One of the coolest things about the Université de la Vigne et du Vin was a series of videos they presented throughout the day called “Volem dire al pais”. The occitan title is a nice nod to the fact that this conference is about local farmers. Occitan dominated these vines for a long time, much longer than French or Anglicized slang, a constant theme for the conference.
Sometimes, conferences like this get a little high brow and far-removed from the winemakers. These videos served as a healthy dose of local wisdom injected into the conference between every set of speakers. A really clever way to help give a well-paced message from lots of locals in between the more academic presentations.
Jacques Berthomeau 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 reaction to what he’s saying. This is one post in an ongoing series about the Universite de la Vigne et du Vin.
In his typical way, Berthomeau presents a rambling but cohesive message about the opportunities the Internet provides to winemakers and wine drinkers alike. It’s hard to take notes or outline this speaking style so just consult the video above if you want the most accurate portrayal of his talk.
If you’re short on time, here are some notes:
Starting with a joke about not being a tribun (somebody who gets on their soapbox frequently) like everybody from the Languedoc, Berthomeau sets the stage for a talk about identity. Where is Berthomeau from? And who is he? For many people in the wine business, he’s the author of a famous report on French wine that was published about 10 years ago. Often times, people talk about “le Rapport Berthomeau” which drives the man to say “My first name isn’t Rapport”. So for many people, he’s just this old report commissioned by the ministry of agriculutre. This report made him pretty unpopular because he and his colleagues made crazy claims like “women will drink wine too” and “we should adapt our communication and branding to new export markets”.
The Ministry pulled him off of all wine related projects, stuck him in a closet and put his report on a back catalog of some obsucre website on this thing called Internet. Jacques started a blog and discovered that the closet he’d been placed in actually had a pretty far reach.
He goes on in his talk to explain that his blog works because he doesn’t cater to the wine elite. He just tells fun stories peripherally related to wine, and lots of people want that. People who aren’t obsessed with wine and who have no idea what mineralité means.
Berthomeau then agrees with a point in Juarez’s talk about how some winemakers will have to be at the head of the charge to bring notoriety to the Languedoc. Previously in his presentation, he speaks about Embres & Castelmaure. Toward the end, he mentions me and my little camera (very flattering). And I would like to think I’m one of the lucky ones who carries the burden of representing this region to uninitiated (read: normal) wine drinkers.
Jacques Berthomeau, Ferrals Les Corbieres 2011
There’s a digression about how wine drinking habits are shifting. Even if French people drink less wine than they used to, there are different drinkers now that provide new opportunities. Women. People getting off of work and having a glass at a cafe to relax. These ideas weren’t that common twenty years ago. Wine has new ways of infiltrating our daily routines and it’s presumably up to the aforementioned leading voices to make sure that people think of our region when they’re looking for wine.
Berthomeau takes a moment to address the previous talks during the day. Namely, noting that the new world didn’t invent industrialized or branded wine. The French have been doing it for a while. He talks about how young drinkers or new drinkers often start with simpler wines. But he also mentions that even children are intelligent. You often see kids playing incredibly complicated games or memorizing entire pantheons of pokemon or superpowers, so complexity in and of itself isn’t intimidating to people. But wine has to capture the imagination before people are willing to learn all the complexities.
The Internet, to Berthomeau, is a cheap way to communicate with the grand publique and capture their imagination in a way that a Paris Metro billboard can never replace. His advice quoted from Michel-Édouard Leclerc, “Durez, durez, durez”. Tell your stories, create original content, be happy, be colorful, and little by little you’ll leave the closed community of wine professionals to reach real drinkers!
So don’t just listen. Speak up! If you’ve got an issue and you don’t want to start your own website, ask Berthomeau to publish your thoughts on his website, an espace libre!
At the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC), Ryan Opaz talked about new web tools that allow people to tell stories more effectively online. I’ve embedded the video of his presentation below, his slideshow, a list of all the tools he mentioned, and then a couple attempts to use the tools.
WordPress.org – self-hosted blog with wordpress content management system. This is how I publish the blog you are currently reading.
Tumblr – Perfect for telling short stories with quick uploads or highlighting links/photos/media in an easy, aesthetic way. Might belong in the microblogging category.
Posterous Spaces– One post here and posterous will turn around and post your update everywhere (ie any blog you set up, any social media account, etc.)
Squarespace – A premium website creator that is apparently pretty intricate. For your typical 1000 € website that lots of wineries make, this makes just as much sense (if you have decent design sense) as hiring an outside contractor. Never used it myself though.
Facebook – duh.
Twitter – duh.
Linkedin – why?
Alternativeto.net – Alternativesto totally doesn’t belong in the middle of the microblogging slides, but SUCH is life. It’s awesome for finding new tools in any of these categories.
Google+ – awesome?
RSS/Podcasting explanation – Really Simple Syndication is a system that lets people know when you’ve updated your website. Podcasts are audio recordings that use RSS to appear in your mailbox or mp3 player or whatever everytime they’re released.
AudioBoo – ultra easy way to record audio and immediately publish it
vocaroo – quick audio recordings; sort of a poor man’s audioboo
viadeo – billing themselves as something like the French LinkedIn, it’s not surprising Ryan Opaz glossed over them. It’s very French and very business-y. But a lot of people swear by it.
adegga, vinogusto, winedemon – Ryan didn’t really talk about social media sites devoted to wine but these can be an important stomping ground for wineries to tell their stories. some sites like cellartracker really don’t offer that opportunity to winemakers, but others like Adegga allow for a lot of interaction and “ownership” on the part of producers.
Effort to use the tools
Animoto – I made an animated slideshow for my B&B with animoto. It was pretty painless but the free version is pretty amateur. It beats most of the ridiculously boring slideshow software I’ve seen, but it’s a far cry from the quality level I like. It’s great for a little slideshow for fun. I wouldn’t be proud enough to put it permanently on the landing page of my website. I bet the premium version is awesome though and it only costs like 5 bucks to do an unlimited number of videos for a month.
Dipity – I used this timeline tool and I think I should have used it for something else. I decided to start compiling a history of wines of carcassonne (upcoming book project), but I realize now that I missed the mark. This tool is really designed for contemporary, breaking news events. Or personal uploads. Regardless, here’s my first work in progress on the site.
Bundlr – I started using bundlr for an upcoming Carcassonne audio guide project which also ties into the geolocation presentation I’ll be giving at Vin 2.0 in Paris this December.
Storify – I tried to use storify to make something about the EWBC but it was already November and most of the tweets from the EWBC were already buried in the archives. Unless I’m missing something, storify is really meant to be used AS the event is unfolding. So I missed the opportunity to do one for the EWBC. But Wine Future Hong Kong was happening that day so I made a storify for it. The interface was very easy to learn and I’d say this whole experience was good. I like it. The finished product looked professional and was easy to read. And people loved my summary. It got a lot of retweets and attention. And it just involved me picking out my favorite tweets, photos and links (and I mostly pulled these photos and links from tweets too). And then it serves as link bait because everybody mentioned in your storify is proud that you cited them. Plus sometimes you get the opportunity to be pretty funny. One complaint: I didn’t realize that the URL wasn’t customizable so my hong kong wine future storify still has a soave italy url. Ooops.
There’s a really interesting theme about returning to childhood or simpler times. Something to think about and perhaps explore more in our own rural recreation. I think one of the reasons I’ve neglected this theme is because wine is inherently an adult subject in the USA. But there’s still something to think about here. Also I want a narrator like this in all moments of my life. 😀
The video is Public Domain in case you want to use it somewhere else! 🙂
It’s got me thinking about doing my own video in this music video or movie teaser style. I looked back on 2011 to see what other music videos and wine themed teasers were catching my attention. Here are the top three:
So the question now is … should I make a music video for O’Vineyards or Love That Languedoc? I really like the idea. I’d be proud to have a cool video like the ones above. But I’m not sure it’s the best way for me to spend my time this winter. Other projects take precedence for now. But still… I’d like to do it. I also wish I had one of these camcorders. /drool
I know I talk a lot about how awesome Languedoc Roussillon bloggers are. But today, I’m gonna link to some folks outside of the region. Other young winemakers who use video effectively.
Herrenhof – A small family vineyard. Blogging in German and English. I feel like this guy is as involved in day to day work as my dad and me. That’s sort of the magic of video. It conveys so much without explicitly saying anything. Watch for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree that this dude is very passionate about his grapes.
Quevedo – Oscar of Oscar’s Wine fame blogs in English and Portuguese. He does a lot of video too. He makes a mistake in this one, but it conveys the point that he is a dude who does videos in the vines. Maybe I just like people who go out and film outdoors.
La Gramiere – Young couple in the southeast of France with some very earnest videos.
Looking at these choices, it strikes me that I really like outdoors episodes. Maybe I should do more myself. It’s just that darned wind! Great for grapes but terrible for my microphone. 😀
On the tail of posting the “winemaker drinks dirt” video, I’ve been having lots of conversations about how I choose my content. Between O’Vineyards and Love That Languedoc, I’ve done very silly videos, very informative videos, straight documentary, and very casual “slice of life” videos. And people weigh in all over the place. Some think that I should only do the goofy stuff that goes viral. Other people think that it’s demeaning and that I would be better off focusing on serious things. Some people think I should do more tastings, and some other people think I should avoid becoming “the French Gary Vaynerchuk” or “the French other-famous-wine-guy”.
I think that a fair amount of wine blogs tend to focus on vineyard/weather updates or promotional stuff that the winery is participating in. There are some local event posts. I want to have all of that too. After all, my readers are here for a vineyard blog (not a personal blog). You’re not here to read about my pet dog’s eating habits or my relationship status.
So there are a lot of choices on blog subjects and I have to decide what to post.
How do I decide what to post?!
I really don’t know. I guess it’s a careful balance of entertainment, education, and narcissism. Ya. To some extent, I want to entertain you. To a great extent I want to entertain myself. And I’m a huge nerd so I need things to be hyper-referential and very well-informed. Even my goofy gag videos like dirt-drinking are super-nerdy. Or maybe I’m flattering myself (but that just proves how important a part narcissism plays).
Anyway, if I only wanted to make the greatest number of people laugh, I should run a generic meme blog that just links to videos of kittens sneezing and babies biting their siblings. But I think I’d be bored out of my mind and sort of ashamed of that blog. I really like wine and I have a lot of access to wine-related content so I blog about wine. If I get an idea/opportunity, regardless of how silly or serious it is, I try to pursue it. And there you have it. That’s my process.
The less I obsess over what to include and what to exclude, the closer I get to just being myself. Thankfully, it seems people really appreciate that. Thanks for following all of our adventures at O’Vineyards regardless of how silly or serious they get.
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
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
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.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
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.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.