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

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Spring, wonderous 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 […]

Hospitali-teed off!

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This weekend, I was fortunate enough to find myself in Napa, celebrating Lisa’s(@winedivergirl) housewarming.  Since I was staying the night, we had planned to go wine tasting the next day with our friend Brian from The Roger Smith Hotel (@bsimi), who was visiting from New York. When we got going on the rainy winter Sunday, we opted to start with some bubbles, so Lisa took us on over to Domaine Chandon.  Now, I know this winery well.  I have been there many times.  I buy their sparklers int he grocery store – a LOT.  As we pulled in to the winery, the river passing through the property was a bit wild, which really should have warned us of the impending visit.  As we walked through the retail store, several employees were milling about,  did greet us on entry.  As we made our way upstairs, we saw that while the tasting bar was hopping, it was not busy.  I did see immediately, that there were only 2 employees working the whole bar – which normally would not be surprising, but if you’ve seen this tasting bar, you can easily line up 25 people along the perimeter. Ok fine, so they were short staffed.  I thought, no problem, there is an opening at the bar, so we’ll side up and look at the menu, assuming the bartender will come by at some point.  And bartender is what they are – Chandon does not offer traditional tastings, but instead offers flights of 2 different sparkling levels, still wines, as well as champagne cocktails.  Having decided on our beverages, we tried to flag down one of the two staff members for assistance.  NO such luck.  We stood.  We waited.  We waited some more. 15 minutes in to this, we mutually decided to high tail it out of there.  Now I know that as an industry rep, a wine blogger, and a hotel beverage manager, we might have high expectations for customers service, but this was just RIDICULOUS.  To not even acknowledge our presence with a simple “I’ll be right with you” set me over the edge. What made this experience worse was that as we walked out, the Chatty Cathys in the retail shop didn’t even say goodbye, or why are you leaving, or anything.  They just ignored us. Meanwhile, as we headed over to micro winery Elizabeth Spencer, we were fuming.  Inside the tiny tasting room, ev erything about our day began to change.  We were greeted.  We were smiled at.  We were talked to.  Vanessa INTERACTED with us.  Once she found out we were tradespeople, she asked us about what we did.  She showed me a very cool iPhone app, and she talked to us about the wines.  This experience was so lovely, Lisa even joined the wine club!  I bought a bottle of syrah.  Oh and the wine was delicious! Feeling redeemed, we even ventured over to Rubicon Estate.  Known for it’s outrageous tasting fees but beautiful grounds, we were at […]

What happens in Napa, stays in Napa. And the blogesphere. And Twitterverse.

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This past Sunday, I was fortunate enough to have my Luscious Lush self and my big mouth invited to a blogger panel discussion, hosted by Lisa de Bruin (@winedivergirl) of Hahn Estates.  At this discussion were several fellow bloggers and industry folks, as well as a large contingent of the Hahn team, who were on hand to discuss their wines as well as how they can more effectively interact with us wine blogger types. First, let me get this out of the way.  I am going to talk about some wines.  I am going to talk about some Hahn Estates wines.  These wines were tasted at a hosted event, but these comments express ONLY my opinions.  I am choosing to write about the wines that stood out in my memory as being exceptional or noteworthy, because i like to share things I like.  Moving right along then! In attendance, we had the following bloggers: JJ Bagley and Alan Kropf of Mutineer Magazine Laura Wagren of 1000 Corks Xandria & Liza of The Brix Chicks (@lorzandra & @brixchick_liza) Ward Kadel of WineLog (@drxeno) Shana Ray of Shana; not out on VHS yet (@sharayray) Chris Butts of the The Kilted Blog (@chrisbutts) Sam Ackman of 1000 Corks Chris Oggenfuss of Vintuba (@vintuba) Russ Beebe of California Wine Hikes (@winehiker) Additionally, we had two wineries represented, which added a unique perspective. Jeff Stai, Owner Twisted Oak Winery and winery blogger on El Bloggo Torcido (@eljefetwisted) Judd Wallenbrock of Humanitas Wines and Michel-Schlumberger, winery blogger of Drink Charitably (@humanitas) From Hahn, we had: Andy Mitchell, Director of Vineyard Operations Adam Lazarre, Winemaker Bill Leigon, President Evelyn Pool, VP of Marketing Lisa Adams Walter, PR (@lisaadamswalter) and of course, our illustrious hostess herself – Lisa de Bruin, Director of New Media Marketing (@winedivergirl) This event was envisioned by Lisa de Bruin, with a lot of input from various bloggers and industry folks, as an opportunity to open the dialogue between wineries and bloggers.  This has been something of a challenge in recent weeks, and has incited some rioting (friendly fire only!).  Before the lively discussion started, however, we were treated to a tasting of some of the Bin 36 and Lucienne offerings.  Below are my notes from my favorites: 2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Lone Oak Vineyard Rich ruby color.  Rich without being sweet or overdone.  Black cherry, earth.  Strawberry fruit rollup, cherry and plum.  Tastes slightly salty. The Lone Oak Vineyard is in an area of the Santa Lucia Highlands that produces world class pinot noir.  Case in point, Lone Oak actually sits between Gary’s Vineyard and Rosellas Vineyard, which are both well known in pinot circles for producing some cult pinot noirs. We also tasted the 2006 Lucienne Pinot Noir, Doctors Vineyard This had a much chewier mouth feel, with black raspberry and Bing cherries, followed by plums and earthy spice flavors. I enjoyed both of these pinots very much, and would say that for drinking along, Doctors is a great choice.  If you […]