Partnering up with WineQ…

I’m diving right in.  Joining the team at WineQ.  Adding my Silicon Valley tech experience and passion for wine to the heavy hitters at WineQ.  What?  Why?  Thats an easy question to answer…

I’ve spent the better part of the last two plus years blogging about wine, the wine life, and everything wine related.  Its a passion, a love, an…addiction?  Maybe.  But I think more of an obsession.  Even the day I put this blog up I wrote about my exploits in wine and my intention for this blog right on our first about page:

My wife and I started Vivi’s Online as a prelude to our bigger wine business ventures. (Stick around and you’ll hear a lot more from us on that front!!!)…

Well, that time has come.  I’ve sifted through alot of sites about wine, drank alot of wine, and spent my life in technology.  From my first Commodore 64 and Atari game system to the iMac I just

ordered.  From the first Geyser Peak Merlot that knocked my socks off, to the Navarro Pinot Noir I drank last night.  Through it all I always wondered, “how can I apply all this tech experience to this wine obsession?”…”what will be technical enough to keep that part of Joel excited yet somehow incorporate wine?”.  But most importantly “is it possible to combine a ton of tech experience, a love of technology, and a passion for wine?”  In effect, marry the two things I can actually spend all day thinking about and have it energize me.

Well, it seems in WineQ, I’ve discovered a wine business that aligns with my own wine values – to find the best wines not just the most expensive.  I’ve discovered a technology business that aligns with my own technical values – innovative technology applied to a real problem with a drive to continue innovating; actually doing something with the innovative technology and not technology for technology’s sake (a BIG problem with the whole Web 2.0 and Wine 2.0 craze).  I’ve discovered a business that promises to fundamentally change an industry using great technology.  This paragraph is very Zen for me!

WineQ offers users the ability to create a queue of wines they want to purchase, and then set up the frequency and quantity of wines received per shipment.  In addition, shipping is free for WineQ

members on orders above $35 – not “free on full case orders” or “free on 6 bottles” – free over $35.  You can have many wines from a variety of wineries all shipped for free.  You can have a single $35 bottle of wine shipped for free.  WineQ is redefining what one should expect from a wine club.  And there is so much more to come, I wish I could blurt it out but I’ll keep it under wraps for now.  Lets keep it at we’re focused sharply on creating the ultimate online wine experience…if there is something about buying wine online that doesn’t appeal to you, we’re probably working on a way to fix it as we speak.  I’ll definitely update more as things progress.  Lets just say I probably won’t have to post about it here for you to hear about whats going on with WineQ…I will, you just may not need me to…

After working with the WineQ team for a while (as I’ve done with many out there) it became obvious that this company has the potential to do something special and its ready to go to the next level.  Innovative technology, top-flight operations, and wineries signing up left and right, this is going to be fun fun fun! 

So with that, I’m joining WineQ.  Together the goal is no less then to build the premier wine experience on the Internet.  Have a look at the site, feedback is always welcome.  As always, Enjoy the Wine Life…

By the way, I Q do you?

Wine is becoming a study in new media…

So there are questions abound about what new web technology and media and how it interacts with the community.  Some say that new media isn’t going to work well with wine.  Others (myself included) believe wine is the perfect niche for the latest “virtual community” or “Web 2.0” technology and new media outlets.

Just came across a good example today – WineCountryTV.org.  This is effectively a television network about wine in Sonoma County.  Right now it consists of two shows and, while not “NBC” level of production value but its not half bad.  Multiple camera angles and smooth jump cut implies some level of production sofistication beyond me, my camcorder, and some PC importing software.

The show that was pointed out to me is called “What Lukka Likes”.  Here’s how the site describes it:

What Lukka Likes: An Adventure in Sonoma County Wine Tasting,” is a wine review show. Shot on location at Access Healdsburg TV Studios, “What Lukka Likes” is an objective look at the diversity of Sonoma County wines. Our host, and man of the world, Barndiva’s Lukka Feldman, broadcasts weekly with a smattering of local wine celebrities and Sonoma County color.

Lukka Feldman is a character but in a world where just about anyone can do some of these that might help in the long run.  The information is actually interesting, if you’re interested in watching a tasting.  I would suggest more “tutorial” style to just talking about what appear to be random selections connected to a theme.

Wine is a niche full of immense amounts of content just waiting to be unleashed with new technology.  Nice work Lukka.  Nod to narrowcast pioneer Tim at Winecast for blazing this trail…

Enjoy the Wine Life!

Wine Web 2.0 done right…Bottlenotes.com

Web 2.0, Social Networking, the next bubble, what ever you want to call it I’ve found it difficult to find alot of use in some of these social-oriented web site.  I like Digg.com for my technology news so I experimented with a wine version called Wine Life Today.  For the limited marketing (i.e. only to my faithful readers) that I did its been really successful circulating some extremely interesting wine news around.  As soon as I can get out of this busy period of my life we’ll see if we can’t kick that up even more.

But there were a couple other “web 2.0” sites created with a wine theme that got sent to me.  The one I found most interesting was Cork’d, a site where you can create cellar notes and share them with your “friends” network.  You can also get recommendations from friends.  Stuff like that.  I think on week in March I got 4 such sites forwarded to me to review.  All similar, and all lacking something. 

One day while I was developing Wine Life Today, I thought about those other Web 2.0 wine sites and thought if they could take my notes and tags and make recommendations for wines that would be cool.  Even cooler is if you could make a recommendation engine that would go through a database of wines that were tagged by the producers and based on my ratings of other wines (which are also tagged), send me wines that I should like as a sort of super-custom wine club.  “That would ROCK!”, I thought.  Being the tool that I am I started to research how it could be done.  I even briefly put up a survey about wine clubs on this wine blog and sent out a bottle of wine to a randomly selected participant to learn more about what drives people to use wine clubs.  (By the way, most people answering were participating in wine clubs to try new wines based on reliable recommendations!  Thats called market validation of the concept).  Next thing I knew, I ran across BottleNotes.com – a full blown implementation of of exactly what I thought a wine Web 2.0 wine site should be.

Continue reading “Wine Web 2.0 done right…Bottlenotes.com”

Tale of Two Wines…

It was the best of wines, it was the worst of wines…

I recently had the opportunity to taste a couple of wines that really made this quote pop into my head.  I literally tasted the first wine, we really impressed for a $15 wine, and then was hammered back down to earth by the second.

I decided to try two wines from the same winery:  San Simeon Chardonnay 2002 and Maddalena Vinyard Syrah Rose 2005 from the Riboli Family Wine Estates

Continue reading “Tale of Two Wines…”

Happy 2nd B-Day!!! Vivi’s is a toddler!

Vivi’s Wine Journal turns two years old today! Its really been a tremendous amount of fun for me and my wife, Kelly. We’ve met a very large assortment of people with a shared passion for wine over the last two years as a direct result of our blog. Wine producers, retailers, distributors, artists, press folks, the list goes on and on.

One of the greatest joys has been growing up with the entire wine blogosphere. What started out as an interesting way to enhance our wine knowledge and share what we know with a world that consisted of 20-some-odd blogs has grown into a community of wine lovers whom I communicate with regularly and to countless wine blogs with great information, recommendations, and even some new sites have spawned around the wine blogosphere.

We’ve seen wineries start blogging and wine startups spawn documenting their work. Its all great stuff.

Tonight Kelly and I will crack open our last bottle of 2003 Ballentine Zinfandel Port in celebration, on of my personal favorites, and toast the wine blogosphere and all our new friends. Sometimes its not easy to keep it up but almost everytime I start to get a little down on it I recieve an e-mail saying that Vivi’s inspired them to try wine, start a blog, look into a particular product, etc… and thank me honestly. Its very gratifying to know that what we write about helps people out.

With that, CHEERS to the wine blogosphere!

Enjoy the Wine Life!

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.

Winecast.net’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!

WBW23 Round up – BBQ Wines!

Whew! With the fanfare of the 4th of July in the US and World Cup 2006 everywhere else (sadly not as so much here…BTW – the Socceroos should be facing off against France! Tired of the European method actors!…) I was hoping that BBQ wines would attract a crowd and it surely has! We’ve got 24 entries, some with multiple wines, in this month’s edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday. The theme of BBQ wines drew alot of questions from the wine blogosphere – what is BBQ? BBQ or Grilled meats? Its the rainy season here so I’m not using my grill! – but I think that was the beauty of the topic. My brother moved to North Carolina several years ago and when I visited there we went to a BBQ joint. They didn’t have baby back ribs or grilled steak… they had slow roasted pork with a great sauce, almost in a Hawaiian style. It was very different, and very delicious.

So with this theme came many interpretations and I think there’s some advice in here for every type of BBQ/Grilled meat you might run into, hence I consider this a success.

Continue reading “WBW23 Round up – BBQ Wines!”