Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

To trade or not to trade, THAT is the question.

March 5, 2009

Spring, wopinot-days1nderous spring.  The rain has left for now, and the wine festivals are upon us.  Or are they?

Recently, I found that Pinot Days, the San Francisco varietal focused event held at the end of June, will not be offering any trade tickets to this years event.  Huh?  No trade tickets?  To ANYone? While I understand that the definition of “trade” has become blurred recently with bloggers, media, and other supposedly credentialed folks clamoring to take part in free wine, I really think that Pinot Days is missing the boat here.

First, the “Trade Requirements” link takes you to a page that says yo must be a legitimate member of one of the following categories:

  • Wine Retail Owner or Buyer
  • Restaurateur
  • Sommelier
  • Wine Distributor
  • Wine Buyer
  • Wine Broker

Ok, great.  That makes sense.  But when you click on Request Trade Tickets, you are rudely informed that San Francisco will not be offering trade tickets at all.  To restrict trade tickets to a select few individuals does make economical and logistical sense.  This is what Rhone Rangers has started to do, by reviewing each trade request carefully, and making a determination of trade eligibility.  Fair enough.  If I qualify, i get notified.  If i don’t, I make the decision to pay or not pay to attend with the rest of the public.  Understandably, the costs and time required to verify legitimate trade members may be more than the actual cost of the ticket, which presents a good reason for not taking the time to review every site individually.

Now I appreciate the fact that some of these events have gotten out of control, and every Tom, Dick or Harry, attempts to pass themselves off as trade.  However, to eliminate the attendance of restaurants, wine retailers, and traditional media Representatives entirely is to put a big DO NOT ENTER sign on your front door.  As a blogger, I am keenly aware that word of mouth is the most powerful marketing tool there is.  See my collective rant about Domaine Chandon’s lack of service recently.  If I am not exposed to things to talk about, then I guess I won’t be talking about them at all.  My focus will be shifted to those wineries I will be visiting at Barrel Tasting this weekend and next, because they WANT me to visit.  They practically begged me to visit.

Yes, many of the wineries pouring at these events have an elitist attitude and feel that they don’t have to “sell” their wines to the trade.  We should know who they are obviously.  Clearly, I should be printing the pour list out and running to my local wine shop requesting each and every wine to be stocked.  Obviously, I am a little befuddled at that thought process, since this is one of the few single varietal tasting events, and it allows me to explore new areas, new wineries, and new tastes in Pinot which I can then review.  Furthermore, I can network with retailers and share my business proposition with them for Vinquire.  Clearly, that is not going to happen this year, as all the 5000 attendees or so will be paying customers who will be having a pinot drunk fest.

Will I pay the $50 to attend?  Probably not.  I really enjoy this event, but I enjoy being able to discuss the wines with the reps, and taste at my leisure before the flooded masses get in.  Without that time, I don’t see the point in spending $50 to drink the pinots that I love so much, when I can drive myself up to Russian River and part-take for the same amount of money and less attitude.

To clarify my point, the issue is not really about the money.  I have no issue with charging trade a nominal fee for the privilege of attending these tastings.  To further emphasise that point I also have no issue with restriction exactly WHO is a member of the “trade” vs. who is on the periphery.

My core issue is with the total exclusion of the trade only event in San Francisco, and the lack of customer service finesse on behalf of Pinot Days.  As new media and Wine 2.0 become the mainstream, it’s important to INCLUDE people, not EXCLUDE them.

As this is an editorial blog, it’s just my opinion and what really matters is YOUR option! Happy reading.