With today's widely accessible social media technology it is easy to hold a business meeting online, or manage a tutoring session by webcam. But is it possible to host a wine tasting event over the Internet?
Camron King says yes, and has the hashtag to prove it.
As executive director of the Lodi Winegrape Commission, King and program manager Stuart Spencer planned a live tasting of Lodi wines attended by wine bloggers across the country, called Lodi Live.
The commission sent six bottles of Lodi wines to the homes of 15 bloggers in Ohio, Florida, Tennessee, Iowa, Arizona, Virginia, Colorado, Texas, and several locations within California. The vino arrived with specific instructions not to open the bottles until the set time on Nov. 13.
When bloggers logged on that evening, they were met with Stuart and King in a video streaming live from the commission office in Lodi.
The Lodi team led the bloggers through the history of Lodi winemaking, and walked them through a tasting of one white wine and five reds.
The digital group sipped Kidder Duet 2010 ($24), Uvaggio Vermentino 2011 ($14), D'Art Zinfandel 2010 ($22), Fields Family Zinfandel 2010 ($24), Klinker Brick 2010 Farrah Syrah 2010 ($20), and M2 Tempranillo 2010 ($24).
During the tasting, each blogger followed along on Twitter with their questions and ideas using #lodilive to keep their tweets together.
James Mendelez of San Francisco tweets as JamesTheWineGuy, and posted a constant stream of updates during the event.
"#LodiLive #LodiWine Fields Old Vine Zinfandel '10 — handsome wine! I want this for my Thanksgiving dinner," Mendelez tweeted.
Afterward, they were encouraged to record their experience and thoughts on the wine on their own blogs.
Nancy Brazil of Stockton blogs at www.pullthatcork.com, and tasted wine with the group.
"(King and Stuart) kept up a running commentary about each winery and the appellation the grapes came from. They educated us on the soil types and the influence of the rivers and the history of the region," she wrote in a blog post following the tasting.
Ann Domeck blogs as The Winey Mom in Aurora, Ohio, but didn't receive her wine shipment in time to taste along with the group. She sat and listened in anyway, then applied her knowledge to enjoying the wine when it did show up.
"I really do learn an awful lot from these web-casts. They're like a really, really fun college class where the final requires you to drink wine," she blogged. "And to be honest, it was one of the best tastings I've participated in: Great discussion leaders, great tasters and I assume great wine."
King was pleased with the outcome, and says he is still getting email notices that bloggers are talking about the event.
"It was a really cool opportunity for people to taste new wines and learn about Lodi," said King. "It gave us big dividends."
Contact reporter Sara Jane Pohlman at firstname.lastname@example.org.