Tag Archives: wine bloggers

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 15 October

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   The fourth largest game reserve, the 120000 ha Central Escarpment Reserve in Mpumalanga is to be developed, and stocked with the Big 5.

*   Steenberg has launched its first Sparkling Sauvignon Blanc, which its winemaker JD Pretorius describes as follows: ‘This is made to be fun, fruity & fresh. The nose bursts with aromas of passion fruit, litchi, guava, pineapple, mango & green apples. The palate is fresh & fizzy with a fruit explosion. Sweet fruits linger on the aftertaste with a refreshing finish, perfect for a hot summer’s day’.   (Received via e-mail from Steenberg) 

*   Airlines will soon be able to obtain immediate on-board feedback Continue reading →

WhaleTales Tourism, Food, and Wine news headlines: 2 August

WhaleTalesTourism, Food, and Wine news headlines

*   Perfect China has bought the cellar and wine farm of Val de Vie for use by Perfect Wines of South Africa, in which it has a 51% stake (with Leopard’s Leap), reports Bloomberg, the first purchase of a local wine estate by a Chinese company.  Close to 3 million bottles of the company’s L’Huguenot wine were exported to the Asian country in 2011 and 2012, representing about 25 percent of all South African wine exports to China.  The cellar and maturation capacity are to be increased.

*   More storms, including hail, have hit the wine regions of France, especially the Génissac region last week, in which 30 – 100% of the crops were destroyed, reports Wine Spectator.

*   USA wine blogger Joe Roberts, writing 1WineDude, will be the keynote speaker at the Nederburg Auction, an interesting reflection of the growing influence of wine bloggers!

*   Interesting news is that Minister of Tourism Marthinus van Schalkwyk has promulgated draft legislation to have one united set of legislation relating to tourism nationally, Continue reading →

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club pairs food and wine blogging at Steenberg Vineyards

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was treated to a wonderful feast of Bistro Sixteen82 tapas with five excellent Steenberg Vineyards wines, and informed about their Social Media activities last week.

First to speak was Sales and Marketing Manager Anetha Homan, who has been at Steenberg Vineyards for almost five years, and at Constantia Uitsig for eight years before that.  Graham de Vries was recently appointed to manage Social Media for Steenberg Vineyards, and the ‘Totally Stoned’ Blog focuses on the wine side of the estate, but does incorporate information about Bistro Sixteen82 and Catharina restaurants.  Social Media was first introduced at Steenberg in 2007, and Tweeting and Blogging is done corporately.  Initially Anetha was so enthusiastic about Social Media, that she wanted her GM and the winemaker to blog too.  In 2009 Steenberg Vineyards did its first Twitter Tasting, and it was a creative way for the wine estate to attract attention.  This was repeated on a larger scale a few months ago. Research findings on Twitter trends in 2010 of South Africans (most Tweeters live in Cape Town, most Tweeting is done on Tuesdays, and from 7 – 8 pm) has been implemented in the Social Media strategy of Steenberg Vineyards. Twitter, Facebook, and Blogging has given Steenberg Vineyards a consumer communication channel, to pass on communication in a fun and informal manner, but even more importantly, to receive it back from their consumers.  The GM, winemaker and restaurant receive welcome messages of support. New friends have been made via Social Media dialogue, and these have become Followers and, even better, Brand Ambassadors.  Anetha cited the example of Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club member Andre Pentz, who met Graham at the previous meeting, and has since interacted regularly with Steenberg Vineyards.  The immediacy of sharing information is a major advantage. Anetha shared with bloggers her rules of Social Media engagement:

1.  No one is interested in how you feel

2.  Dare to be controversial, but do not insult. Tweeters prefer to read feel-good Tweets.  It is a shame that wine writers are tearing other writers apart, she said.

3.  Respond when written to.  Tweeters want dialogue.

4.  Show personality and passion, and don’t be too ‘sterile’ or ‘corporate’ in writing.  Customers want to be talked to as individuals.

5.   Don’t hard-sell.  Provide information

6.   Don’t do ambush marketing

7.   Add value in sending out information

8.   Re-Tweets are an important means of distributing information, and for adding Followers.

9.  Visuals have become more important, and less copy is read.

The ‘Totally Stoned’ website name was chosen as a tongue in cheek reference to the ‘stone mountain’ of Steenberg, from which the wine estate takes its name.  Graham did a fun blogpost about Planking, showing various Steenberg staff ‘planked’ on the wine estate. It was a fun colourful communication which created visual impact for the estate, and doubled traffic to the blog.  It also demonstrated the human side of the business, showing the company as a team of human beings.

Bloggers were offered a glass of Steenberg Brut 1682 MCC Chardonnay 2010 (R120) on arrival, first made by Steenberg Vineyards in 2000.  Initially it contained Pinot Noir as well, but is now 100% made from Chardonnay, with 12 – 18 months on the lees. In 2007 the first Steenberg Brut 1682 Pinot Noir MCC was made, and was launched earlier this month, having spent three years on the lees.  It costs R275.  The Sauvignon Blanc Reserve is what put Steenberg Vineyards on the map, and vintages sell out very quickly. Semillon is one of the oldest grape varieties in South Africa, haviung been planted 200 years ago, and used to make up 96% of planting.  It has reduced down to only 2%, and is often used in making Sauvignon Blanc to give it more body.  It is an excellent pairing with food.  The Steenberg Semillon 2010 comes from a 16 year block, and now spends a longer time in new French oak.  It has a buchu and fynbos character, from the plants growing around it.  Steenberg Nebellio refers to the mist they often experience on the wine estate, and the first plantings were brought in from Italy by the previous GM of Steenberg Vineyards. It has a very earthy character, and also is an excellent wine paired with foods.   Catharina Red is named after the characterful first owner of the wine estate, who had five husbands, and five grape varities have gone into the making of this blend, a more complex wine with a strong mint character coming from the Cabernet Sauvignon.

Brad Ball has been the chef at Bistro Sixteen82 for two years, having opened it at Steenberg Vineyards.  They have appointed Linda Harding as the Social Media consultant for the restaurants and hotel on the estate. Thoughts and experiences of customers are shared, and they look for interaction with guests.  They like the flexibility of being able to promote a particular dish immediately, and not wait for three months or more until they receive coverage in a magazine. ‘Our blog is our press’, Brad said, referring to it as a cost-effective communication medium.   Chef Brad has recently opened his own personal Twitter account (@BradBallBrand), to allow him to Tweet more personally, but he does realise that he still has limitations as to what he says, as he is linked to Steenberg and the Bistro.  He advised that consistency in content is important for the reader of blogs.  He says that one ‘eats with one eyes’, and that is why they post photographs of their dishes on the blog as well as on Twitter, Tweets being carefully scheduled.  The power of Social Media was demonstrated to the Bistro after they re-opened after a three week break at the beginning of the month, to a fully booked first day, and it has been full every day thereafter.  A year ago it took ten days for business to pick up again after their break.  The Bistro did not stop Tweeting while they were closed, and competitions were run, with a count-down to opening day.  The Social Media program for Bistro Sixteen82 positions it as fun, vibey and enticing restaurant to eat at.   Linda did a one-week internship with Chef Brad, and that has helped her with her understanding of the business.  Chef Brad welcomes kitchen help, to share with interested persons how a restaurant kitchen works.   Bistro Sixteen82 has four seasonal menu changes, and Chef Brad sources local produce.  The pork belly and beef tataki are absolute favourites, and cannot be taken off the menu. Produce is sourced from the hotel’s herb and vegetable garden.  Worm composting is used for the large amount of vegetable waste the restaurants generate.  Chef Brad talked about the collegiality that exists between chefs and that they meet regularly.  He would interact with dialogue about other chefs and their restaurants on Twitter, he said.  It is a reciprocal endorsement, and gives credibility.  We commend Chef Brad for being the only restaurant chef to have attended meetings of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, demonstrating his dedication to and understanding of the benefits of Social Media.

To close the meeting, Matt Allison, one of the speakers at our August meeting, shared his experience of being the only South African to attend the Mad Food Camp organised by the world’s top restaurant, Noma in Copenhagen, organised by its owner Rene Redzepi last month. It was a huge honour for Matt to have been selected as one of 250 urban gardeners and chefs from around the world.  The Food Camp was the largest Northern European food festival, and alongside it ran the workshop, focusing on the relationship between restaurants and purveyors of fruit and vegetables.  Chefs are encouraged to grow their own produce, if feasible.  He was wowed by what he saw and heard, for example Amazonian ants preserved in gelatine by the chef of South American  restaurant Dom.  Matt is passionate about honouring the value of food.  He has become such an authority on urban farming, working with local Cape Town restaurants and farming his own vegetables and herbs, which he sells on Wednesdays at Starlings Café, that he was featured in the Sunday Times yesterday, and an article in the New York Times is to appear too.

Future Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club meetings have been organised as follows:

*   19 October:   Roger and Dawn Jorgensen of Jorgensen’s Distillery, and Anthony Gird and Michael de Klerk of Honest Chocolate, with a chocolate and potstill brandy tasting, at Haas Coffee on Rose Street.

*   12 November: Visit to new Leopard’s Leap tasting room and cookery school in Franschhoek

Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club, Cape Town. Bookings can be made by e-mailing Chris at whalecot@iafrica.com. The cost of attendance is R100.  Twitter: @FoodWineBlogClu  Facebook: click here.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com Twitter:@WhaleCottage

Social media grows and evolves, constant challenge for food/wine bloggers

From being one of a handful wine estates using social media two years ago, Backsberg is now one of about 300 (around 50 %) of wine estates who do so.  This places pressure on all wine estates to constantly reevaluate their social media strategy, to remain ahead as well as relevant to one’s followers and friends, said Simon Back, Marketing Manager of Backsberg.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club last night met at Rainbow Experience in Mandela Rhodes Place, which will be the venue for the Cape Town Show supper club, which opens on 5 November as a musical and food showcase, including Cape Jazz, Goemma, Kaapse Klopse, Township jive, Kwela and Mpantsula on the music side.   The bloggers attending were spoilt with a taste of the menu that will be served with the Show: African Hummus and Cape Snoek pate served with Lavache as starters; Lentil cottage pie, Dukkah Crusted Beef fillet and traditional Cape chicken curry as main courses; and desserts were Malay koeksisters, Dutch melktert and a traditional chocolate brownie.  

Simon first became interested in social media when he read the Stormhoek case study initiated by marketer Chris Rawlinson, the wine having been marketed purely by means of blogging, long before most winemakers had even heard the word.  From early beginnings Simon’s blog readers grew to include regular readers.  He switched from Blogger to WordPress, finding it driving more traffic to the Backsberg website.  As the blog readership grew, Simon realised that he had to make a commitment to write regularly, and he advised new bloggers to not commit to blogging if they cannot keep up with the regular commitment, and to rather Tweet or Facebook.   Simon had to find his focus in writing the Backsberg blog, choosing specifically to write about his family farm Backsberg, and wine in general in South Africa.   Twitter and Facebook have grown tremendously in importance, and Simon says that the 900 or so Facebook friends are worth more to him than hitting thousands of ‘uncommited’ readers via an advertisement.   Simon writes from a personal Twitter account (@SimonBack) and a colleague writes from the @Backsberg Twitter account, to keep content fresh and unduplicated.  A monthly newsletter is sent to members of the Backsberg Wine Club, and the Facebook and Twitter presence of Backsberg is aimed at increasing the number of members.   Simon shared with the bloggers that he was shocked to hear recently that newsletters are dead as a form of communication, because they contain too much information, and do not appeal to readers whose attention span is reducing due to information overload.  Simon foresees an application like 4Square becoming more important, with incentives being offered linked to one’s brand.  Simon has been recognised as one of the most social media savvy wine marketers, and represented South Africa at a Prowein conference in Germany on social media earlier this year. 

Backsberg is synonymous with environmental care and reducing its carbon footprint.  Backsberg was the third carbon neutral wine estate in the world, and the first in South Africa, a pioneer in this important eco-orientated wine production. It is the first South African wine company to bottle its wines in plastic bottles under the Tread Lightly brand, a further environmental-concern action by Backsberg.  The Food and Wine Bloggers were spoilt with Backsberg Sauvignon Blanc 2010 and the Merlot.   Simon’s talk was so successful, various aspects of it having been tweeted by the Food & Wine Bloggers during the meeting, that “Simon Back” became a “breaking” trending topic about three hours after the meeting.

Tom Robbins only recently started his eatcapetown Blog, focusing purely on Restaurant Reviews.  He has been a journalist at Business Report, and has written about most things other than food in this capacity.  He is a freelance journalist writer and “hobby” reviewer, he says.  He is interested in the anthropology of food, and regularly reads international restaurant reviewers’ reviews.   His policy is to be fair and objective, and he likes to tell the story, making his reviews longer.  He likes to discuss the type of clients he sees in the restaurant, its interior and exterior look, including the type of cars parked outside, and does not focus on the food alone.  

Tom calls for independence from bloggers, and asks that they declare the free meals and wines reviewed.   Tom feels that free gifts make one loose objectivity.  Yet, he says, one can argue that an invitation may give one access to a chef, and a chat to him/her may give one interesting insights into the restaurant and its food, which could add to one’s review.  He prefers anonymity, and therefore uses an illustration of himself on his blog so that he is not recognised when he enters a restaurant.   He does not ask many questions, hoping to experience as average a meal as possible.  Tom quoted the example of Jancis Robinson, who refers to www.wine-searcher.com in her reviews, and discloses in them that she receives a fee for her referrals.  Guaranteeing editorial coverage for advertising placed in a wine magazine, for example, has no credibility for the reader, when they spot the advertisement a few pages along.  “I believe disclosure indicates respect for readers” he said.  Disclosure of freebies is currently being debated in the USA and is likely to be legislated.   It is already included the American Bloggers’ code of conduct.   A question from a blogger about why chefs ands restaurants take reviews so badly was debated, and it was felt that chefs are known to have enormous egos, and that they are ecstatic when the review is good, and tend to ban patrons when it is critical.  Tom said this is ‘human nature’, and probably most people would react this way.

The Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club was formed to reflect the tremendous growth in and power of food and wine blogs in forming opinion about food, restaurants and wines.  Most bloggers do not have any formal training in blogging, and learnt from others.   Each of the two bloggers talk for about half an hour about their blog, and what they have learnt about blogging.  The Club gives fledgling as well as experienced bloggers the opportunity to learn from each other and to share their knowledge with others.  Attendees can ask questions, and get to know fellow bloggers.  The Club meetings are informal and fun.

The next meeting of the Food & Wine Bloggers’ Club is on Wednesday 24 November, from 6 – 8 pm, at the Grand Daddy Hotel in Long Street.  Food blogger Mariska Hendricks from The Creative Pot Blog and Emile Joubert from the Wine Goggle Blog will be ‘paired’.  Contact Chris at info@whalecottage.com to book.

Chris von Ulmenstein, Whale Cottage Portfolio: www.whalecottage.com  Twitter @WhaleCottage