TasteCamp North, the third such wine blogger conference and I have been pondering various matters about the event since then. One of the questions that came to mind concerned the overall impact of TasteCamp, and whether the attendees would still be talking about Niagara wines in a year from now. And of course that made me consider whether the attendees of the TasteCamps in Long Island and the Finger Lakes still talked about those wines. What is the long term impact of TasteCamp?
I have attended all three TasteCamps so feel I have a good understanding of them. TasteCamp is a small, intimate wine conference, limited to approximately 30-40 bloggers and their significant others. Lenn, of the New York Cork Report, deserves much of the credit for originating the concept of TasteCamp, though numerous others have contributed to creating and arranging the three TasteCamp events. The main idea is to highlight some lesser known wine regions, areas which don't often garner much attention in wine print media.
Over a three day period, you visit numerous wineries, meet various wine makers, and have the opportunity to taste 200+ wines. It is an intense weekend, dedicated to an educational experience concerning the wine region. Yet there is plenty of fun to be had as well, and overall it is an extremely enjoyable time. There are no seminars or classes on blogging, though some independent discussion inevitably occurs. The weekend is devoted to wine. In those respects, it is a much different experience than the Wine Bloggers Conference.
The attendees pay for much of the trip themselves, such as travel and hotel costs, though some of the meals are partially or totally subsidized. Plus, there is not a cost for the various tastings. The attendees are not obligated to write about TasteCamp, and if they do write something, they have full discretion to write whatever they feel, whether positive or negative. Obviously, it is hoped and encouraged that the bloggers will choose to write about their experiences. And everyone should be able to find at least a few story ideas out of the weekend.
25 blog posts, with more to come. That certainly seems a very promising start, garnering plenty of publicity for the Niagara region. TasteCamp Finger Lakes and TasteCamp Long Island each generated at least 50 posts. How many articles about these regions have appeared in wine print media during the last three years? I bet there have been only a handful of printed articles at best.
Besides the blog posts, TasteCamp also generated hundreds of tweets, before the event, during the event and after the event. Those tweets reach many thousands of wine lovers all across the world, giving lots of exposure to the wine region. Less documentable, TasteCamp also generates plenty of word of mouth recommendations concerning the wine regions. There are also additional benefits, from attendees who purchase wine from these regions, to attendees that might even become wine ambassadors.
I am curious though as to whether the wineries involved in TasteCamp consider all of that sufficient coverage and publicity for participating in TasteCamp. The participating wineries do incur expenses, including time, money and product. Do they feel they obtain a good return on their investment? To me, I think the overall wine region receives plenty of great coverage, more than they might receive from many other events. With the wine print media, some of these wine regions might see only one or two articles in a year. With TasteCamp, a region is likely to garner over 50 articles, many hundreds of tweets, and much more.
Particular wineries from each region may only receive a little, if any, specific coverage. I am sure that may disappoint those wineries, but there are no guarantees of coverage. They may feel their investment was largely wasted. Speaking for myself, some of the participating wineries do not offer wines that excite me, and sometimes the wines are just not very good at all. I prefer to highlight the wines which most impressed me, or the stories which most fascinated me. I have little motivation to write reviews of mediocre or poor wine. Maybe a lack of coverage should be a wake-up call to those wineries to step up their game.
But am I alone? Or do many TasteCamp attendees feel the same way? It is a given that the attendees who live in the respective wine regions will continue to talk and write about those wines. But what about the outsiders, especially when most of the wines from these regions are not available outside of the region? Even though Massachusetts is next to New York, few wines from New York make it to our wine store shelves. So I cannot locally find some of my favorite wines from Long Island and the Finger Lakes.
From some limited discussions with other attendees, it seems that a number of them are like me, and still talk about wines from prior TasteCamps. So at least anecdotally, it appears that TasteCamp can have a lingering effect on attendees. But I would like more evidence to support that theory, and to see what percentage of attendees feel that same way. If it is a significant percentage, then TasteCamp generates more than immediate publicity, but also creates permanent advocates for a region. And that is a valuable thing.
So, if you have attended the prior TasteCamps, please tell me whether you still discuss and/or write about the wines and wineries from those regions. If not, please give an explanation.
Let us answer the question: How memorable is TasteCamp?