Have you ever sat down and started to tick off those people who have been instrumental to your career? Stopped and given some thought to who those folks are who actually made you  substantially better at what you do? I could do this, and it would make for an interesting post, if not an interesting personal inventory of my own gratefulness.

One of the folks on that list is Judd Wallenbrock, the President of Michel-Schlumberger in Sonoma County’s Dry Creek Valley. Judd is much smarter than I am. Much! He’s deliberative. One of the things that stuck with me from having worked with Judd is the importance of surveying the landscape before talking action. I can be impulsive, so this was a valuable lesson.

It turns out that Judd has recently finished his own survey—a survey of the world and utility of blogs. Further, it is clear that Judd has determined the Blog is something of value to Michel-Schlumberger and this has led to the creation of  BENCHLAND BLOG, a new blog written by the Michel-Schlumberger team.

(Judd has also joined the world of TWITTER, it seems)

I love Winery-written blogs. That is, I love to read really well done winery blogs because I’m fascinated by the ways in which a commercial enterprise goes about using a informal communications vehicle like a blog to reach out to consumers and friends. It’s easy to suggest that a winery-run blog isn’t much different than the old paper newsletters we used to write, design, print and deliver to mailing list members. But it is different. it is much easier to layer "personality" over the winery in a blog than it is a newsletter. Anyone who even contemplates publishing a blog and doing it well knows this from the get go and as such the reader should recognize that how the personality of a commercial venture is rolled out is likely given considerable thought by the blog owner. The big question for the reader is this: Am I reading something authentic or something contrived.

Judd Wallenbrock is at heart a marketer with a history of working at the highest levels in organizations such as with Mondavi, De Loach, Inertia Beverage Group, Roshambo, not to mention his own brand, Humanitas. And through all this work in marketing one thing about Judd has always struck me: In the battle between Authenticity and Contrivance, Judd always falls on the side of authenticity.

This is why Michel-Schlumberger’s Benchland Blog is likely to turn out to be among the better winery blogs on the net.

The first few posts at Benchland Blog have naturally been about the Michel-Schlumberger estate in DryMs
Creek Valley—their organic farming, the terroir, their Valley, etc.  But if you read them closely, you’ll see that the posts are not just about "what we do" at Michel-Schlumberger. The not-so-subtle subtext of these first posts by the Michel-Schlumberger team amounts to, "Good God, how luck am I to work at this place in this part of the world (giggle giddily!)."

I’m not sure this is the sort of "look how lucky I am" message I’d want to send from my winery blog. It smacks of "I’m luckier than Yoooouuu Aaarre!!". And to their credit, the folks at Michel-Schlumberger who write the blog don’t communicate this blatantly. What’s delightful however is that these folks are clearly so enamored with their place in the world that this gratefulness seems to animate every single post to this point.  It’s an Authentic Giddiness. And I like it.

I think you are going to like it too. Bookmark the Benchland Blog. Follow Judd on Twitter. Make him a friend at Open Wine Consortium

2 Responses

  1. Tim - July 29, 2008

    I often “tick off” those people who have been instrumental to my career. Perhaps that wasn’t the right word, hehe.
    Kidding aside, it does look like an interesting blog and I’ll have to add it to my reading list.

  2. Judd Wallenbrock - July 29, 2008

    I’m blushing…and overwhelmed by your generosity. And as I read through the lines, what I really hear is your appreciation for people with passion. Remember that I worked almost 9 years for the person that, in my opinion, defined passion. Robert Mondavi has influenced me directly & indirectly ever since I first visted Napa Valley in 1974 when I was 16 years old (and was served!). Now HE was a really smart person. I’m just lucky. And as someone famous once said, the smarter I work, the luckier I get! Thanks Tom. So much.

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