What’s a tweetup you ask? Why would you tweet something up? Recently, I had the opportunity to meet and greet with dozens of the Bay Area’s finest, bloggers and wine professionals, as well as just some very cool people at the The Napa Valley Tweetup – Presented by Robert Mondavi Winery.
Earlier in the day, the Social Media Seminar provided an in depth look at how social media is changing the wine industry, and how users are becoming more engaged via blogs and other social media platforms. Then it was time to have some fun! Hidden int he stunning To Kalon Cellar, with it’s giant redwood tanks and awe inspiring barrel cellar, the in crowd assembled to taste Mondavi’s wines and mingle over a social media cocktail. In the rather cavernous dungeon, we were greeted by Gabriel Carrejo, who is the cheerleader behind many digital media tweetups and networking events.
Once inside, atop the catwalk above those giant redwood fermentation tanks, there were stations set up with each of the wines, where we were instructed to check in on FourSquare at east tasting station in the hopes that we might win some swag. More importantly, the social locator allowed us to see who else might have been at the event, and seek out those individuals that we might want to meet, by nature of the geo locating tool. Say what you might about tools like FourSquare – but for social location, networking, and impromptu meetups over a glass of wine, it is an invaluable tool.
As I wandered from station to station, I saw many of my old friends, and was able to reconnect over a glass of wine. In addition, it was a spectacular networking event as I met many more tweeters and industry insiders that were in attendance. The benefit to events such as this are difficult to measure; however, on a personal level, having the ability to meet many people that I have not otherwise had the opportunity to do , and to revisit a winery that I have not been to in a while is invaluable. Changing perception in this business can be challenging; too often, large wineries write people off if they are no longer repeat customers. this is a poor business decision in a challenging economy, as EVERY old customer can be a new customer provided that the experience is a good one.
Mondavi is one such winery that I have been underestimating. Long ago, I was a frequent visitor and a fan. Then I grew up, and started visiting smaller wineries, and other wineries, by passing the monolith as I cruised up 29. On this night, I was shown the light, both in the warm welcome by the Mondavi staff, and in their willingness to embrace social media and us, the Mediaites, by providing an elegantly casual setting where social media users and curiosity seekers mingled, discuss business, blogs, twitter, and just have a good time, puts the Social back in to social media. Don’t underestimate the power of inclusive events such as the tweetup. Personalities such as Hardy Wallace have been instrumental in challenging market perceptions in brands like Murhpy Goode, which are often written off by more experienced wine drinkers (ok fine, me) as the mass produced and overdone wines.
Later that weekend, I stopped by Amista Vineyards (@amistavineyards) in Dry Creek Valley during barrel tasting. An effective user of Twitter, Amista has been attracting tweeters with their personal attention, and inviting tweets promoting their wines and lovely picnice grounds. While out and about, Vicky tweeted that I was only 3 miles away and should stop by. Far be it for me to refuse and invitation, so my friends & I grabbed a picnic and headed out to the grounds behind the tasting room. Having a personal touch with a warm greeting and a welcome sign will bring in people more times than having a cult cab. Wineries should take note – it’s about relationships first, wine second. If you are treat a customer poorly or indifferently, when visiting a tasting room, they are almost certainly not going to becoming a lifetime customer. Treat a customer like a valued friend, and they will cmoe back over and over again. Amista has won my Customer Loyalty award, along with Holdredge, Manzanita Creek, Mounts, and Michel-Schlumburger – to name a few in Sonoma. In Napa, the winners are St. Supery, Titus, and Domaine Carneros, which proves that you don’t need to be a small family winery to understand excellent customer service.
I hope that this tweetup was just one of the first in a long series, as it will go a long way in expanding the value of social media and proving that it’s not just about the static post or tweet anymore. Social media is a living organizsm, and requires maintenance, just like freindships.
Special thanks to Robert Mondavi Winery, Vintank, Amista, and all of my new & old social media buddies who are now valued friends (and I can’t list them all so here are a few of my rockstars, who mentor me and are just generally awesome)