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Welcome to the Middle of Nowhere - Want a Glass For That Beer?

Center of the Universe?

Center of the Universe?

We’ve been thinking about small. The sorts of places that don’t really matter much to most people. The kind of place that folks have maybe heard of, but will never find the time to visit. The fact that they are ‘out of the way’ doesn’t make those places less special, or interesting, but it in the eyes of some, it does tend to marginalize their importance.

For most folks in London, Shanghai or New York, South Africa is one of these places. While that doesn’t sit well with us, it is a fact of life. But, we come to realize that once you accept the fact, then the world looks like a much different place. We see the potential of small. The beauty of simple and the promise of an elegant idea that could make a difference.

What’s this got to do with wine, you ask?

Well, we are doing a launch for our new label in the US. But, we’re thinking: Why do the usual? Why beg the people who view us as being from a place that doesn’t matter to pay attention to our wine- let’s talk to people who actually view the world more the way we do. People who have rich lives in small towns, who make a difference every day and yes, who still “Dream Big” from little places.

So, we’re off to Alpine, Texas, not far from Marfa and just up the road from Valentine. We’re looking for Dreamers and people who stand out from the crowd. We have great hope that these folk by Dreaming Big, can Change the World.

Stay Tuned.

Stormhoek welcomes Jaffe Juice for a home Visit


Recently we had the pleasure of hooking up in Cape Town with famed new media Marketing Guru Joseph Jaffe.

Jo originally hails from South Africa but found his calling in the USA working as a director at TBWA before becoming President of his own successful new media marketing consulting practice called Crayon  (www.crayonville.com ), as well as writing a number of popular new media marketing books.

joe stormhoekWhile he was visiting Cape Town we helped organise (with the help of local new marketing legend Dave Duarte) a little exclusive geek dinner with the Mother cities Social Media elite. 

The Stormhoek was on tap and Jo very kindly dedicated a copy (his only copy he had bought over for his Mum!!) of his new book “Join the Conversation” to the Cape Town blogging and podcasting community to be passed around. Inside the book he inscribed the kind words - “To the wonderful Cape Town community, I’m proud to represent you in the big US of A and I hope this book inspires, motivates and reflects the power of us“.

Have a look at the video above for a little speech he did if you like or check out his blog at www.jaffejuice.com.

From all at Stormhoek we wish you a fabulous 2008,

Cheers.

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The world of wine lists

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Nikki Dumas writes winelists. She takes all year to find the wines she wants. She secures the bottles she needs. They are paid for and locked up in a secure place.  She can’t have someone else buy them while she’s finishing the list. Her task is a work of passion that becomes a work of art.

Some people like Nikki’s wine lists a lot. Enough to try to borrow them for the long term.  The one she and Chris are looking at in the picture has a bar coded security tag attached. If you shoplift the winelist, you have to deal with security at the door, just as if you had stuffed a dress in your handbag in the clothes shop. Believe me, people do.

The judges at Wine Spectator are among the people who like Nick’s winelists. They decided that Nikki’s Balducci winelist is is one of the 50 best luxury, grand and deluxe winelists in the world this year. Balducci is the place to be seen eating, drinking or just sitting in Cape Town’s V&A Waterfont.

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Stormhoek sponsoring the British Comedy Awards

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[One of the thirty cartoons chosen to go on the bottles etc.]

Though Stormhoek generally doesn’t like to sponsor large events, an interesting opportunity came up.

On December 5th we’ll be serving Magnums of Stormhoek on the tables of the British Comedy Awards, which in British Media terms, is a pretty big deal. Lots of celebrities, TV cameras and paparazzi etc.

But rather than just plonk the bottles down on the tables and let the celebs get on with it [i.e. Drink our wine, yet ignore the brand completely- which is what normally happens with these kind of events], we decided to behave a little differently than your average gala sponsor.

We created a range of large bottles [Magnums], each with a different cartoon on it. Thirty cartoons in all.

Because of the event, we decided we didn’t have to worry about playing it safe [unlike say, with your average supermarket client]. So out of my collection of 6,000-odd cartoons, we picked 30 cartoon that were relatively edgy. The one above is a good example. Also, some of the cartoons from this page and this page made it into the mix. Generally, we picked cartoons we thought anybody who had spent a lot of time in the Soho/London/media/entertainment/cokewhore/glamorpussy world would click with. You get the idea.

As everybody will have a different cartoon on each table, we’re hoping people will check out the different bottles on the other tables. Yeah, you got it. Conversation starters. Exactly. “Social Objects”, Baby.

I hope the photographers get some decent pictures…

( Originally posted by Hugh at www.gapingvoid.com )

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“The one with the back label on the front”

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[The new Stormhoek front labels. Click on image to enlarge etc.]

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[The new Stormhoek back label. Click on image to enlarge etc.]

After many months in development, Stormhoek has finally got its new label designs.

The front label is a fairly classic look [our customers like that a lot]. We had a ball, however, with the back label. Notice how we put both the Blue Monster logo on the back [without any explanation], and also, the Unofficial International “Hacker” symbol. Oh, yeah, we also borrowed the “Change the World or Go Home” tagline from the Blue Monster [Disclosure: gapingvoid is more evil than Microsoft. Just so you know.].

The vast majority who see our wine on the shelf have never heard of us before, have never read gapingvoid, and don’t know us from Adam [The same is true for the vast majority of other wine brands]. So most of the marketing is done on the supermarket shelf. It’s actually pretty intense, thinking about it all.

The funny thing is, people in the trade like the back label SO MUCH there’s already talk happening about Stormhoek being the first wine to have itself stacked on the shelf with the back label facing frontward.

So the Stormhoek hook becomes: “The one with the back label on the front”.

I love that idea… We’ll see what happens.

[UPDATE: Stormhoek Twitter UK Promo:] I’ve been allowed to send sample bottles to anybody who wants one. The deal is, you have to be UK-based, of legal drinking age, and on Twitter. Send me an email if you’re interested, Thanks. Rock on.

(The above was originally posted by Hugh at www.gapingvoid.com )

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the “smarter wine” idea

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[Official "Smarter Wine" logo etc.]

At Stormhoek, the wine company I work for, our basic schtick is this philosophy we call “Smarter Wine”. This is what Mark Earls would call the “Purpose-Idea” of the company; i.e. the reason we get out of bed in the morning and go to work every day. Here are some thoughts on what Smarter Wine means, in no particular order:

1. Smarter Wine does not imply that we’re “smarter” than anywhere else. It’s an ideal that we aspire to, not that we embody. The idea is not something Stormhoek will ever “own”, like a tagline in an ad campaign. It’s an idea I think EVERYBODY in the trade should get their head around, be they makers, sellers or buyers, large or small. But hey, I would say that.

2. Everyone’s definition of “smarter” will be different. I’m OK with that. To me, it means continually engaging the customer at a higher level, continually raising the bar.

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3. The brilliant thinker, Russell Davies identified four keywords that will govern the future of the advertising business. About as succinct a list as I’ve ever seen:

Blurry. Useful. Interesting. Always In Beta.

“Always In Beta” is a popular term in Silicon Valley. In an ideal world, it would be equally popular in the wine trade as well. It’s unfortunate that this is not the case.4. A word people like using in the wine trade is “innovation”. Some companies pay it only lip service, some companies actually try to embrace it full-on. But it’s harder than it looks. Wine is one of the oldest products in the world; change happens slowly and with great reluctance. Sure, putting wine in funky-dunky plastic or aluminum bottles might be technically “innovative”, but does the average wine customer actually want that? A more interesting question for me is how the wine connects with people on an emotional and intellectual level. That to me is where the real action is.

5. Big ideas start out as little ideas, and lots of them. What do companies like Apple, Nike, Innocent Drinks and Starbucks have in common? Superficially, very little. But one thing you’ll notice about them is that they’re constantly coming up with new stuff. Constantly trying out new ideas, seeing what happens, and if it doesn’t work out, they move on quickly. Their schtick is all about taking frequent small steps in the right direction, as opposed to betting the farm on the annual Superbowl ad. Creating a constant stream of “Social Objects”. We take a similar approach at Stormhoek [We're a small wine company, frankly, so we have no other choice]. Different branding ideas, different cartoon label ideas, different sponsorship and PR ideas. On one level it’s a highly unpredictable way to go about it. On another level, it’s amazing how certain we are that SOMETHING good comes out of it eventually.

6. Eighty per cent of vineyards in the world do not make a profit. Eighty. Per. Cent. Other fun stats: There are 50 countries in the world that have wine industries. Italy alone has 500,000 vineyards. Sicily has ten times the vineyards as Napa Valley. Conclusion: The competition is off the scale. Besides making good wine [obviously], the only way forward is to somehow figure out, by any means necessary, how to rise above the clutter. The only way to do this is to speak to people in a way our industry has never spoken to them before.

7. I am not a wine expert. I am not a wine snob. I am not a wine bore. I am not even a wine geek. When I think of the business I’m in, I do not think of the vineyards, the lifestyle porn that’s famously attached to the industry, the “hummingbirds gathering nectar in the morning dew” palaver. My thoughts are more prosaic. I think about a person pushing a shopping cart through a supermarket, a teacher or a nurse, perhaps, who’s there buying food because she’s cooking spaghetti for her boyfriend that evening, who just wants a good bottle of wine for under ten dollars to go with it. Her needs, as simple and basic as they are, interest me FAR MORE than satisfying the vast sea of social pretentions that lives inside the wine trade.

8. Not everybody inside the trade will “get” the Smarter Wine idea. In marketing terms, it not that big a deal. As Oscar Wilde once quipped, “A man cannot be too careful in the choice of his enemies.”

[This was originally posted on my personal blog, gapingvoid.]

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This is Sound of the Subu… ‘Stormhoek’.

A little while back our inbox here at Orbital Wines received the following; ‘The Stormhoek Song’ and we blogged about it at the time. Now with the miracle of a little flash embedding you can listen to it on the site.

Rob Lane, aka Weekend Wino, hasn’t even had his Stormhoek dinner yet, but couldn’t resist trying some. He cracked open a bottle of Pinotage and it was, apparently, a hit. He loved the wine so much, he wrote a song about it! Genius.

We’re thinking it will become our official anthem. We may even try to release it. What do you think Rob, can you hear the Ka- Ching of the royalties… ?

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stormhoek pics

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[Outside Tesco's this afternoon, Pinotage and Sauvingnon Blanc in hand etc.]

I’m not sure why exactly, but I always like it when I see new Stormhoek photos on Flickr. Something kinda affirming about it.

So what the heck, I was thinking, Stormhoek is now doing a wee promotion at Tesco’s in UK, where a bottle is going for £3.99 [£1.00 off the usual £4.99], for the next week or two. So maybe there’s an opportunity to have some fun here.

Therefore, the first 500 people, aged 18 or over, who send me a pic of themselves in Tesco’s, holding a bottle of Stormhoek, will receive a £5.00 Tesco voucher from us, to cover the cost of the wine [N.B. These vouchers are not sponsored by Tesco's. We're covering the cost out of our own pocket].

And hey, you don’t even have to buy the wine if you don’t feel like it. You can spend the voucher on whatever you want. Nor do you have to blog it. Frankly, I’m more interested in the photos.

And to make it a bit more interesting, we’ll post our favorite pics on the Stormhoek blog, and each week we’ll send a complimentary case of wine to the person who took our favorite picture that week.

[AFTERTHOUGHT:] To get the ball rolling, I’ll send a case of Stormhoek [6 bottles] to the first six people who send in a photo [on condition that you're over 18 years old, of course]. Again, you don’t even have to buy the wine, nor do you have to blog it.

[CAVEAT:] Though this promotion is in most Tesco stores, it isn’t in all of them. If your local Tesco doesn’t carry Stormhoek, apologies in advance. Drop me an e-mail if this happens and I’ll see what I can do. Thanks.

[P.S. For all you Wine Geeks:] The Stormhoek Pinotage that won the “Best Pinotage in The World” award last year is part of the promotion. Rock on.

This might turn out to be quite groovy, it might not. Whatever. Fail fast, fail often etc. But it’s a cool enough idea to make it worth a try. Feel free to send your photos to gapingvoid@gmail.com. Thanks Again.

[This was originally posted on my personal blog, gapingvoid.com]

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Back in South Africa, the Baboons Roam…

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Whilst all the action is happening with “The Stormhoek/Tesco Love Tour” in the UK, we have an amusing rendition of Gorillas in the Mist, in our vineyards…

An hour before Sunrise, back in the Cape, I heard a rustle ouside… Twas a troop of baboons in our Mountainside Chenin Blanc vineyard, munching on sweet grapes for breakfast… When i realised they were eating grapes in our highest block, I headed up the mountain to sneak a view. Unfortunately, the “lookout” spotted me and the group (ma and pa and many teenagers and baboonettes) melted away into the mountain fynbos.

All I had to show for their presence was a flattened vine where a 70kg baboon (pa) had been reclining and munching bunches.

Not a bad start to a sunny Saturday morning… nothing like a little excitement on both sides of the world! ;0)

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