It was a chance pairing of California chardonnay with lobster and
potatoes that set top wine blogger and 2013 Nederburg Auction keynote
speaker Joe Roberts on his life-long pursuit of all things wine.
Roberts, one of the most influential and popular wine bloggers in the US and founder of the award-winning 1WineDude.com, will be focusing on how South African wine producers can best market SA wines to young US consumers during his address at the Auction on 7 September.
He rose to fame as a wine writer to a niched, “intermediate”, wine-loving audience since his immersion in the world of wine - an epiphanous moment during which he unwittingly and perfectly matched an inexpensive chardonnay with the seafood meal his future wife Kelly was preparing.
“The light-bulbs went off in my head, and I was totally hooked. From that moment, I started devouring everything I could find on the subject of wine. I'm convinced that experience is what started me on the path of wine geekdom.”
Since his immersion in the wine world, Roberts has travelled the world specifically to cover wine, including South America, the US, Australia, France, Germany, Portugal and Greece. His writing focuses largely on information for what he calls “intermediate wine lovers” – consumers who have gone through the introductory elements of wine but who cannot find any resources for wine lovers at that level of knowledge.
“They've not spent nights reading the World Atlas of Wine or taking certification exams. They're past the ‘101’ stage, but haven't jumped off the deep end yet, either. There are quite literally almost zero resources available for consumers at that level, in my experience. Either you're reading Wine For Dummies, encyclopedic tomes that weigh several pounds, or finding proprietary forums on-line where people can be helpful but also can be acrimonious.”
Such was the dearth of knowledge at this level that his blog rapidly became one of the most influential in the US and catapulted Roberts to fame. In 2012, he was named IntoWine.com’s 14th most influential person in the U.S. wine business.
Hence the subject of his Auction presentation, which will deal with the impact of the US consumer economy on wine sales and how South African wine producers can best market SA wines to young, internet-savvy US consumers by taking advantage of how these consumers find and purchase wine. His presentation is entitled Hustling Wine in the land of Big Hat, No Cattle.
“We have to remember that as we trend younger, people consume wine information differently, and so at the point of sale, if there is no tastemaker available (a sommelier or store clerk), people will search the web.”
He says generally consumers will read Cellartracker.com reviews and influential blogs rather than, for instance, a Wine Spectator review behind a paywall. “That act will influence individual buying decisions. Think about how we shop on Amazon.com with respect to the ratings and reviews submitted by those who have purchased the item already.”
Roberts writes a wine column for Playboy.com, is a wine expert and contributor to Answers.com, and has contributed to The Guardian in the UK, and to Wine Business Monthly and the Sommelier Journal in the US. He has spoken on wine and social media as panel member at numerous international conferences and is widely regarded as an expert on the topics of wine and the influence of social media on the wine world, and on the marketing of wine to the newest generation of wines consumers. 1WineDude.com currently sees several thousand subscribers and visitors each month, and has served millions of page views since its inception.
Joe will address guests at this year’s Nederburg Auction on Saturday 7th September at 10:00. Visit www.nederburgauction.co.za for more information about this year’s event.
Image credits: This image was taken in Lodi, California, by sommelier and writer Randy Caparaso. Some of the vines there, including the old Tokay vine pictured, are nearing 100+ years of age and still bearing fruit.
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