wine blogging as marketing disruption

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Paul Goodison notes his Stormhoek Wine Freebie has arrived:

And following Hugh’s promise of samples I can confirm today that I have a very exciting looking bottle sat besides me. I got bottle 24 of 75 – unfortunately not really a collectors item as the Stormhoek promise is about freshness and drinking the wine at the peak of its freshness (i.e. relatively soon!) The inserted leaflet from Hugh entitled “Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption” however could well enter that category 🙂

Anyway thanks to Hugh, Orbital Wines and Stormhoek – will report back on how I found the wine, because I am of course a person whose wine recommendations you trust… aren’t I? What do you mean, ‘No!’?

The leaflet Paul speaks of reads like this:

“Wine Blogging as Marketing Disruption”


Thanks for signing up for your free bottle of Stormhoek. I hope you like it.

OK, so what’s the point of all this? Sure, I suppose giving out a few bottles to some bloggers could potentially be quite good PR, etc etc. Maybe a few of you will blog about it. Maybe not. You never know.

But in the back of my mind I’m thinking there might be something larger going on here.

What if, say, not one or two of you end up blogging about it, but a couple of dozen? What will be the rippling effect?

Will the idea-virus spread far enough that suddenly, instead of one or two people knowing about the wine, suddenly tens of thousands of smart connected people in the UK know about it, and are talking about it?

Is that enough to launch a national brand?

If it isn’t, well, no great loss. We will have gotten some PR out of it, and maybe a few long-term Stormhoek customers out of the blogosphere.

But if it is, then I’m thinking, Holy Shit, what we’re doing might put a lot of traditional ad agencies out of business. Seriously.

We’re talking serious marketing disruption.

But as a marketing blogger, I’m starting to believe that all marketing should be serious marketing disruption.

Of course I can’t do it by myself. I need your complicity if it’s going to work. No complicity, no idea-virus. I can’t just write a big media company a cheque and make the marketing problem go away. Those days are gone.

What do you get out of it? A free bottle of wine and a chance to play a part in screwing up the traditional marketing and advertising landscape forever. A chance to see how far we can stretch the power of the blogosphere.

This is only an experiment. Luckily we have a wine company crazy enough to have let me talk them into it. So we’ll see what happens. Rock on.


Those two words sum up the heart and soul of Stormhoek.

Contrary to popular belief, most wines do not improve with age. Sure, the great wines of Bordeaux and the Burgundies often do, as do certain others, but these are not the wines that most of us are buying most of the time.

A grape picked straight off the vine is one of the freshest taste experiences imaginable. It’s juicy, intensely fruity, often aromatic, and held in balance by a streak of zippy, bracing acidity. This abundant fruitiness is something that winemakers, over the last three decades, have worked hard to capture and preserve in their wines.

30 years ago, most white wines were dull, lacking in fruit, and low in alcohol. This was largely the result of a gaping void (heh) between what vineyard owners and wineries wanted – the vineyard owners wanted to get as many grapes as possible into the winery as quickly as possible (so, as for ripeness, forget it) and the winery owners wanted to process the stuff into wine as quickly as possible (not the best way to make a high-quality wine). The end results were, at best, just about okay. Winemakers soon discovered other ways of adding flavour to their wines – sugar, for instance (a great cover for wine faults), or oak.

Luckily, after a while, smart people in the wine industry then realised that the best they could do was attempt to get the freshness of the grape on the vine into the bottle as honestly and faithfully as possible. No fuss. Just pure- fruit-driven flavour. But how to make this happen?

Working closely with growers to manage yields and determine a picking time when the grapes were actually ripe was the first step. Then, the evolution of reductive winemaking technique played a major part. The idea here is to preserve maximum freshness in the wine by making sure that oxygen does not come into contact with the grapes or juice at any point in the winemaking process. This is not an easy business, but it’s one that brings rich rewards in the freshest-tasting, brightest, most youthful wines on the market.

The quest for freshness did not stop with the wine in the bottle. The closure, for instance – why seal a bottle of bright, zesty, fresh-tasting wine with a musty old cork? Why indeed? Hence the invention of the synthetic cork. Over the last couple of years, the screwcap has become widely accepted as the most reliable way of sealing a bottle of wine and keeping it tasting fresh and youthful.

So, there we have it – the shelves filled with bottles of the brightest, freshest-tasting wine, sealed with screwcaps and synthetic corks – the stage is set for a truly enjoyable taste experience.

To get to this point took some of the best wine producers on the planet 30 years to figure this out. Of course, freshness doesn’t last forever. Wines get old. Taste fades. These “fresh” sorts of wines do not improve with time – in fact, the processes which are used to make them taste fresh actually make them deteriorate faster over time. This is scientific reality.

Hence the Stormhoek ‘Ultimate Freshness Indicator’ on the back of the bottle. It’s that little dial that tells you when the wine you’re holding in your hand is at its freshest i.e. when is the best time to drink it.

This is the logical next step from the screwcap. It seems pretty idiotic to spend all this time making wine and not letting your customers know when the best time to drink it is.

Wine, merely through an accident of history, has become an bit of an enigma. As a marketer, what I’m interested in the “Smarter Conversation”. Telling people that “Freshness Matters” is Stormhoek’s way of doing it.

Freshness Matters. You heard it here first.

Thanks Everybody. I hope you like the wine.


Hugh MacLeod

Anyway, all you British bloggers out there, thanks for signing up, and I hope the Stormhoek is arriving at your doorstep as well etc. Please let me know what you think.

[Attention British Shoppers:] btw Stormhoek is currently available at Thresher’s, Sainsbury’s and ASDA.


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