One of the developments in the wine world that I have found most interesting is social media tasting events. I have been involved in a number of these events, and they really have the potential to provide a great social tasting platform to groups of people spread out across the map.
There are some different formats for these events that have been tried out over the last couple of years. One format is the large scale event that is focused on a single varietal or possibly region, where ever everyone just buys a bottle that matches the criteria and then tweets about that wine. These events have managed to attract huge audiences due to the fact that everyone can just buy a wine that fits the category and then jump online and talk about it. The problem with these events is that they end up being the online equivalent of a bunch of people stepping into a room and shouting about the wine that they are drinking. There is very little actual dialogue going on, and I really question the value to the wineries that support the events. Another format that I find to be much more useful to wineries is the one that was employed for the recent Twitter tasting of The Crusher wines from Don Sebastiani & Sons. The single winery tastings that feature a set list of wines seem far more focused and provide a venue for some really great conversation about the wines. This kind of tasting also allows representatives from the winery to really be able to engage with the tasters, and is the closest experience to a tasting room interaction that I have seen online.
The recent tasting of The Crusher line of wines took place under the Twitter hash tag #Crushup, which I found to be far more interesting than the typical Twitter taste hash tag. I have found it somewhat challenging to make it for these national tastings now that I’m out here on the West Coast, and this one proved to be no exception. I missed the actual tasting event due to some real world interference, but thanks to the wonders of Twitter searches, I was able to go recap the event. Plus, I had received samples of the wines and some product information from the good folks at Balzac Communications, so I was able to do my own tasting.
Don Sebastiani & Sons traces its roots all the way back to 1904 when Samuele Sebastiani, who had emigrated from Italy to America in 1895, founded his vineyards and winery. Move forward three generations and you will find the family business still flourishing, with several labels in the portfolio. When you look at the success that the Sebastiani family has enjoyed since Samuele first came to the country, it’s hard to imagine a more perfect American Dream story.
The Crusher wines themselves definitely offer something unique. The lineup included a Chardonnay, a Pinot Noir Rosé, a Pinot Noir, a Petite Sirah, and a Cab. The wines are all made from fruit grown in Clarksburg, California. When I first looked at the wines I was struck by the fact that the elegant labels seemed out of place in a wine called “The Crusher.” After doing a little more reading I found that the name is not an attempt to appeal to the vast sea of WWE fans who also drink wine, but rather refers to their philosophy that the trip from the vineyard to the crusher to your table with serve up a fresh dose of their regional flavor.
Tastings like the #Crushup are really just starting to come into their own. Although I expect them to continue to evolve, they are already a key facet to the new media branding and marketing efforts of many wineries. They offer producers an excellent way to connect to the public and to extend the boundaries of their tasting room out to a broader audience. When properly focused, social media tastings facilitate conversation between people who share a common interest in wine, and in a way that directs attention to a specific brand.
I would be curious to hear your thoughts about online tastings in general, and especially about the specific style of tasting that you have most enjoyed.