Day 1 of VinoCamp Languedoc is the day where we actually do the round tables that define the barcamp format. Everything went splendidly. We had three rooms at the Chamber of Commerce in downtown Carcassonne and it was really amazing. The CCI were incredibly supportive hosts. From 8 in the morning until 8 at night, a director or representative of the chamber was by our sides helping us with all the little things that need to get done on D-Day. And we’re already seeing optimistic press coverage of VinoCamp Languedoc roll in.
Lots of winemakers
As people started filing in, we quickly realized that we were going to have a great number of winemakers. One of the biggest complaints from previous vinocamps is a lack of winemakers. So we’re very pleased with the turnout. This producer presence creates a diversity of backgrounds and allows a broader exchange to happen in certain sessions.
Lots of techies
As always, we also had a great number of tech people and web people, a crucial factor in informing the conversations we have in each workshop. These people do lots of different things from ecommerce to tourism to blogging. But they all stay really up to date on the new advancements that are shaping the fast-changing world of web communication.
Lots of topics
A wealth of topics were discussed over the course of 9 workshops.
- Engaging consumers as an AOC or region
- Uniting villages – An EU plan
- Online presence on third party sites (vinogusto, adegga, etc.)
- Success stories and Fail stories
- L’importance de l’identité visuelle sur Internet
- Bloggers v. journalists, what’s the difference?
- Community Managing
I was pretty worried that a few of these workshops had predetermined topics (chosen by sponsors). This is a significant deviation from BarCamp format and ruffles our geeky feathers. But these turned out to be some of the most interesting workshops (for me). So things went well!
Some topics are a little more tech-centric, and people sorted themselves out effectively independently. On a topic like “What is the difference between bloggers and journalists?” you’re not gonna get many winemakers. On topics like “Success stories and fail stories of winemakers on the web” you have a lot of producers present to hear what works and what doesn’t work.
Lots of wine
After the workshops, we had a great tasting of wines from the sponsors and the winemakers who participated during the day. We were also received by the Mairie to have a wonderful tasting of high end wine from the Toques et Clochers barrel auction. And then we finally went out for dinner in the Cité and an after hours drink at l’Hotel de la Cité. Good times to be had by all.
I want to change the way winemakers think about participation in social media. I want them to stop treating twitter and facebook like some alien ritual that just goes against the grain of their character. I need them to start thinking about social media the same way they think about every other kind of social interaction.
If you drop in on an independent winemaker, they will generally greet you and offer a tasting of their wines. I’m pretty sure this is standard expectation. When somebody calls you because they read about your wine somewhere, you are expected to do a tasting with them. And you don’t just quietly pour. Most winemakers who acknowledge this expectation to a tasting will also take the time to talk about who they are, why they make wine, and so on. If I’m way off base, let me know in the comments. But I’m pretty sure this is standard fare. If one or two people drop by the winery while the winemaker is there, a large majority of winemakers will take some time with those visitors.
How much time? Even if a single person comes by, I’ll often spend over an hour with them showing the winery, the vines, and talking about winemaking. Even the speedy “gift shop tour” where I just taste bottled wines with them will generally take a good half hour. And I think most independent winemakers are happy to spend this time. 30 minutes for one dude.
Having a little facebook fan page that you update a few times a week will also take about 30 minutes here and there. But a well-groomed fan page will receive hundreds of visitors per week. You see where I’m going with this?
This O’Vineyards website, which consists of a few photos and some sporadic thoughts from the winemaker probably takes me a solid four hours per week. It received 1461 unique visitors in the last 30 days. So for about 16 hours of work, I got to communicate my message to 1400+ people.
Now a significant difference is that these web visitors aren’t necessarily buying wine. The normal expectation is that when you spend 30 minutes with “avertis” wine lovers who swing by the vineyard, they will buy some wine and make it “worth your time”.
But it doesn’t make sense to give up 30 minutes just for a few small 6-bottle sales. Our time is worth more than that! The real benefit of those people who take the time to visit us is that they go home and tell everybody else how wonderful their visit was. It’s good old fashioned social networking. Sans internet.
Some winemakers are shocked at the amount of time and energy I put into the Love That Languedoc wine blog (and to an extent this website). I sometimes spend whole days traveling and filming. And even the off days, I frequently spend 1-2 hours reading other cool stuff on the Internet to be on top of the buzz. It’s a huge time commitment. So why do it?
Because people want me to and it’s pretty fun.
We all have a chance to get thousands of people to visit our websites and facebook pages and twitter accounts and everything else. That’s an amazing opportunity. If I called a winemaker in the region and told him I had a group of 150 people who want to visit tomorrow, that winemaker should naturally want to make some time for them. The Internet is no different. 150 visitors deserve your time. Hell, 10 visitors deserve your time.
So stop saying that the Internet is not for you! Get typing. A few minutes per day just sharing your thoughts and developments around the vineyard might get you a steady flow of visitors. And that has a lot of value.
Agree or disagree? Please feel free (obliged to?) comment!
I attended the general assembly of indie winemakers for the departement de l’Aude. It was okay. They’re in good financial shape and they get a lot done for indie winemakers. And these speeches seem to indicate that everybody wants more wine projects like Love That Languedoc. So that’s good! I’ve started talking to their commercial office about urging winemakers to participate. We’ll see how that goes.
Here’s a video of Anne-Marie Charvet, Prefect of Aude, starting the assembly:
And a video of the National Director of the Vignerons Indépendants:
Roland Courteau, Senator of Aude, speaks about the anti-wine lobby in Paris:
The DDTM (Direction Départementale des Territoires et de la Mer) did the closing speech which proved to be just a bit too long for me to capture. These guys had way more batteries than my poor little Flip.