Love of the game

Backing black

New Zealand’s passion for rugby knows no bounds as the clock ticks down to this weekend’s final match between the All Blacks and Les Bleus. Along with the rest of the nation, I’m “backing black” for the 2011 Rugby World Cup. In the meantime, however, here’s a lovely tribute to that manliest of games, featuring the delectable lads from Dead Cat Bounce:



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In Memoriam: Steve Jobs

1955 – 2011

Steve Jobs - the innovator who shaped the way we work ... and play.


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The Stephen Fry effect

A New Zealand winery welcomes the power of Twitter

A winery’s website and social media channels work as virtual cellar doors in the digital environment, and you never know who might choose to make a flying visit and then tell the world about it.

That’s precisely what happened last month at Two Paddocks, based in Central Otago, after a happy coincidence unleashed the magic of Twitter – the social media forum that allows only 140 characters per message.

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Wine marketers in the war room

When a strategy goes wrong

The clever folks at Red to Brown Wine Review neatly sum up the terrifying influence of legendary wine critic Robert Parker in this short “art film.” There are some naughty words here, but they won’t shock anyone who’s been on the “front lines” of a wine marketing campaign.


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Consider the alternatives

New varieties in focus, this week and beyond

One of the forums at this week’s Romeo Bragato Conference in Auckland explores new white varieties and wine styles within the New Zealand context. With Dr John Forrest (Forrest Estate), Simon Nunns (Coopers Creek), and Warren Gibson (Trinity Hill) lined up as panelists, the session promises an interesting glimpse of experiments already under way with the likes of Grüner Veltliner, Arneis, and Albariño. As an added bonus, forum sponsor Riversun Nursery has an array of alternative aromatics available for tasting at its exhibitor’s stand.

Wine made from alternative varieties presents some unique marketing challenges – and opportunities. Remember “Just Say VEE-ON-YAY!”? Yalumba’s labour of love with the (then) little-known variety Viognier required its own marketing campaign just to teach Aussie wine consumers how to pronounce it. The end result? Well, Virgilius now belongs in the great-wine pantheon for this variety. As the Yalumba blog notes, “Not bad after only 30 years!”

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Wineries – this blogroll is for you

Don’t forget, the Vino Vitis blogroll is dedicated to New Zealand winery blogs, so please let me know if you have one. Freshness is the only criteria – so if your blog has at least one post in the past month, send along the link.


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DIY marketing, done well

Lessons learned from a luxury cake business

New Zealand’s artisanal winemakers are in a slightly uncomfortable position when it comes to marketing. Their wines are “of the land, produced by hand,” yet their target customer is often the affluent consumer accustomed to a very high degree of sophistication in branding, packaging, and promotion.

Just to muddy the waters, some artisanal goods might also be categorised as “luxury goods” – whether or not they are owned by the large conglomerates capable of spending lavishly on marketing campaigns. Louis Vuitton? Now part of the LVMH portfolio, but once a small, independent atelier producing exquisite, handmade leather goods. (Our own Cloudy Bay falls into this category: like Vuitton, it is owned by LVMH.)

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Must have iPad

A new presentation tool for wineries

Just in case the previous post didn’t hammer home this point, my mission today is to persuade you that iPads will transform many areas of wine marketing, including your presentations. Even the design is reminiscent of the beautiful leather portfolios of days gone by – sleek, light, and luxe. The user experience is intuitive and fun. Heck, even Her Majesty the Queen is a fan.

As newspapers reported earlier this year, Queen Elizabeth ordered one of the touch screen tablets after fooling around on iPads belonging to Princes William and Harry. A “royal insider” stated: “She hopes to use the popular computer for long journeys around the country when she is inside the Royal car or train.”

Even if you’re unlikely to find yourself playing Angry Birds on the trek to Balmoral, you will want to familiarise yourself with this smart gadget and the many applications (apps) that have already been created for it.

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Not so Flash

Websites hurry to catch up with the iPad

Most of us have visited a winery website that unfolds like an animated fairytale. We wait as the landing page tells us it’s “loading,” then a soundtrack begins to swell, and an invisible guide takes us on a magical mystery tour. The eye candy is everywhere.

The second time we visit the site we might notice that it takes quite a while for each page to load (33% … 55% … 88% … hey, presto!). This time, we probably  already know where we want to go, but we still have to board the tour bus and take in all the sights and sounds along the way.

The third time we visit the site, we go and make ourselves a coffee while the home page is loading and then drum our fingers in frustration as the damned tour bus keeps stopping at the same old places while all we really want to do is read the “News” page quickly and get out of there.

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Wake-up call for websites

In the digital world, out of date signals out of business

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. So goes the proverb, and for proof, we need look no further than many winery websites on the information highway. We’ve all seen the litter spoiling what should be a scenic route: news pages “looking forward to vintage 2008,” awards listings that mysteriously stop in 2009, and blogs that die after two or three entries – all examples of good intentions paving the way to, if not hell, then at least online limbo.

Many New Zealand wineries have not updated their sites since 2009/10 for obvious reasons: a river of wine to sell, staff cutbacks, next to no allocated  budget – and not enough hours in a day. Often built at a local “one-size-fits-all” shop with no apparent strategy for the brand, some sites are now in dire need of a total makeover, which is not an inexpensive proposition.

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