Wine Matching – The New Horizon

A lot of folks will give you a wine with a single number, or descriptors like asphalt or tobacco which must really turn newbies onto wine. The conversation goes like this:

Dudette: Dude, did you try out this 92 with tobacco and asphalt?
Dude: Don’t you remember I gave up smoking and driving fast, Dudette?
Dudette: Silly, I am talking about a wine.
Dude: I totally knew that, but exactly why would a cool dude like myself want to drink a wine that taste like the road and smoking?
Dudette: They did give it a 92 out of 100 points.
Dude: Explains where the other 8 points went, ha ha ha.

Besides the Venus and Mars piece here, imagine the newbie wine drinker. They tried a dozen wines, liked three of them out of a dozen and are probably willing to try more, but what is critical to their adoption of wine is what I call a “hit to miss ratio“. In laymen’s terms, how many times am I going to dump the wine, not to mention the mula I paid for it, before I find this an utter waste of both time and money? If a friend has very similar tastes, they might be able to help one other, but what if Dudette moves away? Look, they are probably willing to try ‘”more like ones they like” but how exactly do they find those wines?

Alas, if when learning to drink wine you did not take copious notes to figure out what you like and dislike in a wine, but can remember the wine you had, the answer can be found at WineMatch.com. We’ve been called the Pandora for wine, a dating service for wines, among others. Point is, if there’s a better way, it’s at least worth a try, especially if it does not cost Dude any mula. Surely the word ‘free’ is in both Dude and Dudette’s vocabulary and budget – and in a whole lot of other folks’ as well.

WineMatch has a high-technology matching engine that combines multiple sensory (more than one person evaluating the wine), chemistry and winery data and creates a “wine fingerprint“. From there, we simply match wine fingerprints with a close resemblence on sixteen to twenty points of matching. It’s that simple – Really.

Look, not many outfits will actually go out on a limb and say “if you like this wine, you will VERY likely like that one“. We’re willing to go out on a limb as we get a lot of feedback saying “Cool, this thing works“. This is complemented by wineries supporting this system.

Sometimes, you really do have to reinvent the wheel. The WineMatch Profile Wheel (r) that is!

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WineMatch Takes QR Codes to Shelf Talkers!

Yes, it’s time to raise the bar once again. The old bar code will be going along the wayside of the vinyl record, the black and white television and drum brakes. It won’t happen overnight, but it will happen. The reasons are all simple and business driven. QR codes are multi-dimensional and can hold a wealth of information. Here are the reasons why the world will adopt these, and why it make sense for wineries to get on board!

UPC codes are expensive. At $100 or so each, they just don’t serve the wine industry well. QR codes are free and can easily be generated using programs on the web. Each vintage, the wine is different, and often is priced differently as market demands and quality fluctuate. Annual reuse of same UPS for wines is misleading. Wine varies year-by-year. This renders retailers unable to leverage the bar code for pricing and inventory management and forces them to create a SKU (stock keeping unit) for each vintage. Retailers need to know how much of each vintage they have, not all vintages combined as they may be of different value. Plus, you need to ensure you are moving older product to keep your costing/sale to review profitability analysis. Bar Codes don’t hold very much information, but QR codes do! UPC codes just really hold a string of 12 numbers. These numbers are in turn translated by a computer to gets the true meaning of the item and often times the price as well. A decoder ring of sorts. QR Codes have different versions, and are able to hold anywhere from 10 characters to almost 4,000!

Bar Codes don’t help the consumer. They primarily serve the retailer so they can expedite the checkout process and increment/decrement physical inventory. Products can be encoded not only to be decoded by retailers, but now we can provide a web site URL for the consumer to the manufacturer, or WineMatch uses our wine profile to link to on shelf talkers. Furthermore, QR Codes can be read on Mobile Devices by Google Goggles or free QR code readers. Imagine going into a grocery store, looking at a bottle of wine, and wanting to know more. Scan the QR code with your mobile device and voila! – it links to a web site that give you information that cannot be easily placed on the package, unless you can read 4-point fonts! Plus, if the data is incorrect, it can be updated, like if there is a rebate or new coupon.

In addition, logo identity can be in QR code! This technology has some serious error correction ability as it’s always anticipated there’s a smudge or something got spilled on it, yet it must still be readable. As a result, you can deprecate it on purpose to integrate your logo and just scan it to see that it still functions and you have your identity! At the end of the day, I have to acknowledge one of the leaders here among wineries. We like J Vineyards’ foray into QR codes. Not only is their wine great, they get the technology. Smart, very smart.

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More Wine Blends Than You Think!

Longoria Blends

Fact of the matter is, so many more wines are blended than you may think.

Many wineries make blends. For example, Longoria Wines, established in 1982, is a small family owned winery producing acclaimed artisanal wines from some of the finest vineyards in Santa Barbara County. Pioneer winemaker Rick Longoria has been involved in the local wine industry since 1976. His wines are distinctive for their purity of varietal and site expression, balance and compatibility with food. Rick makes varietal-based wines and some nice blends as well. But to know what’s going on here, we need to look at the labels.

Why is that you say? It’s all about state labeling laws. You see, in many states, 75% of the varietal is all you need to call it that varietal. So if it’s 75% Cabernet Sauvignon, it can be 25% anything else and still be called a Cabernet Sauvignon. Now if you’re looking at Pinot Noir (or a few other varietals) from Oregon, it’s 90% minimum of that varietal. As a consumer, you can see the basics, but know that if it has a fanciful name (a name other than a grape varietal), it is most likely a blend without 75% of any particular varietal, but that can also be untrue on a vintage-by-vintage basis.

Names like Joseph Phelp’s Insignia (the first fanciful name), Beaulieu Vineyard’s Tapestry, Flora Springs Trilogy, Airfield Estate’s Aviator. But what you don’t know, is these are Bordeaux blends. There are also fanciful names for Rhone blends, Tuscan blends and so many others from around the globe. White blends can also have fanciful names and can be blends indigenous from many areas as well.

Say a winery creates a cool Bordeaux style blend. Let’s also be real-world. Joseph Phelps’ Insignia has to be on the top on many folks’ lists as being a Bordeaux blend of superior reputation, year after year. But to do so, the winemaker must adjust the blends to compensate for individual varietal strengths to create a well-balanced wine. The 2005 Insignia blend is 92% Cabernet, 7% Petite Verdot, and 1% Merlot. It could classify as a Cabernet Sauvignon being well over 75%. But the 2004 Insgnia only contains 72% Cabernet Sauvignon so it could not be classified as a Cabernet Sauvignon. Notice how using a fanciful name gives wineries leeway in blending to create great wines, without the pressure of feeling like they have to always have 75% of a particular varietal.

So let’s circle back to Longoria wines.The Blues Cuvee is an interesting blend indeed. It is part Cabernet, part Syrah and other Bordeaux varietals. One could call it a “cabernet sauvignon and syrah blend”, but that would not be the entire story as there are amounts of Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec. So as much as there is Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah, the more accurate terminology to describe this one is to call it a Rhone and Bordeaux-style blend. If you think this is complex, you’ll be really looking forward to my next blog post on matching varietals to regions, understanding that some varietals belong to more than one region.

So who was ever going to educate the consumer on this more-than-a-little nuance? At WineMatch, we truly want wineries and their wines to be presented in such a way that consumers do more than just glean what the wine is all about. It’s all about a greater understanding and making informed decisions. Put the information in the hands of the consumers is important as that is what the market demands.

I think it’s time for a little Rhone blend….or was that a Bordeaux blend?

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Wine is Multi-Faceted – Really!

Multi-faceted. That’s is what I am. In fact, so are you, the diamond you gave your loved one, your phone bill, what you drive, your pets, and so many other things have more than a single side. Given that, why give something that can be so multi-faceted like wine a single number? When someone asks you about a friend, do you say “he’s a 7”, “she’s a 9”? If you did, it would be considered shallow. Why should it be any different with wine?

The time is now to understand that the purpose of the 100-point system has run its course. It was a super first point of reference. But now we have computers, mobile devices, and are able to validate and quantify more wine characteristics than ever. Looking back, I remember when I was a kid in the 70’s working on cars, I would cut the handle off a screwdriver and put it in a drill motor and use it as a power driver. I thought I was brilliant! Sure it required a ‘special touch’ and had no torque limit where you had to choose between twisting your arm beyond a reasonable rotation or stripping out the screw head. But it is what we had back then. But we’re just not ‘back then’ anymore, we’re here.

Here means iPhones, Droids, iPads, Xooms (Android-based), Social Media, Groupon, social media, web sites. The key does not lie solely in what you do, but how you do it. What I am talking about is intelligent integration and with the economy recently having tanked, we have re-calibrated.

It means we need value and often times it includes a deal. In short, the day of the deal is here. Want more proof? Costco, love ’em. First 20 years – no problem. Now, I get e-mail on deals, coupons books in the mail for more deals, for both in-store and online only deals. They have increasingly put their wares in front of us because it is what works. Part of it is real, the other part perception – stay with me here.

If someone says “Let’s Make a Deal” you might get a little excited that there’s an opportunity of limited availability and if it’s something you want – and you have the coin – you’re in. But it REALLY has to be DEAL. So many items I have seen on sale at one store, are available at another store – not on sale – for less! This creates a funk in how consumers feel about you. The key is to largely control how your brand is being sold to prevent from being undersold.

At WineMatch, we present all the facets to the consumer. We present not only the many different sides of wine with data provided and verified from multiple sources, but also present the deal so the consumer can see all the facets of the value proposition!

I think I can hear Monty Hall now!

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Top 10 Reasons to Join WineMatch!

At the end of these long and often tiring days, I have to ask myself the same question you ask yourself when presented with WineMatch’s value proposition while sipping my glass of red or a tooth-cracking cold Blue Moon. Why would I do it?

Continue reading

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Personalize your Wine Club for Success!

It’s a message fresh from a recovering economy. The consumer wants two things from the purchase of a wine or anything else for that matter. We want something we find value in and we want a deal on it. Nothing could be clearer. So for a winery, how exactly do you do that?

Well, the first step as usual is admitting that this is a real situation that requires attention. After that, let’s try and understand what exactly is going on here and where the opportunities are to better connect with today’s consumer. One of the items we all need to understand is that the wine consumer has drastically changed in the last ten years. We now have a younger, more wine savvy consumer who knows more of what they want. They also know what they are – and are not – willing to pay for. Bear in mind these consumers live and breathe in the Social Media space.

But before this, I just have to share a story about two banks. Bank of America and California Bank & Trust. One day, I receive a phone call from a lady with B of A. She tells me “Anthony, your personal account manager, would like to meet with you.” Wow, you mean someone is assigned to little-old-me? As I always do, I get excited to think maybe they finally figured out that I am human and for the MILLIONS of dollars that pass through them annually for my personal and business needs, they finally either got a clue or bought a vowel or something. I ask the lady “That’s super, when can Anthony come to my office to meet with me?” It’s that awkward pin-drop moment. She says “Well, Anthony is only going to call you and I am calling to set up the call”. Ok, let me get this straight – she’s calling me to set up a call. I said “Well, I will talk to Anthony, but only if he can pick up the phone and call me directly as he should be setting his own appointments, wouldn’t you agree?” Silence followed by “He doesn’t do that” leading me to believe of a bigger-than-Oz presence. It’s been two months and no call.


I have also been working with California Bank and Trust, WineMatch’s Bank since late 2009. Mark, my banker, has been to my office a dozen times, and my house twice when I could not make the connection. He has lunch over at the office once a month and we round-table it with my employees and he shares current banking issues, takes questions – a knowledge transfer of sorts. He knows who I am, I like blue cheese, have a horse, a wife and two daughters – and he knows their names, including the horse! He brings other bank folks by to help service my other needs as well, but always performs the intro himself (Anthony from B of A, can you hear me now?). I also know that Mark loves football, is married and is not afraid to admit and rectify a bank error as one time, a couple hundred dollars went in the wrong bucket – no big deal, but I was able to pick up the phone with someone who knows me and my account, and it was rectified immediately! This experience just made my bond stronger. That’s the objective, right?

Time to cycle back to the wine world. Here’s the all-too-common scenario. You sign up for a wine club and never hear from them ever again – talking years here. Another winery I belong to calls periodically, but never to asks me if I actually like what I am getting, but she’s always happy to try and up sell me. Folks, time has changed and so must you!

It’s not that simple nor that complex, just somewhere in between. The consumer has changed since the economy tanked, and probably for the better. They are younger, smarter, more educated, and want to get the value proposition right each and every time. This means the winery needs to know what they like to drink. Unfortunately, this is not information wineries tend to keep on hand, but should. I am talking about pinpoint wine marketing. Here are a couple examples about how we could do things better:


Pierre’s Example: Pierre, a Frenchman in his 40’s, belongs to your “Red only” club. So you send him all your reds. Cabs, Pinot Noirs, Zins, Syrah, and even Grenaches! But which ones does he prefer? Stop for a minute and let’s take a French perspective mental inventory. We’re talking three distinct styles of varietals here. So much they have regional names of the their own. Bordeaux for the Cab, Burgundy for the Pinot Noir and Rhone for the Grenache and Syrah. Secretly, Pierre wishes he could get just the Bordeaux and Rhone blends. You don’t know, but you have no clue the day he cancels the wine club subscription as it’s just a numbers game, right? But it’s not a numbers game and hopefully you’ll find another Pierre!

Here are the steps that should have been taken to keep Pierre’s business. After the first shipment, then again after the first few shipments, you should have called to ask what he liked and disliked. Bottom line is you should have the pick, pack, and ship process have Pierre’s likes and dislikes and tailor it to him. Pierre very well may have preferred a deal on buying more of the ones he liked, in lieu of getting one of everything and not having enough ‘friends’ to give the ones he does not prefer away! You could have actually increased your sales here.

Rebecca’s Example: Rebecca, a gal in her 20’s, came into your tasting room a few times, but there’s something about her you need to pick up on. She likes white wines and she likes them unoaked – Chablis style, not Fume style. So you can put a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier or Roussanne in front of her, but please no oak! She signs up for your wine club as she feels your unoaked Chardonnay is to die for, and then cancels after she receives ‘oak city’ whites.

Again, you used the “one-size-fits all” approach and got bit. Going back, to pick, pack and ship, we could offer the same options to Rebecca as we did for Pierre. And now, they actually know that you care.

Ironically, we have all these computers and databases and we need to use them to better serve us or demand more from those of you using outsourced Wine Club systems. Keep it up, and we’ll create one that better tailors wine club shipments!

At WineMatch, we want to give you better tools to more precisely market your wine as that is key. Literally, for $100 or less a wine, a few measly cents a day, we can help you rock the wine world with both Social Media integration and presenting deals on wines they already like!

Imagine a consumer seeing something they like and then a deal on it!

That’s WineMatch – All aboard!

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Top Ten Signs Wineries Need Social Media

Social Media Humble Beginnings

When playing cards as a kid, I initially struggled with the term ante. Eventually I gave in, and although nothing of value was coming back to me immediately for the hard-earned lawn-mowing cash I was handing over, it was required to ‘play the game’. As life would have it, you need to step up the ante in the marketplace to represent your winery.

First was the website, and we figured out how to use it for eCommerce but the return is only there if it’s done right. ROI can be there, but the budget of a website has been largely taken from other marketing areas losing their grip, like print media. Nowadays, if you don’t do a website, you may lack sufficient outside-facing visibility and the traction that goes with it. Also if your competitor does it, you need to as well or be thought of as a bit backwards.

Social media is clearly the next ante. Many of you, wineries and consumers alike, have hopped onto the wagon. But which wagon? Or do we need a train? In this area, you need to ‘get it’ and figure out how to use it. The ‘dummy’ books are always a good place to start. But also understanding web site integration is key as you’ll see below when I discuss URL links a little further down.

There are many Social Media ‘engines‘, and I will give you my view of the larger ones:

Facebook. Clearly the bomb. You need it like nobody’s business. With half a billion users, make no mistake – these are your customers. From February 2010 to July 2010 alone, facebook went from 400 million users to 500 million users. With its uncanny ability to have friend networks and share pictures easily without the 140 texting character limitation of Twitter, it’s the home run.

Twitter. Another ‘have-to-have’. It’s a different bird. Estimates are 190 million consumers, though you are limited to 140 characters per ‘tweet’. Twitter has a slightly different niche usage, but it’s short and sweet. No novels here. Web site URL’s typically need to be shrunk as when they are SEO (Search Engine Optimized) on your web site so you can be found easily on Google, they are not twitter-friendly and consume most of your 140 characters.

Here’s an example of a SEO-friendly URL: http://www.winematch.com/profile_1194-2008-Pomar-Junction-Vineyard–Winery-Train-Wreck-Red-Blend.html Unfortunately, the URL by itself consumed over 100 of the 140 characters allowed by twitter, leaving you with not much to ‘chirp’ about beyond the link. Good news is that a link like this works well for SEO.

Here’s an example of a twitter-friendly URL. http://winematch.com/p/1194. This link goes to the same place, but only 27 characters were used, so you have a whopping 113 characters to let folks know what the link is about. Oh, Happy Day! But clearly understand a search engine won’t know this is a wine from Pomar Junction or that it’s called “Train Wreck Blend”, just that it’s winematch.com and has 1194 within. The long-tailed (longer URL in prior example) is necessary for search engines so they can find things on your site. In short, you need both. The URL-shortener bit.ly is a good and free URL shortener. At WineMatch, we made our own so we would generate a shorter link, but it would still relate to us.

HootSuite and Tumblr are tremendous tools to be able to manage both facebook and twitter from a kind of “control center” dashboard, but remember the “thank you for following me” is more appreciated when they come from twitter and facebook directly, probably because it requires more effort and is more personal. We have to ensure we are seen as personal with proper etiquette, yet need to use what tools are available to be able to manage as many-to-one relationships as humanly possible.

YouTube. This adds more content when performing demonstrations and communicating, but requires more time to produce and also needs to assume that consumers think this is the best use of their time. So it’s gotta be good and be ‘sticky’ to maintain a following. Personally, I don’t spend much time on YouTube as I can accomplish more in the same amount of time using other engines like twitter and facebook.

For my two cents, if you’re a winery start with Twitter and Facebook, but do it not just to sell more wine, but also do it as a strategic pre-emptive strike. There are two schools of thought here – proactive and reactive. If you do it proactively before you have to do it, you stand to benefit and gain marketshare. If you wait until everyone has it, you are placed in reactive mode, and though you will still incurr about the same cost of doing it, your benefit may be limited to hedging marketshare loss.

So as promised, here are my Top 10 Signs That You Need Social Media.

10. You take a flight on Alaska Airlines and the Internet is FREE, but only goes to Facebook (happened to us on our trip from Seattle back home to California – true story)
9. Your parents are on facebook
8. Your children are on facebook
7. Your facebook account lives longer than you
6. You’ve already loaded it on your Droid or iPhone
5. The Dalai Lama has 1.5 Million users and 400 tweets
4. The Federal goverment wants their information databases

3. Public figures self-destruct by their stupid use of Facebook and Twitter
2. Mister Ed has an iPad and is taunting you with it – what the hay?
1. WineMatch lets consumers login using Facebook and Twitter

Tweet!

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