Monday, January 30, 2012

You can't expect an industry association to do it all

My editor from The Tahoe Weekly sent this online article to me.  Katherine Hill, one of the brightest young journalists I know, is always on the lookout for news that affects her reporting region, and she knew I'd appreciate this alert.

The writer suggests that the PR firm working for the El Dorado Winery Association fell down on its job, and that's why the El Dorado Barrel Tasting event (January 28-29) was not well attended. It put me  "On the Defense" regarding the lackluster turnout of El Dorado Barrel Tasting.

I have quite a different take on this situation, and want to share my comment with you:
The long-and-short of it is:

You really need to read the article for yourself first:

...and my comment below...

"I'm what you might call a "volunteer advocate" for Sierra Foothill wineries, and I know many of the wineries, winery owners and winemakers in the region.  I also write the WineTime column for The Tahoe Weekly ... so I go to a lot of industry events and talk to scads of people in the winebiz.
   Actually, the event was quite well publicized.  I received notification quite a while ago.  But sadly, it went head-to-head against the big ZAP tasting in San Francisco -- and that Zinfandel event drew almost 10,000 consumers.
  The ZAP tasting is always the same time every year:  the last weekend of January.  If there was a flaw in the planning of this event, then it was in not considering what a huge draw ZAP is.
  Yes, the 2011 vintage was challenging, but many winemakers who attended the Unified Wine & Grape Symposium in Sacramento -- also the last week of January every year -- know how to make the best use of their grapes.  Some say the 2011 vintage will be among the best in a long time. Yes, the vineyard owners are fretting about the lack of water so far this year.  Thank goodness there are substantial water rights in place for many of them! 
   Perhaps next year the event could be moved to mid-February. That would give the winemakers and wineries time to unpack from Sacramento, clean the tablecloths from ZAP, and put out that last-minute PR blitz of their own to their wineclubs and friends-and-family lists. 
   You can't expect an industry association to do it all. 
   As for wine lovers, how about cheering on the Sierra Foothill wine region yourself?  I taste thousands of wines a year, and the Sierra Foothill wines are among the best that California has to offer.  Intense flavor. Balance. Expressive of terroir. Good aging potential.
   For starters, become friends of the wineries on their Facebook pages.  Go one level deeper in social media and add them to your Twitter feed.  Here are the "handles" for several El Dorado wineries:
@FoothillWino    (Baiocchi Wines)

(And oh yes, follow my blogposts in
An event to calendar, by the way:  The Barbera Festival in Amador, June 9.  Save your pennies for the ticket, and don't miss it.

You can't expect an industry association to do it all.


  1. Tickets sells were less this year, but I believe it was due to the price of the ticket. Last year they offered very discounted tickets with one of the on-line companies and sold a ton of tickets. They also offered 4 packs and Sunday only tickets last year. This is an association decision not the a PR decision. I work for a winery and we saw less people, had great energy and most all who were participating were buyers, therefore making it a very successful event.

  2. Sounds like you got paid by the wineries' PR handlers to refute the testimony of a reporter who was there. Your words seem a bit biased and pissy.

  3. Jerry Stidham, Marketing Committee Chairman for the El Dorado Wine Grape Growers Association is very busy with his vineyards right now but took time out to send me his commentary on this weekend:

    "Just a quick note to express my positive feedback to your observations about last weekend's barrel tasting event in El Dorado County. I'm confident EDWA will analyze their results very carefully and proceed accordingly in the future. Your suggestions were most valid however and with a stronger degree of collaboration between all involved parties, along with a slight change in the annually selected weekend, I'm certain 2013 will produce a much stronger result.

    Our neighboring Grape Growers Association provided some volunteer support towards assisting EDWA and Ag In The Classroom with the event this year and the more we're able to co-mingle our energetic memberships during these County-wide events, the more I'm convinced our future successes will be easily quantified. It's unfortunate that today's mentality of 'instant gratification to the max' doesn't always happen . . . and for varied reasons . . . although your comment that 'you can't expect an industry association to do it all,' was right on target!

    And, even though we've historically flown under the radar, you're also correct that 'Sierra Foothills wines are among the best that California has to offer . . . intense flavor, balance, expressive of terroir and good aging potential.' Comments which are also right on target . . . and emanate from the fact that quality wines are produced from quality, high-elevation grapes, grown by quality El Dorado Wine Grape Growers!

    Again, nice work on your candid review."

  4. In addition to Jerry's remarks, I want to publish the next comment received. No, I am not on the payroll of any wineries or winery associations. I an an unpaid volunteer Advocate for Sierra Foothill wines and wineries, and I simply want to help get the word out and see them reach fuller awareness with consumers for their great wines.
    Barbara Keck, blog writer

    I also write the wine column for The Tahoe Weekly newspaper.