Just a day after reading about a friend’s lack of acknowledgment at Napa sparkling wine maker Domain Chandon, I was asked by a friend of mine to visit the Korbel tasting room to pick up some Zinfandel (yes, Korbel does make some wine).
I tweeted about my experience, briefly saying that
When I asked the older tasting room attendant if she ever gets any wine bloggers in the tasting room, I was greeted with not only a blank stare, but she almost looked insulted like I was speaking to her in a different language that she was supposed to figure out. She asked me what a blogger was and when I told her it was a person who wrote about wine online, she still continued her blank stare and simply said no.
Okay fine, this tasting room person was clearly a different generation and my experience was mediocre enough to not give it a second thought afterward. Expect I live in a world that is centered around the internet and my mind was on the Domain Chandon experience that I just missed out on. Interesting enough — several hours after tweeting about my experience, and even drinking a bottle of their zin at home (saying it was pretty good) I read an article in the Press Democrat about how Korbel is suing Comcast to make Comcast identify “internet customers” who criticized the wine company on Craigslist.
Without turning this post into a debate over freedom of speech or even talking about what was said about Korbel on the postings (read about that in the article), I will say that I think Korbel is going about this all wrong.
This incident happened a year ago and I remember reading it in the Press Democrat, not really thinking too much about it. Untrue (or possibly true) and unflattering things are said about brands online and offline everyday. While I do agree that those who said the slanderous allegations should not be allowed to remain anonymous… It is how a brand handles the negative PR that matters. I think if Korbel simply dismissed the allegations as false than I wouldn’t be here talking about them or my experience in the tasting room (they were playing the Bodyguard soundtrack from the early 90’s). Instead their reaction to the allegations was to sue Comcast to get the names of the people who created the postings, just so they can sue them for slander. This is not a good PR move, it makes them look guilty and it brings on more negative attention.
This got me thinking about Korbel and if they even have an online strategy…. It isn’t like I hear that much about Korbel within the wine-blogging community and in my daily marketing promotions emails. Their website, though saying brand new, is already out of date and to have their flash version open in another screen is not only unnecessary, it is annoying.
It is interesting that their site has a forum that currently isn’t working. Their Perfect Proposal Promotion link is currently not working as well.
Altogether, my perceived image of them is that they are out of date, and Korbel people, if you are reading this (which I hope you are because it means you at least have done something right online aka Google Alerts) these are not allegations, just one person’s experience at your beautiful, yet boring tasting room. I am a fan, especially of your blanc de noir sparkling wine. And, hey, if you need some online publicity help, call me… It is what I do.