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January 14, 2011 – Santa Rosa, CA: Sonoma County Vintners (SCV) kicked off the new year by providing its membership with an overview of the organization's 2011 marketing goals and opportunities, and by attempting to address the weighty question "Wine On-Line: Where Do We Go From Here?" through a panel discussion featuring top social media experts from wine and other industries. Over 250 guests filled the event to capacity on January 13th at the Vintners Inn in Santa Rosa.

SCV executive director Honore Comfort focused her presentation on the three key ways that SCV supports the wineries of Sonoma County, which include tackling larger issues and initiatives, making marketing dollars work harder, and creating sales opportunities. She touched on examples of these from 2010, including the successful pursuit of conjunctive labeling for Sonoma County wines and outstanding new attendance benchmarks achieved during Sonoma Wine Country Weekend, SCV's largest consumer event, produced in conjunction with Sonoma Valley Vintners and Growers Alliance.

During the overview of SCV marketing strategies and programming for 2011, Comfort announced several progressive new opportunities for SCV members including a new custom program in partnership with Snooth.com and a new program in partnership with Wine & Spirits magazine focused on SCV's extensive educational programs for the trade.

In the organization's effort to deliver powerful information to their membership and stretch their marketing dollars, SCV convened a panel discussion to address the question that is on the mind of many a winery owner: After Tweeting and building a Facebook Fan Page, where will a winery see results in sales and brand building utilizing social media and how should they position themselves for the future?

Moderated by "Social Media Hour" host and journalist Cathy Brooks, the panel included Philip James, founder of Snooth.Com; Dan Clifford, vice president of marketing for Victoria's Secret; and Ben Parr, co-editor of Mashable.com.

Each panelist shared his or her current strategies in dealing with new and emerging technologies and some lessons learned, both from inside and outside the wine industry. The panelists candidly shared examples of mistakes made along the way and what they had learned from them to illustrate the challenges of navigating what is new territory for everyone. The dialogue was peppered with thoughtful questions from the audience.

All of the panelists were in agreement that the medium is evolving so quickly, that everyone is learning at the same time. They encouraged wineries to do a couple of things well instead of trying to be in every outlet, and to not be afraid to make some mistakes along the way.

When asked where social media will be one year from now, Ben Parr predicted that the mobile channel will be even stronger and desktop will continue to lose ground. Dan Clifford said that no matter what has evolved, the core goal will still be the same: connect with your customers well and stay focused on the basics of relationship building. Philip James took Clifford's thoughts on step further, encouraging the audience to focus on connecting with their best customers.

About Sonoma County Vintners
Sonoma County Vintners is the leading voice of Sonoma County wine, dedicated to increasing awareness and improving the quality image of its wines to consumers, media, and trade locally and globally. With almost 65,000 vineyard acres planted among the county's 13 American Viticultural Areas (AVAs), Sonoma County is considered one of the world's premier winegrowing regions, producing an unparalleled range of varietals and wine styles. SCV has promoted this diversity and quality since 1944, and currently represents more than 165 member wineries and 25 Affiliate Members. For more information on the wines and wineries of Sonoma County, visit www.sonomawine.com.

CONTACT: Sara Cummings
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