Was 2009 the Tipping Point for #Wine & #Social Media?

When we look over our shoulder at 2009, will we find that it was the defining year a for the wine industry using social media to promote, engage, find new customers and sell wine? Continue reading


Women & Wine – Grape Expectations for Social Media from the Wine Industry

Social media strategy for wineries is new – and you need a game plan. Don’t ask your followers what they want. If they answer A Contest! you won’t be able to have them participate if they live in the largest state filled with wine consumers – California – regardless of where you make your wine. Continue reading


Women & Wine – Is Your Social Media Strategy Like Throwing A Party Where No One Comes?

You wouldn’t throw a party without planning down to the last detail to make it successful so why are so many companies launching Social Media strategies without goals or plans at all? Continue reading

Women & Wine – Wineries Take Note – More Than Half of WOM is Offline

This past weekend I wrote a blog about the State of Social Media in the Wine Biz about what’s going on online and how to join the conversation. There’s more to the picture than online Social Media strategy and the results of this study sums it up well.

In May of this year, Keller Fay conducted a survey about the most talked about brands using Social Media.

“The results confirmed earlier Keller Fay findings that there is value in looking at both online and offline forms of WOM. Social media-only analysis is “not a mirror” of all WOM, and one does not predict the other, says COO Brad Fay. TalkTrack data indicates that 90% of WOM takes place offline, and 1% via social media such as blogs and chat rooms, he reports.”

“Overall, about half of WOM is tied to marketing communications efforts, and more than 80% relates to the experiences that consumers have with brands, Fay adds. Whatever media or channels are used, “today, the test of effective marketing is whether it drives conversation,” he says. (from MediaPost)

This should give clarity to wineries that Social Media and Marketing strategy extends to the experience of tasting and sharing a glass offline (yes, I guess that does include Virtual Tastings).  In the past 18 months, the internet and cell phone apps have added a lot of choices for communicating about wine, price comparison, comparing notes, reviewing scores but at the end of the day getting your wine into the glass of the right consumer will get people talking.

But why is this so hard to achieve?

My opinion?  Restaurant wine prices are too high for consumers to ‘experiment’ with choices when it comes to buying wine by the bottle.

Is there perhaps an opportunity for restaurants to increase wine sales again by having nightly ‘tastes’ of a few selected bottles so that the dinner who is watching their money can have a better picture of the wine they will be ordering? Would that succeed in driving more bottles sales for restaurants?

In many cases, the BTG selections aren’t what’s driving WOM. Most wine lists have also chosen to select different BTG selections than what’s available by the bottle so we’re really not giving the wine lover much to work with when we ask them to trust our choices in the premium category.  Based on the mark-up, they might still end up settling for the glass.

Restaurant purchases are the best opportunity for wineries to have consumers experience their wine so perhaps more innovative approaches can be adopted to introduce the wine to the consumer and at the same time help the restaurants sell more wine.

Wineries have started the conversation online  and need to be applauded for their email campaigns, newsletters and more but new ideas need to be implemented to get the consumer talking about the experience – where they had it, who they shared it with, etc. to move the needle on WOM.

Recently several wineries in CA (and probably around the U.S.) have started ‘pick-up’ parties – once a month events at the winery for wine club members to come out and pick-up their selections as well as taste other wines from the winery, have light food and sometimes entertainment and connect with other wine club members.

This seems like a great way to start a WOM campaign that will be shared by wine lovers with fellow wine lovers and the wineries who have added this to their marketing efforts should be applauded.

We need more innovation for Social Media offline in places where the wine is available for sale for really grow this side of the business.

And if you’ve had successful offline WOM marketing campaigns, I’d love to hear from you. And wineries, don’t forget that you can post your events for FREE at

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Women & Wine Shares Insight on State of Social Media in the Wine Biz

We are all very familiar with the fact that the wine that we drink is only part of the story. In each bottle, there a person and a place that’s in every glass. When we speak of those origins we use the word terroir to describe the soil or the context of where the wine is from. At its core is the assumption that the land from which the grapes are grown imparts a unique quality that is specific to that region (from Wikipedia).

Is there a word though that can sum up the passion – the heritage – the people as well as terroir does in describing the land. Probably not. And believe me, I’m welcoming suggestions (do I detect a contest coming?) to use to describe this ‘other side’ of wine. It’s the reason that winemakers do what they do every day and people buy and start wineries. And, as you know, each story is different.

Social media allows us to share our stories, our passions and our purpose with people via various web tools. We create a dialog with those who are interested in wine, food, traveling to wine country – and we can listen to what’s being said to find and engage new potential friends, followers or purchasers of the wine.

facebook recognized the potential for the wine industry to present their stories when they moved earlier this year to the creation of Pages – and even built in the parameters of legal drinking ages across the world to assure that users would be of the right age to participate as fans. As of June 23, 2009, a study shared that over 500 wineries had posted facebook fan pages – I’m thinking that of this date it’s more like 1000. And that 50% of the wineries are in CA.

That’s great but it’s only the beginning and I applaud those who are ‘in the game’. This is not a time for standing on the sidelines wondering if the water is warm enough to jump in.

But the story just starts here. Where are the outlets that you can reach people who are interested in your wine? When you Google the name of your winery or brand what do you see? The first listing should always be your homepage – not a price comparision or where to buy it via the web. You want the visitor to be able to connect to the story so that you build loyalty for your brand and when the consumer pours the wine into the glass they can share your story with the people they are sharing the wine with.

Unless you are a public relations genius, it’s unlikely that you’ll see stories about your winery in the top searches on Google – especially if they are in print magazines who delay the posting of these stories to the web. You probably won’t see the latest Press Release about your winery either if it’s more than 30 days old as Google’s algorithms don’t consider that original content. And yes, if those releases are picked up by other outlets  you’ll see them too – for a while. But this isn’t what the person who is interested in wine is seeking to read.

They want the inside scoop. They want to make a connection, feel like an ‘insider’. Even if they can’t visit your winery they want to know what’s going on and they want to hear it in your own words.

There’s approximately 100,000 people who belong to facebook fan pages that are related to wine. If each of these fans has 100 followers then you are in a position to influence a circle that’s 7 million strong and by 2010 70% of those 21 and older will be on facebook. WOW! That’s a big number.

But how you differentiate your wine and your winery – that’s a whole different story – because once the industry catches on it’s like having your wine on a shelf in a warehouse style store with miles of aisle and no one there to educate the consumer about your brand.

There are other options for telling your story too – sites that you can post on and places where you can add your wine. You’re just getting started.

If you’ve never had a chance to experience our website, I hope that you will check it out today at Women & Wine It’s a universal platform where lovers of wine, food and travel – pros and novices can share their passion, entertain, educate and inspire others with their stories, photos, blog feeds and videos. You can even post your events – all for FREE. Our SEO capabilities will have your story at the top of Google within a few hours if it doesn’t look like an advertisement but rather is posted at original content.

We also create content, contests, promos and social media campaigns for wineries and other brands that want to speak to lovers of wine, food and travel. Some of our A-list clients are movie studios, hotel groups, spirits companies and more. We create experiential offline events too to make a connection to the consumer.  We’ve been in 31 cities since in the past couple of years and had events for over 7,000 people. And we don’t have to ‘fish’ for a passionate audience – we’ve built ours through storytelling since we launched the company.

This is our 4th website at – we knew when we started that most consumers don’t want to share tasting notes or score a wine but would rather share a glass, a story and make a connection. It took us a long time to get it right (and this site is just a beta) but it’s working.

And if we can help you tell your story – then we’ve done what we set out to do. So raise your glass to your hard work and to meeting these new challenges and to each victory on your path to increase your wine sales, fans, visitors to your tasting rooms. And if we can be of help, just let us know.

You can reach me at

Become a fan of Women & Wine on – follow me on twitter @womenwine.

Women & Wine Inc. offers consulting services, content creation and social media strategy and is the owner of Wine Valet at Two Rodeo Drive a hip wine boutique in Beverly Hills, CA.  Julie Brosterman hosts a top rated wine podcast on i-tunes which also can be heard at with over 100 hours in archives. She writes for other sites as well as appears as a speaker on panels on the subjects of Finding Your Voice on the Web and Social Media as a Marketing Tool. Phone is 310-880-2442.

Women&Wine -A Novice’s Guide to Learning How to Find and Buy Wine

I’ve probably mentioned before that I’m one of the few people I know who love wine who take a picture of the label of every bottle with my cell phone that I’m interested in buying after I’ve tried a glass.

There’s just too much information out there that my brain can’t remember every detail – and sometimes, if it’s been a special occasion or a more formal tasting, it’s just too difficult to write notes and enjoy the experience.

The picture or visual image triggers the memory – and also helps me to have the exact spelling of the wine, the year and the importer or distributor.

I use this information in a number of ways and so I thought (since you’ve become so savvy) that I would share with you where to look for wine when you’re in the mood to buy.

First, I go to The pros and sophisticated consumers know this site well. Based in New Zealand, the site collects inventory information from wine retail establishments across the U.S. and sometimes worldwide to bring you a snapshot of who’s carrying what bottles, a view of the pricing and also the contact information on where to buy. You don’t actually pay for or buy anything from the site – retailers advertise their inventory (also some auction houses and places that might not actually have the bottles in stock but claim they can get them for you on short notice).

You have to have the exact spelling of the wine correct – this is true on most sites  – and sometimes you won’t find any info if you put in too much of a descriptor (or not enough) so be patient with it the first few times around.

You can enroll in their “Pro” version for $29.95 annually which broadens the search but don’t forget to define your parameters – i.e. if you want to buy it locally then just put in your state – otherwise it will locate the wine anywhere that it’s in stock – which means shipping, etc.

It lists the wine from least expensive to most and you should also take note that if the price seems too good on the lower end it is probably for a .375 bottle size – although their can be wild swings in pricing too.

If you’re looking for older vintages, you can also just put in the year – let’s say 1949 – and it will bring up a list of every bottle on the site that was produced in that year. Pretty great if you’re looking for a gift for someone’s big bday.

If you find that there are companies that are saying that they have the wine and then they don’t, report it to Wine Searcher as they do want the most accurate info available and want to police the site to make sure that consumers are receiving the most up-to-date info possible. – this is an amazing collection of reviews from both pros and novices about the wines that they have tasted or own. There’s also a free cellar management tool that you can use. The site asks for voluntary contributions to use it which is also probably one of the cooler things going. What I love about this site is that you can sort the reviews of a particular wine by vintage year and side by side compare them – great if you’re trying to decide between bottles of differing vintages to purchase. It also links to the data base and so you can read the reviews and then find the wine. – I like the tools on this site that tell you whether the average price of the bottle you’re interested in is going up or down in the market – perfect if you are considering investing or want to know if that wine you’ve been waiting to drink may have peaked in the marketplace. Also great to help you negotiate with a private seller who might think that their wine is worth 2007 prices. They are reliable for purchases too and if you have wine to sell have created a marketplace where you can list your collection – check the site for fees, etc. – You may think that this site is too upscale for you – too elite – but I like to use this site for a number of things – especially to see the range on prices of wine from the release price to the current date. It’s also great for year over year comparision of different vintages – especially if you’re looking to lay down some wine and want to know if it will hold. There’s lots of other info as well for hard core and beginning wine lovers. Regardless of whether you agree with rankings, scores, etc. the site is well done and has a ton of information.

There’s a lot of information out there so there’s no need to “jump” before you do your research on what you’re buying particularly if it’s a wine that needs cellaring time.

Share you thoughts on what resources you use to shop for a wine you just discovered.


Remembering Silver Palate Founder Sheila Lukins

I was traveling this past Monday so missed the news of the passing of Sheila Lukins on August 30, 2009 at age 66 of brain cancer. My husband Marc said,”you should write something about Sheila since the Silver Palate was such a part of our lives together in the late 70’s and early 80’s in New York.”

I looked at him intently and thought how right he was. We ‘grew up’ with Sheila and her partner Julee’s The Silver Palate when we moved in together in Manhattan in 1980.

I hadn’t had time earlier in the week to take the time to write this blog and was really surprised this morning when I googled Lukins to see that not very much had been written on this woman who influenced the way we cooked and whose cookbooks sold over 7 million copies. Time magazine has a few paragraphs about her but there’s too much to this story to be reduced to so few words.

Marc reminds me of the Silver Palate store on 73rd and Columbus – our first stomping grounds since my first job our of college was at Lincoln Center and of how, when you saw their products anywhere it was a signal of good taste and good eats to come. We take for granted now that their bottled dressings, marinades and other offerings on the supermarket shelves but what we forget is that they were pioneers in the world of bringing gourmet staples to the masses.

I pulled my copy of “Basics” off the shelf as I’m writing this – it’s stuffed with stained bookmarks and opens automatically to Pasta Primavera on page 136 and page 510 Veal and Mushroom stew. The index is falling out and there are dishes in there that I know we loved like the Market Street Meat Loaf served at the Venice, CA restaurant of the same name that was in our old ‘hood in our early years in CA. Their notes that Vogue magazine termed it “the ultimate meat loaf” made me laugh as it was so true.

I panic for a minute when I can’t find The Silver Palate Cookbook on my shelves but there it is and it too is marked on the page for Carrot and Orange Soup. I think we ate this as a first course not only at our house but at every friend’s who loved to entertain at home.

It surprised me to learn that Lukins had replaced Julia Child at Parade magazine as the food editor and contributor in 1986 and that she suffered a cerebral hemorrhage in 1991 that almost killed her and paralyzed her left side.

The store in NYC was sold in 1988 and closed by the new owners in 1993 and while the partners split in a widely publicized breakup in the 90’s they reunited in 2007 for a 25th anniversary edition of The New Basics Cookbook.

Lutkins learned in June of this year that she had brain cancer and was with her family when she died last weekend at age 66.

I didn’t get a chance to speak with Katie Workman this week – now the editor of The Hungry Beast – whose Workman publishing was responsible for bringing these books into my life and the lives of so many other wanna be cooks – men and women who relied on them for their home entertaining tips. I’d forgotten too how the illustrations in the book set them apart from any cookbook I’ve seen and that we assembled the dishes to look like theirs so easily from them.

I’m wondering if Katie and I were ever in the little shop on 73rd at the same time and remembering how excited we got walking through the door feeling guilty for our splurge on the raspberry vinaigrette dressing or some other treat.

Others in NY took the trends that Lukins and Rosso started and incorporated them into their own operations but they were really the first and a gift of their products was a sign of impeccable taste then – and still is now. I think I’ll pick up a bottle of their dressing today as a tribute to Sheila and toast to her life which served to enrich ours.

To read the NYTimes obituary