I had the great pleasure of representing the EWBC “collective” at the recent TerroirVino event organised by our good friend Filippo Ronco of TigullioVino. Filippo was one of the many new people I met at last year’s EWBC event in Rioja and one of the several representatives of the extensive blogging/online wine community in Italy.
Ryan and Gabriella are already planning on flying to the US for the WBC in California and other events in New York, so this was my chance to represent the EWBC in person. I spoke, very briefly and in rather rusty Italian, at Vinix Unplugged about my vision of the EWBC as a way to break one of the major collaboration deadlocks that exists in Europe: the language barrier. There are hundreds of wine blogs, wine networks, online communities and wine sites in Europe. Unfortunately, few of them achieve that level of critical mass that means they challenge the US/English speaking sites in any list of “top sites”.
One of the main reasons for this, but by no means the only one, is a lack of collaboration and cooperation across national borders. Even those of us with some understanding of other languages feel unable to read posts and unwilling to write comments in these other languages. There are wonderful voices in many languages, but we may never hear them.
But things change when you meet face to face with a glass of wine in hand. In person, we find ways to make ourselves understood. We relax and share stories, something that wine has helped to promote for thousands of years. If you combine that with an agenda that allows us to talk about things we all have a common experience with, namely wine and social media, then the scene is set for more exciting things to emerge.
I got the sense that many of the bloggers, marketers and wineries present were also looking for ways to engage new audiences around the world, and that the EWBC message resonated with them.
Vinix Unplugged was an opportunity for those who wanted to learn about social media, and share their experiences with others, and attracted a varied and influential audience. It makes you consider that if there are plenty of individuals and businesses in Italy, then there are probably more in Spain, France, Germany, and even places like Poland, Switzerland, Denmark and indeed all other European countries. How can we reach out to them too?
Of course, it wasn’t all about social media. In fact, the star attraction was the wonderful range of wines at TerroirVino in the majestic setting of the Palazzo Ducale in Genoa. I didn’t have the time to taste all the wines as I was busy talking and learning, but I highly recommend that lovers of Italian wine make it a fixture of their 2010 calendars straight away.
I have to admit that I’ve been particularly interested in this event since there had been an outside chance that we might try and organise EWBC alongside it for this year. Sadly, it proved to be a little too difficult (and expensive), so we didn’t, but I’ve always felt just a tiny sense of ownership and responsibility for the event since then. I was very glad, therefore, to see not only that friends like Giampiero Nadali, Elisabetta Tosi and Gianpaolo Paglia were there, but that Amy Lillard of La Gramiere came along to represent French wine at the event as well. International cooperation indeed!
I look forward to welcoming the many new Italian bloggers who told me they would attend this year’s EWBC in Lisbon, and I hope that this experience might also inspire more groups from other countries to come along.