August 2020 Wine Reviews

What happened to August? 

I did get to half-million views (as noted above) on my YouTube channel and I did write about as the wine category as I have pointed out in the past is the single most difficult and challenging category.

It was a very quick month but a rewarding one.  I have noticed a slow down in virtual tastings and I think it is perhaps due in part to zoomtigue.  For those US States that have SIP it is boundless and as Autumn and Winter approaches tasters will go back to Zoom

I had an opportunity to go back to Napa for wine tastings.  It was my third time out this summer and I am grateful to have been out.  On a plus side was to visit Vista Collina on a Sunday where there is a concert series.  I tasted from several producers: Cornerstone Napa Valley, Anarchist and Gen7.  This experience was the closest thing to normal that I have experienced since February of this year.  I felt good and yes everyone wore masks.  Napa Valley like Sonoma has probably one-half less wine visitors that LY this time.  

San Francisco has seen more than 50% permanent closure of business with a store front.  Between the closure and it feels seemingly permanent that the city will always look like it is in a war–very sobering.   Restaurant closures keep happening and I am sure there is more to come.

On a better front is my tastings for this month and I have listed them below.

Good tastings to you!







Sunny with a Chance of Flowers are three wines where the feature is low calorie and low alcohol.  These are are $16.99 SRP.  The producer takes one portion and that is fermented till dry and via a proprietary technology removes the alcohol and then this is blended with another portion that does have alcohol.  The wines are coming in at 9% ABV and 85 calories per each bottle.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Pinot Noir 2018 – nose of bing cherry, graphite and spices; palate of strawberry, pepper and clove.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Chardonnay 2018 – nose of apple, seashell, and flowers; palate of apple, pear and autumnal spices.

Sunny with a Chance of Flowers Monterey Sauvignon Blanc 2019 – scent of lemon peel, sliced kiwi, white flowers, and palate of green/yellow citrus zest and pulp and minerals from crushed sea shells.  Each wine I give the 89 points.




© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Prosecco, Rosé, Sparkling, Wine Review | Leave a comment

Half a Million Clicks on YouTube: YouTube’s Most Difficult Category

YouTube is brutal for most categories behind gaming, music, popular vloggers, and a few other categories.  The algorithm is agnostic to category and it is not designed for niche categories and only rewards clicks: the more the clicks the better.

YouTube doesn’t appreciate smaller producers, beginning producers and even producers who implement quality to video.  While I am not asking for an individual accolade the algorithm punishes smaller users or users who produce evergreen content. Punishment includes and is not limited to only not showing your videos on search, no monetization possibilities and so fourth.  A niche or smaller category is punished because it is complex.  Wine is the most complex product that is one of the most beloved consumer products.  I won’t belabour why wine is complex as I have written about that quite a bit.

Use “wine” as a keyword and one of the top rankings is UB40’s “Red, Red, Wine” which is key to understanding that YouTube doesn’t understand and could careless about wine and specialized categories.

Nonetheless, just because YouTube is not a friendly environment for producers of wine content doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done and YouTube will never be your friend.  I have always said create a written plan whether you are a wine or video producer – manage your expectation and don’t let YouTube manage your expectation because it will be disappointing.

So one milestone for this summer and two more for this summer/early Fall to go: my 2,000 subscriber and 3,000 video will happen–more predictable for video it is likely for either September or October 2020.

I want to thank the many people who were supportive and I’ll list below (I’ll keep adding to the list) and yes it does take a village to do things!

Thank you for watching and as I always ask please subscribe!






© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Wine and Video, YouTube | 1 Comment

July 2020 Wine Reviews




My viewing “window” at Iron Horse

July was a wonderful wine tasting month. Lots of virtual tastings and I enjoyed the opportunity to taste so much and to connect with so many people on Zoom, Twitter and so fourth.  I am grateful and glad to be have these experiences.

Wine is about the present–it is important for me to enjoy with my dinner each and every day.  While wine is about the present; wine is hope in and for the future.  It is something that is timely and can only be done during the warmer parts of the year–vines if nurtured will provide fruit if properly cared for.  Once vinted and bottle provide us something that we can share in the future–it is a capture of time.  While 2020 is a year of trauma for many it will not be a year people will all look back with warm regard but maybe, just maybe this years harvest will be good.

This month was National Prosecco Day (July 20-26, 2020) I like the idea of a wine focused week versus a region or variety that is only highlighted for one day–how many have I missed of one day events–a good number.

I was able to leave San Francisco thank goodness for an afternoon!! I went to Ironhorse and Pax (felt very nice to be at each winery).  Ironhorse is always outdoor tastings all the time not just now.  Pax in The Barlow was another superb visit–a Gamay, Syrah house for reds and Vermentino, Trousseau Gris and Mission (wow Mission?  Yep Mission wine).  I felt the staff were so welcoming at both places and the attention to safety was paramount.

I appreciate the ability of getting out of San Francisco–I have never been so locked down where I have not been on a jet plane since February.    I pray I can get out of San Francisco for another wine country get away soon!

A nice and diverse set of wines: Pinot Noir from Oregon and Russian River Valley, Prosecco, Lugana, Portugal, Zinfandel, Mendoza, Sonoma, and Napa wines.

Let me know what you tasted this month.  Thank you!

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© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Pinot Noir, Prosecco, Red Blend, Russian River, Sicily/Sicilia, Sonoma County, Tuscany, Zinfandel | Leave a comment

June 2020 Wine Reviews

These are some of the wines I have tasted this month.  I usually have a ton of rosés to review but my tasting table had very few as compared to a year ago this time.  I loved rosé when at least in the US it wasn’t cool to like it.  I would be at media, trade and consumer tastings and each producer would want to pour their rosé and it was one that most people would turn away; not me!

This summer should be one–fingers crossed–of milestones.  I have written about that wine and video is one of if not the toughest category on YouTube.  I will reach one half million clicks for my videos–all without the help of a puppy or kitten (puppies and kittens are very popular on YouTube).  And if current trends continue, I should reach my 2,000th subscriber this summer–could be July or August.  I will also reach my 3,000th published video on my wine YouTube channel this summer.

I have attended a lot of virtual tastings–it is more than I can count–which is not a bad thing!  I am glad that there are many especially in these difficult times.  A year ago today, I was reminiscing virtual tasting as they were precipitously dropping–I thought 2019 was the last year…. my how things have changed!

Jancis Robinson is not a fan of wine and video–here is what she said in a video:

“I don’t think wine tasting is a spectator sport” 

Voila today it is not about wine being a spectator sport is a connection that everyone is making on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Zoom, etc. for happy hours, family get togethers, making recipes, working, etc.  We do not know how long it will be before we have a vaccine for Coronavirus–and also there is no certainty that there will be one.  For some viewers, it is a time to learn, connecting with their favourite winery they cannot physically visit.  Video is a way to not take away from the in person experience but can bridge a gap and potentially connecting to more often.

I don’t agree with Jancis Robinson on wine and video–perhaps it is a generational thing.  Wine and video offers a connecting point that is powerful just as it does for other video categories.  I do think it is the most difficult category and one with one of the highest potentials for being evergreen–few categories can have evergreen content.  Wine content is relevant and needed and it is a big category where I would be surprised if 1-2% of all wines produced per year get any video coverage.

I have been fortunate time wise to have completed a video review of each wine in the list below for tasting this month of June 2020:


















© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Wine Review, Winery Rating | Leave a comment

Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video & Bringing Your Video Program Together – Four of 4 Part Series

This series on video can be for all businesses and individuals and it applies to wine AND to all categories.

Many people who are responsible for managing and uploading video content have a “Can’t wait to get this out of my hair” mindset.  And getting something done according to a check list is different from a quality mindset of completing one’s work.  When a person is in a hurry or simply doesn’t care how the video resource is treated as if it were not important:  the legacy of that video is established accordingly.

Topically, this week it is about minimum requirements for the entire upload process – I’ll call this Video Upload Management.

  • Title – relevant and accurateno click baiting titles ever– no better way to tire your audience and discouraging them to click on your videos again
    • Make sure it is the title and not media type – I have seen videos like “Restaurant.MP4″ “Wine.MP4” – YouTube should just not allow for this — a guaranteed way for someone to not click to view the video (no one cares about the file format…); it is off putting, sloppy and it tells the audience you don’t care enough to title your content accurately.  And it might look like your video is in a ‘draft’ mode
  • Description Field – viewers will look to see what information might be there.  Viewers can be disappointed when they don’t see another opportunity to learn more about the subject or video creator or sending them to a site filled with things that would be interested to view
    • Add your website
    • Copyright
    • Ask for what you want: “buy product or service”, “use coupon code,” notify viewer of events, offers, and ongoing opportunities
    • Use the this field to it’s fullest – it is one more opportunity to engage post video viewing.  Person uploading may not be the person who created the video–if you are the uploader (and not creator) did you view video in it’s entirety?  Did you add anything the video might be promising–another video–a website link, etc.
  • Add video to accurate and relevant playlist in upload mode in YouTube – add to one or two playlist – never leave this empty as you can promote your playlist on social media; always give as much viewing opportunity to a potential viewer
  • View video one more time for quality and accuracy once it is published
  • ALWAYS be the first to comment on your video – as an example I’ll let my viewer know about a social media handle or a reminder (“don’t forget to subscribe” “You can also find me on Instagram….”) – your comment will rank number one and will always have a top viewing position for that comment.  A great way to get your viewer to do something even if they don’t look at the description field
  • Like your video!  Yes, you are allowed to do that!  Make each and every video look and feel that it is not just another upload but a video that has been tended to.  If it feels and looks alive a potential viewer will feel more comfortable in viewing video–if you don’t care why should your viewer and potential subscriber care?  I do look for signs of life for specific videos especially those on knowledge (‘how to’s’ ‘reviews’) –does it seem relevant?  Are the comments mainly positive? -Are there more likes than dislikes?
  • Use YouTube cards (as shown below) to show your video related videos or videos that might be interest – You can even add a playlist–have at least one card highlighting your content

The image below shows a series of four of my latest videos and you can see a thumbnail for each video.  For me it is simple to create and I believe it does help my viewer to make a decision to view my video.  Before thumbnails, and if people are searching all of your videos–they tended to all look the same and there was no way to differentiate them: thumbnails help to differentiate your videos from your other videos and other producers videos.  More people are visual clickers i.e. depending on thumbnail versus actual title (and yes titles are, of course, very important)–viewers do take action on thumbnails.

Create a compelling or at very minimum an informative thumbnail to visualize your videos content.  Yes, viewers can certainly select by title or search but maybe your video appears next many other videos and what can distinguish your video is a thumbnail.  At video conferences I have attended it is seen by video producers as a necessary thing to do;  I am not sure if it is true but for a time the YouTube algorithm would give “extra points” if there was a thumbnail.  While it may or may not be aiding in the search function to find your video it will at minimum tell your viewer you are committed to your video and that they should take a look.  And it is another indication that your brand is alive.  Use Canva as shown below for professional looking thumbnails; it can help you with creating other graphics needs as well.  I highly recommend Canva and there is a free option and, of course, there is a paid version as well.  I have found I have gotten everything I need form the free version.

Bringing It All Together

Many, not all videos, have evergreen potential (they have a long shelf life) and it is not just a one time event post uploading; there are plenty of opportunities for promoting your video many times.

And, in my series of articles, I think the key takeaway is that you have to make a plan if not several plans–yes written ones.  Even if you are a small business, a brand of one person, or part of a larger company.  By creating written plans it can help guide you on where you need to be.  If you have stakeholders: their participation and transparency of plans can make for the best business function possible, cohesiveness, engagement in support of video production.   Most companies let their video programs live on via personality – i.e. “John does that work…” and all those details are not transparent.  The keys of that kingdom are not only known by one person and it is an open and transparent way of being–it is how all business functions and how the video program is conducted.  I have mentioned several plans in this series:

Video & Promotion Plan – A general plan on your video program, purpose and intention (the why), when, how and where to promote your video.  You can talk about video format, structure and elements.

The Annual Video Plan what you do on an annual basis.  And it can include a calendar of video activity–shooting, publishing, promotion, etc..  This is helpful in a larger company so team and stakeholders know what the video production plan looks like for that year.  You can also list incremental improvement plans for video production in that given year.  This can help your stakeholders with information to many questions they might ask you constantly throughout the year; they will still have question but this is a great way to give them baseline information.

Video Charter Charters are not just a “best practice” but in my opinion in all larger organization producing video need to have them.  Most would say they don’t need it but I have never been part of an organization where there roles & responsibilities or other essential requirements are not murky and undefined.  A video charter like a program or project charter gives much more clarity for the who, what, why, where and when.  It is also defining deliverables, how work will be done, change management, and other pertinent details to make for a smoother operation.  All people involved with video need to be in this charter.  I always have team member review and read this document.  This can also clarify what a manager or sponsor needs to do to direct the program and team members are aware of what they need to deliver.  It doesn’t answer every question but many of them.  No organization start up or established one should operate without charters–that being said a sole proprietor doesn’t need a charter but still needs a video and promotion plan and an annual video plan.

The above documents don’t need to be large.  Build in Goals and Performance metrics in all of your plans so you know what targets you want to reach (works better than having a hunch).  Keep all documents in a central online or shared file location for stakeholders to view at any time especially if you are in a larger organization.  Your plans should feed into your marketing and strategic plans seamlessly.

Start writing down what is important to you, look at your performance and make adjustments, be prepared to promote videos many times.  Track what you are doing and also make sure you are viewing your YouTube analytics regularly.

Know that your evergreen content is an asset: use it as such and deploy and promote again and again–not everyone that needs to see your video has seen it.  When you are managing your brands videos needs you are also managing your expectation as well as for stakeholders.  So many people start video and stop abruptly and they never take on incremental improvement or even simply write down performance goals.   Be prepared to measure a specific campaigns and let the analytics inform to develop the smartest and most relevant content that you can create.  Your ‘Lessons Learned’ are not essential to be intellectualized but to inform on what you need to do next.  Write down your ‘Lessons Learned’ as I find when I write things down I can reference back to it later and it is cathartic to imprint what I have learned but also how to make a concrete change – by writing things down it becomes more concrete and real and not just a notion.

We have so many more tools than we have ever had before–starting off earlier in video production on YouTube for 11 years has taught me a lot and I wouldn’t go back to poorly designed tools, tools that were hard to use, equipment that was slow or cameras not giving crisp images.  Video creation and production is light years away from when I started over a decade ago.  Video will impart a message to your viewer that the written word can only approximate and never quite compete with.  I encourage you to think about video needs for your brand and to plan your organization for video creation or to revitalize where you are today with your video program.

Please let me know if you have questions

Also, please reach out to me for a business/brand consultation –

First ArticleManage Your Video Content Actively – Plan & Promote – One of 4 Part Series

Second ArticleEssential Elements in Each Video – Two of 4 Part Series

Third Article: Ecology & Cultivation of Your Online Video Collection & Proaction of Your Video Program & Plan – Three of 4 Part Series



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:


Posted in Wine and Video | 3 Comments

Ecology & Cultivation of Your Online Video Collection & Proaction of Your Video Program & Plan – Three of 4 Part Series

This series on video can be for all businesses and individuals and it applies to wine AND to all categories.

Ecology and cultivation are great biological terms to think about how a video collection should be viewed.  Most, and just a guess, 90% of video producers upload and share their video content once and they are done–never to revisit or highlight again on any social media!  Ten percent will take the time to cultivate–tend to the videos as a precious asset and optimize the performance of their video.

I have worked and consulted at many companies where “video” is a magic word and it opens up the kingdom of viewers (or it appears to do so).   It is the built-it-and-they-will-come mindset.  And real or virtual properties rarely do people flock to a video or site or in-person business just because it was built.  I have never seen one company not only not leverage their video content but spend copious amounts of money and they are often perplexed on poor performance of their videos.

One consultancy I had, the firm was spending several hundred thousand dollars per year on video production.  The click rate was minuscule and I compare to my YouTube channel I have several hundred percent more clicks and the same several hundred percentage of subscribers.   I wanted to understand what this organization was doing and not doing to help them improve their performance.  There was an overall disappointment by the people in the organization “staring” in that company’s videos with such a low performance rates; it became a “why should I be in another video and why should I waste my time doing this?”   This particular marketing team, in general, was disappointed in their videos as they had felt they put a lot of time into video production and promotion.

I asked why there were no republishing of videos on social media; the culture there didn’t care to RT (retweet) even if there was something highly related or relevant in the daily news or even to a particular Twitter question.   This particular team was fearful about getting compliance to sign off which was required; there was no desire to even attempt to advocate for more RTs and the business reasons to do so.  More than angst there was an ambivalence.  This team even thought they put “a lot of time” into video content creation  and promotion they spent the same amount talking about sports and non-business at least a quarter a day.   Amazing to see how their senior leadership team was incapable of dealing with their marketing team and even their internal stakeholders.  It is ‘we are too busy to address anything right now’ mindset for that company.  Change can only happen if the organization is demanding it and the function is open to do what it takes to make positive change.

And asked about their viewer characteristics via YouTube analytics; no one bothered to look at this not just quarterly not annually…. never!  Analytics are much needed to validate assumptions and to ultimately understand your audience and to hone in on what your audience wants/needs.

At another consultancy, the problem was a similar problem to the above and creating too much video content, and the usual story of not cultivating it for continued growth.  Everyone at this enterprise thought they were the star so over time what ended up happening is that many people at the organization started creating content.  The content became muddled in appealing to the internal stakeholders and not to the much more important external larger audience.  Coherency and relevancy was lost and it became solely about personality without the larger look at why they were doing video and how this added to the bottom line of impressions and engagement.

The problem are many fold–resources allocated to video come at the expensive of another marketing/social media and the poor audience engagement and retention.  Content became so volumnious and indistinct!

People at a company can be the ‘Narcissus falling in love with their own image‘ at the expense of well crafted, thoughtful and relevant content that is not based solely on a personality but should be focused on the brand mission and vision.  The company had diminishing returns insofar as the more video they produced it didn’t yield higher click rates or a growth in the channel in terms of subscribers.  This company too did not RT any video once published.  While a lot of it is evergreen… no company is too large that EVERYONE has seen that video.  This firm too had a curious case of not peeking behind the proverbial curtain to see the rich aspects that YouTube analytics can provide.  This is a theme where most companies might say they “look” at their analytics dashboard but asking key questions I find that not to be the case.  Why would any enterprise be spending copious resource and do little to see what is working and what is not working?  It happens not occasionally but often.

Cultivate also means communicating timely with questions in social media that are not just comments but relevant questions.  Most enterprises do these two things that they should not be doing:

1) Don’t respond to a question

2) Have a long drawn out process on how to answer (days, weeks and in some cases if ever)

So most enterprises are not truly running a vlog–which as vlogs go don’t have a long shelf life and are rarely evergreen content.  In the cultivation process, a lot of content created is evergreen–some content does have a shelf life but for many videos they are often evergreen.  Cultivation is like trimming leaves on a shrub and this analogy is to see how a video can continue to grow through cultivating and caring for your content.  Growth cannot happen unless there is a mindset change on why the enterprise is doing video and to support the business.  And lastly taking an active management of video content to support the enterprises’ brand, expand customer base and instill the DNA of the company to customers, potential customers and stakeholders.

Where to start: The Video Marketing Charter and Annual Video Plan

The more complex the organization there may be a culture of writing charters–often but not always they centre around project or program management.  A video marketing charter or simply a video charter is good for even smaller organizations.  A charter is to describe and create a platform of transparency and noting roles and responsibilities, actions and so much more to make this endeavor a more efficient and capable function.

The charter with the sponsoring executive and team involved in video production and promotion are aware of the terms, requirements and roles and responsibilities so that everyone can work efficiency and effectively.  This focus can help to dispel many uncertainties and questions if there was not a charter  Charter development is a shared activity that does yield benefit for solving problems that always arise in teams.

Charter development creation should not be a a science project and should be written in simplest form possible with enough information for team to execute this function with greater ease.

Charter Elements – (add or reduce elements for the most robust and optimized charter for your team.  Design the charter so that it is used and it is a road map and a reference guide for you and your team):

  • Purpose
  • Scope of Work
  • Team Members
  • Roles & Responsibility
  • Desired Outcomes/Objectives
  • Meeting Formats
  • Sponsor and Leads
  • Communication to Stakeholders
  • Reporting
  • Scope Commitment/Quality of Work
  • Change requests
  • Audit

Charters should be periodically updated as team member enter or exit the organization.  Also a charter walk through to all new stakeholders/team member as they board the organization.

Annual Video Plan

Every organization should have an annual video plan so that you have your guide on what you will be producing – number of videos, video types/categories, update to background music, graphics, intro and outro and specific goals.  This is where you want to build in specific analytics/metrics to accomplish and specifically how you will do that.

Annual Video Plan Elements

  • What videos will you produce?
  • How many will you produce?
  • What is your publication frequency?
  • What are you goals for click rate, engagement and subscriber base? (Be specific)
  • What are incremental improvements:
    • New intro and/or outro
    • Updated graphics
    • New background music
    • Sharper editing
    • Matching analytics to video run time – what is your average view rate and how might you adjust video length
    • Location
    • Equipment: camera, microphone, lighting
  • How will you monitor and how you will make any course corrections?

This plan should be created each previous year in concert with stakeholder and also you should review and update throughout the year and also to track your performance and that it is transparent and available to your stakeholders.  The plan should also be integrated with the yearly marketing plan.  These documents are to stand up the function and are created, developed and read and understood with all team members to execute with the least amount of confusion and uncertainty.  This is an important annual document to create with stakeholders and to not just manage expectation but to also keeping a careful and transparent eye on marketing resources and allocation of those resources.

Cultivating your Video Assets: Be an Active Manager of Your Community and Promoter of your Content

  • Don’t just hit upload and publish and promote once.  Don’t have the mindset – ‘build it and they will come’ is not a successful posture.  People don’t just “discover it” they need to sometimes be reminded of video content
  • Examine analytics of your entire channel and also give closer inspect especially on videos that do not perform to plan
  • Find opportunities to retweet (RT) or publish your content on your social medias more than once.
  • If there are organizational barriers–some organizations have rules against RT – believe it or not?  Remove barriers, educate stakeholders and your compliance team to be a partner.  If you organization is limiting promotion of video I would question why even have a video program?
  • Speak to your audience in future videos “I hear you are seeking this…” “Many of you have asked that.”  It is a great way to give a response and that you take their ideas, suggestions, comments seriously
  • Look at past videos for any incremental improvements:
    • Hashtags for easier searchability
    • Make sure each video has information in description field
  • Use your content as a conversation starter on social media
  • Make sure you like your past videos–YouTube allows for you to like your own video–people look for signs of life–clicks, likes, comments
  • Bring up your videos in your team meeting–and ask for team to view it-they probably already do and ask them for a like if they feel compelled to do so – you’d be surprised how few team members ‘like’ a video they just produced.  If you don’t like it why should anyone else?
  • Be sure to respond to questions and comments that need an answering–give a ‘like’ to the question or comment being asked–there is some hope for an answer on a channel–rarely do they get answered–imagine your audience getting a response can certainly lead to ongoing engagement and even having this audience member being a net promoter of your work
  • Make your evergreen content evergreen by using it!

Much Ado About Something

Many organizations that have a video program are unsuccessful in many ways–spending hundreds of thousand of dollars if not millions in uninteresting video content or video content that makes the internal audience happy but does nothing for the much larger external audience.

I have seen organizations in chaos in every aspect of their marketing focus and execution and video is no exception.  Pairing down difficult processes, reducing chaos and focusing on not good but great content can build your audience organically and make your video team more satisfied in this focus area.  Success is never by accident but by planning and intention in development and execution is essential.  If you do not think methodically about what you are doing in the video function you could be missing out on opportunities and incurring pain along the way.  Also many organizations are in a paralysis of decision making–and I see organizations not making a decision which is a decision itself!  Look for pathways of improvement and EVERY organization can and should be focused in on continuous improvement.  If you don’t your competition will overtake any share of market you might have.

First articleManage Your Video Content Actively – Plan & Promote – One of 4 Part Series

Second article: Essential Elements in Each Video – Two of 4 Part Series

Fourth Article:  Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video & Bringing Your Video Program Together – Four of 4 Part Series



© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:

Posted in Wine and Video, YouTube | 3 Comments

Essential Elements in Each Video – Two of 4 Part Series

This series on video can be for all businesses and individuals and it applies to wine AND to all categories.

I have seen so many videos where there was no planning, editing and and an overall lack of thought on a video’s purpose: it was an exercise of quick ‘let’s get this done’ to check the box and move on with the next priority.

Looking prepared in your video and having all elements in a video need to be included is a foundation for successfully videos.  Video viewers have limited time and many video options and their attention is very limited.  The call is to have your video editing and have elements that are as polished as possible.

Editing is one where not enough is done even today in our post-perfect world.  Some people are either not honed in on good video production practices or excuse bad video moments as okay.  I have been told I edit too much in a few of my videos–I could have edited less and I am sure that would not have been acceptable.  So yes there is a balance of too much or too little video editing.   And who hasn’t seen a video where no editing was done – yes, exactly… it is painful to watch.

Video does cost time–I have spent 5-6x more time that the actual video – preplanning, writing, rehearsing, shooting, editing, uploading and file content management is time consuming.  While video editing software has gotten better and easier to use–it has improved greatly things like rendering but at the cost of space.   Your computer environment does require file hygiene maintenance – removing and filing away often large files in a separate drive from your computer is something that is requisite.

Here are minimal standards for your video.

  1. Intro – professionally completed and animated
  2. Outro – professionally completed and animated
  3. Music – make sure you have or you have full right to use music (intro, outro and underlying music where appropriate) – I have chosen to use background music in many if not most of my videos.
  4. Lighting – three point lighting – back, key and fill lighting is important (at minimum key lighting is essential – light shining on you and anyone else in your video)
  5. Microphone – even if you think you have a loud voice it doesn’t translate as cleanly as you might expect–someone might have to turn on their speaker and even at that they may miss a few words.  A microphone can do wonders
  6. An outline to glance out which you can display on a teleprompter or even a Word or PowerPoint document–don’t use teleprompter to read word-for-word.  You want a natural sounding delivery and an outline can make sure you hit all the points you want to make
  7. Rehearse your outline and don’t worry you will never get to perfect and doing this often (rehearsing) enough it will be more comfortable while taping
  8. Don’t worry recording “perfect” video–have several takes so you can have selections that are usable
  9. Before you record–breath and relax as much as possible
  10. Don’t wear intricate patterns as it may be distracting to viewer
  11. In your video use pictures and graphics (PNG, JPG) to tell your story: it can help explain a complex aspect or give a fuller picture of your story
  12. Have props especially if you want to highlight a product
  13. When you start out don’t worry about have complex filming techniques–i.e. multiple cameras, slo or sped up motion.  Stick with a continuous frame rate – as you become more confident in your editing capability you can layer on more features.  So start simply and add continuous improvement over time

If you want your videos to be the best possible look at video producers on YouTube to get ideas and see what works for them or not. When you see someone’s production it can help you to hone in on or stay away from a technique to developing your video style.

Some minimum suggestions in your video:

    • Be friendly and engaging
    • Ask viewer to give a like to your video
    • Ask viewer to subscribe to your channel
    • Let viewer know about your social media presence “I’m on Instagram…”
    • Thank your viewers for watching
    • Let viewers know where your product can be purchased
    • Be sure to either talk about any disclaimers that may be important to your viewers “only available in California” “Price may vary regionally”
    • Use the YouTube description field to give as much information to your viewer – I would also add copyright date and any other relevant and important information
    • Encourage your audience to share your video

The more prepared your video content is the more likely it will meet with viewer engagement – liking, sharing, subscribing and so fourth.  The less prepared your content is the less likely you will have a following and have earned a one-time visit versus content that is sought after and seen many times by many users.  Building your video story is more than just showing a singular shot of a ‘sorting table’ or ‘grapes growing on the vine’ and nothing else; a story with depth is what current viewers are craving and will engage.

Wishing you good videoing!



First ArticleManage Your Video Content Actively – Plan & Promote – One of 4 Part Series

Third Article: Ecology & Cultivation of Your Online Video Collection & Proaction of Your Video Program & Plan – Three of 4 Part Series

Fourth Article:  Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video & Bringing Your Video Program Together – Four of 4 Part Series

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Video, YouTube | 3 Comments

Manage Your Video Content Actively – Plan & Promote – One of 4 Part Series

This series on video can be for all businesses and individuals and it applies to wine AND to all categories.

This article is specifically for those people who create video–maybe you own a winery, a coffee roaster, a technology business, a small or even larger business

If you think all you need to do only the following two things:

A) Create a video

B) Publish

And your job is done—please continue reading, please…

I have seen many video producers give up on their craft early on.  I have also heard from many small businesses even large businesses who feel compelled to have video content either from customers or business partners and a sense of frustration of ‘having’ to do so.   The frustration are many–it is difficult for some to complete video content and the other part is with video performance.  First, today’s viewers are not expecting perfection…well maybe some… but most are expecting compelling content.  There is a lot of video content out there and YouTube is happy to help viewers click continuously even if that means “Xing” out of your video.  This reality has been around a long time and no matter what you do–most viewers self “X” out of videos for two primary reasons: Time and Message Received.  And that is okay–I know it is not realistic and it is part of any viewing environment and if my viewer gets to the point of message I am totally okay with that.

When you click “Publish” in YouTube your job has just begun.  I think first and foremost is to write out a general video and promotion plan on why you are doing what you are doing.  Doing a video plan is to create a general road map and how to hone in on what is working well and what needs more attention.

Video & Promotion Plan

When I mention the word plan I can hear people I suggest this to sound a bit frustrated.  I assure them quickly it is a short document and it can be 2-3 pages (however many pages you and your team might need) and doesn’t need to be 50 pages.  The reason to create a plan is to manage your expectation as well as your stakeholders.  And it is a good document to remind your stakeholders on the contents of the plan.  Everyone needs a reminder or a refresh but managing expectations is key.  Managing expectations can be your cornerstone and a way to think consistently about your video content and stop feeling your video content is summarily not working.

I have advised a larger company with their video strategy but I couldn’t ween them off of not being afraid of thinking of their content as non-evergreen and to promote it over time; but they were thinking in terms of “build it and they will come.”  They used an outside producer and each video was superbly expensive to produce and the video clicks were rare.  As I suggested a Video & Promotion Plan and there was pushback: “we’re too busy” “we have too much to do” “when we are successful we’ll know it” the last quote is what I call “success-by-hunch” which never works for a larger organization–everyone has their own idea of success and so many other things.

This continuous non-planning kept them in a chaos of video production without looking at analytics to hone in on more satisfying results also wasting opportunities on their evergreen content in their published online library.  Also, there was publish once and ‘do nothing else’ is ‘marketing by wishfulness.’  Wishing and making your content a success is done the old fashion way by a constant touch with your content and not letting YouTube just be a warehouse for your video content but making more engagements with your content.

One time upload and non-management is neglect of this valuable message and asset and overall resources.  Not all videos will perform the way you want them to perform–I have heard this by people at Vidcon who are still surprised why some videos are a hit and others are not.  And these video producers I heard at Vidcon are in the 500k click rate and above per video.   I think active management and backing each video produce according to your plan will insure you are doing all that you can do and higher sense of satisfaction.

Elements of a video & promotion plan are:

  • Who is your audience?  Who would you like to acquire to be in your audience?
  • What should your per video click rate be? On a yearly basis include in your plan video performance like clicks, also include your subscriber numbers, likes, comments and overall channel performance in your plan (be realistic but optimistic as well) – when you have specific goals for performance and you are lagging you can work to promote the lower performing videos as well
  • When will you promote video?
  • Where will you promote your video?  (social, newsletters, email, paid?)
  • Constant look out to not just promote once but several if not many times (just because your published once doesn’t mean that is all the eyes that ever wanted to see your video has seen it).  For a larger organization look for multiple opportunities to promote your video.  As an example: for a wine producer there is a wine variety day for many major varieties – a good way to remind a larger audience you have a Merlot too or other variety
  • Have a marketing calendar with planned events, dates, campaigns, holiday and specific dates for publishing your marketing piece and this can be a guide for opportunities to publish and promote
  • Once you publish your videos look at YouTube analytics– it is helpful at telling you more about your audience, age range, geography, time of day watched, sources of how people found your video and so fourth

My plan for me, at least, is very helpful to keep me focused–I know exactly what I need or should be doing–there is no guess work.   I have over 3,000 videos on all my YouTube channels and I don’t feel overwhelmed–my plan keeps me organized and I know what I should be doing next to meet my objectives.  I feel organized and focused and I owe it to the plan I created.  I am more focused at making my videos more successful and I firmly do not subscribe to the belief that once a video is published my job is done.  I don’t want to squander any opportunities nor should you.

For a larger team (more than one) keep this plan in a collaborative space like Google Docs and make sure each team member has access.  Update the Video & Promotion Plan  once a year collaboratively and look at ‘lessons learned’ to make incremental improvements in your plan–adjust, add, delete those things that work or don’t work.  Keeping a document even if people don’t look at it frequently are a great way to let people know that it exists and what is in the document.  You can use phrases like “our plan was to reach 5,000 clicks per video” “X number of hours have been viewed in the past, month, quarter etc.” as a reference back to your written plan.  The plan is an agreement and can help guide conversations in an organization on plans that might be too aggressive or not aggressive enough.

In the next few weeks I’ll talk about three items (once per week):

  • Essential Elements in Each Video
  • Ecology of a Video Collection
  • Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video

This can be applied not to just wine business but any business that creates videos.

I look forward to talking about each new subject and also if you have comments you can leave them below or via email:

I’ll see you next week!



Second ArticleEssential Elements in Each Video – Two of 4 Part Series

Third Article: Ecology & Cultivation of Your Online Video Collection & Proaction of Your Video Program & Plan – Three of 4 Part Series

Fourth Article:  Minimum Requirements of Uploading a Video & Bringing Your Video Program Together – Four of 4 Part Series

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

Follow, subscribe, like, browse:


Posted in Marketing, Social Media, Video, YouTube | 3 Comments

US Wine, Beer & Spirits Market & Communitization

On my third podcast, Snapshot of the Wine, Beer, & Spirits Marketplace in the United States  my focus was, at first, to make sense of what is happening in this Coronavirus crisis in the wine, beer and spirits markets.  This, however, became clear is that there are some initial points that have been published of record sales in March but the total picture of what is really happening is far from clear even now in May.

What has happened thus far is that producers have been executing virtual wine, beer and spirits tastings and seminars.  And many DTC (Direct-to-Consumer) operations have been offering low cost shipping to their customers and some producers seeing a lift in sales from DTC.

But surprisingly there are some wine producer regions not offering low cost shipping.  And prices at wine retailers that are open and grocery stores wine prices are pre-Coronavirus pricing.  I don’t have April total numbers to see what the WBS (wine, beer, and spirits) market looks like in the US yet.

March is when most of the US was under Shelter-In-Place (SIP) and think of the driver of consumers–food, toilet paper, and wine, beer and spirits–for many consumers it was key to get everything that you could–it was almost a panic state.

But the story continues and with high unemployment it is easily questionable that the aggregate market for wine, beer and spirits cannot and will not remain to last years numbers and a decline can only be expected.  The aggregate wine, beer and spirits market which is large and is valued at a total of $250.8 Billion.*  I am doubtful that last years numbers will be retained–perhaps and maybe at a most conservative number decline by 10% or more –and this is just a guess–no one knows for certain.

The potential decline is only one concern amongst many.

Concern 1

Some wine businesses had a higher exposure to on-premise accounts–some wine businesses had a majority of their sales devoted to on-premise at a high percentage rate if not majority percentage of total sales.  Nielsen reported that in 2018 77 million cases was consumed by the on-premise channel–while this is not the same as the off-premise number of 325 million cases it is still a large number.  Any enterprise cannot turn on a dime and suddenly shift even 50% to DTC or off-premise.  There is an inevitable loss in a yearly sales plan.  It is not a question of only recovery but survival.  Will the total market sell 408 million cases this year?  Even with decreasing prices and consumers buying more bottles I do not think we will reach the 408 million number.


Many restaurants in the US and around the world sold prized wine collection to stay afloat.  This is very sad as the prized wines cannot be replaced when this crisis is over. For a fine restaurant there was an equal pride in executing excellence in food as in their wine offering.  When restaurants re-open with limited capacity; their wine receipts will be limited as well.

Concern 2

DTC is a very small channel; in 2018 (Nielsen) 6 million cases in this channel as compared with on-premise and off-premise channels.

Chipping away at the 77 million case on-premise number will be very difficult and some of this has already been consumed in two months (thought the slowest of the year – January and February).  I do not think either DTC or off-premise will make up for this loss. And again restaurant wine receipts will be limited based on re-opening capacity restrictions.

The problem has been and still is the vast collection of ABC laws.  It is estimated that there are 42,000 ABC (Alcohol Beverage Controls) laws on the books in the US.  Alcoholic beverages are the most regulated product in the United States.  While some state ABC’s have understood this crisis only a few exceptions here and there have been granted–such as take away cocktails.  If you are an online WBS retailer it is a large set of licenses and requirements (e.g. distribution – you might have to possess several warehouses versus one to service a set number of state markets).  While this virus may increase DTC there is still many obstacles to be overcome but there is room to grow even in this highly regulated channel.

Concern 3


One of the most popular wine price point range is $20-25 (Nielsen – March 2020).  While this is not a large per bottle price point will this be the average price point going into the next quarter to year end?  Will this range remain or decrease in the near or mid-term?

No one can predict what will happen as we are in a dynamical state.  If there is an economic leveling (i.e. economic free fall we are in now stabilizes) then this price range will hold but if there are decreasing economic conditions than this price range may not hold.

Are all producers selling at pre-Coronavirus rate?

Are import wines selling more, the same or less prior to virus crisis?

If the WBS market is declining (both in terms of dollars and volume) in 2020 who is being affected–is it a category of producers, small producers, larger producer–who exactly is going to be affected or is already affected.  What producers will be okay and who are suffering?

Concern 4

What WBS producers have already failed and who is struggling to survive?

The charts below illustrate tremendous…no dramatic growth in the US in a generation for wine, beer and spirits producers.  The most dramatic was in spirits producers from 100 in 2005 to 1,835 in 2018–and that was clearly evident when one would browse spirit assortments in the off-premise setting in yesteryear – 4-5 gins and same with vodka, Tequila, rum and other spirits… today the plethora is exciting and more than 4-5 SKU per spirits category.

While 85-90% of US wine production is completed in California — it does not make the importance any less of producers outside of California.  All 50 states have a winery, brewery and distillery–and there is an importance the community that wineries serve– especially small and independent wineries as they may not the biggest enterprises in their specific geographies but they nonetheless are contributors to their local economy.

And the same with brewers and spirits producers as they often entered into urban landscapes and small communities alike and everything in between.  Brewpubs/craft breweries were a third places for many people; and they did not always have off or on-premise accounts or if they did it was not the number one cash generator.

All of the independent and smaller wineries, distilleries and breweries communitized (see below more information on the word “communitized”) where they based their operations.

Think of large beer producers who have been losing market share for a decade if not longer were departing from their market share and that was transferred to local producers (brewpub/microbreweries).  The community where a WBS is located gained from building a closer relationship with their customer base, left an economic impression as they hired people, purchased supplies and services, leased space, purchased equipment, used utility services and gave to their community, etc.  If we were under the larger brewery model the closest relationship someone might have with a large producer is a broadcast commercial or perhaps a sponsored event.  The direct consumer touch is relationship and expanding the customer palate and introducing them to styles they might not have tasted before.  Also and importantly the large brewing model was that there was little if any economic impact in each community they sold their product.  The many producers today have become an integral of where they are located and they are geographical distributed throughout the US.  “Communitized” means many things as it highlights a relationship that is highly valued and important and is local.  Other businesses beyond WBS enterprise can also have communitizing affects such as coffee roasters, independent restaurants, and other small and independent businesses.

If a smaller WBS brand in a community had a dependency on on-premise during this crisis–what happened to their sales?

Many of these business can still be classified as a startup and no doubt have little to no owners equity and certain significant debt loads.  Operating expenses, rents, debt servicing did not stop during this crisis for many if not all small businesses.  And the level of support available is most likely spotty and only covering a small percentage of small businesses.  Reporting on Shake Shack and Ruth’s Chris’s Steak House getting recovery support was well publicized and it was surprising to many (I know Shake Shack returning those dollars) that a well-known larger enterprise got funding but smaller one’s did not.

I fear that many WBS and other businesses will not survive this crisis–the communitzing affect of these business added to their local economy and the reverse will be punishing as well.


There is no clear answers beyond overwhelming Coronavirus testing and a vaccine.

There was not a national focus on how to respond to this pandemic and the patch work of what happens next as states open and others do not.

I hope that where there is a small business that partners and stakeholders will help to insure survival–landlords, service and product suppliers, and especially financial institution needs to play a part as well.  It is in everyone’s interest that there is a “communitized” approach to insuring WBS and other small businesses survive.

Until the US has a more concerted Coronavirus approach there is a horizon of continuing problems of spikes and outbreaks? If you are a small business owner you should consider pandemic planning and if you live in an area with natural disasters (earthquake, hurricane, etc)–you should consider contingency business operation plans.

As mentioned previously here are graphs on number of wineries, breweries and distilleries at specific years:

As I said in my podcast and repeat here I do hope all business survive.

You can help by being a customer of a small business and also giving them a shout out on social media!  I will be keeping a close eye on the industry and reporting back if there are some interesting analytics and trends.



James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

*References for market numbers:

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award, “Communitizing” content and design and all designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Beer, Business, Economy, Market, Spirits | Leave a comment

Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon Pricing – Is A Price Revision Coming?

A friend of mine outside of California reached out to me early in this crisis and asked about California pricing and promotion in wake of the Coronavirus.  From her market places perspective there was a lot of pivoting to meet the markets unknowns and demands.  There was a lot of shipping promotion and discounts; some smaller communities offered free delivery from winemaker or other principal in a small geographic area.  I looked at all California regions and didn’t see many changes except in the very small producers.  I did see many more virtual events from all regions in California and throughout the US and around the world.

I have noted that people are reaching out to me for wine recommendations and the bottle price points they were targeting are in the $25/bottle and below range.  I then read this week from Nielsen that the strongest demand for DTC orders and off premise wine sales is in $20-25 range.  This made me think about Napa Valley pricing and how was the valley responding to this Coronavirus era.  I had originally started looking at 25 wineries but to get to a better understanding of pricing I expanded to 75 producers.  I decided to look at the king of Napa Valley wines–Cabernet Sauvignon to get an understanding and data points on pricing as this variety is often produced by most Napa Valley labels.

Here is the criteria I utilised for collecting data:

I did see a good number producers offering reduced shipping costs, only one in 75 had offered a virtual wine tasting experience/event, and there are 3 total wines (out of 201) that had a sale price point of at least 20%.  I had figured the average bottle price point of these 75 producer was going to be in $75-80 range.  I was off by 48% hence it is very important acquire data for current metrics to be validated/invalidated and to get price point confirmations.

And before publishing this article I did search to see if there are no recent articles on Napa Valley Cabernet or other wine variety pricing.

I had heard in conversation points way before this crisis of three things about Napa Valley pricing: 1) Cabernet Sauvignon 2) Sauvignon Blanc and 3) Tasting Fees as all being very expensive.

In these Coronavirus times can the $111.10 price per bottle be sustained given the most demanded price point is 4 times lower?  Here is a previous article (Prior to crisis) and below is a survey I instituted at the start of the year (January 2020).  Now this was just asking Napa Valley wine pricing in general.  I wanted to ask about Cabernet Sauvignon but there are character limits in Twitter Surveys.

Now my study did not include virtual wineries with a Napa Valley label which can be a lower price but in some examples can be the same as the average.  I think there will be a good number of people who have a wine club membership or even a fondness that will still engage at current prices.

I haven’t thought of a good data methodology for completing  an analysis on virtual wineries–I am sure someone is tracking these price points and has an average–or it is  even possible no one is tracking all virtual Napa Valley labels and perhaps no one knows the average bottle price point.  I do suspect the aggregate will be a lower than $111.10 per bottle price point if I ever approach such a study in the future.

The reality of our world is that ‘we don’t know, what we don’t know” the question is how long will this recession be–will an economic recovery be in lock-step with lock downs i.e. will there be a normalising of the economy shortly? And how about in the mid-term or long-term? I do suspect that there will be a lessening demand for super premium and luxury bottle price points but I don’t think that market will disappear.  What I am concerned and I have written about is that many small business owners of all types may not have the ability to survive in this short term world of not bottle shock but business shock.  But I also suspect that many operating wine businesses have a number of liabilities that need to be serviced on a periodic basis.

There is no evidence yet but I do think that wine drinkers will remain wine drinkers i.e. wine drinkers are not going to abandon the wine category or only if in dire circumstances.  When our Sheltering in Place is over I am guessing there will be pent up demand for both visiting Napa Valley and other wine countries and even buying wine.

I will keep reviewing price points especially during our SIP period of time and if time permits may look at other regions as well.  If I were to guess I do expect many more sale price points of super premium and luxury wines at least in the near and mid-terms.

Let’s hope that this crisis ends soon.



James the Wine Guy

Demystifying Wine…One Bottle at a Time from all wine regions around the world.

© 2020 James Melendez / James the Wine Guy— All Rights Reserved – for my original Content, drawings, art work, graphs, photographs, logo, brand name, rating, rating, taxonomy, graphic and award and designs of James the Wine Guy.  James the Wine Guy is also on Facebook, Twitter and most major social medias.

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Posted in Napa Valley, Pricing, Sauvignon Blanc | Leave a comment