Tag Archive - london wine trade fair

Thoughts from the AccessZone

How the Internet Changed my Business” is a great introduction for some thoughts on the excitement of the Access Zone at the London Wine Fair last week.
Access Zone Logo
Not only is this something that we at Vrazon talk about a lot, but it was also the first session and one that we got some great feedback on. In some ways, the whole point of the Access Zone programme and ethos is to showcase the ideas and opportunities of social media for the wine trade, and kicking off with the stories of three people who are not the usual suspects, talking from a perspective beyond the usual winemaking or retailing one, helped to set the scene.

We are so grateful to our MANY friends who came by to say hello, to contribute to the programme and also to contribute to the informal networking and advice that happened on the AccessZone. It was wonderful to see so many great wine content creators from around the world stopping by in London from bases in France, Italy, USA, Portugal, The Netherlands, Spain and Canada (did I miss someone?). If you’ve created some content on the fair or the access zone, let us know so we can share it.

Over the next few days and weeks we will be publishing and commenting on the sessions that were all recorded & produced so professionally by our friends at Mad Cat Media (HIRE THEM NOW!). We will also start to publish the series of interviews that were conducted on the stand with many influential figures in the wine business for our “Unfiltered” series. These are being edited and made ready as we speak and will be a great resource for anyone interested in the future of wine. Keep an eye on this site.

We also have to congratulate Catherine Monahan and Robert Joseph for the success of Wine-Stars which took place on the Access Zone on the Thursday (visit their site to learn more about this event). Vrazon was very happy to have been able to support the activity and help to bring the event to life and record the proceedings for the world to experience. Good luck to all those involved, especially the fantastic wineries who took part.

If you missed any of the key sessions, such as the announcement of the Born Digital Wine Awards 2012 winners, or the presentation about the EWBC Digital Wine Communications Conference in Turkey, all these are available now.

Thank you so much to the partners who helped us make the Access Zone happen including the London Wine Fair, Laithwaites, Wines of Turkey, the Circle of Wine Writers, p+f wineries, freewine and others.

In the meantime, do watch and enjoy this:

Some related Access Zone posts we’ve come across:

Le “Social Media” fait le plein a la LIWF

Making plans for the wine fairs

There are so many things going on in the next week, it is hard to keep track of everything. Here’s a handy summary and guide of some of the fun wine stuff we at Vrazon (that’s Ryan Opaz, Gabriella Opaz and myself, Robert McIntosh) are involved in.

Why not add these to your calendar and come along to as many of these as possible?

20 May, 2012 – Sunday

First appointment is the RAW FAIR, organised and run by That Crazy French Woman, Isabelle Legeron MW. This is a wine fair for those who want to explore what Natural Wine is all about. Come along and try something different – you might like it.

If you do come, make sure you pop over to the Access Zone ‘Unfiltered’ booth where we will be helping small artisan producers learn about social media and sharing some of the fun stuff happening at the trade with the world. We’re inviting all our friends from the EWBC, the Digital Wine Communicators par-excellence, to join in the fun & advice sessions too :)

21 May, 2012 – Monday

We will be back at RAW for the trade-focused day. Gabriella will be there all day and would really appreciate any moral support while Ryan and Robert head off to ExCeL to set-up for the London Wine Fair.

22 May, 2012 – Tuesday

Come along to the London International Wine Fair 2012 at ExCeL. I know, I know, I hear the moans about “getting out to ExCeL” already, but really it isn’t that far or hard, just make sure you avoid the main rush hour at the very start and end of the day and in fact the DLR is pretty handy and there are some good views.

11:00 – One of our first activities will be a debate on “The Birth of a Generic” on the Wines of Turkey stand (N20) with Taner Ogutoglu and guest-starring Willi Klinger from the Austrian Wine Marketing Board and a great friend of the EWBC and the digital wine communications community. We’re also tasting some great Turkish wines. SIGN UP HERE

Vrazon is running our third ‘official’ Access Zone on stand K70 with so much exciting stuff. Here is the full Tuesday schedule, but highlights of the day include:

  • 10:30 – “The internet changed my business” – a discussion with three wine trade professionals impacted by social media, but NOT producers or retailers. This affects us all
  • 13:00 – “Why do you hate your customers?” – a lively discussion with Robert Joseph about how the wine trade interacts with customers. Always fun to hear Robert speak his mind
  • 14:00 – a superb mystery wine tasting with the highly entertaining Joe Wadsack. We’ve got one wine to taste, discuss and give feedback on, and even a chance to win a prize. Be there!!
  • 16:30 onwards belongs to Grenache. First we’ve got a discussion about “Grape Days” and promoting individual grapes in social media and how that has worked for the innovative Grenache Symposium members. Then ….

The end of the day PARTY! G-Night is a party where we drink wine, we don’t study it. Lots of grenache wines to taste in relaxed surroundings a short trip from ExCeL. Drink Grenache with Pizza & Burgers .. and refresh the palate first with a beer or two. BOOK YOUR G-NIGHT TICKET NOW.

23 May, 2012 – Wednesday
Back to ExCeL for the LIWF, possibly requiring a decent coffee to get the energy up first thing. Today’s full Wednesday schedule is here, and the highlights include:

  • 11:00 – “Using Social Media to Organize a Wine Tasting” – a discussion including Gabriella (our in-house expert) and Andre from Adegga. Tips and tools you can use yourself. This session will be quickly followed by an overview of the tools we are using on the Access Zone in case you fancy doing anything like this elsewhere yourself.
  • 14:00 – Freewine tasting. Just in case there wasn’t enough wine to taste at the show, we’ve nabbed some more. It *is* technically free BUT this is special because it is an association focused on reducing SO2 in wine and building an awareness campaign around this. Good wines and interesting messages
  • 15:00 – “Natural Wine – Finding the Middle Ground” – after a weekend of RAW and Real Wine action, plus the Freewine tasting, we want to have a reasoned debate on how the “Natural” message reaches the consumer; with expert opinion from Isabelle Legeron MW, Jamie Goode and Giampiero Nadali for Freewine
  • 16:00 – BORN DIGITAL WINE AWARDS – we announce the winners of the €1000 top prize in 6 categories for best online wine content. A session not to be missed, particularly because Laithwaites (a BDWA sponsor) will be supplying some beers to refresh the throats which will be hoarse from cheering.

24 May, 2012 – Thursday

Last day of the LIWF but SO MUCH still to go, so save your energy. Full Thursday schedule here, but the main highlight session would have to be:

  • 11:30 – EWBC 2012 – we will make some exciting announcements about the schedules of the EWBC Digital Wine Communications Conference itself, and the trips before and after it. We will taste some of the fantastic Turkish Wines we will be exploring in Izmir, thanks to our sponsor and host Wines of Turkey, and meet some of the speakers.

This will be followed from 13:00 for three hours or so, by the brand new WINE-STARS competition being organised by Catherine Monahan of Clink Wines. The excitement surrounds 10 wineries competing in the finals for some listings with top on and off trade customers in the UK market, Dragon Den style. You have to see this in action, and your opinion will probably count too – so come along and support some wineries hoping to make it BIG.

Is that enough to be getting on with?

If you are coming along, do get in touch or follow online at http://vrazon.com/accesszone

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Access Granted

Last week’s Access Zone activities at the 2011 London International Wine Fair (LIWF) were not only great fun and a way to spread the word about social media in wine, but they seemed to strike a chord with the wine trade present.

Gabriella, Ryan and I were very pleased with the buzz around the fair and online about the range of events, seminars, projects and announcements that Vrazon helped to make happen on the relatively small space of the Access Zone. After all, that was the idea. This wasn’t intended to be another “theatre” for presentations, but an interactive space where we could start discussions with a presentation, then have as much participation as possible. As Ryan Opaz observed:

“The only way this will work is if the audience interrupts a lot.”

Every major announcement was well attended, with participants filling the aisles and following on the livestream. We are extremely grateful to all those who took the time out to listen, ask questions, answer queries and generally make the experience of the LIWF as useful as possible.

The archive of the live access zone video and interviews can now be browsed; more polished videos will take a little longer, but BIG thanks to MadCatMedia for making the magic happen

Day 1 – Tuesday 17th May

The Access Zone really kicked off with two big events on Tuesday – the social media Q&A sessions with ourselves and other volunteers, and the launch of the Disrupt Wine (you will be able to learn a lot more about the Disrupt Wine on the dedicated site being built).

Where else would you get the combined talents and different perspectives of Wink Lorch, Louise Hurren, Andre Ribeirinho and Ryan O’Connell on a roundtable? It was a lot of fun for Ryan and me to moderate and be involved in. The overall message from these discussions could probably be summed up a:

“Be yourself, and good stuff will happen”

It was also amazing to be able to create a blend of three different varieties from three different winemakers in three different countries – and made on the stand! We are very grateful to Thierry’s who took the brave step of returning to exhibit at the LIWF by investing in a stand that would sit alongside the Access Zone. Most importantly, they also agreed to the concept of developing a pan-European wine blend on the stand in only three days. It was a privilege to work with Markus Huber (of Weingut Huber in Austria), Emmanuel Laurent (of Rodet in Burgundy) and Giorgio Flessati (of Viña Falernia in Italy) on this project. Evidence, if any was needed, of their own commitment to doing something different and offering creative, fresh thinking to the UK wine trade.

We ended the day with the visit by Naked Wines and their archangels, learning about their latest developments and watched them select a range of new wines. Naked Wines are now also listing the Disrupt Wine on their new marketplace – do check it out and get involved.

Day 2 – Wednesday 18th May

The Wednesday was time to showcase Vrazon‘s other main projects, the Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA) and the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC). Congratulations to all the winners and runners up in each of the 5 categories of the inaugural BDWA, many of whom, like Wink Lorch, Tim Atkin, Richard Ross and Mark Ryan were on the stand to hear the results. The response was wonderful, particularly as there were some very deserving finalists in the spotlight, including both new names as well as established writers. Congratulations to all of them!

For more details and a full list of finalists and winners, visit http://borndigitalwineawards.com

We also took the opportunity to announce the overall theme for the fourth edition of the European Wine Bloggers Conference, which will be “Storytelling“, and that George Taber will be our first keynote speaker. Of course, this was all accompanied with a delicious glass of Franciacorta from our host sponsors for 2011. Please visit the EWBC site for more information, and if you are thinking of coming, please do book your tickets soon as the number of tickets is fixed and we anticipate them selling out early again this year.

But it wasn’t all about us, it was also a chance for Ryan O’Connell’s to give hints and tips for wineries looking to take advantage of social media, and to hear more about what Palate Press is up to to help wine bloggers make money from their blogs – check them out!

Day 3 – Thursday 19th May: The final day

The final day was once again dedicated largely to Disrupt Wine - selecting the delicious winning blend (50% Gruner Veltliner, 40% Falanghina and 10% Macon Chardonnay) as well as unveiling the label design incorporating the audience’s own tasting note contributions.

We also had great discussions on blogging by David Lowe (@bigpinots) and another general Q&A with Ryan Opaz. Lots of great content there for reference.

On top of all this there were dozens of great interviews with bloggers, publishers, retailers and winemakers, open tasting sessions and PLENTY of networking, much of it brought to you live but also recorded to watch again.

We hope all those who made it to the stand got something out of it. Not everyone at the fair will have seen the value of Social Media in wine, and it certainly is not a tool to replace everything that is done to sell and promote wine, but it is a great complement for the best brands and people, and we hope to see more great stories being told after this event.

These were three intense days, but with the help of our many friends listed here, as well as the organisers of the LIWF, and Thierry’s, we feel it was all worthwhile for all those involved.

See you next year!

Robert McIntosh, Gabriella Opaz & Ryan Opaz

UK Blog Fest

In my last post about the LIWF I mentioned that I happened to run into lots of interesting people at the show.

Whilst I’m sure most of the people I spoke to had interesting stories to tell, I did not know them well enough to make much of the 5 minutes we had together beyond trying to tell them the story of my wines.

On the other hand, having got to “know” them over the last few years by reading their output, the vast majority of the most interesting people I spoke to happened to be other UK wine bloggers.

What was interesting to me was the fact that last year none of us might have bothered to seek the others out, or maybe even present ourselves as “wine bloggers”, but this year we are joining forces, proud of our medium and even getting some benefit from it.

Maybe it is my own experience alone, but it feels like this year marked a BIG change for wine blogs in the UK wine trade. I think I might propose that next year Brintex host a UK Wine Bloggers Area, where we wine bloggers can hang out and meet those who regularly read our blogs. What do you think?

In the three days of the show I bumped into:

Peter May; The Pinotage Club
Peter was kind enough to come to the stand to meet me. He was meeting up for lunch with other wine-pages.com contributors and wondered whether I wanted to come along. It was great to meet “Mr. Pinotage” even if he failed to turn up with the fedora I hoped he would be wearing.

Thank you Peter for some great comments and for insightful questions. We are still due our own catch-up!

Douglas Blyde; The Daily Wine

Douglas thought he could sneak by my stand, but unfortunately for him I make up for an absolutely dreadful memory for names with a pretty damn good one for faces, and having seen a photo or two of him on his site, he was snared!

I really like Douglas’ reviewing style, often somewhat cruelly direct, but I’m sure not undeserved. He turned out to be a much mellower, polite and reserved person when face-to-face, but pretty much as I had pictured him.

Keep investigating Douglas, we need more individual and insightful reviews like yours!

Andrew Barrow; Spittoon.biz
Jeanne Horak; Cooksister.com

Andrew and Jeanne turned up together which was fun, a bit like a reunion of our visit to Vivat Bacchus. I suspect that the LIWF was a little overwhelming for Jeanne, but hopefully she enjoyed it (?).

Jamie Goode; Wine Anorak

Jamie was far too busy to stop and taste (if you read his blog you’ll understand why), but he did “pass by”, so I think it is fair to add him in (he did seem rushed, and that is saying something by LIWF standards).

And since the event I have also heard from a blogger that I didn’t manage to meet as he too was stressed out on his stand, but was kind enough to leave me a note:

Colin Smith; Grapefan
Good luck with your Diploma!

Thank you to all the bloggers for helping to make this a much more interesting, and personal, show. I hope those who stopped to taste with me enjoyed the wines and the chat, and I do hope we can all plan a bigger UK get-together in the near future

I wonder whether we might even create our own, blogger-led tasting for consumers in the near future. What do you think?

UPDATE: Damn! Forgot to mention Olly Smith. His own ‘regular’-ish Hot Bottle email seems to be on-hold, but I think Olly should DEFINITELY start his own wine blog as I honestly think he is one of the most genuinely entertaining and funny people in the wine trade at the moment. Olly, we still need to speak about that business about the loo!

London International Shaking Hands Fair

Having spent three days at what used to be called the LIWSF (London International Wine & Spirit Fair) I think it would be fair to say that the most important activity of the three days was not the popping of corks or even scratching of pens on paper (does anyone actually do that anymore?), but the shaking of hands.

Having said that, I have returned from the event feeling positive and excited about what is going on and far from the doom and gloom one might have expected in these troublesome economic and social times.

For the first time in many years I got a chance to get off my stand (more on that experience elsewhere) and attend several seminars, meet interesting people and also taste a couple of wines.

There are two ways to “work the show” – exhibitor and attendee. I have not been an attendee since 2002, and when I am exhibiting I get “in the zone” and struggle to feel comfortable if I am not doing what I came to the show to do – but maybe that is just me.

The good thing is that if you stand still in one place for long enough all those who are furiously running around the show looking for something (and often getting lost in the process) will come past you.

I am often asked whether I had “a good show”, and it is a difficult question to answer.

From a commercial point of view, I somehow doubt much wine is bought and sold at the show that would not be bought or sold anyway – but it does help to know that potential customers and suppliers are all in the same place at the same time. There are also so many innovations, new wines, redesigns, etc. that only the most driven, lucky or high spending will get any chance of getting noticed.

The most important element is “networking”, an old fashioned concept that has not been replaced by the newer “social networking”, which involves being in the right place at the right time, … and shaking hands.

I managed to shake hands with lots of existing customers, which makes me, and them better informed about each others needs and experiences. I shook hands with new customers who can now go away and think about whether they want to do more business with me. I shook hands with some very interesting new contacts at the WSTA, WRAP, Wine Intelligence (I will post about these meetings separately) and more. Last, but not least, I shook hands with a lot of friends I rarely get a chance to see, particularly if they now work in competitor businesses.

All in all, I must say that attending the show was a good experience, and I therefore had “A Good Show”.

Now, off to launch a wine called “handshake” so that every time someone meets up at next year’s event they think of my wine.

(Main photo Shake my Hands courtesy of framboise – some rights reserved)

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