Talk about building goodwill in the industry. Hugh over at gapingvoid and Stormhoek teamed up to produce a wine-centric version of Robert Scoble’s Corporate Blogging Manifesto.
Hugh, who was a case study in Scoble’s excellent book Naked Conversations and has influenced many other wine bloggers including myself and people like Jeff Lefevere at Good Grape, is spot on with many of the suggestions in the manifesto. I’m hopeful that it will encourage others to get out there to join the conversation, and it can’t help but continue to raise the profile of Stormhoek and Hugh as thought leaders in the industry.
One bit that I think some will find hard to swallow, but is also probably the most insightful, is number 16:
16. Beware â€œterroirâ€?. Everyone’s got it. Winemakers like to believe that just because theyâ€™re wine geeks, their customers must be wine geeks, too. Wrong! For most of us, no one ever heard of your little patch of ground, so donâ€™t bet the ranch on making it famous. Real brands have real meaning. Pruning techniques, fermentation temperatures and oak regimen doesn’t qualify as ‘meaning’. Stake out your claim: You must be able to say something about your wine that nobody else can say about theirs.
I think Hugh is right to a point, though the French would certainly disagree. You shouldn’t hope to create a market for your terroir all by your lonesome (unless you get a 98 from Parker that is), but if you already grow in a place known for quality, like Napa or Sonoma or Burgundy, I think it would be foolish to squander the strength of that brand.
In some ways I think Hugh is restating, in a more forceful and thought provoking way, something that Boulton et. all said in Principals And Practices of Winemaking:
It is usually easier to succeed as winery number 50 in a famed district than number one in an unknown area.
We really do need to find a way to talk to customers without sounding like pompous dolts. We need to be able to communicate what makes us special quickly (Did you know my great grandmother was a bootlegger? We named the winery after her) and it needs to resonate with normal folks.
Nevertheless, I still think there is a market out there for wines that are marketed mainly to geeks who find great meaning in pruning techniques etc. And wine geeks tend to be affluent, which is nice…
The trick for us is finding the right balance. Rock on, Hugh.