The ever present fragility of my inflated confidence born from half a life of wine enthusiasm can be awfully humbling. Every year I discover a winery, region, or pool of knowledge that showers self doubt on the veracity of my commitment for exploring and learning about wine; “How could I claim to know anything, really, and not have this in my knowledge bank after 25 years of enthusiastic interest?” I remember the doubting wonderment after finally discovering the pleasures of Vouvray’s Chenins. How could Spain’s Bierzo region produce such uniquely interesting wines from the Mencia grape and I never knew? And in 2010 I fell hard for the, until now undiscovered, magical wines made by the Foucault brothers at Clos Rougeard. And that leads to this story of how social media and the Wine Bottega came together to put a dent in the single most significant hurdle along the path to my unfolding Clos Rougeard immersion; supply and availability.
Throughout 2010 I had managed to pick through a few wine lists offering buried Clos Rougeard treasures. In an immense display of generosity, Eli Feldman at Menton in Boston even sent me a bottle of ’04 Le Bourg after a recent dinner there where I drank the ethereal ’05 Le Poyeux. He is an afflicted fan too and could relate to my new and intense passion for these Cab Francs. But in Boston, at the usual and logical wine mongers, the wine was missing in action.
I googled “Boston Clos Rougeard” :
The first few returns are old posts I had written as I was discovering and falling for these wines. Following that are Wine Bottega posts from a smart wine shop located amidst Hanover Street’s Italian, gravy stained, red checkered tablecloth restaurants in Boston’s North End. A bunch of local wine writers had been telling me about the Wine Bottega and its proprietor, Kerri Platt, urging me to pay a visit since 2009. I don’t get to the North End a lot, and probably still would not have stopped by unless this Google search connected us. A quick email, an exchange with the Wine Bottega’s Matteo (another wino with a Clos Rougeard weakness), and I snagged a mixed half case of 2006 Clos Rougeard Saumur Champigny and Les Poyeux.
I stopped in the next day, had the chance to meet Kerri, and discovered a wine shop full of hard to find small production treasures. Kerri has pulled together a shop with a client base formula including local neighborhood shoppers, North End tourists and diners, and winos who recognize its destination shopping attributes. I strongly recommend a visit to the Wine Bottega, and an introduction to the gracious and knowing Kerri Platt, for any serious New England wine enthusiast. I asked Matteo how they saw social media marketing working for their unique project:
“As you know Boston is a particular type of wine market…one that has long relied on the sale of “classics”, i.e. Bordeaux, Burgundy, etc. We have really taken a stand and we focus our efforts both in the shop and through social media on revolutionizing the Boston wine market. The wonderful wines of Clos Rougeard, Thierry Puzelat, Jean Foillard, Occhipinti, etc. need to be shared and they need to be present here in Boston. We push hard for these type of arrivals as we feel they truly make the difference. What’s more, the community that tends to seek these wines out often has to get them from larger, more dynamic markets like New York. So, maybe one could say our goal is to bring a little “NYC Wine Merchant” to the Boston hub, and we look to share that message (and the great wines) using outreaching social media methods. We at the shop are simply wine geeks that look to create a community that enjoys drinking with us”.
The real story here, though, is the power of content marketing combined with a strong social media footprint by a local wine merchant. The vast majority of small local companies in the wine business, and elsewhere, continue to wonder about the value of social content creation, how to measure it, and how to proceed with it. Kerri and her Wine Bottega has it figured out. The retail website is a blog with a regular enough posting schedule that goes beyond “what’s for sale” and includes strong content about wine regions, winemakers, and other interesting wine content. They can be found on Twitter and Facebook. She engages the local wine blogger community, and knew me when I showed up for the first time. Kerri and Matteo use their social networks to broadcast interesting tasting schedules and fun wine happenings that engage. Most importantly, the steady flow of blog content and social media activity has created a large web footprint, affording the Wine Bottega a high degree of discoverability on the web by logical prospects. All it took was some focus and time. Time is a premium resource for small business operators, but so is cash, and the Wine Bottega’s social content program comes with little to no cash price tag.
I have spent the last year and a half talking with local businesses around the country, on behalf of my work with my company NCI/DigitalSherpa, helping them understand the intrinsic value of regular content creation on the web. Here is a living vignette, with me in a supporting actor role, spotlighting the dividends and ROI now available to a new breed of wiser online marketers. I never would have otherwise known that the Wine Bottega had just received their small allocation of this hard to find Clos Rougeard. Relying on more traditional online or offline marketing would have sidestepped my attention and the search for 2006 Clos Rougeard would have carried on. And, I never would have become a regular customer of Kerri’s.
Any further questions?