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At the close of the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC) in Vienna Robert McIntosch from wineconversation.com and Ryan and Gabriella Opaz from Catavino.net introduced us to the Born Digital Wine Awards (BDWA), a kind of Pulitzer Prizes for online wine communicators.

On the BDWA website the organisers describe the awards as following: “The Born Digital Wine Awards are an attempt to give value to the new wave of online wine journalism. Each year, the best examples of electronic publishing, including videos, will be reviewed by a panel of top industry professionals from within and without the wine industry.”

Just like the Pulitzer Prizes aims to honour excellence in the journalism and art world, the BDWA is looking for excellence in online and digital wine journalism. It is a proper award in the sense that there are real prizes involved – the winner of each category will be taking home a €1,000 – and that the prizes will be awarded by some real heavy weights in the wine, journalism and publishing world. The latter in my eyes is an even bigger and more prestigious acknowledgement as it will be an honour to be recognized by Jancis Robinson, Elin McCoy, Evan Schnittman, Hervé Lalau, Patrick Schmitt and Robert Joseph.

The fact that these busy and highly recognized judges are willing to make time to review and evaluate our online wine content surely means that our message is gaining importance in the wine and online journalism world. One of the categories is content created by wineries so if you as a winery have invested in outstanding online content or marketing material do consider to enter. Entry forms and submission details can be found on the submission page of the BDWA website.

Entry categories are the following:

  • Best Investigative Wine Story
    For a distinguished example of investigative reporting by an individual or team, presented as a single wine article or series (video, written text)
  • Best Editorial Wine Writing
    Outstanding examples of wine writing, giving prime consideration to literary quality and originality
  • Best Wine Tourism Feature
    Speaking about a particular region as a tourist destination with a focus on wine (written text, video, photo)
  • Best Wine Themed Video
    Video content that either educates, demonstrates or builds awareness for wine (video)
  • Best Winery Self Produced Content
    Outstanding examples of content created by wineries to promote their brand and reach out to key audiences
  • The judging will be in English – however it is important to note that content can be submitted in any language and a professional translation service is being offered.

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    On Monday I met with my friend Andre Ribeirinho from Adegga.com and we had a good conversation about the AVIN. Up till then I had only heard very little about this project, but the more I talked to Andre, the more intrigued I became. I would like to share with you why I believe every winery should sign up and implement the AVIN code for all its wines.

    But first of all let me elaborate a little on the AVIN. AVIN stands for All Vin Identification Number – it was created as a project by the social tasting note site Adegga.com as their unique identifier which they use as master data for mapping purposes. They then realised that everyone could benefit from a system which easily identifies any wine in the world and a separate company was set up. Today the AVIN is a unique 13 digit number which is used to track wines in the same way the ISBN (International Standard Book Number) has been used for books since the 60’s. It’s formatted in the same way and looks like AVIN6452997073019.

    The benefit of the AVIN is similar to the benefit of the ISBN – i.e. it is a UNIQUE identifier for a specific wine. By this I mean that if a winery or a distributor registers their wines and add the AVIN to their tasting notes and on the label all this info can and will be collated. Furthermore, bloggers, writers and wine reviewers can add the AVIN to their review or article, and again this info will be collated back to the correct wine, which means that if a consumer enters an AVIN in Google, or any other search engine, he will get all this information back.

    An added benefit of the AVIN is that a QR code is created for every AVIN, and with the rise in popularity of Mobile Tagging this means that the information linked to the AVIN is very easily retrievable by any customer.

    In summary, this is why I believe every winery should be signing up for AVIN codes.

  • It’s free.
  • The winery is in control of the information entered about their wines.
  • By actively using the AVIN as part of your wine marketing strategy, and integrating it on the tasting notes, or on your website when you have received an accolade for a particular wine, and adding the QR code on your label, the chances are high that you directly can influence or inform your customer
  • More than 30,000,000 labels have been printed to date with an AVIN on, and about 24,000 wines have been registered for the AVIN. Whilst this is just a small number compared to all the wines in the world, as always it is better to be on board earlier rather than later as its easier to influence in a less crowded space
  • Google is investing heavily in mobile tagging technology and it is highly possible that implementing the AVIN can improve your SEO ranking
  • More and more wine bloggers are using the AVIN, and I have heard through the grapevine that Jancis Robinson would like to start using AVIN for her Purple Pages wine reviews:-)
  • I have also heard that International Wine Competitions would like to start using the AVIN as well
  • With the increase of digital wine lists on i-Pad , the AVIN can really add value as it once again allows you to directly communicate with your customer
  • And lastly the AVIN is cool! Wine bottles with the AVIN QR code printed on the bottle draw attention as they are a novelty, and people want to use the QR scanner on their phone as it’s a cool thing to do!
  • I hope that these points have convinced you that the AVIN is here to stay and that it would be a great thing to sign up for the codes and actively promote it’s usage sooner rather than later! If I have convinced you please visit the AVIN website to register and sign up for the codes:-)

    The board of AVIN advisors consists of André Cid Proença, Andre Ribeirinho and Emidio Santos – all 3 founders of Adegga.com and
    Gabriella and Ryan Opaz – founders of Catavino.net and the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC).

    From 22-26 October 2010 I participated in the #EWBC (Eureopean Wine Bloggers Conference)  – a fantastic international event organized by Gabriella and Ryan Opaz of Catavino, and Robert McIntosh of Thirst for Wine. The #EWBC was in its third year and was attended by 200 people from over 30 countries.

    Now why do I want to share this experience with you? Besides learning a lot about social media and tasting some fabulous Austrian wines this event in my eyes was also a great  illustration of how you can expand your brand presence online! How I can hear you whisper…

    Well Elin McCoy, the famous wine journalist and author, addressed future of wine criticism in the opening Keynote. She raised a whole lot of questions about whom the wine critics of tomorrow would be and introduced the term “citizen wine critic”. She argued that because of the diversification of the wine world – the traditional wine critics at an established organisations (eg Robert Parker – or the guys at the Wine Spectator) are struggling to keep up with the new trends in the wine world. (new varieties, terroirs, vineyard and winemaking techniques) This diversification hence creates a need for local experts – often in the form of wine bloggers & wine lovers who are passionate about a specific region/variety – to share their knowledge and in this way help educate the consumer.

    In my opinion, Elin was not saying that the traditional wine critics were not important anymore, but rather that the fast evolving wine world and the rise of social media has created other opportunities for wineries to gain brand awareness.

    I would strongly advise you to create a winery blog on your website, and encourage your customers to leave comments here. Add a FB and Twitter share button, so that they can share their comments with their friends. I would also actively encourage people to leave a wine review on one of the many user generated content sites out there (eg like www.cellartracker.comadegga.com or ablegrape.com). You can do this either on the label (for instance by using the avin system or adding a link to one of these sites) or encourage customers at tastings or at the cellar door. Cellartracker has more than 5 million reviews alone, and getting your customers in the habit to use these sites will make you less dependent on scores from the traditional wine critics. And best of all it’s free and is shared by thousands!

    In the closing Keynote, by Evan Schnittman of Bloomsbury Publishing, spoke about how the rise of the internet has changed the world of publishing. More and more people reading books, articles etc are doing this today on a Kindle, iPads and other internet connected devices, which means they can reference and comment directly on what they are reading. And by doing this they will have the opportunity to reference blogs, social media channels and topic related websites.

    Again I truly believe that this development allows you increased direct communication with your customers> However, in order to effectively do so,  you will need to make sure your website is up to date and has tasting notes for all your wines in the market, as well as bottleshots, vineyard and winery  images and the latest news  readily available.

    However maybe the most important lesson I learned from the #EWBC is that wineries actively involved in Social Media and attending these events will see an immediate increase in exposure. At these events you have a captive audience of international writers -who will feel privileged by you taking the time to taste them through your wines and as a result will happily share this experience with the rest of their online community. They will often write blog posts about you, or at least promote you on Twitter and Facebook. And again all this extra exposure only requires a few sample bottles and your presence at the event – a real bargain if you ask me:-)

    To finish off this article I just would like to mention that a lot of my fellow wine bloggers have been a lot less slack that I have and have written some beautiful stories about the conference in the past few months.

    Here are the links to some of my favourite stories:
    EWBC – ongoing stories by Ryan O’connel
    EWBC by Lucia Barzanò
    EWBC through the eyes of Ignacio Segovia
    Enjoy an Austrian Wine Holiday at the Loisium Wine and Spa Resort by Diane Letulle
    Where some stories start and many go – by MissVickyWine
    Exploring the art of Lunch in Vienna by Jim Budd
    Listz in the Cellar by the Winesleuth
    Gemütlichkeit: The Ideal Descriptor of Austrian Gastronomy by Gabriella Opaz

    I am writing this blog post from the Rennaissance hotel in Vienna. I am here to attend the European wine Bloggers conference and to extend my network with like-minded people:).

    Whilst I know that attending a conference is a  more classical way of networking, I want to share that I already have connected with quite a few of the other participants via the web (Facebook, Twitter) before ever meeting them in person. Reaching out and communicating with others via the internet is one way of defining Social Media.  The reason social media is social is that it is two way. E.g. I post something on the internet, and others replies, leave comment or post something else in relation to my post.

    Why do I think networking via social media really can make a difference for your wine business?

    Well first and foremost it’s a direct communication between you and your consumers, distributors, distributors sales reps, store owners selling your wine and sommeliers and waiting staff pushing it on-trade. By reaching out and connecting with these people  you can transfer your knowledge (eg what is going on at the vineyard and winery, what events you are attending, accolades you have received etc etc) and  educate the people in your network. This will make it easier for them to push your wine (if they are in the trade) or feel more connected to your winery and hence make it their wine of choice (for consumers).

    Further more social media updates can be read by people who had never heard of you before, so it is a great opportunity to extend your network and consumer base.

    There are indeed many advantages to be had by social media networking, but how should you go about it and is it going to be expensive?

    There are many different types of media out there that you can use to connect and communicate with people which are free eg Facebook, Twitter, WordPress, Bloggers, Youtube and Flickr. All you need is a little time to invest in communication to your network. Remember you need to be willing to take the initiative here time after time.

    An easy way to start is to create an account in Facebook and Twitter. Spend a little time setting up your profile – because this is where it all begins. Your profile is your personal billboard – give a short overview of your business – be concise and direct when doing so! Remember, your profile is what will attract followers and friends -adding your website address here is also a must as once people are intrigued they will want to find out more about you:)

    Updates in both these media are generally short and do not require a lot of time. Both media actively encourage and support the ability to connect to all your email contacts. Do invite all of your existing contacts to connect with you here as well, and once you are connected reach out to them to spread the word about your winery.

    Both media also allow you to post links to other sites, use this ability if it will further promote your winery – eg a glorious review by a wine writer -(NZ winegrowers and wineries Man o’War and Misha’s Vineyard are very good at this!) or a youtube video of harvest in progress – this was done by Huegel very successfully last month.

    I will post some more examples of wineries and wine related businesses using Social Media during the conference and hope their success will rub off on you!

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