A bit of self promotion coming up. Ryan here, and come the last week in January, I will have the pleasure of speaking to a crowd of wine industry professionals about the Internets and wine, and more specifically, how to use the Interwebs to promote oneself to drum up some business. From the Wine Pleasures website:
1ST INTERNATIONAL WINE TOURISM CONFERENCE & WORKSHOP
Port Resort Sitges 24th – 27th January 2009
The first Wine Pleasures International Wine Tourism Conference & Workshop in Sitges next year promises to be very exciting. We plan to provide you with a Catalan flavour and a very memorable experience.
I’ll be focusing on some of the ABC’s of wine and technology. Here in Spain, we have Webblogs SL and a vibrant Beer and Blogs culture, but our wineries are woefully behind the times when it comes to harnessing the power of the Internet. Well, maybe not “behind the times”, so much as “before the times”. For most Spanish wineries, “web”sites are those annoying white lacy things found in your barrel room that either need to be removed, or in the case of Lopez de Heredia, support elements for the architecture. As my US “geek” readers will note, California wineries are waking up fast, and as witnessed by this last weekend’s Wine Blogger Conference, the industry knows they need wine bloggers to pay attention and I have seen a move to websites that function, rather than just flash.
Is there hope for Spain? I think so, but first let me rant a little bit more.
The other point I want to make is a bit more controversial. The best way for a Spanish winery to do something innovative and effective when it comes to optimizing their online presence is to hire someone who is NOT Spanish. We work with five wineries, all of which, minus one, are run by ex-pats or have ex-pats in some position of influence. Having traveled and talked with hundreds of wineries across Iberia, I can tell you that if you look at a winery’s website, you can tell two things: one if they have a foreigner working for them, and two if the owner/manager/CEO has traveled much. You seem to need a worldly perspective to see the way in which Internet marketing is changing the wine world, potentially leading to a change in your own website as well. I’m not partial to ex-pats mind you, I just happen to notice this trend.
This same theory extends to tour operators, winery tourism intiatives, and some areas of traditional marketing. But, it doesn’t have to be this way. There are wineries who buck this trend by doing things differently. Some of those mavericks include:
- Torres: A Catalan marketing a Spanish wine. And with a Kickass tasting room/tour.
- René Barbier: A French man making Priorat wine.
- Port wine: The most successful region in all of Portugal’s wine country is run by the Brits, or least it used to be!
- Pingus: One of the most ridiculously priced wines in Spain made by a Dutch man. Not a good example, but it always amazes me, that anyone would pay that much for that wine. But I digress…
- Gonzalez Byass: They have a train, regular tours, and multiple languages, plus a mouse that drinks out of a cup!
My goal with the time I have to speak at Wine Pleasures workshop is to illustrate a changing of the guard among Spanish wineries, from an old marketing perspective to a new dynamic and innovative perspective. It’s clear that Spain needs a comprehensive plan for wine tourism. This plan would slap Spanish wine makers in the face to get them to realize that their complaints about not wanting to work with “competitors” (I call them colleagues) only leads to more of the same, something they have no problem complaining about. Spain has a treasure trove of wine delights that should be shared with the world, but until this mindset changes, they will remain behind locked doors to only those of us who know about them.
Maybe Spain is not right for tourism? Maybe the cultural divide to large? Part of me wants to suggest that Portugal is ready. You can maneuver around the country with ease, and although their wineries are still difficult to get into, but this is changing. First step is to realize that Tourists don’t have “summer hours”, and that they tend to travel with cash. You won’t get that cash out of their pocket and into yours if your winery is closed for “siesta”.
In an effort to practice what we preach we have offered to help set up the Wine Pleasures Conference with a blog, which will contain speaker proposals and aggregate some of the content into one location. We’ll announce the address in the very near future, once it’s done.
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