Let’s Crowd Source Winemaking Decisions
Here's something very interesting that could not have been done in the pre-digital age:
Crowd Sourcing Winemaking Decisions.
This is what Silversmith Vineyards, located in Mendocino County's Redwood Valley, is doing and it looks like a pretty cool project. Imagine outsourcing to your crowd decisions like:
1. What varietal to make
2. When to pick?
3. Pump over or punch down
4. What type of yeast to use?
5. When rackings of the wine should happen
6. Should the wine be filtered and if so, when?
7. What kind of aging vessel should be used?
8. When should the wine be bottled?
9. What should the wine be called?
10. When should it be released?
These are just a few of the winemaking questions that the folks at Silversmith will survey their Facebook fans about then take the majority response and implement it. They'll be doing this for one wine during the 2011 vintage and it looks like their crowd sourcing has already determined that it will be Cabernet, rather than Petite Sirah or Zinfandel, that will be the wine made by the crowd's input.
It's an experiment and promotional tool that simply could not be undertaken prior to the digital age. Some might ask, why do this at all? Being a PR guy, I can think of a number of reasons to do this. I can see Silversmith attracting a a good deal of attention over at their Facebook page. And in the end, I can see those participating in this experiment buying a bit of the wine.
But in the end, the Silversmith Vineyards crowd sourcing wine project speaks to something else: enhanced interaction between brand and patrons is ascending to attention in the marketing world. Perhaps the most prominent trend among marketers of all products is finding ways to more intensely interact with their patrons; to make them brand ambassadors with the ability to do what used to be the work of the marketer; to outsource brand building to the end user.
The Silversmith Crowd Sourced Winemaking project isn't entirely original. Brands and marketers have often in the past surveyed their customers for ideas. They have polled users and given them what they want. But this is somethings somewhat new in wine. I'll be following the project, if only to find out if they end up aging their Cabernet in stainless steel, using oak chips rather than barrels, bottling after one month in barrel, finding out what fining agent appeals to the end user and seeing if the name of the wine ends up being something really dumb….or really smart!