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September 01, 2010
Online Wine Tasting Expected to be Largest to Date
#Cabernet Day on Social Media Sites September 2nd

More than 50 wineries, 600 wine drinkers and 100 restaurants on four continents are getting ready to taste and talk about Cabernet this Thursday in what is likely to be the largest online wine tasting held to date. Anyone can follow the conversation online using the #Cabernet hashtag in search engines and social network sites.

#Cabernet Day honors the Cabernet grape and how social media is used in the world of wine. For event details, see http://cabernet.eventbrite.com.

The event marks an evolution that started about a year ago with some of the first “tweet-ups” held on the west coast. There have been more than two dozen and bloggers have picked up on the concept, holding their own such tastings. The events are fun to participate in though mostly involved bloggers and employees of wineries. For #Cabernet Day, there has been more effort to specifically engage consumers.

These events can be very valuable for wineries that put effort into it,  St. Supéry Vineyards social media manager Rick Bakas  told winebusiness.com “You get out of it what you put into it.”

Cabernet Day went viral soon after Bakas proposed it, with wineries, retailers, bloggers, and others in the wine community jumping on board.

Cabernet Day will run all day Thursday, from midnight to midnight. Australia will set the tone while the U.S. is still sleeping and the conversation will then move across Europe. Previous "tweet-ups" were held for just a couple hours at a time.

Participating wineries have been advertising the event to their customers. Some have put out special offers on Cabernet Sauvignon they’ve been selling ahead of the tasting. Wineries have also encouraged customers to come up for the day, which no doubt can spur DTC sales. A Chateau in Loire Valley is holding a special dinner. Wine Library and Cork'd are holding a special tasting at the Roger Smith Hotel in Manhattan.

Measuring sales that come as a direct result of these online tastings is difficult, if not impossible but Bakas knows of wineries that obtained distribution, and of others that sold out of specific varietals or wines. “Sales are important, but you have to look at the big picture,” he said. “We know they lead to sales, it’s just not in a linear path.”

How many will participate Thursday is hard to say. A Chardonnay tasting in May included about 800 twitter participants and 6,000 tweets. Bakas thinks the Cabernet event is shaping up to be perhaps ten times that size.

By searching for what people said about Cabernet, wineries, will find people to connect with and to start conversations with. Many online conversations translate into personal conversations.

To participate online, join the conversations about Cabernet by posting on social media sites by adding "#Cabernet" to your post, update, photo, tag or blog comment. To taste Cabernets with fellow wine aficionados, there are also more than 50 meetups organized by individuals on http://meetup.com/cabernet or one can organize their own. Cabernet day will also not be limited to twitter. The #Cabernet hastag will allow for searching any Facebook post, foursquare check-in, tweet, youtube video or flickr photo tagged #Cabernet.

Many wineries that are active on twitter have become involved, As Kristen Murphy of Wine Library put it, “It’s a good time for them to be able to expand and reach out to new wine drinkers. … It’s going to be really fun.’

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