Monday, October 19, 2009

Not a tweet--a squawk

OK, this blog post is all opinion, and in keeping with the subject matter, I call it “squawk,” as in crow noise or a loud, raspy tweet.

Certainly, all you wine blog readers and Tweeter-savvy have heard of Fledgling. You haven’t? Well, get over to Steve Heimoff’s blog (see link below).

Fledgling is Twitter’s new wine, to the tune of a $10,000 investment with Crushpad, the winemaker.

For those who may not know it, Crushpad is a so-called custom crush winemaking facility, which literally means that you pay them, tell them what you want, and they will make it for you. You are responsible for selling, advertising, marketing, and even designing the packaging for your wine—with their help, of course. This is the outfit that brought us Vayniac Cab, made for Gary Vaynerchuk—you’ve heard of him, haven’t you?

The people at Twitter say they got the idea to have a wine brand from employees at the company who also happen to be Crushpad customers.

Light bulbs flashed: if we can use Twitter, the latest gift from God, to network our new brand, we can make a killing.

Not exactly: Twitter claims that the wine is for charity, or at least $5 of its $20 price tag is. The charity is Room to Read.

Am I the only one who finds the incongruity behind the fact that a company that invented a way to pare inanities to 140 characters wants children to learn to read? Talk about newspeak?

I’m not sure yet if I even like Twitter, but I’m certainly getting tired of celebrity wines and networking schemes connected to wine brands. This is truly cheapening the soul of the product.

There’s a reason that only a choice number of people on this earth can offer beautiful wines to the rest of us—it has something to do with study, talent, and passion. What happens to all that when everyone is a virtual winemaker—worse, what happens to the wine when no one makes it except a committee?

I hate this whole idea. But the part in the interview that truly set me off is when Steve asked this question of Crushpad CEO and Prez, Michael Brill:

“What is the significance of this, beyond raising money for charity? I mean, Crushpad getting involved in social media. You’re already calling it “social winemaking.”

…and Brill answered:

“We’re all about getting people involved in the winemaking process and co-creating a product with the customer.”

If that isn’t the most asinine comment about wine that I’ve read in my whole career I don’t know what is. I just finished talking about what I think of winemaking by committee and from afar, and now this fellow talks about getting even more people involved in making wine. What a concept—a reality show that isn't on TV!

All right, so Crushpad was a good idea to capitalize from those who love wine, want to make their own, but haven’t the stones (and I don’t mean Biz Stone) or money—or both—to go out and do it, you know, like grow grapes, press them, ferment them, nurse the wine, bottle it, and deal with every supplier, bureaucrat and annoyance that comes between the harvest and the bottled nectar.

All that stuff gets in the way, yet you want to tell your friends and neighbors that you own a wine label—fine. But puleeze, don’t have the boss try to make it sound like this is just another good old American networking event to “get involved.”

Custom crush for the consumer is a business built on an ego trip. There’s no disgrace to admitting that, but it is unseemly to try to explain it as more than what it is.

Steve Heimoff blog

If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
October 2009. All rights reserved.

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