taste wine.

Today, and for this weekend, I will be at The Wine Show in the Business Design Centre in London showing off some of the wines I represent in the UK on the Wines from Spain stand (come over to say hello), but also speaking to other exhibitors about what they are doing to reach wine consumers, and about their innovations.

Then it is the turn of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference taking place in Lisbon from the 30th of October to the 1st of November 2009. There are already 117 confirmed participant bloggers from across Europe but also further afield. I am particularly excited to know that we have so many friends from the US and Canada coming too as I have yet to attend the US version of this event. Plenty of great wine and food will be consumed alongside the more serious conference discussion programme.

Then it is back to the UK to take part in The Wine Gang Christmas Fair on November 7th, 2009. There will be literally hundreds of wines there for you to taste PLUS I’ll be helping to showcase some great food and wine bloggers, recording what we get up to on the day and the impressions of the wines.

After that I skip off to Rioja a few times for the Wine Future conference and then a further couple of trips with wine lovers later in November and December.

Somewhere in there I hope to bring you updates on some of the exciting wine developments I’ve been learning about in packaging, research and even games! (more soon)

This blog is not updated every day, but if you want to stay up-to-date (and until I manage to bring it all back into one place) you can follow me on twitter and on the various sites linked above. I hope that somewhere along the way I can taste some of these wines with you in person.

Stay in touch! I may need your help to remind me where I am at any moment.

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Mixing my business with your pleasure

Sarah's signed VIP pass
Image by teepoole via Flickr

I have a dilemma. As with many other twitterers and bloggers out there who write about the subject matter they also work with, I sometimes have some potential conflicts of interest. To be more precise, I face some situations that some might pick up on as conflicts in a traditional journalistic sense.

I agree that someone who promotes themselves as a journalist and wants to be seen as an objective reporter of facts and news must be very careful about what products or brands they become associated with. However, I don’t think all bloggers really are journalists. We aim to share news and facts, as we see them, but mainly we try to entertaining you, and have fun as we do it. If you like it, you can follow us, and if you don’t, you can easily stop. We bloggers soon get the message.

So, to the dilemma.

I often come across information about, or even help to organise, wine events, tastings, special offers and more. Some of these, of course, relate to the wines I represent in the UK (which I have chosen not to mention on this blog, but write about elsewhere) or at least to the retailers and restaurants that I meet with regularly.

Should I let you know about these offers through this site, or should I be very selective and avoid the potential of being seen to abuse any trust you have in me as a commentator on wine?

I’m not talking about spamming my readers with hundreds of offers and deals, but if I hear of something I consider interesting, or get the opportunity to suggest something I think readers might enjoy, should I mention it here and do this as openly as possible even if it involves my wines, or business partners’? The alternative is, as I have often done, to participate myself and report on it from the event, but it does mean others can’t get involved.

In fact, turning it around, should I actually be encouraging MORE people to create wine offers for you through Social Media? Of course, I’m not just talking about discounts, but about events that encourage the exploration of wine and support wine culture.

I’m hoping that as many of my readers are also bloggers, or wine trade professionals, you’ll understand the situation and have some advice to offer.

As more and more of the restaurants, wine retailers and wine producers that I talk to want to know more about the possibilities of Social Media, there will be more and more opportunities for this to arise, and I’d like to get a sense of whether I’m getting the balance right, or you feel I may be promoting other businesses too much.

If you want to keep it even more brief you could respond “Yes” or “No”:

  • Yes – let me know of interesting wine related offers (but don’t spam me, just the best bits)
  • No – concentrate on wine writing (and do more of it) and let other sites promote the offers

… but a bit more explanation might help :)

Yours, in some trepidation for what I might be starting, your friendly neighbourhood @thirstforwine

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Celebrating diversity

Thank you so much to the London Bloggers for the enthusiastic response to last night’s experience and experiment. Presenting wine from wineries that have a blog to fellow bloggers must qualify as some sort of world first, shouldn’t it? [some photos here]

In any case, I want to thank all those who came along, and especially those winery bloggers that sent us the wines to taste and videos to watch. One of my key objectives was to get my fellow London Bloggers to look at wine in a slightly different way, and I think we succeeded.

I will try to upload the video of my brief talk from last night along with a summary of the main points to accompany the slides I’ve already posted at a later date (YouTube rejected my upload this morning!).

I will also give you a link later today to the videos from each of the participating winery bloggers.

However, I did want to post a few thoughts on your reactions to the wines and to wine blogging today and remind you of the competition (see details below).

By far the most controversial must have been the sherry, but sherry is used to it! Some of you bravely tried sherry for the first time which is wonderful. There were a handful who loved it (including me I admit) but 20 year old dry oloroso sherry might be a little like jumping in a the deep end when learning to swim – it is an overwhelming experience!

With the whites, there was an interesting split between those who liked the drier style of the Riesling Kabinett and Vivanco Viura/Malvasia (predominantly the men) and those who liked the richer, fruitier Auslese Riesling (many more of the women).

When it comes to the reds we had clear differences in people’s palates. A number of you came up to tell me that they found the lighter, “peppery” style of the Higueruela wine, made from the unusual all-red Garnacha Tintorera, amazing, whilst others found it wasn’t full-bodied enough for them. What more demonstration do we need that we all like different wines and catch-all recommendations are useless?

I found several fans of Italian wines who were surprised to find a Morellino di Scansano on the list as it is a rare sight still in the UK, but the wine (as well as the bottle and lovely label) was tasting really good.

To be honest, the votes on “favourite red” were quite evenly spilt between the Casa de las Vides CVP (and its unusual bottle), the Dinastia Vivanco Crianza and the Cortes de Cima Syrah. It seems that the cold weather has converted many of us to “red season” and the richer styles were very popular.

Finally, I only had a small taste of the Quevedo Reserva Tawny Port – at one stage I turned around and found a couple struggling to taste the last drops whilst trying to avoid the sediment. Draining a bottle is always a good sign!!

Basically there wasn’t a wine there that did not have a big fan which is great, and a great testament to the diversity of wine and of everyone’s palates.

I have a long list of cards of people I will be in touch with, but please do leave me a comment with your views on your favourite wines as I’m sure the wineries would love to hear it from you directly.

Finally, don’t forget to get in touch so we can chat about wine and your own experiences. I’d love to interview and reach out of the wine bubble to make what we write about more relevant to more of you.

Now, for the competition for those who made it to the tasting last night. There are 6 bottles of Dinastia Vivanco Crianza (delivered to you) available for a lucky blogger who posts thoughts about one or more of the wines we tasted. For every mention of a wine, and link to the winery blog, I’ll allocate you a virtual draw ticket (don’t forget to ping me on this blog so I know you have done it). I’ll make the draw on 21st December so you have a few days to get something up and have a chance of winning.

Comedy, Love and Wine

If I may step down from my soapbox for a moment (I can hear your sighs of relief), I came across an interesting marketing concept only very recently.

[I tried to post about this yesterday, but their site was down, a technological hiccup that happens even to the largest companies as well as us little bloggers]

How to get younger people to learn about wine? One way is to combine it with theatre and comedy. I wish I had been able to do this when I was first learning about wine.

Hardy’s (they of the mega-corporation) have launched a campaign called One Love Since 1853. Part of the campaign is a series of events around the UK being run by Chris Scott of ThirtyFifty (an innovative wine retailer/educator in his own right) which they are calling “sip-along theatrical productions”.

The brief says:

Hardys, known for its straight talking, no nonsense approach to wine, has teamed up with ThirtyFifty to devise a world first in ‘educational entertainment’ – a series of interactive comedy shows to teach people everything they need to know about wine in just 30 minutes!

One of the jokes is that it takes 2 hours (according to the site) to learn “everything they need to know .. in 30 minutes”, so I hope the other hour and a half is spent putting that knowledge into practice!

It is too late in the day to join in as the audience had to request tickets in advance, but one show is happening tonight (19 June 2008) in Manchester and there is a final event in Bristol (26th of June).

There could be tickets left, you never know, so head over to their sites and find out, or if you did attend one of the shows, please let us know how it was and what you learned.

[Update: Click here to read Eating Leeds' review of this event]

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