Sent to me from Ryan O’Connell …
For immediate release:
Late on the last day of ViniSud 2010, when all the winemakers were aching to leave their stands and the wine buyers and amateurs alike were drowsy with wine tasting at one of France’s largest wine salons, Ryan O’Connell launched his campaign to breathe fresh air into his tired region. Winemakers in the south of France are already infamous for their manifestations, but Ryan is teaching them how to bring those public demonstrations to the Internet where consumers might actually bare witness.
In the South of France stand, the Agora space was set apart for new ideas and innovation. That’s where Ryan, a winemaker in the Languedoc himself, announced that it’s time for his profession to mobilize online. In his presentation, he tried to keep things simple, showing tools that can be used by anybody who knows how to read emails.
Web tools like Google Alert and passive searching allow everybody with an email account to directly engage the people who are already talking about their wines on the Internet. “We can’t try to force winemakers to spend half of their day on sites like Twitter and Facebook,” explains Ryan. “The sites are time consuming for people who don’t already understand them, and it’s hard to quantify whether they’re helping business or not.”
It takes a lot of energy and time to run a successful blog or website. “On the other hand, responding each time an amateur site mentions your vineyard by name or reviews one of your wines can be done in just a few minutes per day. And in a region as big as ours, we could quickly flood the Internet with winemaker feedback.”
“We have an enormous advantage in the Languedoc Roussillon. People already talk about our wines. The first step to putting the Languedoc Roussillon online is to simply respond to the comments that are already being made. We shouldn’t wait for critics or journalists or bloggers to do our jobs for us. It’s our responsibility to get out there and communicate.”
And true to his tech-savvy message, Ryan’s presentation didn’t end at ViniSud. The speech was filmed and put online at love-that-languedoc.com so that, every day, more winemakers can hear his advice. And the video has already reached a far larger audience online than the small physical space at ViniSud could offer.
Winemakers are already starting to sing their praises. “We’re lucky Ryan fell in love with this region,” says Claude Fonquerle from l’Oustal Blanc, one of the Languedoc’s cult wineries. “He’s a winemaker first and a tech guy second. Instead of selling us on complicated websites and online services, he’s genuinely trying to teach us the easiest ways to start using social media online.”
Ryan pressures his neighbors, “Instead of clogging streets with our manifestations, we should be flooding the Internet with our voices. It takes a fraction of the time and cost, and it will be seen by our real clients. The wine consumers.” So don’t be surprised if a winemaker shows up on your friend’s blog. The Languedoc-Roussillon is mobilizing.
Ryan is a dual citizen of the United States and France, but he made the latter his residence in 2005 when his family purchased a vineyard outside of Carcassonne (Domaine O’Vineyards). Only 24 years old, he hopes to bring a different perspective to winemaking and wine marketing. Using his website love-that-languedoc.com as a platform, he wants to “show winemakers that the Internet isn’t this mystical, complicated thing that only their grandchildren can understand.”