Lessons learned from MG and WBC09
After more than a week after getting back from California and the 2nd Annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa, I think I’m well rested enough and starting to find words to put on a page again. There’s just something about being down in Sonoma for nearly 4 days with the Murphy-Goode Top 10 finalists, being under a microscope for most of that time, always being “on” all the time, then flying home and driving back down to be with 270 wine-crazed people from all walks of life and putting on my happy face all over again that completely drains me of all emotion and motivation for several days. But now that I’ve had time to recharge my social batteries, I think it’s about time I shared some of what I learned, both big and small lessons, in these past few weeks.
- Being at a luxurious place in wine country isn’t much fun without my wife along to share the experience. The Hotel Healdsburg was incredible and the whirlpool bathtub and all the great gifts they gave me just didn’t excite me much without someone to share it.
- Despite best intentions, nothing goes according to plans. Most people are truly good and want to help, but without good communications, everything breaks down. Take, for example, getting my 9 liter bottle I won at Murphy-Goode back home. That was a massive fail. First I ended up with Hardy’s bottle, then they couldn’t find my bottle. I never did find out where it was lost during the WBC, and now I’m not sure when I should to expect to receive it now that they have found it. *sigh*
- Another example would be the poor Internet access at the hotel during the WBC. Get 270 people together who all want to tweet and blog at the same time on one limited connection and you’re bound to fail. Good thing I had access to a wireless broadband card to get connected though I wish there was some easy way to tether my iPhone to my Mac. Double *sigh*
- I can’t keep up with some of these wine bloggers. At first, I blamed all the driving and excitement from the MG weekend for being too tired to participate in the after-event parties. Later I realized that even though I was spitting most of the day and many of the party people drank continuously all weekend, I still couldn’t keep up with them (you know who you are). I know that I need my sleep to be sociable and if I didn’t seem excited to meet you during the conference or seemed distracted, it was because I was too tired. Sorry.
- Bring snacks. During that period of time the first day from lunch to dinner, there was nothing to snack on to soften the impact of the wine. I was really surprised that nobody thought to have something on each of the tables to at least clear the palate between wines, especially during the speed tasting event where we kept switching between red, white and sparkling wines.
- As someone from Seattle, I noticed that Washington wineries were sorely lacking representation at the WBC. Here was an opportunity that even East Coast and European wineries were taking to be seen and heard by a small and vocal community, yet so few Washington wineries were in attendance. How can they afford not to be embracing these kind of events that can help them gain more brand awareness? What’s it going to take? Hopefully, putting the bloggers’ conference right in their state may help winery attendance. But will they actually “get it?” I’m still not sure. After all the notoriety I received from the Murphy-Goode video I made, several Sonoma wineries approached me with possible social media jobs. By the time Washington wineries figure it out, even the old-guard established European wineries will be further ahead in social media. Sad…fail.
- Driving down U.S. Highway 101 from Seattle to Sonoma during the summer construction season is a big mistake. The construction stops and traffic easily added 3 hours each day to the drive time. Take I-5 instead. Not only will you avoid the construction, you’ll also save yourself from tourist traps like the drive-thru redwood tree. For next year’s event, fly to Walla Walla and avoid the traffic from Seattle.
- Video is an essential tool that I need to further explore. Adding video shouldn’t be time consuming, so I need find better ways of streamlining the process for my own videos. To this end, I went out and bought a new HD camcorder and I’m experimenting with it now. Look for videos coming soon.
…so few Washington wineries were in attendance