Well, I read it…and with great anticipation.

Hugh McLeod’s "Stormhoek’s Guide To Wine Blogging"  was something I really was looking forward to reading. In the first place Hugh has proven himself quite the forward thinker when it comes to communicating anew in the world of blogs and on-line for the purpose of business development. He’s also used his popular Gaping Void Blog to help promote Stormhoek Winery, a South African venture that has done quite well in the UK and was recently introduced into the U.S. market. Add to all this, I have an interest in wine blogging.

Having read the illustrated guide I’m impressed that Hugh understood his audience well enough (it will be published in a Drink Magazine–a trade magazine for the corporate types) to make this little guide not so much about wine blogging as about blogging in general. There is nothing in the "Guide to Wine Blogging" that isn’t appropriate to any company producing any product. It might have been named, "The Short and Illustrated Guide to Corporate Blogging".

That said, I guess I’m a little disappointed. I’d really love to see a true guide for wineries that are considering adding a blog to their arsenal of marketing tools. The Stormhoek-financed effort by McLeod suggests there is very little about wine or wine lovers that should lead potential winery bloggers to do things slightly differently than say a blogger writing for a toy company.

Can that really be the case? In the world of blogging is wine like toys, like soap, like software, like widgets?

I’m almost sure this isn’t the case.

For example, I know this about the practice of winery blogging:

1. Your audience is far more interested in wine than the average person: that means you can assume more about their knowledge base as you write

2. Chances are, based on the demographics of the highly motivated wine lover, that their income is higher than average and they have an higher than average education level. This means you can touch on the notion of luxury goods as well as luxury services more often than if you were writing a for, say, a music production company.

3. Wine lovers tend to associate wines with the winemaker. This means they are probably looking for some sort of a dialog directly with the person who is pressing the grapes.

This little list could easily be expanded to more than 20 items that speak directly to winery-connected bloggers and blogs. However, it would be appropriate for a far smaller audience than Hugh’s more generic guide to wine blogging.

A guide to wine blogging, both for wine loving bloggers as well as winery-related bloggers would be a very good thing. And, it would be a very generous project given the small audience it would have. Perhaps we’ll see one in the coming months. Whoever does it should give a hat tip to Stormhoek and Hugh McLeod for the inspiration.

4 Responses

  1. Winesmith - July 6, 2006

    Thanks for the review of the Stormhoek guide and for sharing your insights on wine blogging. Though I generally agree with #1 above, I do feel compelled to share a different perspective.
    I think there are plenty of enthusiastic wine drinkers out there who would be happy to read more about wine but aren’t engaged by standard wine media. I come from the class of wine drinkers who started on 2-buck chuck and eventually moved to other wines while still not really knowing much about wine. So Wine Spectator, with its advertisements for private jets on the back cover, generally doesn’t speak to me.
    I think there are plenty more people like me, and that collectively, we have something to do with the surging wine sales in recent years. If the wine industry wants to cultivate this emerging market, it probably doesn’t hurt to tailor some marketing/ communications to them. And it seems to me that blogs are an opportunity for wineries to experiment and attract these new customers.

  2. Ryan Opaz - July 7, 2006

    Another question, I agree that Blogging for a winery can open up doors and new markets. But I’ve recently dealt with a winery that wants to know how this will translate to people who are not online. I figure the buzz for a prodcut online can spread to print sources, and the non-online community. Do you know of any reports or sources that make the link from the online to the offline world of wine marketing? Did Stormhoek or others see this occur from what you know? Am I right in thinking that us geeks online chatting about wine could have an affect on the outside world? 😉

  3. Steve De Long - July 10, 2006

    I hate to sound negative but wine blogging IN GENERAL is a loser. If you look at the latest Alexa.com ratings of wine blogs, the most visited is vinography.com at 155,676. gapingvoid.com is at 17,242 and stormhoek.com 251,871. The ratings aren’t all that accurate but can give an excellent relative indication of how popular a site is. 17,242 means the site is the 17,242 most visited on the web. Alexa doesn’t give exact traffic figures but I’ve read that 100,000th in popularity equals approx. 1,000 visits per day.
    I would imagine that stormhoek would have virtually no trafic if it wasn’t for gapingvoid. So, what to do? Form relationships to sites and blogs that aren’t just about wine.
    The funny thing about stormhoek is that it’s target market who don’t read wine blogs. It’s a decent supermarket wine that has been sucessfully given a cool makeover partly through blogging. Engaging the entire wine blogging community by giving out free wine enhanced its geek cred. and its storyline. Still, most people learned about the wine through the gapingvoid site, and other wine blogs but not through the stormhoek site.
    As for connecting to the offline world (is there really such a thing?) try the old fashioned way: getting articles planted in newspapers, magazines, etc. also known as PR!

Leave a Reply