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It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Stand For

Credit to EverJean http://www.flickr.com/photos/evert-jan/ 

Photo Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/evert-jan/ 

 While preparing for my talk a couple of weeks ago at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, I struggled a bit with topics. I was asked to do something on Blogging for your Business, but as you all probably know by now, blogging, is just a tool, no different than Word or Powerpoint, it is not about the software, it is about what you do with it.

So, I knew I was going to have to talk about messages, and since lots of our beliefs about wine are counter to the normal ‘producer’s’ view, I was a bit worried that I might offend a few people - as the audience was full of producers.

We have, largely based upon our interaction with people in the web2 space, come to realize that wine has morphed into something different than most producers realize. What has changed?

It must be said that, first, and most obviously, wine is still about quality. But, quality doesn’t mean what it once did. Quality is no longer about absolutes, it is about stylistic preferences. Technology has allowed winemakers to go from making 20% good wine and 80% bad, to 80% Good - globalization has spread quality far and wide. Yes, nuanced quality is a weighty subject that many people are interested in, but I am not so sure if the ‘average guy’ cares much about the discussion. 

 So, what happens in a world where every producing country from France to India and Lebanon, is making good wine?

Well, that is the point at which we start to have fun: It becomes about giving your wine meaning. What do you stand for? Is there something else there other than: “Great Wine” and “Passion” or “Place”?

About a year and a half ago, Hugh and I sat on and off, literally for weeks, talking about this very subject. We knocked around all sorts of ideas, wrote wanky manifestos, talked about all sorts of traditional wine messages, and then distilled our Stormhoek beliefs down to six things:

 

                                                LOVE

                                                BEING PASSIONATE

                                                DREAMING BIG

                                                BEING SPONTANEOUS

                                                CELEBRATING

                                                CHANGING THE WORLD

I know, that for some, wine is only about “handcraftedness” (sic) and terroir , but for us there was something far deeper, human and visceral. It was not about the ‘how’ it’s made, but the ‘what you get from it’ – It was really about a World View. Why shouldn’t our little winery represent our view of the world, rather than just walk the walk of the existing language of wine?

So, we decided to bake this into the wine, by loudly proclaiming these six beliefs on the new back label. Since then, emails have trickled in, some people clearly agreeing with it, some people asking WTF  it’s doing on the label, etc.

Earlier this week, I received the following email as follows:

Good Day,

I have just enjoyed a bottle of you excellent red wine. I have spent a lot of time in SA and prefer to drink SA wines. The label on this particular bottle is particularly inspirational, as I have a very difficult board meeting tomorrow. The label “Be Passionate, Dream Big, Be Spontaneous, Celebrate, Change the World or go Home” really hits the spot with both me and my wife. I will look out for Stormhoek and recommend to my friends.

Nice One!

Kind Regards, 

Bob H.

Managing Director

For Bob and us, we think that wine is really about the humanness that it brings out in people– it’s about what we all do with it. It is about possibility.

We know that there are lots of people out there who share our view and we’re going to start going on the road talking with these folks.

Our goal over the next couple of years is to help make the language of wine more personal, genuine and real. Less about us, more about them.

And of course, about Seriously Good Wine.

 

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