Archive for January, 2009

It's Zinful…

January 30, 2009

For this week’s Bacon Fridays post, I am honoring the Zinfandel Festival but pairing Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Popovers with a California Zin.  Zinfandel has been named America’s Heritage Grape, and for 4 days every January, the Zin world comes together in celebration.

The Bacon Freak graciously provided me of samples of the Jalepeno bacon, and i incorporated this into one of my favorite side dishes, the Popover.  Ok fine.  So i usually eat the whole pan.  Shush!

To make this tasty treats, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray LIBERALLY!  Try to use a light pan if you can, because dark ones burn easily.

While the oven is preheating, cook the Bacon Freak Coastal Caliente Jalepeno Bacon until crisp.   I do this in the microwave, between 2 paper towels, on full power for 1 minute for each full slice.  You want to be able to crumble it easily.

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 ground pepper

Whisk in 2 eggs, which you have beaten in a bowl.

Spoon 1 Tablespoon of the batter in to each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each with 1 tsp sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp grated parmesean cheese, and 1/4 slice crumbled bacon.

When you have done all 12 muffin cups, spoon the rest of the batter on top of ecah cup to cover.

bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue to cook until golden brown, about another 15 minutes.

Remove from the baking tin and cool on a rack.  These popovers are best slightly warm!

To pair, I suggest a spicy zinfandel.  I tasted this with a lovely specimen from Paso Robles, which is known for black pepper and sweet spices.  I also tried this with a Sierra Foothills Zinfandel, which also has some lovely baking spice flavor characteristics that match well off of the kick of the popovers.

Happy tasting and please follow @baconcandy on twitter!

It's Zinful…

January 30, 2009

For this week’s Bacon Fridays post, I am honoring the Zinfandel Festival but pairing Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Popovers with a California Zin.  Zinfandel has been named America’s Heritage Grape, and for 4 days every January, the Zin world comes together in celebration.

The Bacon Freak graciously provided me of samples of the Jalepeno bacon, and i incorporated this into one of my favorite side dishes, the Popover.  Ok fine.  So i usually eat the whole pan.  Shush!

To make this tasty treats, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray LIBERALLY!  Try to use a light pan if you can, because dark ones burn easily.

While the oven is preheating, cook the Bacon Freak Coastal Caliente Jalepeno Bacon until crisp.   I do this in the microwave, between 2 paper towels, on full power for 1 minute for each full slice.  You want to be able to crumble it easily.

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 ground pepper

Whisk in 2 eggs, which you have beaten in a bowl.

Spoon 1 Tablespoon of the batter in to each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each with 1 tsp sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp grated parmesean cheese, and 1/4 slice crumbled bacon.

When you have done all 12 muffin cups, spoon the rest of the batter on top of ecah cup to cover.

bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue to cook until golden brown, about another 15 minutes.

Remove from the baking tin and cool on a rack.  These popovers are best slightly warm!

To pair, I suggest a spicy zinfandel.  I tasted this with a lovely specimen from Paso Robles, which is known for black pepper and sweet spices.  I also tried this with a Sierra Foothills Zinfandel, which also has some lovely baking spice flavor characteristics that match well off of the kick of the popovers.

Happy tasting and please follow @baconcandy on twitter!

It’s Zinful…

January 30, 2009

For this week’s Bacon Fridays post, I am honoring the Zinfandel Festival but pairing Jalapeno Bacon Cheddar Popovers with a California Zin.  Zinfandel has been named America’s Heritage Grape, and for 4 days every January, the Zin world comes together in celebration.

The Bacon Freak graciously provided me of samples of the Jalepeno bacon, and i incorporated this into one of my favorite side dishes, the Popover.  Ok fine.  So i usually eat the whole pan.  Shush!

To make this tasty treats, preheat your oven to 450 degrees.  Spray a muffin tin with nonstick spray LIBERALLY!  Try to use a light pan if you can, because dark ones burn easily.

While the oven is preheating, cook the Bacon Freak Coastal Caliente Jalepeno Bacon until crisp.   I do this in the microwave, between 2 paper towels, on full power for 1 minute for each full slice.  You want to be able to crumble it easily.

In a bowl, whisk together:

  • 2/3 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup + 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 ground pepper

Whisk in 2 eggs, which you have beaten in a bowl.

Spoon 1 Tablespoon of the batter in to each muffin cup.  Sprinkle each with 1 tsp sharp cheddar cheese, 1/2 tsp grated parmesean cheese, and 1/4 slice crumbled bacon.

When you have done all 12 muffin cups, spoon the rest of the batter on top of ecah cup to cover.

bake for 15 minutes, then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees.  Continue to cook until golden brown, about another 15 minutes.

Remove from the baking tin and cool on a rack.  These popovers are best slightly warm!

To pair, I suggest a spicy zinfandel.  I tasted this with a lovely specimen from Paso Robles, which is known for black pepper and sweet spices.  I also tried this with a Sierra Foothills Zinfandel, which also has some lovely baking spice flavor characteristics that match well off of the kick of the popovers.

Happy tasting and please follow @baconcandy on twitter!

What do YOU want in a wine club?

January 29, 2009

Recently, I was invited to be a guest speaker on a panel at the Wine Club Summit, presented by Vineyard & Winery Management Magazine.  This summit was designed give wineries feedback about what we, as wine club members, want and don’t want, so they can improve what they offer to us.

Overwhelmingly, the wineries in attendance indicated that they value us as committed customers, and really want to improve our experiences as wine club members.  Wine clubs are the wineries best source of a stable cash flow, with a high margin.  You control the club, what is in the club, and we you get out of the club.  Wine Clubs give the consumer access to wines that they might not otherwise get an opportunity to taste, and gives you, as the winery, exposure to a new consumer base.

Some of the hot button questions that came up were:

  • What benefits of being a wine club member are most attractive to you?

For me, as a knowledgeable consumer, I want to know that I am getting access to wines that the average consumer would not.  I join wine clubs for 2 primary reasons:  First, because I have tried the wines, and I know that I like them.  Second, because I know that I will have first crack at allocation only wines, or special, wine club only wines, that regular visitors do not get the opportunity to try.  We expect to be given our tastings gratis at the tasting room, and we expect a follow-on purchase discount.  Not having these benefits lowers the value of the wine club.

Thanks your customers.  You need to ensure that you have some sort of thank you event for your club members at least once a year.  It is acceptable to charge a nominal fee for these events, but we do expect good food, good times and free flowing wine.  It is going to turn us off if you say, “Thanks for your business, now here are your two drink tickets for the party”.

  • How is the current economy effecting your participation in wine clubs?

I am fortunate in that I have not had to modify any of my wine clubs, but I am aware that this is an issue for some people.  As a winery, allowing the flexibility to have club members place shipments on hold, or modify the number of shipments, lets us maintain our participation without completely dropping out.

  • What makes you stay in a club?  What makes you drop a club?

As a member of 3 wine clubs today, I stay because of the wine, and because of the benefits.  I receive a generous discount, gratis tastings, and invitations to special events.   While I pay out of pocket for the special events, we are given the first opportunity to RSVP, and receive a discount.  I also stay in these wine clubs because we are given the opportunity to purchase special wines that the general public has limited access to.  This makes us, as wine club members, feel special.  it is that special customer feeling that has made me a loyal member of 2 of these clubs for over 4 years.

I have dropped clubs in the past because the cost of membership was not worth the value of the wines & events that we were offered.  If we can buy the same wines in the store or at the winery at a minimal mark up, what benefit is there to the wine club?

I have also quit wine clubs that offered poor customer service.  As your number one customers, you need to ensure that your staff treats us as the valued customers we are.  If I receive poor customer servie from anyone, you are not going to like the response.  If I receive poor customer service from something I have a particular affiliation for, you can bet I will tell my friends to avoid it.

  • What single piece of advice do you have for wineries to retain their wine club members?

Wine Club members are you evangelists.  We love your wine, and we want to share your wine.  This is the cheapest source of marketing you will find.  Word of mouth marketing, including new media, blogs, and wine club discussion, is becoming increasingly important as the economy slips and traditional media falters.

You need to be flexible.  Offer more than one type of club.  The best example of this is to offer us the option of 2, 4, or 6 shipments a year.  This allows us, as the consumer to make the best choice for us, economically and environmentally.

Be judicious with your marketing efforts.  Snail mail is a thing of the past.  Sending targeted and regular email communications is both cost effective and has the most impact.  Wine Club shipments lead to follow up sales.  Follow up sales equal new customers.  If i receive a targeted email from a wine club that contains something meaningful for me, I am more likely to open it and read the detailed information than if i receive a general email from a winery.  I belong to many winery email lists, and I generally ignore the emails unless it says something specific, like “Allocation Announcement for ABC Wine", or “Wine Club shipment for February”.

Now these are the opinions of one lush, but what do YOU think?

Bacon Fridays are here!

January 23, 2009

It’s no secret that I love bacon.  Bacon on pizza, bacon by itself, bacon bacon bacon.  To this end, I am starting a weekly wine & bacon pairing feature, which was inspired by two recent events.

First, Wine Blogging Wednesday #53 had us pair wines with breakfast foods.  The BBLT paired with The Spaniard was heavenly.

Second, I was put in touch with The Bacon Freak, who declares that bacon is meat candy. Since i happy to agree with this statement, we discussed my featuring his delicious dry cured & season rubbed bacons with some wine selections.  Sign me up!

First up, I made an easy weeknight supper of Apple Cider Brown Sugar Chicken, which is wrapped in Cinnamon Apple Bacon.

To prepare this dish, take two boneless skinless chicken breasts.  Rinse them off, and pat dry.   Add the breasts to a glass baking dish.  This is important because you don’t want the next ingredient reacting with the metal.

Pour 1/2 cup Apple Cider vinegar over the chicken.  The vinegar keeps the chicken moist, and gives it a lovely apple flavor.

Now, take 4 strips of Baby Bubba’s Butcher Block Bacon – Apple Cinnamon, and lay 2 over each breast.  you might need to tuck the ends under, so they stay on the chicken while baking.  I chose the Apple Cinnamon bacon because it enhanceds the apple flavor of the chicken dish, and the Cinnamon is a natural companion for the brown sugar in the sauce.

Spread 3 Tablespoons of brown sugar over the chicken and bacon.   The brown sugar will melt in to the vinegar, and create an amazing sauce.  The bacon and vinegar will keep the chicken moist.

Bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for about 20 minutes, depending on the size of your pieces.  Just check after that time to make sure the chicken is done and the bacon is cooked.  I serve this dish with a refreshing spinach salad, with a tangy dressing.

slhNow for the wine pairing!  Because the chicken is a sweet dish, I needed to find a wine that would play off the sugar and apple flavors.  I chose a Santa Lucia Highlands Pinot Noir, because they tend to be big wines.  This area also produces a bold fruit flavor in the Pinot Noirs, which pairs nicely with the apple and Cinnamon flavors in the Chicken.  The fruit forwardness can be perceived as sweetness, which works in this case because when you pair a sweet with a sweet, they cancel each other out and you can realy taste the flavors in the food and the wine.

I forgot to take a picture before I ate it so next time, I’ll try to get that to you!

I hope you enjoy this dish and I  look forward to hearing your experiments!

Next week:  Jalepeno Bacon Cheese Popovers with Zinfandel, in celebration of ZAP!  The Zinfandel Festival

**SPECIAL BULLITAN** WBC has been announced!

January 23, 2009

We interrupt the blog to announce that the 2nd Annual North American Wine Bloggers Conference will be held in Sonoma and Napa, July 24th – July 26th.  I don’t envy the event planners because I know they made every effort not to conflict with other events.  I will miss some of my friends, but hopefully we can find that sweet spot where everyone can come!

This year, we are back at The Flamingo in Santa Rosa, which is a Grande Dame out of the Rat Pack Days.  Yes, while the outside seems a bit, well, WORN, the rooms are newly done and it’s got good space and a great pool.

Don’t forget to register early, as there are only 250 slots left!

Details can be found HERE

Agenda details:

Friday, July 24
12:00 noon Registration and Sponsor Lunch
2:00 PM Welcome and Conference Overview
2:30 PM Live Wine Blogging
4:00 PM Breakout Sessions
5:00 PM Breakout Sessions
6:30 PM Grand Tasting of Sonoma Wines
8:00 PM Pool Party Barbecue

Saturday, July 25
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:00 AM Depart for Napa Valley
10:00 AM Breakout Sessions
11:00 AM Breakout Sessions
12:00 noon Depart for Napa Rocks at participating wineries
7:00 PM Dinner in the Vineyards at participating Napa wineries
8:45 PM Buses return to the Flamingo
9:45 PM Informal tasting of participants’ wines

Sunday, July 26
7:00 AM Breakfast on your own
9:30 AM Breakout Sessions and Industry Discussions
11:30 AM Luxe Sonoma Tasting
12:30 PM Casual lunch
1:00 PM Conference Ends

1:oopm on – if you are still around, I’m sure there will be blogger tasting, parties, and other fun stuff!

If you want to see what I thought of last year, check out these posts:

You've been ZAPped!

January 21, 2009

zap

ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers trade organization, is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel.  Next week marks its 18th annual festival, a weeklong celebration of Zinfandel themeed events.

Being the Zinner that I am, I look forward to this event every year.  I also am a volunteer, so I have seen first hand how the love of zinfandel has grown over the years.   Although the public tasting on Saturday, Jan 31st, can be a bit of a zoo, there are several other events throughout the week that make this event an enjoyable experience.


Wednesday – Jan 28th

Flights!

Prepare for take-off…
Take a seat and buckle-up to embark on a voyage of discovery. Your crew at our intimate, seminar-style setting will include the intrepid men and women winemakers and owners who grow and craft these remarkable wines. The City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program will create delights for your taste buds to savor during the walk-around Zinfandel reception following the seminar.

Also on Wednesday, Crushpad is hosting a BYOB Zinfandel event to help kick off ZAP.  I love these mixers at Crushpad, because we get to taste a lot of great wine, but also meet some new people.  This time, bring a bottle of zin.  Crushpad will brown bag it, and present it with the other offerings for you to sample.  At the end of the evening, we vote on our faves, and reveal!  So much fun, and perfect for an economical evening out.  Please RSVP here

Thursday – Jan 29th

Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing

If you are a devoted foodie with a passion for Zinfandel, make plans to indulge your “inner epicurean” and spend the evening at Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing! Noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of cooking and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combinations of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer stunning Zinfandels to match.

Detailed menus are here.  This is my favorite event of the week, because you get the opportunity to taste some speical wines that aren’tr always poured on Saturday, in a quieter more relaxed atmosphere.  Take a look at these sample menus!

Zinfandel Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Cipollini Onion Ragout with Carol Shelton Wines

Miniature Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Easton Zinfandel Barbeque Sauce with Easton wines

Friday – Jan 30th

Evening

with the Winemakers

This event is a benefit auction and dinner, and is the ritziest of the week. This elegant sit down dinner benefits the ZAP’s Heritage Projects–preserving the historical and viticultural significance of America’s Heritage Wine–Zinfandel, including scholarships and other designated charities.

Wine 2.0 Best Practices Seminars

Wine 2.0,

the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry and ZAP, invite you to participate in “Winery Best Practices,” an education session on January 30, 2009 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco.

1. Winery eCommerce: 12:00-12:45 pm – A panel moderated by Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant on best practices and n

ew tools for e-commerce success in 2009.

2. Winery Social Networking: 1:00-1:45 pm – A panel moderated by Lisa De Bruin of Hahn Family Winery with lessons on best practices for social networking in the year ahead.

3. Building a Great Consumer Direct Organization: 2:00-2:45 pm – A presentation by Lesley Berglund of WISE Academy on best practices in direct-to-consumer programs with lessons learned from industry research covering the past 18 months.

Sessions will run for 45 minutes each (with a 15 minute break between sessions) starting at 12 noon on January 30 in the Building “D” Theater at Ft. Mason. Up to 300 winery professionals are expected to attend. 40% of ticketing proceeds go towards ZAP’s Education Programs.


Order Tickets here, $35 per session or all three for $90


Saturday – Jan 31st

ZAP Grand Tasting

Over 250 member wineries will pour their zins!  Pick a target path.  I like to select a region, or select a list of wineries that i haven’t heard of.  Make sure you spit!

Trade  10am-1pm

Public 2pm-5pm

Bloggers can request media passes by emailing your RSVP with contact information to abdi@winetwo.com.  There will also be a blogger lounge at the back of the room in each pavillion.

Finally, there are some great promotions going on!  Vin Village is giving away 7 tickets to the Good Eats & Zin evening, as well as 7 tickets to the Grand Tasting.

There are two ways to enter:

vinvillage1

1.  Go to http://vinvillage.com/zap-wine-festival-ticket-contest-sign and sign up for Vin Village.  IT’s a great site that has some interesting content, and you can wine stuff!

2.  At the Crushpad BYOB Zin event, Vin Village will be drawing a name out of the hat for the same tickets.  Be there or be square!


You've been ZAPped!

January 21, 2009

zap

ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers trade organization, is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel.  Next week marks its 18th annual festival, a weeklong celebration of Zinfandel themeed events.

Being the Zinner that I am, I look forward to this event every year.  I also am a volunteer, so I have seen first hand how the love of zinfandel has grown over the years.   Although the public tasting on Saturday, Jan 31st, can be a bit of a zoo, there are several other events throughout the week that make this event an enjoyable experience.


Wednesday – Jan 28th

Flights!

Prepare for take-off…
Take a seat and buckle-up to embark on a voyage of discovery. Your crew at our intimate, seminar-style setting will include the intrepid men and women winemakers and owners who grow and craft these remarkable wines. The City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program will create delights for your taste buds to savor during the walk-around Zinfandel reception following the seminar.

Also on Wednesday, Crushpad is hosting a BYOB Zinfandel event to help kick off ZAP.  I love these mixers at Crushpad, because we get to taste a lot of great wine, but also meet some new people.  This time, bring a bottle of zin.  Crushpad will brown bag it, and present it with the other offerings for you to sample.  At the end of the evening, we vote on our faves, and reveal!  So much fun, and perfect for an economical evening out.  Please RSVP here

Thursday – Jan 29th

Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing

If you are a devoted foodie with a passion for Zinfandel, make plans to indulge your “inner epicurean” and spend the evening at Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing! Noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of cooking and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combinations of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer stunning Zinfandels to match.

Detailed menus are here.  This is my favorite event of the week, because you get the opportunity to taste some speical wines that aren’tr always poured on Saturday, in a quieter more relaxed atmosphere.  Take a look at these sample menus!

Zinfandel Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Cipollini Onion Ragout with Carol Shelton Wines

Miniature Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Easton Zinfandel Barbeque Sauce with Easton wines

Friday – Jan 30th

Evening

with the Winemakers

This event is a benefit auction and dinner, and is the ritziest of the week. This elegant sit down dinner benefits the ZAP’s Heritage Projects–preserving the historical and viticultural significance of America’s Heritage Wine–Zinfandel, including scholarships and other designated charities.

Wine 2.0 Best Practices Seminars

Wine 2.0,

the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry and ZAP, invite you to participate in “Winery Best Practices,” an education session on January 30, 2009 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco.

1. Winery eCommerce: 12:00-12:45 pm – A panel moderated by Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant on best practices and n

ew tools for e-commerce success in 2009.

2. Winery Social Networking: 1:00-1:45 pm – A panel moderated by Lisa De Bruin of Hahn Family Winery with lessons on best practices for social networking in the year ahead.

3. Building a Great Consumer Direct Organization: 2:00-2:45 pm – A presentation by Lesley Berglund of WISE Academy on best practices in direct-to-consumer programs with lessons learned from industry research covering the past 18 months.

Sessions will run for 45 minutes each (with a 15 minute break between sessions) starting at 12 noon on January 30 in the Building “D” Theater at Ft. Mason. Up to 300 winery professionals are expected to attend. 40% of ticketing proceeds go towards ZAP’s Education Programs.


Order Tickets here, $35 per session or all three for $90


Saturday – Jan 31st

ZAP Grand Tasting

Over 250 member wineries will pour their zins!  Pick a target path.  I like to select a region, or select a list of wineries that i haven’t heard of.  Make sure you spit!

Trade  10am-1pm

Public 2pm-5pm

Bloggers can request media passes by emailing your RSVP with contact information to abdi@winetwo.com.  There will also be a blogger lounge at the back of the room in each pavillion.

Finally, there are some great promotions going on!  Vin Village is giving away 7 tickets to the Good Eats & Zin evening, as well as 7 tickets to the Grand Tasting.

There are two ways to enter:

vinvillage1

1.  Go to http://vinvillage.com/zap-wine-festival-ticket-contest-sign and sign up for Vin Village.  IT’s a great site that has some interesting content, and you can wine stuff!

2.  At the Crushpad BYOB Zin event, Vin Village will be drawing a name out of the hat for the same tickets.  Be there or be square!


You’ve been ZAPped!

January 21, 2009

zap

ZAP, the Zinfandel Advocates & Producers trade organization, is dedicated to advancing public knowledge of and appreciation for American Zinfandel.  Next week marks its 18th annual festival, a weeklong celebration of Zinfandel themeed events.

Being the Zinner that I am, I look forward to this event every year.  I also am a volunteer, so I have seen first hand how the love of zinfandel has grown over the years.   Although the public tasting on Saturday, Jan 31st, can be a bit of a zoo, there are several other events throughout the week that make this event an enjoyable experience.


Wednesday – Jan 28th

Flights!

Prepare for take-off…
Take a seat and buckle-up to embark on a voyage of discovery. Your crew at our intimate, seminar-style setting will include the intrepid men and women winemakers and owners who grow and craft these remarkable wines. The City College of San Francisco Culinary Arts & Hospitality Studies program will create delights for your taste buds to savor during the walk-around Zinfandel reception following the seminar.

Also on Wednesday, Crushpad is hosting a BYOB Zinfandel event to help kick off ZAP.  I love these mixers at Crushpad, because we get to taste a lot of great wine, but also meet some new people.  This time, bring a bottle of zin.  Crushpad will brown bag it, and present it with the other offerings for you to sample.  At the end of the evening, we vote on our faves, and reveal!  So much fun, and perfect for an economical evening out.  Please RSVP here

Thursday – Jan 29th

Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing

If you are a devoted foodie with a passion for Zinfandel, make plans to indulge your “inner epicurean” and spend the evening at Good Eats & Zinfandel Pairing! Noteworthy restaurants and award-winning wineries turn the art of cooking and wine pairing into an entertaining and approachable affair. Talented chefs present the ultimate combinations of distinctive tastes, while winery proprietors offer stunning Zinfandels to match.

Detailed menus are here.  This is my favorite event of the week, because you get the opportunity to taste some speical wines that aren’tr always poured on Saturday, in a quieter more relaxed atmosphere.  Take a look at these sample menus!

Zinfandel Braised Pork Shoulder with Butternut Squash and Cipollini Onion Ragout with Carol Shelton Wines

Miniature Pulled Pork Sandwiches with Easton Zinfandel Barbeque Sauce with Easton wines

Friday – Jan 30th

Evening

with the Winemakers

This event is a benefit auction and dinner, and is the ritziest of the week. This elegant sit down dinner benefits the ZAP’s Heritage Projects–preserving the historical and viticultural significance of America’s Heritage Wine–Zinfandel, including scholarships and other designated charities.

Wine 2.0 Best Practices Seminars

Wine 2.0,

the innovator in social networking and events in the wine industry and ZAP, invite you to participate in “Winery Best Practices,” an education session on January 30, 2009 at Ft. Mason in San Francisco.

1. Winery eCommerce: 12:00-12:45 pm – A panel moderated by Jeff Carroll of ShipCompliant on best practices and n

ew tools for e-commerce success in 2009.

2. Winery Social Networking: 1:00-1:45 pm – A panel moderated by Lisa De Bruin of Hahn Family Winery with lessons on best practices for social networking in the year ahead.

3. Building a Great Consumer Direct Organization: 2:00-2:45 pm – A presentation by Lesley Berglund of WISE Academy on best practices in direct-to-consumer programs with lessons learned from industry research covering the past 18 months.

Sessions will run for 45 minutes each (with a 15 minute break between sessions) starting at 12 noon on January 30 in the Building “D” Theater at Ft. Mason. Up to 300 winery professionals are expected to attend. 40% of ticketing proceeds go towards ZAP’s Education Programs.


Order Tickets here, $35 per session or all three for $90


Saturday – Jan 31st

ZAP Grand Tasting

Over 250 member wineries will pour their zins!  Pick a target path.  I like to select a region, or select a list of wineries that i haven’t heard of.  Make sure you spit!

Trade  10am-1pm

Public 2pm-5pm

Bloggers can request media passes by emailing your RSVP with contact information to abdi@winetwo.com.  There will also be a blogger lounge at the back of the room in each pavillion.

Finally, there are some great promotions going on!  Vin Village is giving away 7 tickets to the Good Eats & Zin evening, as well as 7 tickets to the Grand Tasting.

There are two ways to enter:

vinvillage1

1.  Go to http://vinvillage.com/zap-wine-festival-ticket-contest-sign and sign up for Vin Village.  IT’s a great site that has some interesting content, and you can wine stuff!

2.  At the Crushpad BYOB Zin event, Vin Village will be drawing a name out of the hat for the same tickets.  Be there or be square!


Am I certifiable?

January 14, 2009

There has been an interesting conversation going on for a while now, about how we measure wine bloggers.  This question is not without controversy and it sparks a lot of thought.  The folks at Vintank, and new powerhouse in the Wine 2.0 world, have even challenged us to create an experiment on how to measure the ROI of social media and blogs.

How exactly do we measure a blogger’s success or contribution to the webiverse?  That’s the key question that is being asked by many wineries and PR agencies as they strive to determine who they should send samples to, give special treatment to, and dole out perks to.

Should we have a Wine Blogger Seal of Approval?  Should there be some sort of credential?  I am divided on this issue.

A credential is a badge of honor.  Think of press credentials.  You don’t have to necessarily be a good journalist to get one, you just have to be a journalist.  That gives you access to crime scenes, events, and trade shows with the expectation that you will do something in return – report on it.

On the other hand, certification implies that your blog must meet a certain set of standard criteria in order to gain access to the elite group.  This is where i have an problem, as I don’t know how you create a specific set of standards for a group of people that are essentially writing Op/Ed pieces.  Yes, there are professional bloggers out there, in the likes of Alder Yarrow of Vinography.  However, the vast majority of bloggers are hobbiests with a passion for wine.  If i write something that you don’t agree with, does that make me wrong?  I hope not.  An opinion is an opinion.  I don’t have to like the same things you do.

The issues that have come up are one of access to a privileged elite of wine.  These benefits have been taken advantage of, much like in traditional media.  Clearly, a few bad bloggers spoil the merlot.

How do we prove our worth to these industry peeps that are we are worthy of the perks?  I am all for weeding out the leeches, those that write a post once and expect to get free tastings for 10 or free passes to every event.  The question is how do we accomplish this without being exclusionary?  The wine industry is finally starting to tune into the importance of the bloggersphere.  By placing barriers to access, aren’t we taking one step forward and 2 steps back?

Michael Wangblicker of Caveman Wines and Lisa de Bruin of California Wine Life have posted thier ideas on this subject as well.  Some of thier suggestions as well as mine are below, with my comments in red.

  1. Age of blogs – There is high turnover on blogs. An older blog may indicate that the blogger is here to stay.  This might be true, but an old blog might be stale.  This needs to be used in conjunction with other measurements to be effective.
  2. Average Number of posts per month – The more frequently a blogger posts, the greater likelihood that their audience will be larger.  This is true in general, but how do we set the bar?
  3. Other Social Media channels – Does the blogger have a good following on Facebook, Twitter, etc.? It may indicate that their readership is larger than implied by visits to the blog.  I think this is important for the bigger picture.  A blogger who is not hooked in to other social media avenues is not getting the full picture.
  4. By Readership?  This might be the strongest option, but i still question how you measure readership.  Do we need a central hits per day list?  If I post on a holiday instead of a weekday, will i be penalized for not hitting prime time?
  5. Quality of writing?  How do you measure this?  I think I am a good writer, but you may not.  This is too subjetive.  These guidelines have to be objective to work.
  6. Their own level of wine education?  Measuring bloggers on their knowledge of wine is putting the cart before the horse.  There are many bloggers, including myself, who started their blog in order to educate yourself.  Rating based on knowledge is going to increase the blogger vs. trad media war that is still going on and the elitism that is perceived witll be exacerbated.
  7. A Blogger Organization, such as Wineblogger.info, can be helpful in identifying those that want to be part of the bigger collective.  If you take the time to associate with such an organization, chances are you are more interested in writing and your blog than the free tasting at Winery X.
I’m not sure that any of these are the answer.  I personally don’t want someone telling me my blog is good enough to be part of the club, because that’s not why i blog.  The more technical KPI’s are tricky and somewhat difficult to ascertain, as the analytics tools are still being developed.  In addition, some people blog on a common site, and you cannot truly gauge visitors.
My feeling is that we need to be INCLUSIVE and not EXCLUSIONARY.  It is important to have open communication with the industry.  Clearly, bloggers don’t like people that give us a bad name any more than the industry people do but we need to figure out how to weed them out of the bigger mix without alienating the masses.
I’m curious as to your opinions!