Both the Canadian and US standard railroad gauge (distance between the rails) is 4 feet, 8.5 inches. That’s an exceedingly odd number. So why was that gauge used? Because that’s the way they built them in England, and the US railroads were built by English expatriates. But why did the English build them like that? Because the first rail lines were built by the same people who built the pre-railroad tramways, and that’s the gauge they used. Okay, why did they use that gauge then?
Well, because the people who built the tramways used the same jigs and tools that they used for building wagons, which used that wheel spacing. Okay! Why did the wagons have that particular odd wheel spacing? Well, if they tried to use any other spacing, the wagon wheels would break on some of the old, long distance roads in England, because that’s the spacing of the wheel ruts.
So who built those old rutted roads? The first long distance roads in Europe and England were built by Imperial Rome for their legions. The roads have been used ever since. And the ruts in the roads? The initial ruts, which everyone else had to match for fear of destroying their wagon wheels, were first formed by Roman war chariots. Since the chariots were made by Imperial Rome, they were all alike in the matter of wheel spacing. The United States standard railroad gauge of 4 feet, 8.5 inches derives from the original specification for an Imperial Roman war chariot. So, the major design feature of what is arguably the world’s most advanced transportation system was determined over two thousand years ago by the width of a Horse’s Backside!
Now moving to wineries and if you’re still with me, a lot of things about the way wine was made dating back to Roman times makes sense. What they might have given for glycol jacketed fermenter or an automatic destemmer or a bottling line! Wine is a product whose roots have not changed, but the automation and improvement of the manual process has taken wineries into many new directions with many improvements in quality along the way. But there is one thing that needs to change – it’s in the way wine is marketed. Remember that in Rome the marketing of wine was never an issue, largely because the water was polluted and used to carry away waste and otehr things. So we largely have clean water to blame for our wine marketing woes of today!
It’s about what we call “total marketing” or the “sum of the pieces”. There’s marketing on the wine bottle as remember that one of four and often times more, folks choose a wine by its label if you are placing product in the retail space. Then there’s marketing to those who already love you, your loyal wine clubs. Next has to be the social media component, but there is a twist here and I will try to put it as succinctly as possible.
It’s not THAT you use social media, it’s HOW you use social media. We’re talking blogs inclduing WordPress, Tumblr and others, facebook, twitter, Google+ and more recently pinterest and others. The budget to spend time on these should come directly from a reduction in other marketing areas, and then you can brag that you’re GREEN! Sometimes I actually wonder what consumes a greater carbon footprint, a ream of paper or the manufacturing and disposal of a computer, which seems to need replacing at an increasingly faster pace as obsolete seems to happen almost as soon as I boot it up!
At the end of the day, there are two things you need to consider. “Who are you as a winery?” is the first one. What are the things that make you stand out or make you different? What interesting life stories do the founders or the founders’ relatives have to tell? What is your wine specialty? What can you teach us about wine? And lastly, make me a deal I can’t refuse. My wife did and it worked for her, though “some grapes may have been harmed in the process“.
The other that’s important is not to forget who you are talking to in social media. I may “friend” you but you really don’t know me. So when you’re talking to me, remember that I may know more or less than you think and you need to present in a way that doesn’t offend the highly knowledgable to the novice. Or as pictured to the left, a super novice. Ok, it’s late…
The bottom line is as consumers we all need to feel like we belong and you are our friend!