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My Wine Predictions for 2010

by Tim Elliott on January 2, 2010

Despite my fairly checkered past in making predictions for the coming year, I am back with another batch. I think 2010 will be a transformative year for the wine business and for wine blogging. The economy will show improvement by the summer which will reverse the “nuclear winter” we have seen for the sales of high-end wines over the past 18 months. But there will also be some surprises in 2010:

The Return of the Luxury Wine Segment – It’s been a tough year for wines above $35 a bottle. In fact, Mike Grgich recently commented he had never seen a more challenging year in his 50 in Napa Valley. But that will change as the economy gains strength and American consumers vote with their wallets. There will continue to be a trend toward value but those $60-80 Cabs will start to sell again.

Wineries Integrate Social Media Marketing – As I mentioned in my review of 2009 yesterday, social media was one of the big trends last year with wineries tweeting and connecting with customers on Facebook. This will be the norm by the end of 2010 with social marketing fully integrated into the go-to-market plans of wineries of all sizes. No longer will it be, “nice to do,” or something to get an edge on competitors. Social marketing will be a requirement for growth by the end of this year.

Wineries Will Go Mobile – This is the next frontier as mobile, local and social all converge on smartphones such as the iPhone. Apple’s forthcoming tablet will also change the way consumers use the web to learn about wine and also buy it. Early adopter wineries are already working on their mobile strategies; by year-end nearly everyone will be playing catch-up as this space heats up.

Wine Bloggers Will Discover Business Models – We have seen the rise of the “professional” wine blogger in the past couple of years and I expect more of us will discover how to turn our hobbies into cash. No, it will not be a full-time living for most, but it will be a significant enough incentive to create content on a regular basis. Some will cry foul as monetization can lead to conflicts of interest but there will be several bloggers who will figure this out.

A Major Wine Print Publications Will Fold – OK, so this is my outrageous prediction for the year. And I don’t think this casualty will be the Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast or newsletters like the Wine Advocate. But the times are changing and I don’t see a great future for print wine magazines particularly after new technologies that fundamentally redefine what a magazine is hit the market early this year (e.g. Apple iSlate or whatever this will be called). I hope to see some true innovation in online wine coverage, too.

So that’s all I’ve got this year. Let me know what you think in the comments. I wish everyone a very happy and prosperous 2010 (and that’s, “twenty-ten”).

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Review: Wine Enthusiast Guide for iPhone

by Tim Elliott on March 2, 2009

Wine SearchBack when the iPhone App Store launched last July I did a search for wine applications. At the time there were just a handful of choices, most of them for taking notes which I wrote up as a first look post. A search today turns up about 30 wine apps with an array of choices for wine loving iPhone and iPod Touch users to take on the road.

One of these is the Wine Enthusiast Guide from Mobile Age who provided the app for me to review. It sells in the iTunes App Store for $4.99, at the high end of the wine apps available there. Like last year, I do not have an iPhone, but since my kids each have an iPod Touch I was able to install and spend about an hour checking out this application. I have some experience using earlier versions of the Wine Enthusiast Guide as developed for Palm OS by LandWare and will do some comparisons between the versions in my review.

Wine Review DetailWhen you first startup the iPhone version you are taken right to the wine guide. The database is licensed from Wine Enthusiast magazine and seems to be fairly up-to-date with over 65,000 total reviews (25,000 of which are less than 5 years old). Users can search on winery name to find producers making this screen handy in a wine store or restaurant. Like the Palm version, I found the “search” function to be the most useful, entering price, rating, style, varietal and appellation to find matching wines from the database. One of the issues with such a large database is that search results often return wines no longer available in the marketplace. So it would be nice to have a date range option here similar to how this problem is dealt with on online wine review databases. Once you have found a wine, you can view the Wine Enthusiast review and add this wine to your personal “wish list” for purchase later.

Other features include a handy wine vintage chart and a reference guide complete with wine terms and a “wine 101″ section. Missing from the iPhone version is the wine notes and cellar management functions that were in the Palm version. This was a feature I used most when I had a Palm Treo and wish was a part of the feature set here. I understand there is only so much screen real estate available on the iPhone but these missing features would be a nod to more advanced wine lovers and would make this a complete package worth the asking price. Perhaps they are working on a follow-up notes and cellar management application.

Overall I found the Wine Enthusiast Guide for iPhone to be a handy tool for mainline wine consumers to use as a reference on the go. I would not recommend this app for more advanced users as they don’t have the tasting notes or cellar management features that would be of interest to this audience. But if you are looking for a mobile wine review tool on your iPhone and don’t subscribe to Wine Advocate or Wine Spectator online editions, the Wine Enthusiast Guide is a solid choice.

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆
Value Rating: ★★★☆☆

Disclosure: Mobile Age provided a review copy for me to try.

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First Look: iPhone Wine Apps

by Tim Elliott on July 11, 2008

Wine LogThe new iPhone 3G rolled out this morning all across the U.S. completing it’s worldwide launch that started yesterday in New Zealand. Much has been written online about the new device but one of the biggest changes since last year’s first edition is the ability for 3rd party applications to run on the phone. And better yet, the millions of iPhones and iPod Touch models sold over the past year can also be upgraded to take advantage of these new appications.

In looking over the iTunes App Store this morning, I noted a few wine related applications in the more than 500 now available. I think this will be a hot area, even in something as niche as wine, based upon the ease of development and the millions of units sold worldwide. I would expect to see some applications targeted at the wine trade (winemaking and vineyard data collection, for example) as well as at consumers. The first couple applications seem targeted at non-wine savvy consumers which is what I expected. I should also note that I have only installed and tried one of the applications below at the time of writing but I think I got a good idea of the functionality from the pictures and descriptions.

The first application I noticed is called Wine Log, not to be confused with the eponymous Wine 2.0 site, which is a simple wine note taker. Although this might be handy for consumers wishing to keep track of wines they taste on the go, there is little here for the more advanced wine lover. But at just $2.99, this app seems to deliver decent value for those with modest needs. I also can see where Wine Snobthis basic layout could be modified to handle other scoring systems and a few more bits of information to make a “pro” version in the future. I’m sure this will evolve along those lines with user feedback.

Wine Snob is an educational reference app that looks similar to others I’ve used on Palm and Windows Mobile platforms. From the screenshots and description, it seems to provide mobile access to wine terms, food pairings and other useful information. Like Wine Log, this app sells for $2.99.

EvernoteIn browsing the rest of the store, I noticed an iPhone version of my favorite note taking application, Evernote. Available as a free download, I installed and connected to my account on my duahgter’s iPod Touch. Like the Windows Mobile version I’m currently using, the feature set is limited to reading existing notes or posting text and photo notes. The iPhone version extends this with the addition of audio notes and direct integration with the onboard camera. This is a good start and might be enough for iPhone users looking to keep some wine notes on the go and syncing them with their desktop.

But I think we will see better wine related apps for the iPhone in coming months as Wine 2.0 players like Snooth and VinCellar look to extend and embed their web applications into the mobile space. As this space gets more interesting I’m sure I’ll be tempted to jump on the iPhone bandwagon even if I can’t type worth a darn on the thing ;-)

To be continued…

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