Late Summer and early Fall are the busiest time of year here in the Napa Valley. Not only are tourists looking to squeeze in one last vacation, but the fruit on the vines is rapidly ripening and the annual harvest is generally kicking in to high gear. If you’re not one of the lucky ones that is able to make your way here during this time of year, you’re in luck.
As social media has exploded, many local vintners have embraced it in hopes of raising awareness for the region in general and their brand in particular. Unlike just two or three years ago, today you can log on to the Internet and quickly find numerous winery blogs, winery run Facebook pages, Twitter accounts, YouTube channels and more.
For us, one of the more interesting trends that has emerged is the use of live video streaming technology. Using a laptop computer or a mobile phone along with applications such as Ustream or Justin.tv, anyone can create their own live broadcast television show with very little effort.
A handful of local wineries are using such tools in order to connect with geographically dispersed fans, demystify the winemaking process and engage consumers in a new way.
Last month the team at Titus Vineyards completed its third year of live harvest videos, which saw it doing morning and afternoon broadcasts from the vineyard and winery over the course of several days. Meanwhile, St. Helena’s V. Sattui Winery provided an inside look at the action on its crushpad.
Others are using live broadcasts to allow journalists, bloggers and consumers to conduct virtual wine tastings with the winemaker. In this case both parties, despite being hundreds or even thousands of miles apart, are able to interact as if they were seated in the same tasting room.
For the viewing audience, what you won’t get is an over-produced promotional video. Instead, you’ll see a free flowing discussion with those who make the wine, tend to the vineyards and generally make things happen at the winery. If you’re willing to put up with sometimes shaky cameras and the inevitable technical glitches, you can learn quite a bit just by tuning in for a few minutes.
An added benefit? As the viewer, you can type in questions via an online chat window (or through popular social networks such as Twitter or Facebook) and those questions can be seen and answered by the people running the camera.
Here’s an example from Titus Vineyards–this is their 2010 harvest kick-off video:
And here’s V. Sattui Winery bringing in the last of its Gamay grapes last week: