Michel Smith - How to communicate with journalists

Michel Smith spoke at the Université de la Vigne et du Vin in 2011 in Ferrals-les-Corbieres.  This is a synopsis of his talk and my reactions to it.  This is one post in an ongoing series about the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin.

michel smith christine ontivero & francois druel

michel smith, christine ontivero, & francois druel

Michel Smith had a list of suggestions and requests.  He thinks that winemakers who follow this advice will inevitably become better communicators and more interesting subjects for journalists.

His list was sort of numbered but I had trouble separating things (this presentation was after lunch ;D ) so I’m just going to list everything together as it appears in my jumbled notes:

  • Prendre conscience de son espace; you are somewhere but not anywhere
  • have a geographic, architectural, historical notion of where you are
  • you don’t have to be born in a place, but if you choose to live there, you should familiarize yourself
  • faire connaitre, faire savoir
  • osez forger une histoire, dare to create a story, how did you come to this place, what was it like before your arrival, how will you change the place, how will the place change you?
  • cherchez une coherence, seek coherence, a sensical, simple story, don’t overcomplicate
  • be aware of presentation but don’t overcomplicate
  • no gilding the lily
  • quality assurance, make good wine or else nothing else matters
  • be open to meeting your client
  • be open to meeting anybody
  • be open to your neighbors
  • regroup, become a part of the community
  • participate
  • communicate together
  • don’t talk shit about your neighbors, especially to journalists
  • never send a bottle to a journalist without a little note that says hello, also include price and mention any side projects you have going on (Interestingly, I asked Michel about his own winery the other day and he responded with all this information and took the time to have a conversation with me. He practices what he preaches!)
  • if, as Berthomeau said “le vin est delocalizable”, terroir is not. Lieu, terroir or whatever you want to call it is permanent and irreplacable.
  • don’t recite your story, share it.  live it every time you tell it
  • speak of wine as if it is a child, unique and special
  • remember that journalists are just people, treat them like you treat other people and they will appreciate it; no red carpets, but a little human friendliness and hospitality, the same you would afford to anybody you’re going to work beside

 

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

O’Vineyards
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing

North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Best by GPS.
    Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
  4. At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.
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