A few weeks ago, I spoke about social media at VinCO 2012 in Grand Junction, CO. I was supposed to provide a broad introduction into social media tools that wineries can use. My talk consisted of a summary of Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Yelp, CellarTracker and WineBerserkers.com, but due to so many questions I was only able to get through the Facebook part and a rushed 2-minute primer on Twitter. My goal next year for the conference is to have a full day of social media workshops where each session is dedicated to only one platform, but that is a topic for another day.
Social media isn't just about how wineries can get their brand in front of consumers' eyes, it is about building relationships. One of the best ways that wineries can build relationships is by listening. Listening is important to find out what consumers want to hear, what critics are saying and simply gaining a broader knowledge of the industry as a whole. Most of the winery owners in Colorado do not have an extensive wine background. None are as knowledgeable about wine as they could be (some may think so, but are not...). The biggest reason I dove head first into the social media realm of the industry is to learn things from those that know more than I. Wineries should do the same. So, today I am offering a list of the five most important social media personalities (other than myself, of course) to whom Colorado wineries should be listening. They all share a commonality, too. See if you can guess what it is.
1. Joe Roberts, 1WineDude. This one is a no-brainer. Joe is probably the best known wine blogger in this country. He's kind of a big deal. He is smart, witty and honest in his wine reviews and other related jibber-jabber. He offers a no-nonsense approach to wine that many find refreshing when compared to the legacy wine periodicals. Did I mention he was just listed as the 14th most important person in the U.S. wine industry by IntoWine? He still mostly writes about the mainstay wine regions of California, but he has published articles on a wide range of wine-related topics, including regional wine. Make sure you get to know Joe, and make sure he gets to know you! You can follow him on Twitter at @1WineDude
2. Jeff Siegel, The Wine Curmudgeon. Jeff is not as famous as Joe. Sorry, Jeff. However, Jeff IS one of the biggest proponents of local wine and is eagerly bringing his (and co-founder, Dave McIntyre's) Drink Local Wine conference to Colorado in April to celebrate the unique qualities that Colorado wine has to offer. Jeff also eschews the expensive wine segment of the industry, instead focusing on wines in the under $15 range. He seeks out the best wines that most Americans can afford to drink regularly and he is not afraid to try new things. Jeff lives to taste the odd vinifera cultivar or even, gasp, hybrids. He thoroughly believes that local wines deserve a bigger seat at the table. Also, one of my personal goals (and it should be Colorado wineries' too) with the DLW conference is to convince Jeff that Colorado wine is just as good as Texas wine... You can follow Jeff on Twitter at @Wine_Curmudgeon.
3. David White, Terriorist Blog. You might have seen a post about a blind tasting I conducted with David last summer. He writes a very popular daily wine blog that is chock-full of great information. Each morning he links to some of the best articles on wine from the day before. He and his staff also provide a plethora of interviews, commentary and reviews from around the world. David also writes a syndicated column for Wines.com that is appearing in several dozen newspapers around the country. You can follow David at @TerroiristBlog.
4. Jensen Cummings, Executive Chef, Row 14 Denver. Jensen is not a wine writer. Jensen is not a wine expert (yet). However, Jensen is building perhaps one of the best locally themed wine lists (together with owner and Wine Director David Schneider) in Denver. His restaurant is conveniently situated right across the street from the Colorado Convention center in downtown Denver. Since recently tasting a Boulder Creek Cabernet Franc (blind, mind you) he has developed a Colorado Proud flight of wines by the glass. He has some pretty big plans to raise the profile of the best Colorado wines. Jensen is also quite prolific on Twitter. When a celebrity chef like Jensen suggests that his customers should be drinking Colorado wine, you bet they'll listen. Next time you're in Denver, make sure to grab a bite to eat and talk wine with Jensen or David at Row 14. Follow Jensen on Twitter at @JensenDCummings.
5. Jacob Harkins, Local Winos Media. Finally, I'm guessing most of the state's wineries have heard of Coloradowino.com. Jacob Harkins is the former editor for Denver Magazine who is the ColoradoWino and is trying to launch a mini media empire focusing on local wines. He has writers in Colorado, New Mexico and Texas that talk about all things local wine and food. Jacob also leads Club Wino, where he leads diners on a culinary tour paired with Colorado wines. Jacob is a champion of Colorado wine and you should be listening to what he has to say. Follow Jacob at @ColoradoWino and @LocalWinos.
If you haven't guessed it already, all five of these people will be present at the 2012 Drink Local Wine conference to be held at Metro State College on April 28. If you aren't already reading what these five have to say, start now. Start interacting with them, too. All of them want to get to know the people behind the bottles of Colorado wine. These are people that can help you improve your wine business and who can get your brand into consumers' hands.
Note: I will also be at the conference and moderating the Colorado Twitter Taste-off. So if those five great people weren't draw enough to attend, now you have no excuse!