WLT Badge Gallery coming online!

You know those cool “Digg This” badges on a whole bunch of sites? Pretty nice viral marketing huh? What they serve to do is create a way for cross promotion. We’ve had success using the Feedburner “Toast This!” link but it has cause problems that require attention from time to time (you may notice them disappearing occasionally).

Well, I’ve created a WLT Chicklet/badge gallery that I’ll be adding simple Javascript code and badges to. This will allow you to add WLT vote counts and links into every post. I’m also working on a WordPress plugin to make this a no-brainer for WordPress. I’ve also e-mailed “AddThis.com” to see if I can get into that little widget they have. We’ll see about that.

I have to give credit to Strumerika on the small chicklet design. Her graphic was cool. I haven’t reached her yet so I may be violating some kind of copyright in which case I’ll take it down (you won’t have to do anything, the graphic is server-based) and change it.

If you want a custom one, they’re pretty easy for me to change. Just make one in Photoshop (including the words), send me the source files, and I can implement it pretty quickly.

Enjoy the Wine Life…Today!!!


Barreto Cellars “Vinho Tinto” is a winner!


Got a recent WineQ shipment but I’ve been a little delinquent in parlaying my latest finds (and posting them to my account). In case you don’t know, WineQ is a site that allows you to create your own wine club in Netflix style. More and more social aspects are being added that get me really excited, but more on that later. For the sake of full disclosure, I’ve worked with them on their business plan and funding plan as a consultant but beyond that, I’ve been creating my own club for over a year now and absolutely LOVE to see the box with that little green sticker waiting for me to open it.

Anyway, the latest tasting note is Barreto Cellars’ “Vinho Tinto”. According to the site:

Barreto Cellars is a Central Coast Winery dedicated to producing premium-quality wines featuring grape varietals from the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal). Having relatives who migrated to America from these regions, we have a strong connection and desire to develop wines utilizing these varietals, a number of which are grown in small amounts in select vineyards throughout California.

Vinho Tinto is a winner. Big and bold from the deep purple color straight through to the nutty/pepper finish, this wine is one you’ll enjoy if you are a CA style wine drinker. Cedar and cherry on the nose with a FULL bodied cherry and almond taste (my wife argues with me on those tastes but thats the great thing about a complex wine!). The crowning achievement of this wine (IMHO) is that all this CA goodness was accomplished with Iberian varietals! Bravo!

This retails on WineQ for $17.99 which is a complete steal for this wine.

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Every Wine Tasting Note Site Should Be Freebasing!

Thats right. I said it. Although it may not be what you’re thinking.

Can you guess what’s wrong with tasting note web sites? Exactly, none (and I mean N-O-N-E) have reached anything close to critical mass of users to make their notes useful. Why is that? Well there are too many wines every year to have multiple reviews per wine. So every wine tasting note site tries to get their hands around an unbounded number of wines and create a tasting note site that is actually useful. NONE have succeeded and even the biggest are only useful for organization purposes (CellarTracker) not for looking up wines.

One approach with promise is Snooth, but they’re actually smarter about it. Its not about tasting notes, its more about personalizing wine selections for you and if there are tasting notes to help then great. I actually like that concept. They’ll bring in a gambit of ratings and notes and attempt to normalize them and match a wine to your liking. This is (obviously) not a tasting note record keeping site but it leverages that function.

So what’s this about “Freebasing”? Well, if you haven’t heard, there is another approach to gathering data out there and they’re gaining steam. Freebase is a massive database that is completely open so that a site can use as its database as a backend. Then anyone can query this DB and get at that information or submit information and contribute to the collective. Also, tags in that information make connection automatically regardless of the original source. The best explanation of this is here, at Tim O’Rielly’s blog (the guy who originally coined “web 2.0”). Its an instance of the semantic web (what some call “web 3.0”). The advantage? Since a tasting notes are not a business but a feature, if all the sites created real business plans with tasting note functions as a part then there wouldn’t be a need to hide the notes in an isolated database. Sure, protect your user DB but submit your notes to Freebase. Gary V can go on ranting and raving with the Vayniacs, Snooth can continue making educated selections for you, WineQ could add value to their custom wine clubs. These are all sites that don’t depend on notes as the core of the business. One thing I won’t get into is this aspect (and the power of Freebase) – if Winehiker were to create an application that was a database of trails in California and some wines he experienced there, then Freebase would automagically create a query result for any other application that connects wines related to the notes Winehiker made about his travels and the wines on each of those trails with other wine notes submitted from these sites. You would start to see a world evolving of things connected to wines and trips and tastes that you’ve never imagined before…but thats a whole different post!

Anyway, Freebase allows sites like these tasting note sites to be built and while they individually create communities for whatever purpose they are all adding to Borg collective known as Freebase.

There is one other approach – creating a micro-format that makes a standard format that allows any note written out there be crawled and scanned into a DB automatically…what-ever. Thats never going to happen unless Microsoft, Apple, and every other user interface company decides they want to support MicroFormat for wine tasting notes. Chances of that happening? Pretty much Zilch…

It would be far easier for other sites that have note functionality to migrate their DB to Freebase, effectively merging all note DBs, and write database calls to the Freebase API rather than their own MySQL “Silo” of information. You think CellarTracker is cool? Imagine every note ever entered into a site on the Internet, regardless of the site, being available to Snooth or WineQ or any other site that wants it!! I’m an Alpha member of Freebase and I can attest that its difficult to explain the potential impact of this site, which brings me to the practical, marketing side of my brain – I’ve seen too many technologies that were just too far ahead and couldn’t survive until the world caught up. I hope Freebase doesn’t go that route…

Every wine note site in the world should be Freebasing!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Life Today glitch is over

Just an update to that last post.  We’ve found and fixed the problem.  This was all backend issues.  The database upgrade meant to improve speed and access actually changed a very subtle object that in turn required some digging in the code and, of course, a very small tweak in the code.  Murphy’s Law!

I would call the hosting service and argue with them about their upgrade windows but I’m fairly certain that my business is a a pretty small fraction of their overall revenue. 

Oh well.

We’re free again to Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Blogging Mega-merger Announced!

Wine Life Today announces definitive agreement to purchase Vivi’s Wine Journal

Extends community relation and interaction with the addition of veteran wine blogging site

SAN JOSE, Calif. – Jan. 3, 2008 – In a stock transaction valued at $300 million dollars, Wine Life Today has announced its intention to acquire Vivi’s Wine Journal and all its assets. The merger adds a communication vehicle for the latest in wine and marketing technologies to Wine Life Today’s growing news community and is expected to cut operating costs of the two companies by 50%. Upon hearing the news, stock in Wine Spectator dropped 34% on speculation that the combined entities are a signal of a more significant Wine 2.0 push in 2008….

OK, so I made that all up (or most of it). I figured it would garner some attention. You clicked through didn’t you?

I figure its worth $300M, so I gave Kelly $300M in Wine Life Today stock and she transferred $300M worth of control over Vivi’s to me. Granted, there were no bankers involved but I think I got a pretty good deal.


I know that sounds crazy but if you live in Sili-Valley you don’t know how close to the truth this transaction really is. These guys all know each other and basically set valuations in the most random ways with random numbers! (see Facebook valuation)

Seriously though, after a defeat for “Best Wine Blog Graphics” last year, weeks and months of working and tooling, and teaching ourselves new skills, Kelly and I are finally proud to announce our re-imagining of Vivi’s Wine Journal. We’ve decided to combine Vivi’s with Wine Life Today and create the new “Wine Life Today Blog”. This will allow us to combine our work on WLT with our blogging efforts and to push the envelope of Wine Blog design by giving me more flexibility in programming and creativity. Wine Blogs have evolved, wine marketing has evolved, and Wine Life Today is evolving. Stay tuned to Vivi’s new blog (still lovingly dedicated to the memory of our Aunt Viviane McGuffie) for all thats new in the world of wine blogging and commentary on how technology and marketing will affect wine in the future!

Watch out, GoodGrape. I’m bringin’ my A-game this year! (Be sure to hit the front page for the full effect!)

And, of course, Enjoy the Wine Life!!!