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Cima Collina: Small Business Blog Interview

by Brian Brown (follow me on Twitter): April 28, 2006

AnnetteAnnette Hoff, winemaker at Cima Collina, responded today with answers to my follow-up questions. Her winery was featured on Wednesday of our first Wine Week.

Pajama Market: How has the blog impacted your company?

Annette Hoff: Well, our company, website and the blog are relatively new (we started making wine in 2004, the website debuted at the end of February 2006 and the blog started a few weeks after that).  But, I  can say already that the blog has helped us to gain attention from  customers, internet-savvy folks, and blog readers, but has also generated  some interest from the trade as well.  Attention is what a new company such  as ours wants, so I'm pretty pleased at this point with the response.

PJ: What has the response been from your customers/clients?

AH: I have talked a good deal in the blog about my winemaking philosophies, and  a lot of folks have said that this has made an impression on them and  compelled them to want to try the wine.  So it has generated some interest and sales.  One guy -- in response to our being the blog of the day on pajama market -- said he was going to change his  restaurant reservations and go to another restaurant that carried our wine instead just to try our wine with dinner (see the comments to the blog of the day post).

PJ: What types of things about your work day inspire you to write a post on your blog?

AH: It could be something we are doing in the winery on a particular day, it could be driving to work, it could be a conversation I have had with a customer or my husband or friends, it could be a visit to a vineyard, it could be memories of fun times I've had working in other wineries. I find  my work as a winemaker very inspirational in general.  I was concerned at first that I would have a hard time finding things to write about -- but the  opposite has been true.  I have far too many things to discuss!

PJ: What have been the biggest surprises with your blog so far?

AH: First of all -- that people actually read it and take time to comment!  I'm  relatively new to blogging and am surprised at the commitment many of the  readers have to reading the blog.  But the biggest suprise for me is how my own outlook on blogging has changed.  To be honest, I had thought of  blogging as a weird social-diary phenomenon where one could write down  personal thoughts or events of one's life and throw it out into the universe of the internet and not really know who is reading it.  It seemed careless  and pointless.  Then, Tom Wark introduced this idea of wine blogging to me  (which I rejected at first), but as I started to investigate the idea of a  business blog to communicate with the consumer as well as present alternative viewpoints, commentary and ideas, I realized it could be a good opportunity to expand the reach of the business.  And since that time, as I've been blogging, I've become more convinced that it is useful.

PJ: What blogging program do you use for the blog? Did you create this blog yourself? How do you like the program?

AH: I use Wordpress. Being new to blogging, I really have nothing to compare it  to, but when I first started blogging in March, it was a little confusing for me at first because I wasn't familiar with html. They have changed the format since then to a browser-based format, which is supposed to be more user friendly, and is on the most part. I did not set the blog up, I must give credit to two people:  John Gavin of WestEggWeb is the website and blog designer -- he set me up and is acting as, among other things, my html tutor; and Tom Wark for planting this blog seed in my head -- he also  did all of the text and storytelling on the website and worked with John on the concept and structure of the whole thing.

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