American Wine Bloggers Conference – a great opportunity to see how Californian wineries promote their wines

WBC - Welcome from Napa ValleyLast week-end took place in Sonoma and Napa, CA, the second American Wine Bloggers Conference (check here the agenda). As we in Quevedo decided to embrace wine social media one year ago, I thought it was worth the effort to come to the US and attending to this bloggers’ meeting. This was my very first time in California and in the west coast of the USA.

After spending last Thursday in Murphys with our friend Jeff Stai from the Twisted Oak, on Friday Nadia and me drove to Santa Rosa for the conference. As usual the most difficult part was the beginning. People are still reserved and I was even more as we got there a little bit late. When I started tasting wines I saw more smiles and enthusiasm and the communication flowed much faster. During the three days of the conference I tasted over 100 Californian wines. I think this was a record in my life, and not so easy to beat at least in the near future. At the end of Saturday my palate was really tired, my teeth were asking for a break and I was disliking many wines, probably unfairly.

The part than really impressed me was the visit to the wineries. Big, small, medium, young or older wineries, ALL have an incredibly developed marketing sense. They really think about all the details to make your visit unforgettable. And I think this was not just because we were bloggers, they must make it for everybody. You feel you are visiting a unique place, intentionally designed for you. Beautiful gardens, amazing tasting rooms, gorgeous decoration and lots of smiles. The wineries work together to give the best to the visitors: from sharing tasting rooms, to organizing cross visits or lunches and dinners, they do whatever is necessary to make the tourist happy and eager to buy wine.

The price range of the bottles goes from $25/ $30 to $150/ $200, which is not exactly cheap. From what people told me, there are many many tourists coming from all the parts of the USA to visit Napa and Sonoma. We have a lot to learn from them about marketing and branding. We can make fantastic wines, but if we don’t know how to promote them, they will never get the recognition that they deserve.

View of Napa vineyardsWhen I was going back to San Francisco, on Sunday after the end of conference, we were discussing in the car the growing importance the wine trade is giving to these wine social media. I had the perception there were a lot of people in the conference from wineries or other related industries. I thought, before the beginning of the conference, the great majority of the people would go there because they have a blog, personal and individual, which they use to share tasting notes, comments, ideas and complains about the wine market. But seems it was not the case. There were many companies which sent delegates to publicize their business. As someone in the car said, the conference of 2008 was much more familiar and personal.

Lets see what happens in Lisbon next October for the EWBC. I would say it will take more time to wineries in Europe to join wine social media than it is taking in USA. But I can assure some European are definitively not sleeping! After the IVDP was Sogevinus to join twitter.