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 wine-finder.com 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.

Wines.com 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 wines.com 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

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. Wine.com also has a mobile shopping cart, therefore, any winery on wine.com 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 wines.com (not wine.com).

+ 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.


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 wine.com 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!

Any winery on wine.com has an instant mobile strategy

In December wine.com rolled out their new mobile site with purchasing capability. So for any winery on wine.com they now have an instant mobile solution without realizing it.

That means winemaker dinners, tastings or other marketing initiatives where a wine lover might want to buy a bottle of wine are perfect environments to craft a mobile strategy. This might be the place to use a QR code that redirects to the checkout page.

However, just because the mobile site can facilite a mobile purchase doesn’t mean the sales will start rolling in. There still has to be a solid campaign behind it.

Until wineries can have their own mobile optimized website with DTC sales capability, this is the next best option to being learning how mobile commerce works.

Source: wine.com via Rick on Pinterest

Pinterest and the Flock+Flood Effect

The new shiny object in social media is Pinterest. The growth of Pinterest in 2012 has been phenomenal, and that gets marketers excited to jump in with both feet to capture some of that growth.

Before Pinterest there was Instagram. Before Instagram there was Foursquare. What starts to happen is we see all the social media blogs start reporting big numbers on infographics and before you know it, there’s a feeding frenzy of people who can’t wait to get in on the hottest new thing and start selling their stuff.

But let’s take a moment and remember to breathe. In a previous blog post I used the analogy of marketers peeing in the pool with social media sites like Pinterest. We don’t fully understand the site. We don’t know how to measure data from Pinterest. We don’t know how to track brand mentions, or see where our content goes. We don’t have proof of any sustainable marketing activity, but who cares? It’s hot!

Before proceeding with any sort of brand building, it’s good to take some time to understand the site and its ecosystem before flooding it with noise.

The ROI of Social Media in the Wine Industry Part 1

-this was originally posted Oct. 2010 on an old blog that has since been moved-

When a winery wants to make wine, they need to find a good vineyard to get their grapes from.  The winery can either plant their own vineyard, or they can buy fruit from someone else.  If the winery decides to plant their own vineyard, they know it’ll be a few years before they’ll see any useable fruit from the vines.  The reason for that is grape vines need about three to four years of growing to establish their roots.

Fruit produced within the first few years would not have all the components of what grapes need to produce good wine.  The roots below the surface play a big role in the quality of wine grapes.  The farther down the roots go, the more nutrients are pulled up through the vines to produce better wine grapes.  If a winemaker tried to make wine from young vines, there would be bad offputting flavors in the wine.  That’s why wineries make a big deal about the age of vines, or “old vines” because older vines produce better wine grapes.

The money invested in a vineyard doesn’t see a return on investment for years, but when the vineyard is nurtured organically, the vines grow, and eventually they’ll produce fruit year after year.  It’s the early stage of development that require patience.


Establishing a social media presence is similar to planting a vineyard.  When a business creates a new profile on a social media site, it’s like planting vines.  You start with zero contacts, then gradually over time that number grows.  When the social profile is nurtured and grows organically, it’s setting the stage for better “fruit” down the road.  For wineries (and many businesses), establishing their brand on multiple social sites creates social brand synergy—meaning they feed off of each other.  And like a vineyard, social media requires upfront investment of money that will produce fruit year after year.  Luckily, it won’t take years for the return to be realized.  Months maybe, but not years.

The #1 question business owners want to know is what’s the ROI of social media.  This two-part series will answer that question using examples from the past year and a half.  I’ve had the good fortune to be the first person hired into the wine industry as a Director of Social Media Marketing at St. Supéry.  There’s been quite a bit of trial and error in all aspects of the winery.  The analogy of planting a vineyard is the best way I can communicate how the ROI is realized.  Here’s how it works:

First Step – Plant the Vines (establishing a social presence)

As mentioned above, a business needs to have a presence on social media sites.  Not because it’s trendy, but because your customer is becoming more social online.  Businesses need to innovate or die.  Each social site provides one more channel in which to communicate your brand message.  I’m not going to tell you this social site is better than that one.  But rather, I’ll suggest each business should work to establish trust online, and pick which sites they feel comfortable with.  For many, that means Facebook and Twitter because of how many consumers are on there.  YouTube, Foursquare and blogs are also popular ways to establish trust.

Social “Currency”

When thinking about what the ROI is going to be, it’s important to note what is of value online.  The word, “currency” has different meanings, especially in social media.  The idea of CRM is evolving into sCRM (social customer relationship management) where social currency has a great deal of value whether it’s U.S. dollars or online trust.  If done right, online trust can be converted into dollars.  Inpart two of this series, I’ll share some case studies where online trust (social currency) was converted into U.S. dollars.

I look at growing vines in a vineyard the same way I look at growing trust online.  Once a consumer“opts in” to a brand (or winery) it appears as a follow on Twitter or a ‘like’ on a Facebook page.  More importantly, it’s the beginning of a relationship.  The amount of trust the brand builds with the consumer depends on how strong their social media team is.  There’s an art to conversing with people online.  If you do it right, you build a great deal of trust, which in turn is converted into dollars much like a vineyard producing fruit.  Social “currency” is other things too like message reach, influence, noise/signal ratio, etc..  The best barometer of social currency is Klout.  You can see anybody’s online “value”.

Customers aren’t just customers any more.  They’re ambassadors.  Social media’s power is the ability to create intimate relationships between brands and customers.  If they trust you, they’ll be more dedicated to your brand, and will influence people they know to also want to be your customer.  That’s not just currency, that’s gold.  That’s ROI on steroids.

Complimenting Existing Systems

Most companies already have a valuable asset — their email database.  New social tools are getting closer to merging email lists with social profiles.  An email database of 10,000 people is not much different than having 10,000 Facebook fans, generally speaking.  Social Media isn’t meant to replace anything, but rather compliment it.  Approach your email list with the idea of building trust and social currency.  The email campaigns and messages should be one spoke on the wheel using the same voice, but also remembering people can opt in, or opt out of what you have to say.  Kick start your ROI by having a complimentary balance between email and social profiles.

“If they trust you, they’ll be more dedicated to your brand, and will influence people they know to also want to be your customer.  That’s not just currency, that’s gold.  That’s ROI on steroids.”

For businesses and wineries wanting to realize the ROI of social media, the vineyard analogy is the best example of how to approach it.  You hire a vineyard manager and trust that person to tend to the vines with their team.  There are good vineyard managers, and there are not.  Vineyard managers have a “touch” or a gut instinct about things.

Growing a successful social media presence is not only necessary, but it too requires a person or team to tend to the online conversations each day in order to keep growing trust.  Each person who “opts in” is one more potential customer.  A good social media person has a gut feel on how to converse with people online.  In part two I’ll describe the personal brand vs corporate brand balance we had at St. Supéry and how that produces results.

Coming Together Like Voltron — The Merging of Media

The very first moment I can remember television and the internet communicating a single message was around 1995 during an NBA game on television. That was the first time the NBA displayed their web address during the broadcast on the side of the scorer’s table. The internet was still a relatively new thing back then, and many brands were building their first websites.

Around that time was also when the first television commercials had a sign off with the brand’s URL, like “www.toyota.com” below the logo. It may have seemed strange to viewers to see and internet website address on a car commercial. Those were the first steps down a path of merging media. You couldn’t buy a computer magazine without getting an AOL install CD attached the cover. Back then if you wanted to record a TV show you had to set your VCR to record manually. There was no TiVo.

And the first viral sharing happened via email. Back then the Budweiser, “Whassup” commercial was one of the first videos to be shared to everyone via Reply All. The video wasn’t very big on the screen because we had to keep the file size low in order to share over limited email. There was no YouTube or link to share back then which seems strange to imagine. Amazingly, that wasn’t that long ago.


The different forms of mass media have been on a collision course ever since. In 2012 the social web and popular television have merged into a single shared experience. It’s not uncommon for the average person to have multiple screens on at the same time delivering content like television and a laptop, or television and a smart phone.

During the Golden Globes award show Twitter was on fire with the #GoldenGlobes hash tag hitting 9,000 tweets a minute of people chatting about the show. The number of tweets in 2012 tripled over the number of tweets during the 2011 Golden Globes.

Also during the show HBO previewed their new series, Luck. The sign off of the television ad wasn’t the website, but the hash tag:

Kiefer Sutherland’s new show, Touch debuts in March but during the pilot in January the hash tag appeared in the lower corner of the screen. Viewers can not only chat about the show but stay informed while they wait two months for the show to start:


In fact, many shows now include the hash tag on the screen in the lower corner so viewers can chat with each other during the broadcast. Shows like The Bachelor, The Biggest Loser and Revenge are just a few. The key concept is shared experiences. Convergence of media means convergence of reach. And with reach you have eyeballs.

Hash tags can be tracked on Google+ as well but viewers either haven’t discovered them there or are just sticking with Twitter. The number of #GoldenGlobes posts on G+ were dramatically lower than on Twitter. But during the State of the Union (#SOTU) the white house seeded Google+ with images of the President getting ready to give the speech. There were nearly 770,000 tweets using the hashtag throughout the evening. The White House answered questions live during the speech:

And PBS held a post State of the Union hangout on Google+:

Will the television and computer merge further into one single device? Moreover, will that one single device work untethered? Smart phone carriers are already offering phones that can stream television. But will they stick? The trending pattern certainly suggests mass media will continue to merge into one shared experience, and it will be mobile.

What does this mean for brands? We’re exploring the answer to this question with Envolve Winery, whose winemaker is The Bachelor on ABC. During each broadcast we’re striving for transparency and accessibility. Ben is one of the few TV personalities that will actually respond to people who tweet him. We’re still in the middle of exploring the convergence of media, but like Voltron, when all these elements come together, the result is incredibly powerful.

Celebrating #ZinFest with Portalupi

Jane Portalupi and her winemaker husband, Tim Borges met as kids in northern California over thirty years ago. As grown ups they married and started Portalupi Winery in Healdsburg, California. Tim and Jane set out to craft wines worthy of their Italian heritage yet stay true to their location in Sonoma.

This week Portalupi joins other Zinfandel producers for the annual celebration of Zinfandel known as ZAP. This year’s festival spans four days of wine, food and merriment in San Francisco. Participants will be using the #ZinFest hash tag on social media sites to follow the action.

Portalupi produces 2 Zinfandels — the 2008 Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and the 2009 Old Vine Zinfandel from Dolinsek Ranch vineyard. Tim Fish of Wine Spectator recently gave the ’09 Old Vine Zin 90 pts.

Tim and Jane created a series of educational videos for Zin lovers that they are releasing this week in honor of ZAP. Here’s a few featuring Tim: