North Carolina Wine Blogger Summit: Let Us Tell Your Story

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By Jennifer Primrose

Everyone has a story. Let us tell yours.

At this year’s NC Wine Blogger Summit, we had the honor of participating in a panel discussion alongside Triad-based bloggers, Wine Mouths, to discuss what we as writers and social media influencers expect when visiting a winery. For us, it’s basic customer service when we first walk into any establishment, then product and overall experience. When it comes to wineries, we are looking for a story – a stellar product and a reason to want to come back for a visit.  As a panel, we discussed such topics as visiting a winery for the first time, follow ups, story time, sharing our blogs, inviting us to events and reaching out to us in general.

When visiting a winery for the first time, Wine Mouths mentioned they like to research before they explore by visiting your webpage and social media for up-to-date information. That includes updated directions, hours of operation and contact information which are imperative to bring in new consumers and keep them coming back for more. Also, we prefer listing the wines with tasting notes and pairing suggestions to give the reader something to look forward to and assist when deciding on purchasing that bottle of wine. Perhaps a background on the AVA, or how many cases were produced last year as well as retail prices. Bloggers like information, data and a story behind the wine or winery. What makes you stand out from the rest? What made you decide to start a winery/vineyard here in North Carolina? What is special and unique about the terroir that houses your grapes?  What is your story?

During the panel discussion and much to our surprise, when we turned the tables on the audience, many of whom were winery owners and asked the question, “What do you expect from bloggers?” we heard only the sound of chirping crickets. So, what can wineries, or any business for that matter, benefit from a blogger? We reached out to Lyndon Smith of Botanist and Barrel out of Cedar Grove and asked him that very same question. “In a food and beverage world with thousands of beverage brands and seemingly endless dining options, bloggers and social media influencers have the ability to bring awareness and calls to action. When they share on social media, people respond and are mobilized. This allows for new and/or smaller brands, that may not have a marketing budget to have exposure they’d otherwise never receive. It’s an invaluable resource for local craft producers. Cultivating a good following and relationships in the community is key to long term sustainability and bloggers are vital to facilitating these relationships,” he said.

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The second annual NC Wine Bloggers Summit was held at Hanover Park Vineyard in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

The second annual NC Wine Bloggers Summit was held at Hanover Park Vineyard in Yadkinville, North Carolina.

When we visit a winery and partake in a tasting and decide to take a bottle or two home with us, most likely two things will happen. There is a high probability that we will write about our experience and another is when we decide to open that bottle of wine we purchased – that we will write a review on the wine. How will a winery benefit? We aren’t just telling our friends they need to go visit. We’re telling our friends and all of our followers on multiple social media platforms. Bloggers in general reach thousands of followers (consumers) daily, weekly and monthly. Triangle Around Town alone reaches an average of 11,600 page views per month with roughly 7,000 of them unique visitors. With upwards of ten bloggers in attendance at the 2019 Summit, imagine the reach if we all posted about your winery! You just received free publicity that hopefully will see an increase in your tasting room. It has been proven, in this day and age, with traditional media outlets being taken over by social media, that people rely more on a friends opinion or consumer reviews – or us bloggers to bring your story home.

Have a new wine release coming up? Why not set aside a pre-release party for wine bloggers a couple weeks prior to come out and try the new release, write a review and help spread the word? Raleigh’s Neuse River Brewing Company recently hosted a local blogger/media event to sample the new Spring menu of beers. When asked how bloggers have helped its business, co-owner Jennifer Kolarov said, “Bloggers help us reach a larger audience of people that may not have known about us or maybe just needed a little reminder! They support local businesses and bring light to places, people and services that fly under the radar or are new to the scene.” And it’s not just breweries. Raleigh whiskey bar Dram & Draught sends out media releases every quarter for bloggers to sample some of its new seasonal drinks.

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A panel discussion with winemakers included Hanover Park Vineyard, Cypress Bend Winery, Childress Vineyards and Addison Farms Vineyards.

A panel discussion with winemakers included Hanover Park Vineyard, Cypress Bend Winery, Childress Vineyards and Addison Farms Vineyards.

The past two NC Wine Blogger Summits, hosted by the NC Wine Guys, have really helped to put us bloggers on the map and in the forefront of the NC wine industry. But do wineries know we exist? With so much information out there it’s easy to be overwhelmed. Following the first Summit in 2018, the Facebook page #NCWine – North Carolina Wineries and Bloggers group page was born. This page was created as a means to bring the wine industry in touch with the bloggers and vice versa. This is a great forum to post announcements or upcoming events in one place for the bloggers to re-share on their social media. Also, consider inviting bloggers out to your event to review, take photos to share on their social media. Have a press release for an upcoming event? Let us know. We’ll be glad to share it. Or even write one up for you.

What makes our blog unique is that we don’t just write about wine. We cover craft beer, food, as well as local events in Raleigh and across the state. We interview small business, winery owners, craft beer brewers – all in an attempt to support local, small businesses. Why is this a benefit to all these industries? A follower who may be primarily a beer drinker now learns about wine, in this case that there is an NC wine industry, and vice versa. A small business looking to #GoLocal is now informed what this state offers and can potentially reach out and sell your product in their shop. We reached out to Howard Sadel, co-owner of Sugar Magnolia Café in Wake Forest and asked how bloggers have been a benefit to his success. “From a business perspective, bloggers and other inline writers help us find out about and narrow down wines we should take a look at. This is especially helpful for understanding local wines and wineries that would otherwise not show up in larger media coverage,” he says.

Howard Sadel is co-owner of Sugar Magnolia Café in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

Howard Sadel is co-owner of Sugar Magnolia Café in Wake Forest, North Carolina.

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A recurring theme at this year’s Summit was in fact social media. It’s been mentioned throughout this blog as well. Both Bob Aycock of Wine Carolinas and Jenn Nelson of Wine Antics presented some fantastic material to get you started with some interesting facts and tips galore. We also wanted to do a quick recap when it comes to social media:

  • If you have been featured in a blog and are tagged in a post on social media, like and SHARE that blog! A simple share will help to grow both the blogger and the wineries fan base while keeping your story alive and well. 

  • If your web page has a category for “news” or “media,” ask the blogger for permission to link the story on your site.

  • If you see a photo you like on social media of your winery/vineyard from a blogger, please contact that blogger before sharing the photo. Swiping a photo from the web could lead to you getting a call from a lawyer – and none of us want that to happen.

  • Instagram is a fantastic way to highlight your vineyard with photos and even video.

  • Use relevant hashtags on Instagram. Remember, #NCWine … not #NCWines.

  • Tell your story. Jenn Nelson had a fantastic example of this during her presentation.

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Do you have a story to tell? Reach out and let us tell your story.