Not everbody gets Twitter (or Twotter, as I have heard it referred by some folks who can’t seem to get the name right) and if you aren’t on Twitter, and never plan to be on Twitter, then you can likely stop reading now.
Back in January, Jen Taylor, a wine enthusiast from Calgary was reading through BC Wine Chat transcripts and asked why we didn’t have an Ontario equivalent. I had often wondered the same myself. There’s a great open wine chat on Wednesday nights at 9PM EST (#WineChat) and then the BC Wine Chat starts at 11PM EST (#BCWinChat). I’ve participated in both a little and the conversation and learning is great. So in one of those “I might regret this later…” moves, I decided I would start the Ontario Wine chat myself. I mentioned this on Twitter and Michele Bosc of Chateau Des Charmes said she might be able to help out occasionally. Later, Rick Bates, another huge supporter of the Ontario wine industry, offered to share some hosting duties with me.
First step for me was to contact Sandra Oldfield of Tinhorn Creek. I knew she was the mastermind behind #BCWineChat and I had seen a really cool tool they used for capturing the Twitter feed and I wanted to use it myself. Sandra was more than obliging, and spent the better part of an hour to give me the “ins & outs” of running wine chat discussions. She also told me that this wasn’t the first time she had given advice to someone trying to launch #ONWineChat…I was stunned…there had been an #ONWineChat last year and I had missed it somehow? Turns out another Twitter user, @BeyondtheWineCellar had started the chats last May/June but they had fizzled out for one reason or another. Thanks to Sandra’s fantastic advice, I had pretty much all I needed to get started.
Next was deciding on a time. I needed a time that worked for me personally, but also a time when I knew I could get some key Twitter users who are passionate about Ontario wine. Many of them were occasionally participating in #WineChat, and when I talked to Sandra we saw an opportunity to combine our wine chat discussions for items of common interest if I picked the timeslot between #WineChat and #BCWineChat. Wednesday at 10PM EST was the time!
Last decision was a topic. I wanted to keep it light and get a bunch of folks participating. I was thinking of favourite varietals (and Rick suggested the same). Then I recalled a discussion from our New World Wine course at Algonquin College (part of my sommelier program) where we had discussed the focus of New Zealand on “owning” the Sauvignon Blanc market and how that had come to be (focus by wineries and government agencies). I thought this might be worth discussion…we always hear things like “Ontario should focus on <insert one of Pinot Noir, Riesling, Chardonnay, or Cabernet Franc>”. So that was it – we had the first topic – “Should Ontario have a (or more than one) focus varietal, and if so, what is it (are they)?”.
Wednesday came and it seemed like a few of my Twitter friends were ready to roll, so I knew we would have a few folks discussing the topic at least. I wasn’t prepared for the amount of interest and number of people that participated – somewhere around 30 different participants, many lurkers, and more than 300 tweets on the topic! Between 10 and 11 PM on a Wednesday night, this was enough to make it a trending topic in Twitter for Toronto. But not all the participants came from Toronto or even Ontario – we had folks in BC and Alberta enagaged as well. The conversation was still going strong an hour after I called the end of the chat – not bad for a first night! Michael Godel even covered it in this article the next morning.
What: #ONWineChat on Twitter
When: Wednesday Nights 10-11PM EST
Chats Archived Here: http://uncorkontario.com/ontario-wine-chats/
Topic Ideas?: Send them to shawn(at)uncorkontario.com