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May 19, 2007

London Wine Fair Action

Next week is the annual London Wine Trade Fair at Excel in the Docklands. Thousands of people from around the world attend, and it is an opportunity to chat with customers, and meet folks who have never even heard of us.


As one might expect, we have a slightly different view of what a Fair should be. And this is the third year of us trying to break through the clutter, confusion and hubbub.

As little guys, we always think about how it is possible to have an impact with a tiny budget, in an industry populated by enormous mega-drinks companies. On the one hand, we don't want to upset the Big Guys, lest we wind up like the little yellow guy below. But at the same time, we do have a job to do.


Typically, wine fairs consist of many shiny, expensive stands, populated with bottle, and largely middle-aged guys talking about wine, gossiping and nursing their very nasty hangovers (Yes, the wine guys do tend to drink too much) .

While the show starts on Tuesday, we got into gear two months ago (about two months late), but there was no point in rushing, as our London Wine Fair Maestro, Andrew, pictured below, he has an uncanny ability to pull entire families of rabbits out of a single hat- He does his best work under pressure.


Here's what is going on this year:

New and improved WineFairLive.com, which will be displayed on a (according to Andrew) "fucking huge" LED screen [think Wembley] in the central boulevard of Excel.

Wine Fair Live this year is being authored in part by "Deep Throat", a faceless, nameless member of the trade, s/he could be your boss, colleague, client or drinking partner, so beware what you say as deep throat tells all, and s/he can be emailed at deepthroatiest@gmail.com, if there are any morsels that you'd like revealed anonymously.

Wine Fair Live this year will have roaming cameramen, the world famous Hugh MacLeod cartooning, Sandra D and Lil' Jo of Shipwrecked
will be helping out.

When one enters the Hall this year, about 100 metres past the video wall, you'll see a quite substantial structure which has, in its center, a screening room. We will be showing "Smarter Wine: The Movie". It stars such luminaries as Dan Jago of Tesco, and Justin King. Justin is a bit of a legend around our office, as he went from being Nick and Al's boss of the BWS department at Asda, to MD of J. Sainsbury quicker than you can say trockenbeerenauslese [Come on Justin, what's the recipe for the secret sauce?].

You'll have to see the movie for yourself, but it is an instructional guide of what you need for success today in the UK market.

Tuesday afternoon, we are sponsoring a seminar entitled: "Terroir is Dead, Long Live Terroir!" Nick will be moderating, and the panel will include number of industry folks. We're going to see if there is a way to foment a spirited debate on the usually excruciatingly boring subject of terroir. Prediction: tears and rants.

On Wednesday night our sister wine, Camden Park, will be sponsoring the Camden Park Steak-Out in aid of the Benevolent. And we will have a mechanical bull at the Fair, for those brave enough to give it a try.

We will also be showing a "Big Love" flick at our stand from Hugh's tour around Tesco earlier this year.

There is too much to write about in this one post, so I will update as the week progresses.

Posted by Jason at 2:25 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

May 15, 2007



Congratulations to our friend, Jamie Goode who won "Wine Writer of The Year" at the 2007 Glenfiddich Awards!! Very much deserved, so, well done Sir! The Drinks book of the year award was won by Williamson and Moore's "Wine Behind the Label". We were delighted to see a really nice write-up for our Stormhoek Sauvignon Blanc, by Jamie, in the Sunday Express this weekend.

Posted by Cath at 10:10 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 7, 2007

What we're up to...


We're crazy busy right now! Hugh and Jason get back from Seattle tomorrow after their presentation at Marketsmart 2007. Apparently it all went very well - Hugh even had the audience clapping along to "the Stormhoek song"!

The rest of us are working on "Project UnderSea" - new packaging for our Stormhoek core range. We're nearly there and we can't wait to show it to you! It will be on shelf in June/July 2007.

We've also got our Couture launch - rose that tastes better over ice, and some new cartoon labels from Hugh.

The last week in May sees us at the LIWSF (London International Wine and Spirits Fair). So, we're flat out organising & managing some innovative activity for the Fair: "The Smarter Wine Show"- a mini theatre showcasing some of the leaders of the wine industry talking about innovation in today's changing world - on the big screen and Wine Fair Live (WFL). WFL is a live website that will be shown on a hugh concert screen in the boulevard. It includes a daily wine gossip blog, pre-recorded interviews with some notable figureheads in the industry, live events and naughty goings-on from the night before. We'll keep you up to date as we go along!

Posted by Cath at 6:38 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

When famous people come to town

A couple of weeks ago, Cape Town was stirred by the presence of Laurence Lessig and Jimmy Wales.
They were having dinner at A Touch of Madness and I was invited to come and meet them.
Well, wouldn’t you like to meet the people behind Creative Commons and Wikipedia?
They were deep in conversation with a dozen people at a very crowded table in a packed dining room. All kinds of other celebrities had come to have dinner with Laurence and Jimbo, but who also could not find space at this table. We talked to each other and drank wine.
“Never mind, there’s a cocktail party with a few of the press after this. You can talk to them there.”
The cocktail party was upstairs in a private room at the Armchair Theatre, venue for a big music gig and speeches later.
To get upstairs, you had to pass a security man. I brought a few bottles of wine with me and was allowed in.
Every room upstairs was full of people, face to face, shoulder to shoulder. No sign of Lawrence or Jimbo. I found myself listening to an American accent. Bettina Lessig is a lawyer like her husband. We discussed babies. (She is a new mother and I am a grandfather of a 2 year old, so we are both experts).
I shook hands with Laurence but missed his speech.
I listened to Jimmy talk and was surprised that he sounded just like one of us. This guy has had at least 3 astonishing careers and is just getting started.
I hope that they come back someday. It would be nice to talk to them.

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May 3, 2007

We're Guest Speakers today, at Marketsmart 2007 (AMA)


Jason and Hugh are in Seattle today at the Bell Harbor International Conference Centre. They've been asked to speak at MarketSmart 2007 - a yearly event held by the American Marketing Association. Our topic is "Using Web 2.0 as a Tool for Decommodification" - How does "...a tiny South African winery that nobody had ever heard of” turn into the most talked-about wine brand on the web?

Other guest speakers include YouTube, Redfin & Zillow, Jones Soda & DECA Students, Digital Kitchen, and "Why Wal-Mart Works".

As soon as i get some footage, I'll post it! Can't wait to see it as i've watched these two practise and prepare and it's been amusing!

Posted by Cath at 6:01 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

May 2, 2007

Stormhoek in Nando's Wine Festival


Nando's launched its wine festival last night, at its flagship store near Vinopolis, London Bridge. They invited Nick, Chris, Andrew, Rob and I and we invited the delightful Jo Mason, head of WOSA, as our guest. The wine festival started on the 30th April and ends on the 13th May and all you have to do is go into a restaurant, buy 2 glasses and you get the rest of the bottle free! Stormhoek is part of the new wine list, "which reflects Nando's Portugese and African heritage, as well as being outstanding quality and fantastic value for money". Their flagship restaurant is very impressive and reflects their vision of really upping their game, to be taken as a serious restaurant chain with the consumer at heart.

Andre Morgan from Choice FM - Winner of Hugh's cartoon, with Chris Smith

Hugh drew a fantastic A3 cartoon for the auction and Andrew won a huge hamper of wine, olives & sauces. There are now over 140 Nandos restaurants in the UK and more around the world - Australia, USA etc.

Posted by Cath at 1:45 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack