The ANTI-grassroots campaign – How NOT to market your wine

While the wine blogosphere isn’t exactly a market maker it does represent, more so with every new entrant, a nice cross section of wine drinkers that can relate to each other and forms a loose social network around a common interest – wine. Wine bloggers may not be fast friends but if a couple were to get together in a bar or something at least we know we’d have something to talk about.’s Tim posted about how a fellow wine blogger, Cam of Appellation Australia, posted a negative review of some Graeme Miller Wines. Cam starts out with a very kind intro/warning:

Graeme Miller Wines (Yarra Valley) – The owners of this winery were very friendly and I hope that the wines I tried were off-bottles rather than being representative. As always though, I can only review what is in the glass.

He proceeded to post a negative review of the three wines he tried:

Sauvignon Blanc 2005 – Easy drinking with some tropical fruit on the nose and a crisp palate. 86/100

Chardonnay 2005 – Seems faulty – burnt rubber and smoke and earth with a dirty taste on the palate. 75/100

Rosé 2005 – I’m sorry to say this, but this was the most faulty wine I have ever tasted. Dominant onion skins, rubber, and some barnyard characters on the nose with the palate living up to the promise of the nose. 50/100

Innocent enough. If you’re a blogger, you SURELY have blogged negatively on a tasting

note before. And its your right to. What was the winery’s response? Well as, TORBwine notes the events, four months later they sent this response:

Cam Wheeler,

I request that all comments referring to our wines on your web site Appellations be removed or we will follow up with legal action.

Graeme Miller

WHAT!?!? Legal action based on the opinion of a publisher (which is exactly what a blogger is)? This is such an obsurdity that I just had to relay the story, and re-broadcast the negative reviews.

So you see, the lesson for marketeers here is two fold:

  • Unless it is truly slanderous and presents information as fact without any actual data to back it up or is presenting proprietary information protected under some pre-existing non-disclosure agreement, KEEP THAT STUPID E-MAIL TO YOURSELF! Your only recourse is to pull advertising dollars away from the publication…oh wait – most bloggers don’t actually MAKE advertising money. We do it simply to improve the Wine Life for everyone. Ooops.
  • If you do send an e-mail you need to treat it as public information – it will get out. An email like this will live on for a long time and draw more attention to the tasting note that you didn’t like in the first place rather than letting a single blogger’s negative review die a natural death as it would’ve fairly quickly.

Sorry Graeme, whom ever your legal counsel and marketing people are have given you some very poor advice.

Cam, I hope you read this because I appreciate your time and effort in blogging and I especially appreciate HONEST reviews. Fight the power!

oh yeah, and Enjoy the Wine Life!

Author: Joel Vincent

Growth Hacker and wine lover

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