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Social Grapes? How America’s Wineries Are Using Social Media To Extend PR Impact by @SuzieLin (as part of #BeMyGuest)

As featured in Social Media Today.

Welcome to a guest blog post with a twist!

Suzie Linville (@SuzieLin) is a wine consultant who works in PR, is a big Denver Nuggets fan (although she is now based out of Washington, D.C) and an all-round great girl.

Today, she blends together some of her passions and serves up an intriguing look into wine, PR and social media.

Let’s hand things over to Suzie…

How America’s Wineries Are Using Social Media 

By Suzie Linville (as part of #BeMyGuest Month)

Every day it seems someone is writing about social media in terms of marketing, but where does it fit into PR?

Look at the wine industry.

Wineries are receiving all sorts of criticism when it comes to implementing social media (SM).

However, there are many who are utilizing it to directly connect with consumers, promote events, increase wine club membership and of course, increase sales and brand awareness.

Media relations and social media

Media relations is a major component of our jobs.

Securing coverage for clients in the appropriate target media for that brand / product is how PR professionals help build brand awareness.

A measureable result of securing an article could be an increase in sales or an increase in followers on Twitter promoting a positive image of the brand through tweets.

I’m a huge wine enthusiast having worked as a wine consultant for over a year and it’s been fun watching vineyards jump into social media.

From a PR perspective though, who’s been successful?

This isn’t marketing or advertising where you can control the message.

The big risk in social media is the message is even less controlled then when talking to a reporter hoping the outcome is a positive article.

Case studies

There are two wineries I’ve seen that are successful when looking at social media from a public relations stand point.

Rick Bakas, director of social media marketing for St. Supery, has been quoted in wine blogs and numerous articles.

Most recently he was quoted in the New York Times supporting vineyards on getting involved in social media.

St Supery comes to mind every time I see something from Rick.

He is carrying the brand and consumers see it each time he is quoted.

In addition, Rick leads monthly tastings via Twitter focusing on different varietals. The last one in March had over 600 people participating on Twitter discussing different Sauvignon Blancs.

Why is this a good thing?

As a consumer in a wine store, wine labels jump out based on things people recognize.

If someone is shopping and not sure what they want but recognize St. Supery from Twitter, chances are they will buy a wine from that vineyard.

It’s the same thing when customers come in with newspaper articles from the Washington Post or Wall Street Journal asking for wines recommended in that week’s column.

Breaux Vineyards is leading the way in Virginia when it comes to utilizing social media.

Jennifer Breaux Blosser engages and connects with people as much as time allows her and invites those who are local to visit the winery.

Who are some of these people?

Wine bloggers of course and they are known here in Virginia for their knowledge of wine and the local wineries.

Social media, like wine, is a great tool to connect with people.

That includes reporters who have interest outside the beats they cover.

Think about it, you connect with someone who shares a common interest, start talking and boom, you discover they write for Newsweek.

Naturally you start reading what they write.

These bloggers are reaching her core audience; that being the local wine drinker who hasn’t made it to Breaux yet.

Every time these bloggers attend the winery and try a new wine or barrel sample, she gets a post out of it.

The Virginia Wine Examiner wrote an excellent article following the annual vertical Cabernet tasting.

Her followers and people tweeting about going to winery have increased.

When my friends come to visit, Breaux is at the top of mind on places I’ll take them.

An added benefit is it’s pet friendly.

Relationship building

Social media is a powerful tool when it comes to building relationships.

Reporters are using it to gain insight and story ideas and people are using it to reach out and connect.

For public relations professionals, it’s a great way to build relationships with the bloggers, reporters and influencers that serve our clients audience.

Wine is also powerful when it comes to building relationships.

Here are two wineries using SM not only to directly connect with consumers but to establish themselves in the industry and increase awareness through media outlets.

What are wineries in Europe doing when it comes to social media? 

Do they see it as a need or do they feel established enough that they don’t need it?


A big thanks again goes out to Suzie for compiling this really interesting post.

If you’d like to enjoy more of Suzie’s thoughts, visit her blog or follow her on Twitter.

For more on #BeMyGuest Month, visit


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