William Church Winery Gets Social Media

We’ve been fans of William Church Winery for a few years now, applauding their wines such as Bishop’s Blend, Malbec, Syrah and more recently 2 Spires. We’ve also cheered for founders Rod and Leslie Balsley, who have a strong belief of the integral role wine plays in the social fabric of life.

They also believe that social media has an integral role for Washington wineries. That was demonstrated last Saturday when they invited bloggers to their Woodinville tasting room for a special event and tweet-up to discuss the importance of social media and the best way to build relationships.

William Church Winery has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. They also set up a Twitter hashtag (#wcwine) for the blogger event last weekend, where they discussed how social media can be an extension of their tasting room – a way to meet people, learn about them, discuss a mutual appreciation of fine wine, and introduce them to William Church wines.

Leslie and Rod get that social media can help them build deeper relationships with their supporters and reach potential new fans and customers. And they also know that listening is key; the dialogue needs to be two-way and not just a one-way news stream about their winery events and releases. That was evident in the topics of discussion for the evening – which included asking bloggers what is important to us and how they can help us build our audience.

So, as you can imagine, we had a wide-ranging chat about social media last Saturday as we sampled their current releases – 2008 Viognier, 2007 2 Spires and 2007 Syrah – and a barrel sample of 2008 Syrah and 2008 Malbec, plus a pre-release sample of 2007 Bishop’s Blend. (Its release date is Nov. 14.)

If you look at the Twitter hashtag, you’ll see the wines generated positive comments from everyone. And we unanimously loved William Church’s 2007 Malbec, which won a Double Gold at the 2009 Seattle Wine Awards. (Also unanimous – some amazing ’07 Syrah sausage, but that’s another story.)

In the name of full disclosure, Leslie and Rod have become friends over the years that we’ve been visiting their tasting room. And, on occasion, they bounce ideas off me. I was excited when they told me that they were planning this bloggers-only event in Woodinville. And I  hope that other Washington wineries will soon follow suit.