a food/wine/marketing blog that is funny by accident, sarcastic on purpose.

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the simplicity of chocolate and wine.

There is a reason that chocolate and wine are a perfect pair.  Both are two of my favorite items to consume.  Both enhance the flavors of anything that either is paired with.  Both start off as a fruit (cacao beans or grapes).  Both are products of their environment, and if grown with the proper care, it is a fairly simplistic process to create the final result.  As Erik Olsen at Kokomo Winery stated in an interview with The Wine Spies, his wine making philosophy is to “try my best to keep my own personal thumbprint off the wines I make.  Instead, I try to make wines that show the terroir or convey a real sense of the place where they were grown.  I want the fruit and the vineyard to really shine through.”

At the Wine 2.0 Expo last Thursday, I met up with a few folks at TCHO chocolate.  They were the one of the only non-alcohol related brands at the event and it was a welcomed booth at the wine/technology event.  Back when I was working with Scharffen Berger on their pr efforts, I took a great interest in the story of TCHO.

It is a new chocolate brand that started last year in “beta” form, meaning they sent out samples of their chocolate in plain brown packs to members of the media and bloggers.  No fancy packaging or gimmicks – just quality chocolate.  It was such a great PR move in my eye.  A bit of mystery about the brand before releasing it to the public is a gutsy move on their part and thankfully they have quality chocolate to back it up.  It is simple chocolate without any added flavors and currently comes in 4 different varieties.  Each with it’s own characteristic. Chocolaty, nutty, fruity and citrus.

Now, they have a great new high-tech design (TCHO 1.0), a retail location in San Francisco and can be found in many different tasting rooms and gourmet shops in Sonoma and Napa Counties (including Jimtown and the Cheese Shop in Healdsburg).  Go to TCHO IS to see TCHO’s philosophy, it is a fun read.

They are branching out into the wine and technology world so it is logical to see them at Wine 2.0, which was created as a mixture of both.  I look forward to seeing TCHO 2.0* and them diving more into the social media world where they are a perfect fit with the bacon loving blogger crowd!

*I think I may know of someone who would love to help… Cough, cough… Amy and team.

A winery that really stood out for me at the Expo was Round Pond Estate, a Napa Valley winery out of Rutherford.  With a few limited-production varietals and handpicked fruit, olive oils and red wine vinegars, they are the type of family owned Napa winery that I can respect.  The wine was made to respect to the fruit and the vineyards, same with their olive oils.

46146032Miles MacDonnell, who runs the winery, is the reason that I even visited the booth in the first place.  He was right next to the Titus booth and he asked me to “stick my finger out.”  Honestly, how could I not listen to this guy?  He placed a drop of the Estate’s Myer Lemon Olive Oil on my pointer finger and poured me their 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon.  I was shocked that the combination of the lemony olive oil and the cherry cab actually paired very well together.  The cab mellowed out the tanginess of the lemon and vice versa.  Both products were very clean tasting, with no heavy, lingering aftertaste. The pairing was a great treat, especially considering what usually happened when people ask you to pull their fingers.

Tastings are by reservation only, so if you are headed out to Rutherford, give them a call.

Once again, the Wine 2.0 boys threw a great party.  I met so many wonderful new contacts and Twitter friends via the plasma screens streaming tweets all night.  I do look forward to the next event and the continuation of the fusion of wine (food) and technology through social media and beyond.

Now, I am hungry!

social media competition in 140.

My friend Tim (who introduced me to Twitter 2 years ago) jokingly commented that my last posting on my social media competition was way more than 140 characters and thus it was entirely too long for our overworked minds to read.

“Great link, but now you’re making me read more than 140 characters… grrrr.”

I decided to try to see if I could shorten the post enough to still be able to prove my point, but just in a shorter format.

Let’s see:

Should you trust Social Media “Experts” who has only been on FB/TW for a few months? No! (88 characters)

Social Media is about adapting quickly, being honest and most importantly – about COMMITMENT and PASSION.  Newbies may not know this yet. (137 characters)

Social Media is a tool that takes time, so why trust those jumping on the Social Media Marketing bandwagon & claiming to be “experts”  (135 characters)

Any others?

my social media competition.

I just stumbled upon a great social media white paper.  The 26 page pdf SOCIAL MEDIA MARKETING INDUSTRY REPORT: How Marketers Are Using Social Media to Grow is written by Michael A. Stelzer of Writing White Papers.  The report surveyed  over 700 social media marketers, asking them open ended questions about the industry.  If you don’t want to read the entire thing, go here to watch a video that explains some of the highlights.  After reading all 26 pages, I do have to say that I am concerned.

I have been told time and time again that the niche service I provide is a much needed one in Sonoma County (and the marketing industry as a whole) and that I need to help bring the Wine Country into the Web 2.0 world.  With so many “Social Media Consultants, Guru’s and Marketers”  that follow me online, I figured that maybe some of them might actually have some experience with the subject matter that they claim to be an expert on.  According to the report, I may be wrong.

The report justified my own personal commitment to social media and gave me a better understanding of what I should expect (or not expect) from my competition (aka those social media marketers that claim to know it all).  I have been using social media for years and my time spent on my iphone or on my laptop is almost embarrassingly high.  Honestly, ask my friends and they all will tell you I need to have my iphone within an arm’s length at all time.  A debate on if this is healthy or not is another subject.  Apparently (a  positive and a negative for me), my competition isn’t as dedicated and knowledgeable on the subject as I am. Here, I do want to state, that I know not all new social media people can be put into this stereotype and I am sure their are many respectable social media newbies out there. Right now it seems like social media marketing is the hottest trend and everyone is trying to jump on the bandwagon.

Some highlights of the report include:

“When asked to rate their experience using social media marketing for their businesses, a significant 72% of marketers have either just started or have been using social media for only a few months. ” What?? I know the industry is relatively new, but a few months, come on!

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“There is a direct relationship between how long marketers have been using social media and their weekly time commitment.  For people just beginning with social media, the median weekly time commitment was two hours per week. However, for folks who have been doing this for a few months, the median jumped to 10 hours a week. And for people who have been doing this for years, their median is 20+ hours each week.” The longer you have been involved with social media, the more you understand that it does take a lot of time… You also know it pays off.

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“The longer you invest, the greater return you are gonna get”

- Michael Stelzer

So, to conclude, I will never claim to know all the answers.  That isn’t what social media is about.  It is about trial and error…. It is about being able to adapt and react quickly, it is about being honest with your consumers and most important it is about COMMITMENT and PASSION . I am happy to report that I can proudly say I am capable of all of this….  Can a social media guru who just started truly say that?

teen eating disorders and vegetarianism?

I just read an article in today’s TIME magazine, titled: Study: Is Vegetarianism a Teen Eating Disorder? that really got under my skin.  After reading a blog post on the same article from Emily Brunell of relishments, I was even more irritated about the topic.  I became a vegetarian before I hit my teens and yes it was sudden.  Part of it had a lot to do with the fact that my mom has never been the best cook and once my parents got divorced when I was 12, I had to fend for myself when it came to an afternoon snack and sometimes dinner (without going into it too much, I lived equally with both my mom and dad and I must say they did a great job of raising me, they just are not “foodie” people).  Anyways, 15 years later, my family still thinks this is a stage in my life and my grandpa still asks me if I am out of my “phase.”

The first paragraph of this article is the truly insulting part:

Being a teenager means experimenting with foolish things like dyeing your hair purple or candy flipping or going door-to-door for a political party. Parents tend to overlook seemingly mild, earnest teen pursuits like joining the Sierra Club, but a new study in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association suggests that another common teen fad, vegetarianism, isn’t always healthy.

I am sorry, did they say that doing ecstasy is a normal part of being a teenager, but that becoming involved with an amazing charity and doing something good for the environment is something to be worried about?   This article goes beyond hinting that if you have a child that is a vegetarian that you should be worried, they flat out say it.

My reasoning for becoming a veggie simply was that I didn’t like the thought of eating something that used to be alive.  Now-a-days, kids have a lot more knowledge about the subject, along with a lot more options. They also have a lot more pressure to start looking “good” at a younger age.  So it isn’t the subject matter that really bothered me about the article, I think that eating disorders are something that affects almost every teenage girl and needs to be addressed.  It was the way that the TIME article seemed to spin this eating disorder “fad” really irritates me.  Also interesting is that the subjects they interviewed were all Minnesotans, if TIME magazine was going to write an article so in your face like this one, I wish they would have done a more broad study, not just a small sample of one state.  Especially a state where I have visited and gotten a lot of grief for my lifestyle choice of not eating meat.

It is an important subject, but I think Emily hit it on the head when they said “parents should pay attention to all lifestyle changes a teen makes.”  I am sure that sudden vegetarian isn’t the first sign of a problem.

you aren’t a lush if this is what you do for a living.

It is one thing to call yourself a wine blogger and write about various consumer wine tasting events like Barrel Tasting.  It is a whole different story to be asked to attend wine blogger specific events and get a self guided tour from the vineyard manager of one of the top wineries in Napa Valley.  Add in good friends, new contacts, some chocolate & cheese and this was the ultimate wine blogging weekend….  The only problem: Too much to write about!  I am definitely not complaining here, having too much to write about is never a bad thing.  I learned so much from each event that it will take me a while to type up my thoughts so below is a short write up of each even before my thoughts become irrelevant:

Thursday April 2nd was the Wine 2.0 Expo at Crushpad in San Francisco.  It was my second encounter with the Wine 2.0 guys (the first was at ZAP) and my first time at Crushpad and it was a blast.  Being a newbie to the wine event scene, I had no idea that Crushpad was a huge warehouse that can hold over a thousand people. I was amazed at that the room was to hold over 800 wine/technology loving people. The expo was held to showcase some of the “emerging companies and wineries that are reinventing how wine is made, marketed or sold.”  This included many different wineries, mostly from Sonoma, Napa and Paso Robles, a few wine tech companies and one innovative chocolate company.  Cornelius Geary, CEO of Wine 2.0 even gave me the official Wine 2.0 Flip camera to videotape part of the evening…  More info and maybe even a video to come about my highlights of this event.

crushpadTaken from Wine 2.0′s Facebook page.

Saturday April 4th was Bloggers Day at St. Supery winery in Rutherford, Ca.  Wine bloggers from all around the Bay Area visited the winery for some wine, food and of course some socializing.  Going into this day not knowing anything about the winery, it was definitely nice to get a guided tour of some of the vineyards from their Vineyard Manager, Josh Anstey.  Everything from the croissant (and bacon) pairing with the Sauvignon Blanc to the wine tasting upstairs to the lunch under the oak tree out in front was just perfect.  I left with a better feeling about this Napa winery (yes, I am a Sonoma County girl with a deep passion for her home county).  I was given few parting gifts and much more is to be said about this day, so look for more info soon.

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The St. Supery team and the wine bloggers.

To top this weekend off on Sunday April 5th was maybe the most exciting event of the three.  I was able to participate in the Passion for Pinot Summit, an all day pinot event put on by Barbara Drady of the Affairs of the Vine.  Thea Dwelle (aka @winebratsf) invited me to be one of the blogging judges of this blind pinot noir tasting.  Me, a judge in a pinot tasting…  Could life get any better?  The top 44 pinot noirs from all over the world, chosen in a previous blind tasting from a professional tasting panel (more about Blind Tastings in another posting to come) were covered up and assigned colors.  Over 300 guests, writers, bloggers and industry professionals tasted and chose their top favorites.  The winners can be found on Barbara’s blog post about the event.  My observations on the type of pinot noir’s that I gravitated to are coming up in another blog post as well.

I lushed it up this past weekend and I wouldn’t want my life to be any other way….

imported beer, wine sales slipped in ’08.

Since you can only read article’s from Media Post if you are a member (sign up for free here, I promise you will not be disappointed) I want to copy and paste an article I read about the trend of trading-down with wine and beer. Read the rest of this page »

seduced by pinot.

Anyone following me on Twitter knows that my favorite wine varietal is pinot noir.  As my Barrel Tasting posting stated, “It wasn’t until I discovered this varietal that I started drinking and loving wine.”   It has been an inspiration as well as my “gateway drug” into other bolder wines, like a yummy Petite Verdot, a sometimes overpowering Syrah or my recently love for Malbec’s (all thanks to Mounts Family Vineyard & Kokomo Winery).

The Wikapedia article on these grape states:

Pinot noir (IPA: [pi.no.'nwaʁ]) is a red wine grape variety of the species Vitis vinifera. The name is derived from the French words for “pine” and “black” alluding to the varietals’ tightly clustered dark purple pine cone-shaped bunches of fruit.

Being lighter in style, it has benefited from a trend toward more restrained, less alcoholic wines. Robert Parker has described pinot noir in Parker’s Wine Buying Guide:

“When it’s great, Pinot noir produces the most complex, hedonistic, and remarkably thrilling red wine in the world…”

Read the rest of this page »

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