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March 31, 2007

Moving and Word of Mouth

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When i moved to London nearly 9 years ago, i remember the pain of having to find a house and a job and well, all the rest of the stuff that goes with moving across the world!

The Guardian had an interesting article today on The Gumtree's national marketing push.

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I don't really know when these guys started but they were tiny 5 years ago. Now they're owned by EBay and are an online classified ad website that spans the UK, Australia, South Africa, Ireland and Poland. And it's all due to understanding what their "consumers" need and want and also...the power of word of mouth...

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March 30, 2007

the week wine club

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One of Stormhoek's customers, Harper Wells, is now running The Week Wine Club, the wine club of the popular British news magazine, The Week. It launches today.

If you join you will automatically be entered into a competition to win a wine connoisseur package of fine wine, glassware, storage etc, worth £6000. Offer open to any UK resident aged 18 or over.

A lot of major "upscale" publications have wine clubs in this country, including the national daily papers. I believe The Sunday Times wine club has about 250,000 members alone.

Anyway, good luck to them. Hope they sell some Stormhoek.

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The Key Review

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I've subscribed for quite sometime to an Aussie newsletter called The Key Report. It's the only newsletter I pay for.

Tony Keys who writes it also has a free view section called the Key Review.

Here he writes up the wines he's been tasting. I like the style of it, he's got a warts and all approach you don't often see.

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Wine with Curry

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Wine and food expert, Fiona Beckett, has a cool new website.

Here she looks at wines to match the gut wrenching power of a Vindaloo curry.

Stormhoek Pinotage comes out as the champion choice.

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March 29, 2007

Symbiotic Relationships

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The symbiotic relationship between bloggers and journalists is an interesting one...

Over at theshowroom restaurant, in Cape Town, a similar relationship exists. Flamboyant Bruce Robertson, ex Advertising creative and former head chef at the exclusive Cape Grace Hotel, offers a “minimalist melbournesque décor and graphic presentation” style restaurant that is housed in a luxury car showroom - look right for the Lamborghinis and Porsches and left for a view of Table Mountain. The clientelle would most certainly be beneficial to both i would imagine.

Graham and I loved the all-white dining room dotted with Starck's transparent ghost chairs.

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Says Bruce:

“I really get a kick out of the visual thing, after all, you eat with your eyes first”

“Cooking a dish is never entirely new, it’s just how you put it together”

A sexy car evokes the same emotion, does it not?!

Cath
x

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...

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Fill Your Work
with Life.

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To Smoke or Not to Smoke

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Britain soon follows Canada, Ireland, and an increasing number of American cities, with a ban on smoking in the workplace and in restaurants/bars.

An interesting article in the Guardian UK discusses the pros and cons of the ban from a global perspective and highlights a few bloggers that feel they are being oppressed.

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Yes it’s a personal choice, but if it impacts on another’s breathing space and has the potential to cause illness due to secondary inhalation, there has to be a debate.

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March 28, 2007

A little more of the Extreme

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March 27, 2007

XTREME FUN!

One of our favourite places on our trip to Cape Town (besides staying at the Stormhoek House of course!) was the amazing, funky, cool, hip Extreme Hotel in Cape Town. Thanks to Chris for the recommendation!

Who would have thought that a hotel's toilets and smoking room could totally enthrall you and take you on an extraordinary visual ride of a lifetime!

*The "Coughin Room" shows its black humour in the form of coffins ("coughing", geddit?) as seats, a tombstone as the cigarette vending machine and my favourite bit of all, a ceiling that's a photograph of friends and family looking down at you in your coffin, in your grave. Hmmm.

*The toilets, all named, are outrageous but fabulous. Wacky comes in when sitting down on the seat... you're watched by a life-size photo taken at a Protea Hotel general managers' conference. Protea Group MD Arthur Gillis and founder of the Extreme Sports Channel and International Hotel group, Al Gosling (a 35-year old American) are in the front row observing!

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*Al Gosling is focusing on cities where extreme sports are part of the culture (hey Al - you have to open up in Tarifa, southern Spain and capital of the Windsurfing/Kitesurfing world!).

*The whole place is amazing from Salvador Dali style red lights, to a rock climber hanging off a rock face in the foyer, funky chairs with TV's in them, velvet chairs with hanging chandeliers and a bar with a really innovative, delicious menu.

*The breakfast room is filled with exotic decor, a swimming pool that runs parallel with surfboards and colourful plastic swimwear that adorns the glass walls.

*The bedrooms are stylish with the most heavenly, comfortable beds, a directory of activities that would leave any extreme sports enthusiast drooling and an ultra modern tv and radio setup to keep you company.

***If you like adventure sports, escapism and well, outstanding customer service (no, no-one is paying me to say all this - just go! Tel:+27 (21) 488-2555) then the Extreme Hotel is it. We'll be back!

Cath

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Fireflies & the Stormhoek Braai

Friday night saw the rustic and magical Stormhoek house host its first ever Bloggers' Braai. Having never been to the Stormhoek vineyards before, I have to say that this little place is as close to heaven – literally and figuratively - as it gets.

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The evening began with an aperitif of Stormhoek Rosé, followed by a guided tour of the Stormhoek Vineyards by Graham, Thor and Cuppie. Upon entering the dark “Enchanted Forest”, we learnt of mystic goings-on behind the shed where fireflies dance and light up the vineyards, discussed the semi-circle of viognier plantings and were graced by the mysterious presence of Poppy, the estate’s beautiful black horse.

Our stumbles in the dark (Graham has far too many amazing stories to tell!) and Gerry's disappearance (hilarious) were followed by a mini-tasting of 2 new Stormhoek wines, a handout of schwag (see the naughty t-shirts!) and bottles of limited edition Stormhoek sparkling wine, organised by the lovely Leanne.

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Speeches from Al, Graham and myself were followed by a top class dinner cooked by our favourite Englishman Chris (a Stormhoek SA counterpart) and his pretty girlfriend! ). Great conversation with all present.

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Thank you to all who came and made it such a fantastic and fun evening. It was great to meet all of you and we look forward to seeing you next time we're out.

Cath
xx

Posted by Cath at 3:42 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 22, 2007

thresher virus 2.0

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[DOWNLOAD COUPON HERE.]

So here it is: The Stormhoek-Thresher Coupon 2.0.

40% Off any wine in any Thresher store for the next week [N.B. Thresher's is the the largest specialist wine retailer in the UK].

We did Version 1.0 last Christmas, for Thresher, one of our big clients. Not to mention, it made the national news. So now that Easter has come along...

Unlike last time time, however we put a little Stormhoek branding on the top. That's the shameless advertising hack in me etc.

Anyway, feel free to download coupon and blog it and/or e-mail it to as many people as you like. Thanks.


Posted by hugh macleod at 11:57 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 21, 2007

Pablo Eskimo's Bunnyboiler Rocks

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Folks have been asking about the music that was used for the Love Tour vids. The track
on the first video was called "Bunnyboiler" from a Glasgow based group called Pablo Eskimo. Their music is really great - check out their Myspace profile.

Thanks to Colin for discovering these guys.

Posted by Jason at 9:23 AM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 20, 2007

Burning of the Fleece and Other [not so hot] Ideas

Hugh and I have spent a bit of time over the last ten days traveling together. One of Hugh’s favorite possessions was his trusty fleece. Hardly ever seen without it, the thing became like an appendage. Some of us who are closest to him, felt it was time for a wash, or a change.

So, on a bet, I took massive action and did the deed, which was recorded for posterity. And, folks do NOT try this at home, cause whatever they use to make these things is, very, very flammable.

[We’ll be taking contributions for Hugh’s next fleece via Paypal]

Now, onto business, Hugh and I also had days to debate the potential viability of a new Threshers viral. He posted about it yesterday. I am still dubious. In fact, while everyone knows that I am a big Hugh fan-boy, it is obvious to me that he is drinking a bit too much of the Gapingvoid Kool-aid. Or, maybe it’s the trauma of having to watch his beloved fleece go up in flames.

Either way: No how, no way. Another Threshers viral won’t work and I’d bet 10p on that.

Posted by Jason at 11:21 AM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

March 19, 2007

Bruce Jack and Love Handles

During a recent dinner, Bruce kindly read the poetry on the back label of his "Love Handle" Shiraz.

In Bruce's world his women like their men, just like their Shiraz: With Love Handles.

Thank god.

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March 17, 2007

Tesco Visit to Stormhoek

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The Tesco Boys: Richard Mew (above) - Commercial Buyer and Graham Nash - Product Development Manager (wine quality guru) are out in South Africa next week and will be visiting the Stormhoek Winery on Thursday. Richard has never been to SA before so hopefully Stormhoek and the rest of the SA wineries on this tour will show him a good time!

I fly out tomorrow evening to meet the mighty Graham Knox on Monday morning and Al flies out on Monday night. The itinerary is very exciting, filled with media meetings, tastings to see how the 2007 vintage is/has gone and a catch up with everyone involved in making Stormhoek work!

Will update you on the Tesco visit and any exciting happenings as they occur.

Posted by Cath at 11:33 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 8, 2007

wine relief cartoon & wine auction

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[This is the cartoon in question etc.]

For Wine Relief [a subset of Comic Relief] I've donated one of my cartoons for a charity auction. Details here.

Cartoonist and blogger Hugh MacLeod of gapingvoid.com and Stormhoek.com fame has drawn a special Wine Relief cartoon, and wine expert and journalist Tim Atkin has specially selected 12 bottles of wine from his cellar in aid of Wine Relief.

And we’re bringing them together in what may be a web first - a “Cross-Blog-Auction”, where the highest bidder will win the fantastic prize of Hugh’s cartoon (above) plus Tim’s wine (listed below)!

It's all in aid of a good cause, so I hope you'll check it out. Thanks.

Posted by hugh macleod at 2:00 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 6, 2007

Stormhoek in the Sunday Times & a Cool Website

We spotted a nice write up about Stormhoek in the Sunday Times (South Africa) this weekend and were very flattered by the following exerpt from the article:

"...experts said this week the company’s broader achievement was blazing a new marketing trail for all small SA export businesses, by harnessing the power of Internet blogs to become a global microbrand."

Talking about internet blogs, a friend of mine, Lee Thomas, chatted to me via skype this week and recommended this really cool blog:

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ingredientx : some of it is naughty/cheeky and some of it's rather real... i think you might be able to identify with one or two of the vids!

Enjoy!
Catherine
xx

Posted by Cath at 9:37 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

March 4, 2007

UK Retail Consolidation

[RSS YouTube link is here.]

UK Retail Consolidation doesn’t just mean that your choice for UK shopping is, say Tesco or Asda and um, Asda or Tesco. It means that for us little guys, these grocers get tougher to deal with all of the time. As a little winery we can’t compete with the budgets of the Big Guys, so we need to try to level the playing field.

It’s no different in Germany where the choices are even more limited.

Al and I stopped off in Hamburg a few weeks back and took some unsuspecting prospects out for a nice dinner. Our weapon of choice that night was a cocktail of Riesling, more Riesling, Rohypnol with a wee dram of Ketamine as a deal closer. [I think some of the K made its way into my glass; -))]

No doubt you will be awed by how these poor folk became putty in our hands. Here, for the world to see, is insight into the secret behind how we are spreading the Stormhoek meme across the globe.

Please don’t tell the Big Guys.

Posted by Jason at 5:39 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

March 1, 2007

The Pebbles Project

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Three friends in South Africa are involved in the Pebbles Project. This is a charity that helps children who suffer from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, and need long-term hospital or home based care, get into the schooling program and also out into their local communities.

The charity is headed by Sophia Warner with help from her sister Lucy and fellow wine industry colleague Ansgar Flaatten.

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Recently I was able to make a donation to Pebbles through one of their key sponsors, WOSA, and the money will be used to give many kids the chance to go out on day trips within the Western Cape.

The other day, Soph took 60 spirited nippers for a day out to the Cape Town Science Centre.

The kids had a great day as the pictures clearly show.

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Monkey World is planned for the next visit………Bring it on!


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