#Vinocamp #Lisboa – perfect pairing of wine, social media and the Portuguese good life!

The last weekend of May I was lucky enough to attend Vinocamp Lisbon. Vinocamp is a #barcamp about wine and social media. The concept was thought up and worked out by Gregoire Japiot and Anne Victoire Monrozier (aka Miss Vicky Wine). As in the traditional barcamp style the aim is to share and learn in an open environment, by encouraging discussions and interactions of the participants who are the main actors of the event. This means no organised presentations, instead vinocampers can suggest topics (3 per sessions) and the group breaks up in in smaller groups to explore their chosen aspect of wine and social media. After each session their is a debrief so everybody can learn from every session, even from the ones they did not attend.

The first session I attended was about the concept of live tastings – what works, what doesn’t and how can we build on this concept. We started of with exploring to pro’s and con’s of a live tasting – established that some organisation is needed, ie it’s great if people can taste the same wine, even better if the physical tasting happens in a group, and better still if the different tasting groups have some kind of web cam/large screen connection. This will allow people to enjoy the group tasting they are attending as well as reach out to other participants in different locations without having to be too antisocial – ie send social media messages out all the time rather than enjoy the company you are in… One of the re-occuring questions/remarks was that when one is not attending a tasting, one is not necessarily interested in finding out all about the tasting (as participation is impossible anyway). In order to delve deeper into how we can share in a small way we also explored very simple ways (eg big like buttons) to share the experience in a way that does not isolate you from the tasting. Whilst I feel there is still a lot to be learned and shared about live tastings it was very educational and helpful (at least for me) to have been part of this discussion.

The second session I attended was about why so many people drink bad wine – as you can imagine this session was pretty heated as how does one best define bad wine?? In the end we agreed upon a definition of fairly bland, easy drinking mass produced wine – this wine is not necessarily bad as in off or foul tasting, however it is a wine with no soul and can be best compared with an alcoholic Coca Cola… Having some semi agreement on this definition did not bring us any closer to answering this question, so in the end we decided to explore the path of what we – as people both active in wine and social media – can do to promote unique and small production wines. This is a topic which is quite close to my heart and which I hope we can discuss in future #vinocamp (s)…

The topic of the third and final session I chose to attend was about sex and wine. The session started with us exploring if it is (morally) correct to use sex to sell wine – we all agreed that sex sells, and that linking wine to sex will get you a lot of attention however this attention may not come from the target audience we are looking for. The discussion then moved on to the fact that sex is getting a less and less of a taboo and seems to be all around us these days whilst in France the linking of wine with pleasure is becoming more and more difficult. We looked at some of the lessons that can be learned from the sex industry to make wine once again more accessible (in France). From here we once again talked about the link between wine and pleasure and decided that it is pleasure which links wine and sex, and has done so for a very long time ;-)

As all #vinocamp (s) we ended of the day with a real tasting of about 40 wines – Adegga had provided us with a very useful overview where we could in a very simple (and quick) fashion mark up the wines we really enjoyed :-) BTW Adegga is a social tasting note site with a very active community sharing tasting notes :-)

In my opinion, #vinocamp Lisboa worked really well because 1) the group was not too large, 2 ) we were all on the same wave length which made open discussions and exploring of certain theories/statements a lot simpler. It’s always easier, in my opinion, to totally engage in conversation/discussion when one feels one has something real to offer and feels at ease in the group:-)

Vinocamp Lisbon

Vinocamp Lisbon

Gabriella Opaz from wineconversations.com and a co-organiser of the European Wine Bloggers Conference wrote a very interesting article about her experience at the Lisbon #vinocamp and explored the question of how to effectively engage international participants in tech and wine events. A great article in which she also talks about some of the differences between #vinocamp and #ewbc.
Having participated at both and signed up for the next editions of both I have the following thoughts/feelings about this: #EWBC is a larger event focussed on wine bloggers, whilst #vinocamp is open to anyone wanting to explore the opportunities of wine and social media. The latter event is smaller, as I feel the #barcamp concept works best in smaller groups, and one does not know what one will learn/discuss untill the actual day of the event – the discussions can range from social media geekiness to wine tourism. With #EWBC one has a fair idea in advance – eg I already now now that #EWBC 2011 will focus on the art of story telling, I know we will be guided in a structured way and beacuse we will be following a presentation taking notes will come a lot easier than at Vinocamp. Maybe it is just me, but I do not tend to take notes whilst being actively engaged in a discussion because my mind is too busy focussing on the actual discussion.
I think the short and long of it is that the two events are intrinsically different and each have their own place and value. I feel they complement each other in a fabulous way and am happy to be able to participate to both!

PS The next #vinocamp will be in Bordeaux 8-9 July and I am really looking forward to see old friends and meet new people whilst sharing more thoughts on wine and social media!

About Caroline

Caroline is a certified Sommelier (by the CMS) and WSET diploma student. In order to specialize in the wines of Champagne she moved to the region and currently works as a wine consultant, wine educator and wine writer. She is a member of the Circle of Wine Writers and writes for several international publications including Palate Press, Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Decanter and Vinogusto; further activities include teaching Champagne related courses at Reims Management School and organizing personalized tasting experiences at http://www.tastingswithatwist.wordpress.com as well as being a regular judge at international wine competitions.
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