That’s 1000 posts, 1000 corks, and 1000 memories to reflect upon… and in retrospect, what a wild ride Sparkling Winos has been and continues to be. And, we couldn’t be happier to mention that we remain as committed as ever to the project as we continue on our quest to be a one-stop-shop for all things sparkling wine. Despite COVID, we’re the busiest we’ve even been – in a different, very virtual way!
So what have we learned from 1000 posts on a social media network?
We’re still curious.
Well, for one thing, after over four years in the industry, we remain captivated about the world’s sparkling wines. That personal and professional curiosity extends into the world of wine in general, as there is much to learn, taste and explore. And we hope to continue doing so, as Sparkling Winos.
Wine is all about the people.
From the lens of our own perspective, we have been afforded some incredible experiences and opportunities to explore the world, for which we are truly grateful. We’ve learned, wine really is about place.
But perhaps just as importantly, wine is about the people. Sparkling Winos has enabled us to forge great friendships with a network of passionate industry colleagues. They are what the wine industry is truly about!
It’s the winemakers, proprietors and winery staff, researchers, wine writers (even the ones who have dismissed us in the past), public relations professionals, our colleagues on social media, and so on, that contribute to the social aspect of the wine industry (that we love, and miss so much!). Their passion, dedication, hard work, debate and the deep, introspective conversations (especially the difficult ones) speak to the important human element of wine.
Social media is here to stay.
Since launching the blog, we have seen the wine industry embrace social media, with varying degrees of interest and success. Wine communication is not just about newspapers, wine columns and ratings in magazines (though they remain important in reaching consumers). Social media campaigns have been launched, consumers have been reached, organic interest in products and experiences has been established … all great, we think! We’ve seen many voices rise up since we started, with female, BIPOC and queer perspectives coming to the forefront (and to this, we raise a glass!).
On a completely personal level, social media does have its downsides and can be disruptive to living in the moment. Bold statement, right? Or maybe you’re thinking: well, duh!
While we are no strangers to critique, this year we have had experiences with anonymous, online hate that shook us to the core and made us feel unsafe. Suddenly, sharing a photo of us in our home had a different dimension. But we persevered and kept going, with the aim of building our repository for all things sparkling.
Part of Sparkling Winos is authentically capturing our experiences, and playing the part of a storyteller, but that sometimes comes at the price of living in the moment. Over the years, we’ve had some amazing experiences and opportunities, but sometimes we felt like we were burning the candle at both ends and that we were near burn out. We’ve also seen it amongst our colleagues as well – spending so much time trying to ‘the shot’ or spending an experience capturing it, rather than living it. In part, that’s because whether the content was for personal use, branded content or a partnership, expectations have risen from audiences and brands. More high quality content, faster turn around, better metrics. It can be quite stressful, but we recognize the amazing opportunities that we have been afforded to provide our unique take new sparkling wines, wine region experiences or new ventures within our network (be it a colleague’s new wine or winery, a book or something else entirely that has been a brand fit). If we can fit something in and support a passionate colleague through Sparkling Winos, we have done our best to do so!
Will social media change?
We think so. We have seen platforms evolve and adapt over time, since starting.
Instagram, the platform that has truly revolutionized wine communication, is ever changing: from its evolving algorithm (that no one truly seems to have mastered), to a limit on hashtag reach and most recently, to its recent prioritization of Reels.
Will a wine consumer be reached by a TikTok-like video? Maybe. But will they be compelled by the video of someone dancing hilariously or swirling a wine to giggle … and make a purchase? The jury is still out on that one, but we’ve been hesitant to get into the TikTok space.
There’s also the elephant in the room: pay-to-play! Will brands simply pay Instagram to promote their content as sponsored posts, and sell directly with an Instagram shop? This remains to be seen, but it will be an interesting 6 months, if more innovations on that front are rolled out!
But it’s not all negative, as we see a firm place for a focused, passionate storyteller, wishing to reach a particular audience by whatever means.
Recapping 1000 posts with… 10 special ones!
We each picked 5 posts from the 1000 we’ve shared on social media, because they have a special significance for us as Sparkling Winos, or were just plain fun to shoot (because, you know, wine communication can and should be fun).
Mike’s Pics (err, Picks).
Champagne Xmas Tree
We had a Champagne-themed tree years before starting Sparkling Winos. It was a natural fit with the blog, and so we shared our finished Christmas Tree, trimmed with Champagne bottles and flying corks attached to decorations. It was a hit … so much so that we had to put together a blog post on how to recreate the tree at home.
VQA Promoters of the Year
We were honoured as VQA promoters of the year, in the at-large category, and it was extremely humbling to have our love of local wine, and our efforts in the local industry, acknowledged.
Meeting Olivier Krug
An idol, a revolutionary, a wine communicator and Champagne storyteller, Oli is a true ambassador and incredible individual. It was an honour to meet him and to taste at Krug in Reims.
Art x Wine
VQA Into the Vine was one of the coolest events we’ve ever experienced, where we tasted wines paired with food and art exhibitions. It really took the conversation about local wines in a unique, complex direction. It was an honour to host VQA Into the Bubbles, its spiritual successor, a year later.
Oldie But a Goodie
Taken in 2014, a few years before we launched Sparkling Winos, this shot summarized so much hope, joy and love (for ourselves and bubbles, because as you can see, they were flowing). It’s one of my favourites, and one of the first we ever posted, with a glimmer of home that someone would be interested in this project. And, it’s one I revisit often to reflect on this wild, effervescent ride!
Kicking the Dirt
The only thing that comes close to our love of bubbles is our love for all things local. It’s truly been an honour to be a voice and a storyteller for the Ontario wine industry, and one of our fondest memories was attending “Kick the Dirt” with the Grape Growers of Ontario a few years back at i4C. It was a real treat to hear the growers perspective, and we learned so much about viticulture here in Ontario that day. We’re always incredibly grateful for new learning opportunities.
Christening The Coupe
Some thought I was crazy for wanting to open a sparkling wine themed cottage, but I knew it would be an explosive idea. 😎 We, and so many others, have made such effervescent memories at The Coupe! 🥂
Reppin’ 🇨🇦 at ProWein… and in Champagne!
Peak Sparkling Winos (so far) for me was having the opportunity to visit ProWein in Dusseldorf and represent Canada. Hot off the heels of visiting Champagne and tasting with the likes of Olivier Krug, and then touring through Germany tasting and judging the best Sekt in the country. That trip was definitely filled with a million and one “pinch me” moments.
Sipping and Swirling Socially
My favourite part about wine is the social aspect. It brings people together. It’s something to enjoy, to discuss, and to learn about with others. Since we started this project we have met so many incredible people… whether it be locally here in Ontario, during our travels around the world, or online via Instagram and other social platforms. I’m so grateful for all of the new relationships we’ve formed over the past 4 years. And, as we move into month 8 of lockdown, I can’t wait to get out there and sip and see everyone again.
That Tub Shot