Cuz Baby Tonight, Seder's Got Us Eating Unleavened Bread

Passover - My favorite Jewish holiday of the calendar year! Mostly for the food, slightly for the chance to see my preschool haggadah brought out from the relics, and partly for the requirement to drink four glasses of wine with our meal. This year, I have something new to leave waiting for Elijah - a tasty cocktail.

I had noticed my friend Kara Newman tweet about The Sipping Seder several weeks ago, but it had skipped my mind at the time. Now that we're in the midst of Seder season, the website is back on my radar and I'm scoping out my strategy of when to make these creative cocktails at home.

Kara has since interviewed the San Francisco-based duo behind The Sipping Seder over at Wine Enthusiast. And, until I have the opportunity to try making these cocktails myself, I will leave you with a rousing video of what Passover is really all about, set to the tune of, who else, but Usher and Ke$ha. Chag Sameach!



US Drinks Conference Debut Partnership with WSWA Wows SRO Crowd

We’re just back from a whirlwind few days at the WSWA in Orlando where we inaugurated the link up of USDC with WSWA. For those of you unfamiliar with it, the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America is the big daddy of wine and spirit trade conventions in the U.S.

After four years of flying solo with the U.S. Drinks Conference, we were thrilled to be asked to provide the educational sessions for this year’s WSWA, with plans to co-locate the two conferences in full next year in Las Vegas.

We weren’t sure what to expect in terms of attendance and were kind of worried since we didn’t have that much advance time to promote it. But we were blown away by the response. The crowd started pouring in for the first session on Social Media, and it became pretty clear pretty quickly we were a bit conservative….Cindy Nachman-Senders and the folks from WSWA did some fancy footwork and found a fast extra 50 seats. We ended up with a standing room only crowd and had to turn people away at the door. The next three sessions were also packed filling up the extra seats.

We led off with a focus on Social Media Marketing with me as moderator and a panel of (in pic l. to r.) Kit Codik of Liquor.com, Vincenza Kelly from the Italian Trade Commission, Alyssa Rapp of Bottlenotes,Steve Raye of Brand Action Team and Camper English of Alcademics. They did a great job of putting into context what this whole SMM beast is all about.

The key takeaway was the importance of engagement, transparency, authenticity and commitment…not just talking the talk, but walking the walk.

Jeff Grindrod moderated the Brand Builders session with Chris Catterton of Bogle Vineyards, Norm Bonchick of Van Gogh Vodka and Dave Stringfellow of Beacon Beverage Imports. The big advice there was for small brands…start small, stay focused and don’t expand too quickly. Distributors have their eyes on what’s going on and they’ll recognize a successful brand. It’ll be much easier to expand when you’ve proved the concept, and then can leverage the middle tier for growth.For larger companies there's no silver bullet. Just as each brand has a unique USP, each has to determine the right strategy whether it be flavor extensions galore, or sticking to a core set of skus.

MHW Ltd. prexy John Beaudette piloted the “Navigating Brand Entry: Understanding the Three-Tier System” session with panelists Bill Earle of NABI, Charlie Merinoff of Charmer Sunbelt Group, Vince O’Brien of Nixon Peabody and Jim Squeo of NABCA. They pointed out the critical need for offshore suppliers to have an experienced pilot to guide them through the apparently Byzantine rules and regulations that comprise the American drinks market.

Mike Ginley of Next Level Marketing played solo cleanup with a deep dive on maximizing the value of a Brand Ambassador team. Brand Ambassadors (aka Market Managers) are a critical component to a new brand launch. They can help prime the pump and supply the account-level time and attention that can results in real brand traction.


Social Media Takes Over At WSWA

Social media has a greater presence at this years upcoming WSWA Convention. Thanks in part to great social networking tools such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and a WSWA blog, it only makes sense that an educational seminar on social media be offered as well!

WSWA attendees, you're in luck! A series of educational seminars presented in partnership between WSWA and the U.S. Drinks Conference will take place on Tuesday, April 12; among the many topics to be covered in the all-day series of seminars is a panel on Social Media Marketing.

Here's a brief rundown on some of the key points you'll come away learning, but I encourage you to read the full description of the seminar offerings here:
  • What does success look like?
  • What are the wrong ways to use Facebook and Twitter?
  • Should your distiller or winemaker be tweeting?
The Social Media Marketing seminar will be moderated by our very own D4TH contributor Steve Raye, along with a great collection of panelists including: Kit Codik, CEO and Co-Founder of Liquor.com; Camper English, Writer/Publish of Alcademics.com; Alyssa Rapp, President of Bottlenotes.com; and Vincenza Kelly, Marketing & Promotions Officer of the Italian Trade Commission.


T-Minus Four Days Until WSWA 2011

WSWA is prepared to kick off its annual exposition and convention for the wholesalers of the beverage alcohol industry this weekend in Orlando, Florida. Are you going to be there?

About a month ago, we informed you of some new educational programming that we are excited to see WSWA feature this year as part of a new collaboration between WSWA and the U.S. Drinks Conference. However, there is a plethora of other amazing content offered up by WSWA including: a wine and spirits tasting competition, opening night reception, exhibition floor featuring new brands, among other products, a mixology competition, keynote speaker presentations and a presentation of the Sidney Frank Award to Bill Samuels, President, Maker’s Mark Distillery. You can click on the images below to be taken to a PDF of the entire WSWA schedule.

Although I personally won't be in attendance at this year's convention, I am sure that I will be following along while online, thanks in part to the tremendous efforts from WSWA to tweet and blog up-to-the-minute coverage throughout the conference. If you will be amidst all the action in Orlando, WSWA is encouraging that you participate virtually as well by tweeting photos and commentary of the conference using the hash tag #WSWAConvention.

As a team, we are anxiously awaiting the start of WSWA and are looking forward to seeing all the familiar - and new! - faces take over the Sunshine State. Stay tuned on Drinks For The House as well for more WSWA action as it unfolds this Saturday.