The Booze Bin

What I Learned at the 2015 Aspen Food & Wine Classic

aspen classic historicTo put it in perspective, when the inaugural F&W Classic in Aspen kicked off (before Food & Wine was even the head sponsor), I was three years old, Ronald Reagan gave his first address to the UN General Assembly and Drew Barrymore was a child star in the newly released “E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial.”

Fast forward 33 years, I finally attended my first Aspen Classic on behalf of several clients, Reagan has been gone for over a decade and the now uber-celebrity Barrymore spread a wave of excitement around the festival making appearances for the launch of her newest venture, Barrymore Pinot Grigio from Monterey, CA.  Spoiler alert, it was pretty tasty and Drew is adorable.

Five days and very little sleep later, I learned a few things. Here are my top three takeaways:

  • Gail Simmons is the nicest food celebrity (and potentially one of the nicest people) on Earth
  • maple mediaLong story short, Gail is awesome. Fun fact, she’s also Canadian and LOVES maple syrup intensely. This greatly benefitted one of my beloved clients, the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers, representing producers…

    Digital Marketing

    Hard Cider in Hudson Valley – An Empire State of Mind

    I don’t know about other New Yorkers City dwellers but I often like to escape this urban jungle. An easy escape is New York’s Hudson Valley, where I was lucky enough to be raised for the better part of my childhood. Fact: Hudson Valley is actually the oldest wine producing region in the United States, and  in addition to all this enticement and charm, it was also devotedly named as the nation’s “apple belt”.

    The Empire State is the second largest producer of apples in the USA, producing nearly 30 million bushels of this pomaceous fruit annually (our predecessor is Washington State). The iconic country apple may make some people conjure up visions of hayrides, pies and picking-outings to the orchards, but for others there are immediate thoughts of cider – the hard stuff. And there’s plenty to go around! In fact, Hudson Valley is predicted to be the “Napa Valley of cider” in the next 20 years.


    Cider Flavor Profiles

    Cider is a carbonated and alcoholic beverage made from the fermented juice of apples. It is sometimes compared to champagne because it’s fizzy and alike in color. It’s…

    The Booze Bin

    What are We Drinking? Peek Into the PadillaCRT Glass







    Most people know me as their “wine friend.” They don’t necessarily know what I do, exactly, but they know I’m really into it and they can ask for wine advice. Even my Dad still calls me a sommelier (I am not) when bragging about me to friends, grocery clerks, or anyone else that stands still for long enough.

    cropped-DameWine4The truth is I only know what I know. I’ve worked around wine for nearly 15 years, and I still prefer the regions I have represented over the years. I get oddly obsessed with each region, and defend them like you’d defend your brother or your kid – I am fiercely loyal.

    These days, I mostly drink and best understand Rioja (Reservas when I can get them) and Rhone (Villages are my jam) for amazing and delicious value reds; Burgundy for occasional splurge reds (Nuit St. Georges is out of this world) or rounder whites (Montrachet…yum!); Alsace for crisp whites; and Provence for roses. I drink a ton of dark spirits (especially bourbon) and am really digging my newest client,


    The Achilles Heel of U.S. Wine Marketing

    I started my career in wine & spirits PR after leaving Europe to chase an American I fell for in my senior year of college. Luckily, both worked out fine – I love my job in the U.S., and I am happily married to the man I left Austria for.

    Maybe it’s because I haven’t been back in three years, but as I am visiting home this week, I can’t help but notice an undeniable advantage that European wines have over wines from the U.S.:  they are made in a cultural context of “easy living” that seeps into every bottle and lies at the core of European wine marketing campaigns worldwide. That’s the Achilles heel of U.S. wines and their respective marketing. The American way of life doesn’t have the same appeal as Europeans’ philosophy of living, and living well.

    Photo credit: Werner Schandor

    Take France, Austria and Spain for example. Each a major wine-producing region, the concept of “easy living” is deeply ingrained in their culture to the point where each language has a special term for it. The French call is “laissez-faire,” which can be translated as “let it be.” In Austria,

    The Booze Bin

    Millennials, Redefining Luxury


    Credit: Forbes

    Hide the Cristal. Millennials are now the target for many brands, but in the luxury space, there’s a striking shift from their predecessors.

    “Gone are aspirations to acquire the must-have brand-name purse and thousand-dollar bespoke suit. They don’t see money as a way to show off. They don’t flaunt it or need to impress others.”*

    Instead they seek out enriching experiences – from trips to the Amazon to the ports of Croatia – to feature on their Instagram feed. It’s more about sharing the opportunity with friends than showing extravagance. Today’s social media gives them the platforms whether it’s Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or the newest platform, Periscope.   Nothing is off limits and their creativity has no bounds. They realize it’s not what’s flashy on the outside, but what’s beneath the surface.

    So what does this mean for marketers, especially those in the alcohol category? You have to be more than a pretty bottle. There needs to be substance and quality to what you’re selling. Here are some brands we think will be in the hands of these “millennial millionaires.”


    The Booze Bin

    Dear Blogger…#ILoveYou

    pay-it-forwardIt was one of those weeks where you wake up staring at strange, fancy furniture and forget what city you’re in. Where you take the elevator downstairs and unconsciously sit at the same corner table each morning for good people watching and some sense of familiarity. One where you sleep just enough to maintain the ability to form full sentences, but not enough to completely shed that bleary, red-eyed look that will be forever captured in recap reports. And stay there for long enough to start calling this odd, yet cushy place “home” when you describe where you are headed in the evening.

    Full disclosure, these weeks are decidedly harder when there are sweet munchkins waiting for you with hugs and cheers at your real home.

    I spent the week with my incredible Wines from Rioja team organizing a series of events that make up Rioja Week in Chicago – from a ~2,000-person wine and tapas festival with endless opportunities to pair tasty wines with cured pork and beyond, to an intimate winemaker luncheon with the sweetest bodegas principals in the world, to endless media interviews in a speed dating…

    The Booze Bin

    The Rescue Guide to Event Planning

    Two weeks ago, a coworker called to ask for my help. A mutual colleague had just put in her two weeks’ notice, less than one month before their wine client’s biggest event of the year.  As she had been the event manager, the team found themselves in a difficult position and now needed someone to pick up team coordination and ensure all deadlines were met.

    If you ever find yourself in a similar situation, tasked with jumping on a moving train to take over as the conductor midway, don’t panic. Here are five tips that helped me stay on track, and get everyone to their destination on time and happy:

    1. Be honest: No shame in admitting that you don’t know something. Just don’t pretend you do! The first thing I did was call all vendors, explain the situation, and thank them in advance for helping me get up to speed.

    2. Play it out: The easiest method to come up with the money questions is to play out the event in your head minute by minute. While you go through the imaginary run-of-show, write down

    The Booze Bin

    Wastewater: The Future of the Beer Industry

    It takes four liters of water to make just one liter of beer. Since water is such a big part of the brewing process (it’s 90 percent of beer) brewers and other environmental services are looking at innovative ways to save water. Why is water so important to the brew process? Simply put, without clean water you can’t make a great-tasting beer.

    On this Earth Day, let’s take a look at a new sustainable effort in the beer industry: Using recycled sewage water. According to the World Water Council, within 30 years recycled sewage will be a source of drinking water in cities around the world.

    What’s your initial thought when you think of recycled sewage water? For most, I’m assuming Jimmy Fallon’s “Ew!” sketch comes to mind.


    Last year, Clean Water Services, a water resources management utility in Oregon, challenged home brewers in the Portland-based Oregon Brew Crew, to a sustainable water brewing competition where brewers made their beer using 30 percent purified wastewater. Apparently the beer tastes just like beer.

    The next step is for the Oregon Brew Crew to make a beer

    The Booze Bin

    My Learnings in Booze PR

    I recently got to thinking about my twelve years in public relations – I came from publishing on the editorial side and, perhaps being the daughter of a journalist, this gave me a different perspective. I am by no means a vet of PR, but I’ve had my share of experiences and witnessed a thing or two. With that said, please bear with me as I rehash what I’ve learned in public relations for wine and spirits in the last decade. Perhaps something might rub off…11949896971812381266light_bulb_karl_bartel_01-svg-hi

    Everyone SHOULD have an “aha” moment. I like to ask people this question to gauge their love of the industry – and I’m always happy to share mine: I was sitting in on a journalist interview with a terroirist, about a year into my career, when I tasted three different wines: one from Sonoma, Tuscany and St. Emilion. The three wines all had the same grapes, but different percentages and different terroirs. It was an eye-opening experience. How could three wines with the same grapes taste so vastly different? I was amazed at the endless tastes and possibilities and thought, “This is awesome!”

    Only you

    The Booze Bin

    Taking Social Engagement to the Next Level

    wine world








    Not known as an industry at the forefront of the digital world, VinTank and its tireless leader Paul Mabray have continuously tried to usher the wine industry into the new world. Well, as of last week, they’re letting us know they are about to push a lot harder, and it should be awesome.

    Already known for their next level social engagement with “the most powerful algorithms to understand what people say about wine and especially your brand,” VinTank announced last week that it was acquired by the W2O Group, an ecosystem of digital communications companies. This is particularly notable news given W2O has not previously been connected to the wine industry.

    “As a result of this purchase, I think we can truly catalyze the industry into meaningful and healthy change in how they understand and relate to their customers,” Mabray told Forbes. He also wrote in the official announcement on the VinTank blog:

           “Not only is our software joining them but we’ll be working closely with their award winning analytics team to bring new and exciting insights to the wine industry. We