Chateau Ste. Michelle Summer Concerts

You always know spring is in the air when Chateau Ste. Michelle starts selling tickets to its amazing Summer Concert Series. This year’s lineup of renowned musicians tops even last year’s – and that’s no small feat!

The 2012 lineup includes the Beach Boys 50th Anniversary Tour, Ringo Starr & His All Starr Band, Chris Isaak, Steve Martin & EmmyLou Harris, Diana Krall, Blondie, Bonnie Raitt and Crosby, Stills & Nash.

The series begins with John Fogerty on June 16 and wraps up with Huey Lewis and the News on September 16. There are three months’ of options on the concert calendar along with answers to any questions you might have about how to prepare for, and what to expect from, a concert outdoors.

We had such a wonderful evening at the Moody Blues concert last year, and are looking forward to another special time this year.

Tickets are now on sale at Chateau Ste. Michelle’s Wine Shop and through Ticketmaster.

What are you waiting for? It’s a wonderful way to spend a lazy summer evening of music and wine in a beautiful location.


Wine Industry Social Media Index

Are you interested in evaluating the social media health of a winery? If so, this blog post is for you.

A new tool was recently launched called The Winery Social Index, which helps wineries measure their online social media efforts.

The index is still in beta, released by VinTank, the software company for social media monitoring and social CRM for the wine industry. VinTank also brought us Social Connect, the only social media listening platform focused on the wine industry.

Social Connect has measured more than 200-million conversations about wine, across 6.5-million social wine consumers. And listen up, my friends in the wine business: the basic tool is free, and the “lite” version is only $35 per month.

In the name of transparency and full disclosure, I am on the Board of Advisors for VinTank. The position marries my two passions, as a wine enthusiast with an expertise in social media measurement.

I speak about social media measurement at many conferences, ranging from BlogWorld to the Canadian Marketing Association. Next month, I am giving a presentation on social media influencer identification and measurement in Dublin, for AMEC, the International Association for Measurement and Evaluation of Communication.

This is the first time since my blog launched in 2007 that I have written about my speaking engagements. I only do so now to explain that I am deeply involved in the world of social media measurement. And I recommend The Winery Social Index, regardless of my position on the BOA of VinTank.

The index provides you with an understanding of engagement, activity, fan growth and ranking across the wine industry. The index changes daily and is measured over a running 30-day period.

It is important to note that The Winery Social Index goes beyond so-called vanity metrics of fans and followers, which is a key differentiator. Instead, the index rankings are mainly based on the level of engagement a winery has with customers in social media — in other words how many fans or followers are interacting with online content by liking, commenting, replying and tagging.

“Primarily the index is a measurement of what we feel is proper engagement ratios and healthy fan growth,” explains Paul Mabray,  VinTank CEO. “We feel the score should be a key performance indicator of your winery’s social media efforts.

“Anyone who talks about your brand is some sort of customer – they may not be a direct customer – but they’re someone who bought your wine at a retailer, or in a restaurant – in market. Servicing them is a key component of brand loyalty and brand awareness.”

If you are a winery involved in social media, you can find more information about The Winery Social Index on VinTank’s website. And while you’re there, spend a few minutes reading about  Social Connect.

Earlier this month, VinTank also released a new feature — Social CRM — to keep track of fans whom you’ve talked to on Facebook. I’ve always encouraged my friends in the wine business to think of social media as an extension of the tasting room. Think of Social CRM as the way you track your customers specifically on Facebook.

So yes, I’m a member of VinTank’s BOA. More importantly, I’m a major fan, supporter and advocate of The Winery Social Index, Social Connect and Social CRM.


A Look at the Success of Washington State’s Wine Industry

While I was traveling, a new economic impact study about the Washington state wine industry was released, showcasing impressive statistics about the industry’s incredible growth and its positive effect on the economy.

According to the Washington State Wine Commission, which released the study, the state’s wine industry is valued at more than $8.6 billion annually in Washington state and more than $14.9 billion annually in the U.S. — approximately three times higher than a similar study conducted in 2007.

In 2010, Washington’s wineries produced 11.2 million cases of wine, generating revenue in excess of $1 billion, providing the livelihoods for nearly 30,000 people and hundreds of connected businesses and organizations.

“Throughout this period Washington wine has benefited from strong, pragmatic leadership, quality education and an increasingly effective research program which has enabled the industry to overcome a multitude of economic and environmental challenges,” the report states. “Washington wine has shown little of the complacency which has imperiled many other major producing regions in this difficult period.”

Here is some additional interesting information from the study:

  • Since 2005, the number of licensed wineries in Washington State has more than doubled from 360 to 739 today.
  • The state has also added more than 13,000 acres of vineyards during this time – from just over 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) in 2005 to more than 43,000 acres (17,000 hectares) today.
  • The industry supports nearly 30,000 jobs in Washington State and more than 70,000 jobs nationally, with wages of nearly $1.2 billion and more than $2.8 billion, respectively.
  • The industry generates more than $237 million in annual tax revenues to the state of Washington and pays nearly $1.4 billion annually in taxes across the country.
  • Each year, Washington State draws more than 2.4 million wine-related tourists, who spend nearly $1.1 billion in communities throughout the state.

Want to read more? The complete study, conducted by California-based Stonebridge Research, can be found at


Washington in Washington

A day of double-takes comprised what I like to call our experience of “Washington in Washington.”

Dave and I were in Washington, D.C. at the same time as this state’s Washington Wine Commission held a trade and media tasting there.

Ryan Pennington, the Commission’s social-media-savvy PR director, saw my Facebook update that we were headed to D.C., so he kindly invited us to stop by the tasting event at the Rooftop Terrace at The John F. Kennedy Center.

Of course we went! The tasting area was packed, and we listened with pride as many D.C.-area wine experts, restaurant owners, media and wine enthusiasts extolled the virtues of Washington state wine.

And we laughed at the looks on the faces of several winemakers and winery owners when they saw us, out of context, in “the other Washington!”

“What are you doing here?” exclaimed Charlie Hoppes of Fidelitas, Mike White of Barrister, Lisa Baer of Baer, John Abbott of Abeja, Darcey Fugman-Small of Woodward Canyon, Jerry Riener of Guardian Cellars and Doug Long of Obelisco.

“We just happened to be in the neighborhood and heard some excellent Washington state wine was being poured here,” we replied.

We also had an opportunity to taste wine and talk to Daniel Wampfler of Dunham Cellars, Kristi and Lou Facelli of Facelli, Kim Bolander of L’Ecole 41, Debbie Hansen of Cougar Crest, and Mark McNeilly of Mark Ryan.

These were the wines we tasted and recommend (in alphabetical order):

  • Abeja 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla ($52)
  • Baer 2009 Ursa Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley ($39)
  • Cougar Crest 2007 Estate Cabernet Franc, Walla Walla ($38)
  • Dunham Cellars 2008 Cabernet Sauvignon XIV, Columbia Valley ($45)
  • Facelli 2008 Barbera, Columbia Valley ($25)
  • Fidelitas 2008 Ciel du Cheval Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($55)
  • Guardian Cellars 2009 Gun Metal Red Bordeaux Blend, Columbia Valley ($37)
  • L’Ecole 41 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon, Walla Walla ($37)
  • Long Shadows 2007 Feather Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley ($55)
  • Mark Ryan 2009 Dead Horse Red Bordeaux Blend, Red Mountain ($52)
  • Obelisco 2009 Electrum Cabernet Sauvignon, Red Mountain ($65)
  • Woodward Canyon 2009 Artist Series Cabernet Sauvignon, Washington State ($54)

Frankly, I couldn’t say it any better than the Washington Wine Commission’s brochure:

“Washington State’s exceptional grapes reach their potential in the hands of extraordinary winemakers, who create bright and balanced expressions of our region with world-class wines.”

Cheers to Washington state winemakers!