Making Merlot Cool Again with #MerlotMe

We’re halfway through the month of October and #MerlotMe is trending nicely. Looking back to 2013 when the first mention of the hash tag appeared on wine lover’s radars, we can start to see the thing is working.

It all started in September last year when I sat down with Belinda Weber of Duckhorn over lunch. “If you look at restaurant wine lists these days, the Merlot category is disappearing,” she pointed out. And she’s right. Since the movie Sideways came out a decade ago, Merlot has taken a beating.

For Belinda and Duckhorn it’s not really a problem to solve as they are the industry leader when it comes to the Merlot grape. It’s the rest of the industry that needs help. “We’re in a unique position to help the rest of the industry by trying to help revive interest in Merlot,” she went on to say. Duckhorn’s rising tide floats all boats mentality is indicative of the wine industry when it’s at its best. From that conversation at lunch we hatched an idea to use social media to right the SS Merlot ship and make Merlot cool again. Bakas Media handled the social media strategy and Duckhorn coordinated participation with domestic Merlot producers.

“Virtually all the results are consistent with the theory that “Sideways” had a negative impact on the consumption of Merlot…”

- Dr. Steven S. Cuellar, Associate Professor of Economics at Sonoma State University

To be fair, when Sideways came out there was a glut of average juice in the market. Winemakers took a look at clones, farming practices and vineyard management when assessing the quality level being produced. Because Merlot is a chameleon of a grape, it can grow many places and can be made with ease. Over the past decade, the industry has quietly raised the bar on Merlot quality by trimming the fat and keeping the best clones in the best places where above average wine can be made.

This year, we continue the momentum of last year’s #MerlotMe effort with an entire monthlong celebration designed to put Merlot in people’s glasses and to get wine lovers excited about the grape again. We created a microsite with listings of tastings around the country, a visual stream of what people are drinking and a list of participating wineries.

Halfway through October, the stats are as follows:

- Over 700 unique wine lovers have used the hashtag this month

- Over 2,100 tweets have been sent so far

- Over 4,000,000 people have been reached

- Over 33,900,000 impressions have been registered

My Keynote from IMS Boston: Building a Mobile Focused Inbound Strategy

The Pulse Network puts on an event known as Inbound Marketing Summit which takes place around in the country in major markets like San Francisco, New York City and Boston. I’ve had the pleasure of being a speaker at #IMS a few times in the past. Each talk moved progressively more towards inbound marketing on a mobile device based on audience feedback. In this keynote from IMS Boston I talk about the intimacy of the mobile space and how important that is for success in marketing.

We Don’t NEED Varietal Days like #CabernetDay

There, I said it.

We really don’t need social media based wine events like #Chardonnay or #CabernetDay. After all, why would we drink a hearty red wine like Cabernet Sauvignon when it’s summer and the weather is hot? We don’t need varietal days, especially this one.

We also don’t need award shows, ESPN, long walks on the beach or ice cream trucks on sunny days. We don’t need birthday parties, french press coffee, camping trips in RV’s, professional sports, down comforters or even the easter bunny.

We don’t need a lot of things.

But varietal days are here to stay. And lots of people like being part of them. Thousands of people in fact. Last year, over 6,000 people participated in the 2nd annual Cabernet “day” for free. And wineries were able to connect with new wine lovers for free. So why are there critics and haters? Guess it’s part human nature and part jealousy. Anything that’s successful is always going to have critics, it’s just to way humanity works. In this case, there are about ten total critics of varietal days. “Cabernet doesn’t need focus!” they say. Or, “there’s no lead generation from #CabernetDay”. This year the criticism is, “it’s too hot to drink Cabernet!”. Yet, thousands of people did it anyway without any mention of outside temperature.

I was recently interviewed by about why we need varietal days, and I said flat out we don’t. “So why do you do them?” they asked. I can’t speak for other organizers, but for me it’s a desire to be of service to the industry. Many unpaid hours of work go into creating these events with the mind set of “the rising tide floats all boats”. Since there’s no real cost to be a part of it (besides man hours and some samples) there’s no down side. And there’s no real cost for consumers to participate because many wineries donate free samples. There’s nothing but upside for the industry.

If ONE wine lover discovers a new wine or winery, or if ONE winery connects with a new potential customer it’s a success. The original vision for varietal days was to create a big virtual dining room where anyone was welcome to pull up a virtual chair and join the conversation.

It may be warm outside…if you’re in North America. But since this is a global event, it’s not hot everywhere. South of the equator it’s winter, so maybe it’s not too hot out. This year there were event in South Africa, Australia, Chile and Argentina.

Varietal days are the beginning of a new movement. More and more people are organizing their own similar themed events meant to do the same thing—promote the industry and bring people together. If it helps the industry, what’s wrong?

Sure, we don’t need varietal days, but by the looks of it they aren’t going anywhere. We’re just getting started and they’re here to stay.

So in summary, I’d recommend critics of #CabernetDay come up with something better, tune out or get their money back. Oh wait—it’s free.

Introducing Mobile Wine Purchasing

Mobile commerce is the future, and the future is here. Soon we will all be paying for things using our smartphones—from coffee at Starbucks to oil changes to designer jeans and yes, wine.

In the past #CabernetDay has offered wine lovers a chance to connect with winemakers and wineries using social media. This year they can take it a step further and actually buy a wine as they’re tasting it. has partnered with mobile payment provider, PressPay with a whole new mobile marketplace that automatically formats to your mobile device. Now if you taste a wine and fall in love with it, you don’t have to go find it. Now you can buy it in a few taps.

That’s the beauty of PressPay—tap the secure checkout button on a mobile device and it automatically fills in your address and payment info. The key is to download and set up the free payment app ahead of time rather than in the middle of a purchase. The PressPay checkout button will be appearing on thousands of mobile sites by the end of this year and you’ll already be ready.

If you’re at a Cabernet Day tasting, look for bottles with the QR code. If you like the wine, scan the code and buy it. Chances are it’s discounted for #CabernetDay.

Other wineries with mobile purchasing capability to check out on your mobile device:

Jordan Winery
St. Supéry
V. Sattui

HOW to Participate in #CabernetDay August 30th

Eventbrite - 3rd Annual #CabernetDay August 30, 2012

The third annual global celebration of Cabernet known as #CabernetDay is upon us. Once again it’ll be on the Thursday before Labor Day in the U.S. (August 30th). This is the unofficial kickoff to the holiday buying season for the wine industry. As summer turns to fall, temperatures cool down and we start eating heartier foods—the kind of foods that go well with heartier wines like Cabernet based wines.

For one day wine lovers around the globe come together in person and online to discover and share everything about Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Franc and Cabernet based blends.

“Last year you did that Loire Valley Cabernet Franc session in Napa that opened my eyes to Chinon. I now drink Chinon regularly because of that.”

- Napa #CabernetDay attendee

In 2011 over 6,000 people on Twitter shared over 17,000 tweets using the #CabernetDay hash tag alone. That reached over 4.2 million people in one day. There were Cabernet themed tastings in Sydney, Paris, London, Vancouver, New York City, Mexico City, Spokane, Denver, Chicago, South Africa and Napa Valley to name a few. This year events, featured wine personalities and tastings will all be organized in a single app called Spotlight (available on iPhone and Android).

For Wine Lovers - It’s a chance to discover new wines, new wine regions and meet new wine friends. All you have to do is enjoy some Cabernet-based wine and share your experience online using the hash tag.

For Wineries -This is an audience of wine lovers, many of whom want to learn more about wine. Create educational content ahead of time (YouTube videos, blog posts, etc..) and share them when a larger audience is paying attention.

Here’s HOW to participate:

1. Pick out the wines you want to enjoy on #CabernetDay.  Some wineries are cooking up special offers at their tasting room or on their mobile shopping carts.

2. Whether you’re at home, out at a restaurant or decide to visit one of the tastings you can post your wine experience online for others to discover on any social site.

3. Track what other people are sharing by using Twitter Search, or


At some of the tastings around the U.S. there will be a new bonus feature.  Specially selected bottles will have QR codes on them. If you taste a wine you like, and it has a QR code on it, you’ll be able to but it on the spot at a discounted price using your smart phone.

Looking forward to seeing old friends and new online Thursday, August 30th!


Getting the Most out of #CabernetDay by Going Mobile


The third annual #CabernetDay is coming August 30th. As in years past, this online tasting is scheduled to take place on the Thursday before Labor Day to unofficially kick off the S-O-N-D buying season.

In 2011 over 6,000 wine lovers participated in #CabernetDay sending over 17,000 tweets on Twitter alone (tracking Google+, Pinterest and Facebook was incomplete although there was significant activity). There were in-person tastings in San Francisco, South Africa, Mexico City, San Jose, New York City, Bordeaux, London, Sydney, Spokane, Austin, Miami, Washington DC, Vancouver, Chile, Napa Valley and China to name a few. The event reached 4.2 million people with over 82 million impressions. Compare that to leading wine magazine ad reach, then compare the cost to access those eyeballs.

“At the exact moment someone is tasting your wine all that matters at that moment is what they think. If they like the wine and want more, chances are they have a smart phone and can take action in a few clicks in the moment.”


What’s the point? Online wine tastings began back in 2008 with #TasteLive and have grown over the years to become a free opportunity to engage with new wine lovers. Each event is a targeted audience hungry to discover more about wine. Savvy wineries and wine marketers understand the opportunity to get the attention of the large audience—an audience that may be buyers.

The cost to attend or participate in events like #CabernetDay is $0. All it takes is a small investment of time and maybe some sample wine bottles. Many of the tastings have also been free.

This year there’s even more focus on mobile commerce than last year. Mobile commerce provides an unfair advantage to the wine industry over many other industries. Imagine how powerful it is to “close the gap” and engage a new customer as they are enjoying your wine. It doesn’t matter what any wine critic said or what their friends on Facebook said about the wine. At the exact moment someone is tasting your wine all that matters at that moment is what they think. If they like the wine and want more, chances are they have a smart phone and can take action in a few clicks right then and there.

#CabernetDay is meant to create many tasting opportunities at many tastings, therefore creating many buying opportunities. Mobile commerce is a new behavior for consumers, but over the next 36 months that behavior is going to become primary.


Here’s a few tips to go mobile for #CabernetDay 2012:

+ Enable a mobile shopping cart. Customers of eWinery, Vin65, 750Group and others already have this feature. also has a mobile shopping cart, therefore, any winery on already has a mobile purchasing capability.

+ Get in touch with marketers who are integrated with the ShipCompliant Marketplace. More and more mobile shopping carts will able to sell wine from the marketplace, including (not

+ Add a QR code to sample bottles and send those sample bottles to #CabernetDay tastings. Direct the QR code to the mobile shopping cart. It’s not that hard to create a QR code that directs to the mobile shopping cart. A key to mobile commerce success is making people do as little as possible in 3-5 clicks or less.

+ Create content ahead of time such as YouTube videos, blog posts, recipes, etc. and share on August 30th using the hash tag. More people will be paying attention—and that’s what you want, right?

+ Create a flash sale type offer on a wine not in market. Mobile purchasing is a new behavior, so incentivizing wine lovers to do it for the first time helps educate and create loyalty.


Because #CabernetDay is free for all to participate and attend, it requires significant hours of planning and orchestration. In the past, programmers were hired to write code for the event page. This year we’ll be utilizing a wonderful tool called Spotlight. The people who built the official London Olympics event app (along with many other large events like SXSW) created a white label app that allows event organizers to plug in who, what, where, when, etc..

All event info will be programmed into the Spotlight event app to make it easy to find event info. Wineries and other physical locations will have google maps attached to their address. Featured brands and speakers will have their social sites attached. Both iPhone and Android users can use Spotlight.

To get your winery, brand, tasting room or other location added please use the contact form under ‘About Us’ or ‘Services’.

Virtual tasting events are a great way to engage new potential customers for very little cost. Anyone who uses the Sales Funnel method would use #CabernetDay to get people into the top of the funnel and take them along the Customer Continuum to an action.

We hope more and more wineries find success from this and other similar events. Please contact us with any questions.


HOW to Create a QR Code For Your Mobile Shopping Cart

QR codes can be useful in the near future for getting customers to your mobile shopping cart. The codes save people the time of typing your long URL web address into their phone by scanning the code. In the wine industry, more and more wineries have access to a mobile shopping cart if they work with companies like eWinery or Vin65.

In the post, 5 Tips for Mobile Commerce one of the big numbers that jumped out was ‘$31 Billion’. That’s the number mobile sales are expected to reach in the U.S. by 2016. Based on current trends, we may eclipse that number even sooner.

“If you don’t have a mobile phone optimized landing page, your QR code is worthless.”

Now is the time to think “mobile first, desktop second” as more consumers turn to their mobile devices for everything in their lives. We recommend businesses get a mobile shopping cart live by the end of 2012. Any business with a shopping cart is halfway there.

A successful QR code will not only have the code, but a mobile phone optimized landing page with a few buttons on it, preferably three or less. If you don’t have a mobile phone optimized landing page, your QR code is worthless. Typing a long web address into a mobile device isn’t convenient, so QR codes can help take someone to a mobile shopping cart just by scanning the code.

If you haven’t created your own free QR code, this handy guide provides a step by step description on how to create a code:

mobile commerceStep 1 - On your desktop computer highlight the entire URL including the “http://”. Copy it to your clipboard. Use the URL of the page you want people to land on. Keep in mind you want to make people do very little on their phone.

Step 2 - Go to and if you don’t have an account you’ll want to create one. is an invaluable way to track links and QR code scans and it’s FREE. Click on the ‘Paste a link here…’ button next to the blow fish. Paste your URL in.

Step 3 - will automatically take your long link and shorten in to something like You can copy and use that link or you can customize it to something like

I don’t use the ‘Add to bundle’ feature much. If you think it’s useful go for it, otherwise you can ignore it.

Step 4 - On the main page click on the ‘Profiel’ menu option. It’ll take you to a page where you can see a preview of your link (for when you share it on sites like Facebook). Move your mouse to the lower left corner and click the blue icon that appears.

You’ll be taken to a page with a tiny little QR code. I have no idea why makes it so hard to find this thing, but when you click on it, you’ll be taken to the next screen that has your QR code image. Download that QR code and use it liberally. Every time someone scans the code it’ll the equivalent of typing that long URL into your phone. Try to keep the code big enough for a scann to recognize it (1/4″ x 1/4″ give or take). will give you useful metrics on number of times it was scanned, and when by going to your profile.

The beauty of QR codes is you can print them on sticker stock and attach them to things like a wine bottle. A successful mobile strategy will allow someone to purchase a product in the moment they are enjoying it.

5 Tips for Mobile Commerce ROI

As if businesses didn’t have enough to figure out with eCommerce and social media, now they have to also have to figure out mobile commerce. There are 19 million merchants in the U.S. of which only about 9 million accept VISA, MC or AMEX. As of 2011 only 900,000 merchants in the U.S. had an eCommerce solution (online shopping cart) and of those approximately only 75,000 had a mobile shopping cart.

mobile commerce

The inherent opportunity with mobile commerce is to allow someone to take action or make a purchase on their phone or tablet anywhere, anytime. By 2015, mobile commerce in the U.S. is expected to surpass $25B according to Forrester. Apps and mobile devices are capturing more of our attention. In this chart we can see where our attention lives throughout the day:

If we look at our relationships with technology and the internet in terms of dating, we can break our experience into 3 parts—Attraction, Dating and Intimacy.

Back in 1998 we saw the internet across a crowded room. Our eyes met, we were immediately attracted to the internet but we didn’t trust it yet. The internet didn’t listen to us, and we didn’t trust it back then. We didn’t feel comfortable sharing our private information or putting our credit card info “into” the web. Fast forward to 2008 and the rise of the social web brought us to the ‘dating stage’. We trust technology and the internet more now. We’re getting more intimate with the internet because it listens to us now through social media…we trust technology more. By 2015 we’ll be ready to get even more intimate with the internet—we’ll be ready for pillow talk. By then, technology and the internet will have access to our most immediate attention span through mobile push notifications.

With a rapidly growing market, why do less than 1% of merchants have a mobile commerce play? The ROI of social media and the ROI of mobile commerce are joined at the hip, and here’s what businesses can be doing now to position themselves for mobile commerce going forward:

1. Make people do a little, but get a lot — Ideally, you want to adopt the philosophy of 3 Clicks or Less. To earn the ultimate level of trust and intimacy with mobile shoppers, make them do as little as possible on their mobile device. Assume an attention span of 10 seconds or less.

 2. Close the Gap — The golden opportunity of mobile commerce is to tap into the real time experience someone is having with a product. When someone is experiencing your product (or a competitor’s) their attention is directed to that experience. At that point it doesn’t matter what their Facebook friends said, or what any trade magazine said. What matters at that moment is what that potential customer thinks. Tap into the emotion and give them the ability to close the gap by taking action via their mobile device in a few clicks.

 3. Immediacy + Intimacy — What is your customer excited about right at this moment? No matter where they are, you can make it easy for them to take action via their personal space on their mobile device.

 4. Make it personal — Hardware and software can all be personalized to create a custom cocoon of technology around us. Mobile devices are an especially personal space as they’re almost an extension of us. Businesses who respect that personal space will win.

 5. Get ready for exponentially more traffic — Think of mobile commerce as ROI to the power of 4. Mobile shopping carts will not only see the same traffic referrals as their eComm shopping cart, but also traffic from 3 other separate ecosystems: SMS and text messages, niche industry apps and QR codes or photo recognition on the product.

Last week’s new update to location based food and drink app, Forkly has a new integration with’s mobile site allowing users to buy the wine right from a post:

mobile commerce


According to Forrester Research, consumers’ #1 concern with mobile commerce is trust. They don’t fully understand what happens to their private information. When we reach the level of trust consumers feel comfortable with, and we make it easy to take action that’s when the power of mobile commerce will begin to be realized.

A Bit About ROI and Mobile Commerce

After a long hiatus from the Bakas Media blog, it’s time to get back in the saddle and catch readers up on what I’ve been up to.

This new media relations agency was created to not only help businesses makes sense of the social web through consulting projects, but focus on developing new media tools.

In the past 12 months we’ve built micro sites with social sharing functions, consulted with brands like and ABC’s Bachelor Ben Flanjnik of Envolve Winery. But what I’m most excited about is joining the advisory board of Forkly and becoming the VP of Marketing for mobile payments provider, PressPay.

These are new tools in the tool box. Forkly is a rapidly growing mobile community of wine+food lovers. Think of it as the Instagram of eating and drinking. I like this project because every wine, beer and food brand (as well as every bar, restaurant, winery) will be able to control their brand at a granular location-based level…for free. Any brand can see who’s influential about their product, and where.

PressPay is a mobile payment option that can be added to any mobile shopping cart. It makes it easy for people to pay for stuff in a few clicks. We’ve been in stealthy bootstrap mode for the past 12 months, but are about ready to come out of the cage. This summer PressPay will be rolled out to approximately 10 million merchants through an endorsement from one of the largest business entities in the U.S.  Press release coming soon on that.


ROI and the social web

Without a doubt, one of the biggest questions about the social web is, “what’s the ROI of social media?”

The question has a fragmented answer. Each business has different goals and different ways of achieving their goals. Another way to look at is to ask, what’s the Return on Attention?

This brings me back to the original reason I started Bakas Media. It was a desire to help companies use the social web or their business cut through the noise and turn attention into intention. And to develop or identify relevant platforms beyond Twitter and Facebook. There are literally too many apps and websites to keep up with. We’re all feeling overwhelmed by technology, so getting someone’s attention is getter harder.

Once we become untethered, it’s game on.

We’ve only been able to answer the ROI question halfway because we haven’t had all the tools yet. Sure, we can tap into the real time experience when someone is enjoying our product, but giving them the ability to take action (real time) via mobile device has been missing. That’s where ROI happens—in the real time experience of your brand.

The end destination has been, and will be mobile commerce. If social media is the race, mobile commerce is the home stretch. Like the last bit of asphalt on a new bridge, or placing the last brick in a wall, or picking the curtains in a new home—pick a cliché, mobile commerce is the final piece of the puzzle when achieving ROI in today’s social web. Once we become untethered, it’s game on. In the very near future we will be able to do something we’ve never been able to do before — tap into the realtime experience between a consumer and a product where the consumer can make a real time purchasing decision using their mobile device. This is a magic place that isn’t as far away as it seems. It’s kinda like Narnia.

I’m working on a five-part series coming next week on this blog entitled, The 5 Pillars of ROI Success with Mobile Commerce. If that sounds interesting, please consider signing up to this blog so you can receive updates.

The past twelve months have been fun, but the next twelve months are going to be an adventure. Please let me know how I can help you figure out mobile commerce.

My #VPIWF deck

Hello friends — this is my deck from the Vancouver Playhouse Wine Festival presentation on social media. Feel free to use this information freely, just be considerate and credit me if using large chunks of info. Hope it was useful!