Food & Wine,PR Advice,Public Relations,Restaurants,Travel,Wine

Customer service PR lessons; the good, bad, and the ugly ~ Part 2

Today’s part of this two part story is about the good…. Culinary customer service at its worst… Yesterday’s blog post was about customer service at its best.


Jose and I recently went to the Asheville, North Carolina, area to visit my daughter Katie, son-in-law Ray, and our two grandsons; Jonathan (14 years old) and Nate (11 years old). Jonathan decided to create a culinary adventure for us, once he knew we were coming to visit.

Both J and Nate have been on ice skates from the time each of them could walk; a tradition for both sides of their families. Now they both play a good amount of hockey, so some of our dining out was due to Jonathan’s hockey schedule while we were there; but, the rest of our dining was based on Jonathan’s choreographing our culinary feasts…

Jonathan and Nate were also having Monday and Tuesday as school-free days, due to workshops in their town. We knew we were flying in Asheville to experience dining out, from the eyes of our 14 year old grandson. Which as quite an adventure. In these experiences was also our final meal, of having leftovers together. He had it all mapped out.

What we experienced, though, was not about the food (it was all very good), the ambiance (also very respectable), and most of the locations (Asheville is gorgeous). The experiences we had had to do with customer service PR; from what to do well, to what to never do, as that could be the kiss of death.


The BAD goes to Mellow Mushroom in Asheville.

This has been a family favorite location since my kids first moved there. It’s downtown, it’s eclectic, and the food’s always delicious. No complaints this time with any of the usuals just mentioned. It was also a gorgeous day, mid 70s in October, no complaints about that, either.

What was unusual, though, was the hostess. Mellow Mushroom has an outside dining location at the front of the restaurant, and we decided that we wanted to have lunch outside. When we approached the hostess, she began… “Well, your wait server just got another table and you’re going to have to wait a long time before he can help you.” (For the record, there was no waiting, he was prompt, helpful, and very friendly.) She continued, “The only table over there, which will fit your group, is partially in the sun. You’re not going to like it,” or some such yammering. (For the record, those of us who wanted the sun sat in it, and those who wanted shade sat under the umbrella. There was no conflict, except in her mind.)

I was going to cut her some slack… Perhaps she was feeling ill, maybe she had a headache, maybe she wanted to be out with friends but had to work… Something seemed to be irking her.

I watched as she sat a family with two small children. She brought over high chairs and rolled her eyes as she placed them at the table. “They must be so heavy for her to carry,” I thought, beginning to see the real person. I mentioned it to Katie, because now it was becoming almost comical. Once the family sat down, she walked away, continuing to roll her eyes like they were the family from hell. (Didn’t she realize that she was making a public spectacle of herself?) Lost in her own world, we realized that she really needs another job, which serves her passions, and isn’t a disservice to the company that has hired her.

The coup de grace? I went inside to use the ladies room, before leaving. The big place was empty, except for just one family. Everyone was outside, and perhaps that was her bugaboo. As I was exiting the restaurant, this young woman was entering. She was reading something that was greatly amusing her (proving that she can be happy) and walked right past me as I held the door for her, like I was her door person. No thank you, no smile, no acknowledgement that I even existed… The door had magically opened for her self absorbed self. That did it for me.

PR LESSON: Keep an eye on your staff. Just because someone is artsy, doesn’t mean that this person should be the face of your establishment. I’ll never return. She’s set a stage of being insulting and I’m not into S&M, unless the management reads this and issues an apology. I doubt that that will happen; this is just my wine blog, so it’s off my list for the future.

The UGLY goes to Smash Burger in Irmo, South Carolina.

We were in South Carolina, because Jonathan had three hockey games that weekend, and this was our first dining experience. After the first game on Saturday evening, Katie suggested that we all go to Smash Burger. When it’s fast food, you don’t think to call ahead to say that a large party is arriving, but perhaps we should have, upon reflection. I have no beef with the company. I had a great salad, but it became complicated to even enjoy it.

We all arrived, with Michelle and Ed just behind us. We knew that they were “in the weeds,” as they say, because they told us that it would take 20 minutes for our order. But, little did any of us know that once my order had been filled (and it took a very long time to do for a simple salad), poop would hit the fan. You need to also know that perhaps 20 more parties (hockey people and other people not connected to us) placed orders after mine.

Mine was the cut off… it was over, just as I was about to eat my salad. The manager came out and first announced that she had been there all day (we could understand that, as we’ve all been there). Next, she explained that all orders for people who had been waiting for theirs perhaps for as long as a half hour (like Michelle, her husband, and their children) were going to have to be refunded their money. She went on to explain that they would have to prep every order in order to feed everyone, and that wasn’t possible, because they lacked the staff. People had called in sick and had left early that day, and they couldn’t recover.

Major grumblings; but hey, poop happens.

What then happened as everyone was refunded and then headed next door to Moe’s… (yeah, the same consistent Moe’s above) was the deal breaker for many, including Michelle. She got her money back for the food she ordered, but the manager REFUSED to refund the beverages. The manager’s thinking was, “I can’t give you a free beer.”

Oh my gawd… For the cost of drinks, she lost innumerable customers, I could see, when Michelle said, “Never again, Smash Burger, never again.”

PR LESSON: If you run out of food, offer something as a goodwill gesture… a coupon for a free soda next time, for example. This gives someone a reason to return. And for gawd’s sake, if people have been having a beverage for a half hour while waiting for anticipated food… COMP it. A coupon for next time is a MUST… Or, perhaps a discount on a total order. Offer SOMETHING, anything. Don’t spend time bickering over the cost of a drink and refusing to refund it. Once the announcement had been made that there was no more food, it took another half hour to process the whole deal, before these people could go next door. Moe’s won, Smash Burger lost in a big way.

No matter how good my salad was, this wasn’t good, and so it was a sad fail for all of us, even if we got our food.

Good customer service PR is the difference between bending over backwards to please customers and clients, or feeling like it’s beyond your dignity… And, that’s the difference between success and failure.


Food & Wine,PR Advice,Public Relations,Restaurants,Travel,Wine

Customer service PR lessons; the good, bad, and the ugly ~ Part 1

Today’s part of this two part story is about the good…. Culinary customer service at its best…

Who thought when I’d visit my kids I’d end up with a customer service story. Proving… you can take the wine PR person out of wine country, but you can’t take the PR out of the wine person. And so, it didn’t take long to realize a constant customer service PR theme.

Jose and I recently went to the Ashville, North Carolina, area to visit my daughter Katie, son-in-law Ray, and our two grandsons; Jonathan (14 years old) and Nate (11 years old). Jonathan decided to create a culinary adventure for us, once he knew we were coming to visit.

Both J and Nate have been on ice skates from the time each of them could walk; a tradition for both sides of their families. Now they both play a good amount of hockey, so some of our dining out was due to Jonathan’s hockey schedule while we were there; but, the rest of our dining was based on Jonathan’s choreographing our culinary feasts…

Jonathan and Nate were also having Monday and Tuesday as school-free days, due to workshops in their town. We knew we were flying in Asheville to experience dining out, from the eyes of our 14 year old grandson. Which was quite an adventure. In these experiences was also our final meal, of having leftovers together. He had it all mapped out.

What we experienced, though, was not about the food (it was all very good), the ambiance (also very respectable), and most of the locations (Asheville is gorgeous). The experiences we had had to do with customer service PR; from what to do well, to what to never do, as that could be the kiss of death.

Let’s start at the top, and each one has an excellent PR lesson.

The BEST goes to PF Chang’s in Asheville.

Yes, a franchise location. Menu and decor was created by my wine/chef pal Mark Miller of Coyote Cafe in Santa Fe, New Mexico. A lover of Asian culture and food, Mark has done a great job. As usual, we all loved the food. But, it was all about their approach to PR that really made this restaurant the BEST on our list.

Nate is like me; he has a super palate. He has very few “loves” in food, but he’s also willing to try, and he’s a gifted artist, too. Katie asked a wait server passing by our table if Nate could have the “chop stick set up.” This is when someone ties a rubber band around the ends of the chop sticks, so kids can begin to get the hang of it. The wait server misunderstood, and she brought Nate another pair of chop sticks. Katie apologized for not being more clear in her request, the wait server smiles and nodded, and disappeared… She reappeared with not only the chop sticks “all set” for Nate, but she also brought a children’s menu to him with a box of crayons. Somehow she had picked up the artist in our young man, and delivered something to him that was delightful. Nate spent the rest of his time coloring dragons and Asian cultural pictures until the food arrived. GREAT MOVE.

Our actual wait server was attentive to every detail, and made every effort to give us the best dining experience possible. This had also come after a few missteps (below) by others, so we were given a break at PF Changs.

PR LESSON: We’ll always return with this kind of service, from both our regular server and someone who just took the time to make it the best possible experience that it was.

The BETTER goes to Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack in South Asheville.

This one is all things hot, as it pertains to chicken…. unless you get the rotisserie chicken.

I went for mild wings and they’re hot. Katie warned me that everything is hot, just as the name suggests. If you love hot, you’ll love Rocky’s. The food was fun, as was all else. Their PR was also really great. Katie’s order was also a mild order, which she’s ordered numerous times before, but this time it was different in that it was way to much for her. Having been a wait server (through high school and college vacations), she wasn’t afraid to say something.

Our wait server didn’t argue, because no one was going to taste it to get a read on its hotness. She was served another “mild chicken.” Remember, mild will make your eyes water at Rocky’s, if your not a masochist and I say this very affectionately. Her next plate was really down a notch, just in case… They didn’t know her and they weren’t going to take any chances. As she tasted it, she told the wait server that it was milder than normal, but it was okay. She still enjoyed her lunch.

PR LESSON: We’ll always return here, because they made the effort, with no questions asked. While they erred on the side of caution to keep a family returning, they hit a bull’s eye. None of us could be upset with this decision. She knows next time, she’ll get what she wants, no doubt, but also didn’t have to struggle with anyone to have a decent experience.

The GOOD goes to Moe’s Southwest Grill

A fast food, Mexican cuisine franchise, they know what they’re doing and prep for the unforeseen.

PR LESSON: Great attitudes get return customers who build your business. We always do when in North Carolina.. But, they’re everywhere, people. They’ve carefully and purposefully created their own success.

Tomorrow, Part 2, The Bad and the Ugly; and sadly, they truly are…


Jo's World,Wine,Wine Blogger

Slogging along in the wine blogging world

My friend Steve Heimoff just wrote: Wine bloggers: Blogging, or slogging?

Well, this week it’s more like slogging for me, versus wine blogging. I’ve actually not posted anything since this past Tuesday, and today is Friday.


Life has just taken over. Wines to taste, wine competition forms to fill out, reports to write, bookkeeping balance sheets to reconcile in preparation for a PS I Love You’s board of directors meeting next week, wine sample requests to fill out, media to contact, updating their moves so that wine doesn’t get lost, delivering wine, meetings in the field, queries to answer, connections to be made, label insertion orders… There are a lot of balls in the air for this week.

In December in 2005, I wrote my first blog post, after much thought, planning, and executing. That was almost nine years ago. I never knew or could foresee that nine years later, I’d still be wine blogging about my wine career. As it turns out, for this week especially, I’m focused on getting caught up. Consequently, my blog hasn’t been a driving priority. So, yes, Steve, I guess I’m just slogging along.

In this year, I pulled off another Dark & Delicious wine and food event for PS I Love You, and managed the group. Held an annual picnic for our volunteers with Kent Rosenblum in his Sonoma County vineyard. I’ve all but completed a wine related book. I had a family of four move in with us for a time, while they secured a new house out of state; and then my daughter, son-in-law, and two grandchildren moved to another state (a flight from here). We had our $70,000 house flood (just giving you the cost so you’ll understand the enormity of the calamity). We had to move out of the house for repairs, after everything was packed out of here, then brought back after repairs were complete… I’ve still not unpacked about 90 percent of our things, because I’m liking the white space and may just throw blankets over the cardboard boxes… All while making every effort to carry on without hiccups… and also blog.

In the middle of this, Tom Wark, who is a dear friend, wrote the following to me:


Great work


Every day I wake up at 5am to take care of our new little Henry. I sit down at the kitchen table with coffee. Sometimes Henry is sitting up in my lap watching the computer screen with me. Sometimes he’s in his little rocker. No matter what, however, there is your daily post. Always.

Just writing to say that your consistency and quality of your writing is inspiriting and I look forward to it every day.



It’s tough to be “up” in spirits every single Monday through Friday for nearly nine years. Sometimes I’ve just been really tired, but I’ve slogged along (good way to think about it, Steve). Sometimes I’m so energized that the words just pour out… especially if it’s something for which I’m truly passionate. But mostly, it’s just part of who I’ve become and what I do to keep all of the balls in the air, and I wouldn’t have it any other way… Blogging or slogging, it’s all regarding writing about a day in the life of a wine publicist and the things that I must and do face.

Happy Friday. Let’s get out there and make something happen!

P.S. This weekend, I’m going to be writing about Popsicle fairies for my granddaughter. She gave me the inspiration; I’ll give her the book. Did I mention, this will be my fourth children’s book this year.


Culture,Play,Portugal,Travel,Wine,Wine Education

Lisboa ~ While visiting a monastery a play broke out

The culture of wine transcends what’s in the vineyard, in the wine cellar, and what’s in the glass. It takes all of that into account, and it also the people, the customs (including foods) and the arts. When I study wine, I immerse myself in every single aspect of it, most especially if I’m traveling. This story comes from a trip to Portugal, in this case, Lisboa, when I least expected to be attending a play as i was studying architecture.

The Play

AUTO DA BARCA DO INFERNO (1517) by Gil Vicente (B.1470-D.1537, approximated)

The author is acknowledged as the Portuguese theater pioneer, and was a contemporary of King D. Manuel I. Vicente most certainly accompanied the initial phase of the monastery’s construction. (I have written about Manueline architecture. The Jerónimos Monastery is part of that period and is an example of this style of architecture.)

During my final day in Portugal, while visiting Enoforum Wines, Delfim Costa, Gwendolyn Allen, and I decided that it would be a great day to tour the Jerónimos Monastery. As we were standing in the central courtyard, we could hear a commotion above… voices floating high and low with guttural sounds. “What could it be,” I thought, as my earlier trip to the Monastery was quite peaceful and undisturbed by anything, save the black clouds of impending rain.

Something was afoot, but my curiosity hadn’t yet gotten the best of me. I can’t say the same for Gwendolyn, though… She had drifted upstairs, drawn to the voices like a moth to a flame.

By the time I arrived upstairs onto the balcony, Gwendolyn was already there, totally absorbed. I began to take it all in. A sign explained the event as being for 9th grade students, and was the responsibility of the production company for theatre and cinema Ar de Filmes, in cooperation with the Educational Service of the Jerónimos Monastery.

It was a brilliant production, in that it had no real staging. The area where it was happening was the stage, and the students were part of the production as observers in the midst of the performance. In other words, they were the heavenly audience, and being requested, nay it was incumbent upon them to also live in judgment for what they were hearing as excuses for why heaven belonged to the players’ souls.

In this production, observers watch what happens to the characters in the after death moment: “They arrive to a pier, where tow boats await; one of them goes to Heaven, the other goes to Hell.” All of the characters in this play assume they deserve to go to heaven, but those who are really saved are very few.

There are 15 characters in this play; each one representing a social type, and it’s their behavior during their worldly life that will determine their final destiny.

  1. Nobleman, an arrogant exploiter of the poor
  2. Moneylender, who has always lived on its rampant profit
  3. Village Idiot, whose errors were involuntary
  4. Shoemaker, who, however he attended many church masses, has forgotten all about honesty and has stolen from the people
  5. Friar, who arrives dancing with a woman (Florença, the 15th character), with whom he has loved as husband and wife
  6. Procuress, who “created” girls for a religious man
  7. Jewish man who arrives carrying a goat (symbol of his religion)
  8. Judge, who is corrupted and has received bribes ministering Justice according to the gifts he was offered
  9. Public Ministry Attorney, who is a dishonest man accomplice to the Judge
  10. Hanged Man, who is charged for stealing
  11. 12. 13. 14. Four Knights, that died in Africa, fighting for “the holy catholic faith”

As a cultural event, this was a perfect way to end a 10-day journey, where a foreign land, its people, art, culture, history, foods and wines all came together as one concept that would need a lot of reflection for writing in future segments. This one was an important ingredient in our time of discovery for these Portuguese wines from Enoforum, understanding it’s people first and foremost.

In all of my wine education for the last 17 years, nothing can rival this particular Portuguese wine education that the universe has bestowed upon me. It was an enriching opportunity of a lifetime that lingers every day of my life now.



Piemonte’s Fall Favorites

Piemonte in the fall… Um, the splendor. Piemonte is translated as the foot of the mountain.  And, I’m going with the Italian version of how it’s written and pronounced for this blog story, to be more genuine with the location.

This was an excellent lesson about geographical locations, when I visited Lisboa… Right, Lisboa…

Different places, different languages, different pronunciations… Culture 101

Traveling is one of my greatest joys. Each new location expands our understanding of the world… The people who live there, the cultural aspects that have evolved, the foods that they prefer to eat, and the beverages that they prefer to enjoy, theirs songs, dances, architecture and and their art…Each unique and worth exploring.

Frankly, it’s a crime that what our American culture has exported into everyone else’s countries is the fast food industry. What people must think of us, just boggles my mind. I’m betting that many people think we don’t eat any real food, if they’re not geography enthusiasts. But, I live here in Sonoma County, where the bounty is magnificent, so I know better.

I marvel at the rest of the world. I’ve always loved geography, since discovering National Geographic in the seventh grade. It completely changed my life . Until that time, my world consisted of provincial New England… a very narrow band. I loved traveling within the New England cocoon, but it was just that. I’m in awe with all of life’s different cultures, unique places, the people who live there, their foods, beverages, songs and dance… It’s culture and I’m diggin’ it.

So, it’s a blessing that as a wine blogger, the world of wine and the places where it exists comes to me, hoping for one more story to be on the world wide web about their location, wine, event, or book. If I can find the time to write about who or what they’re pitching, I get to step outside of my (now) pretty broad band and learn yet more. For today, it’s Piemonte; and the first thing I just learned is how to pronounce its name, like the locals.

Piemonte’s most well know wines and winery

Italy has 20 wine regions, with Piemonte being one of them. It has an area of 9,808 square miles, and has a population of approximately 4.6 million people. The capital of Piemonte is Turin. Piemonte is located in the northwestern corner of Italy, bordering Switzerland (to the north) and France (to the west). The best known wines from this region include Barolo and Barbaresco, and are made from the Nebbiolo grape.

[Photo credit of Vigna della Regina in Turin from the Wine Pass Piemonte website: Luca Balbiano]

One of the world’s last and oldest urban vineyards is the Vigna della Regina. Translated as the Queen’s Vineyard, this is a “remarkable and rare example of an urban vineyard with an incredible view of Turin. It has been part of the UNESCO World Heritage Queen’s Villa since the 1600s, and today Balbiano Winery produces Freisa from this royal hill. The villa sits in the center of a green grass hollow. In the silence, dragonflies flit in the fountains of Neptune, vineyard workers harvest grapes on the slope by the Villa, and a sweeping cityscape and Alpine mountains set the backdrop. It is just as the queen wanted it.”  —  by  Diana Zahuranec for Wine Pass Piemonte.

Truffle markets of Piemonte

With autumn arrives mushrooms. My back lawn right now is littered with them. I need to find out what kind they are. Are they poison; should I be worried about them, with grandchildren loving my back yard the way they do? I’ve got to take one to my favorite mycologist at our local farmers’ market, and get a read on what they are. Meanwhile, in Piemonte, the unmistakable aroma of truffles hangs on the air throughout the lower Langhe and in the Asti and Monferrato zones. Truffle fairs, from local to international, are some of the most anticipated events of mid- to late autumn.

It is only fitting that the noble wines of Piemonte have one of the world’s most expensive and gourmet foods to pair it with (expensive, yes, though truffle lovers may rejoice at this year’s unexpected bounty: Italian White Truffle Lovers Celebrate Bumper Harvest). Often, these truffle fairs go hand-in-hand with local food and wine events. — by Diana Zahuranec for Wine Pass Piemonte.


Castles, forts, and ghosts in Piemonte

One of my greatest joys, when I visited Portugal, was to witness and explore the castles and castle towns of that land. Italy offers the same, as does most of Europe. In America, our forefathers who first arrived to escape the religious persecution of King James, who believed that everyone HAD to be Catholic, came without the need for castles. But, forts eventually had to be built, to escape from First nation people, who would rather see them be gone… one way or another. Who were our forefathers to be coming in and taking over their land? We lack real castles in the US… Real castles had dungeons… maybe not dragons, but definitely the dungeons. The left over spirits from those walls of concrete and moss are intriguing to explore, and something I’d prefer to not do from the time of Scorpio… October 21 to November 20th… each year, the time of all Halloween of ghosts, goblins, and ghouls. I don’t mind exploring places like this, but there’s a time and place for everything in my world… Give me the time of spring and I’d be all over this one.

The Fort of Gavi

The origin of Fort of Gavi (above) possibly dates back to pre-Roman times. It sits upon a giant rock, which was once the base of this ancient fortification. It holds its own memories of what went on during its active days, with its dungeons as part of that lifestyle. Recently, there was a group of people who will tell you that they saw an entire Roman battalion marching towards the fort, while singing to Mars, the god of war. An entire group of people all seeing the same apparition? That’s powerful, provocative, and Piemonte…





Throw Back Thursday with wine and other medicials

I thought I’d have a fun a Throw Back Thursday post, about the Good Ole Days?

I just got one of those Emails that circulates around and around until it finally makes its way to your computer. Being in the wine business, I’m fascinated by the history of wine. I didn’t realize that at the turn of the twentieth century, wine had the following medicinal uses. This stuff makes medical marijuana look like pablum by comparison. I do believe in medical maryjane, BTW. It comes from nature, and could be managed by the FDA, but I imagine that pharmaceutical companies have a major invested interest in their chemical concoctions continuing to be produced to the exclusion of marijuana. Who knows the havoc chemicals causes our bodies? Can we process that stuff without doing eventual damage to our liver and kidneys? These are the questions I take to heart. Meanwhile, this flash from the past is like walking through a snake oil museum. Enjoy!

Bayer’s Heroin:

A bottle of Bayer’s heroin existed between 1890 and 1910. Heroin was sold as a non-addictive substitute for morphine. It was also used to treat children with a strong cough. What’s that non-addictive stuff about? Just goes to prove how the marketing arm turns, and what jest it spit out for us to swallow… literally.

Coca Wine, anyone?

Mariani Wine (1875): This was the most famous Coca wine of it’s time. Pope Leo XIII used to carry one bottle with him all the time. He awarded Angelo Mariani (the producer) with a Vatican gold medal. I honestly think that if priests were allowed to marry, all these issues of not being able to face a day as a human being – but trapped in that kind of a body – would just go away. I can say this, as I recover from my youth being spent in a Catholic School.

Maltine Coca Wine: Produced by Maltine Manufacturing Company of New York, it was suggested that you should take a full glass with or after every meal… Children should take half a glass. I like the philosophy (for adults, only), just remove the cocaine, please. That’s a bit over the top for functioning after a meal.

Metcalf Coca Wine was one of a huge variety of wines with cocaine that was commercially on the market. Everybody used to say that it would make you happy and it would also work as a medicinal treatment. We’ve got a few examples of this one. Totally kookie. I’ve not yet heard about this one. I wonder if all of this gave birth to the FDA. Feel free to jump in and educate me on this one. At some point it would be fun to do some research on it. For today’s purposes, I just spent a boatload of time just copying these images, so they didn’t distort.

C.F. Boehringer & Soehne’s Quinine and Cocaine: The paper weight image is promoting C.F. Boehringer & Soehne from Mannheim, Germany. The company was promoting the fact that they were the biggest producers in the world of products containing quinine and cocaine.

Opium for Asthma, National Vaporizer Company: Vapor Oil Treatment No. 6 contained 40 percent alcohol and three grams of opium per ounce. Sure to cure “the vapors,” it was recommended for asthma and other spasmodic affections, the price was 50 cents, and was produced in Kalamazoo, Michigan. June 30, 1908 date is on the side of the bottle.

Dragees Antiseptiques Au Menthol: A product of Anvers, France, at the time it was recommended that this snake oil was to be used by all stage actors, singers, teachers, and preachers, in order to have a maximum performance. It was “Great to ‘smooth’ the voice.” This was a cocaine product.

Lloyd Manufacturing Company: It was advertised as being very popular for children in 1885. “Not only did they relieve the pain, they made the children happy!” Instantaneous cure. Price was $0.15. Produced in Albany, New York.

Stickney and Poor’s Paregoric: It was used to treat diarrhea, but moms also learned that it would quickly help a fussy child fall asleep. This old image shows that it contained 1 1/16th gram of opium and was 46 percent alcohol. Today? Paregoric Oral is still used to treat diarrhea, and Paregoric Oral may also be used to treat Codeine/Morphine-Like drug dependence of a newborn.


Jo's World,Wine

This is NOT like one-of those foreign-emails you probably get

A day in the life of a wine publicist…


I came across-your contact over the-web and wanted to-share a brief note. I think a few-changes, aesthetically and/or SEO-wise, can make your site-convert more-visitors into leads-and also get it placed-higher in the organic search-results, for a few of the select terms.

(Search-Engine-Optimization is the-process of affecting the visibility of a-website or a web-page in a search-engine’s “natural” or un-paid “organic” search-results)

This is NOT like one-of those foreign-emails you probably get in your-inbox every day. Just to be-upfront, I have a full-fledged team for Web-Development-&-SEO.

I would just-need to know-which (if not both) services-you’re open to checking out-information about, either web-design or-SEO. Would you be-open to seeing more-brief info / quote for what-I would like to accomplish?

Thanks & regards,

Bili Bientu | Director

Hong Kong | China | Australia | New Zealand | US

Well, Bili, I hate to tell you; however, it is like the foreign Emails I get every day. The difference, and I’ll give it to you, is the amount of hyphens you’ve used. I wonder if I could help you with English writing and punctuation? I’m also for hire as a wine publicist.



Scarily great wines for your adult Halloween moments

I love good marketing and that’s primarily what this story is about… Some great marketing that recently came my way, in preparation for this Friday’s Halloween moments and memories.

I’m also one of those people who stays home to take care of the kids that come to my door on Halloween night.  Why? Because someone took care of me way back when. Payback isn’t the wench that it’s made out to be, when it involves children. I adore them.

When asked to taste wines that I’d recommend for that ghoulish day, I thought, “Why not?” Long ago, I began my wine PR and marketing career by going off the wall with my press releases. I gave them a seasonal flare, and I was pretty much alone with that concept. It got my clients a lot of publicity in the process. It was unique at the time, but it was a good concept… taking writers from “I tasted this wine, and here are my notes,” into having more fun with wine… I had fun with wine, why shouldn’t everyone else?

But admittedly, I never capitalized on Halloween, and so those queries now catch my attention. (I can’t mumble to myself, like I can with so many other things I see… “been there, done that.”)… I like the Halloween kitchieness.

I also like that I’ve been there with one particular brand that I find completely amusing. I love a great story, most especially one that delivers a bit of karma in the process, to some deserving soul.

[This mysterious image has been borrowed from the Casillero del Diablo Website. I recommend that you visit the site for some entertaining and fascinating flash.]

Casillero del Diablo

Don Melchor de Concha y Toro, an eminent Chilean Statesman, entrepreneur, and vineyard owner, discovered that his most treasured wines had been pilfered from the “Casillero” (cellar) beneath his ancestral home. To discourage further theft, the enterprising Don spread the rumor that his deepest, darkest cellars were haunted by el Diablo (the devil). Thus was born the Legend of Casillero del Diablo… (from marketing materials, but I added el Diablo, because not everyone everywhere knows Satan’s Spanish name).

I loved the wines. So much so that when I was in Puerto Rico this past March, Jose and I were in a grocery store with a great wine selection. When I spotted a Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc, I needed to go no further. We also purchased their Cab. If you’re not familiar, this winery has become Chile’s best selling one worldwide, through the Concha y Toro Wine Company. They talk about these wines being stored in hell and made in heaven… I love a good story that scares the pants off a thief in the making and taking, don’t you?

The wines tasted:

  • 2012 Casillero del Diablo Chardonnay, Chile
    • This Chardonnay just knocked me out with flavor, in a great way. It’s just classic Chardonnay in a stainless steel way: bright, crisp, and appley… Begging for something like a cheese appetizer, or just a good friend to have where you both enjoy clinking glasses. What a delight.
  • 2013 Casillero del Diablo Sauvignon Blanc, Chile
    • This is a classic Sauvignon Blanc that never disappoints me. It’s got a claw factor of 3… this means that it’s perfectly balanced, always refreshing, I don’t care what vintage it is, and delivers the Sauvignon Blanc goods. If you ever want a Sauvignon Blanc in a sea of Sauvignon Blancs on the shelf and you can’t make a decision, but spy this one on the shelf, don’t blink... Buy it… You won’t be disappointed, since it’s also got a stelvin closure.
  • 2013 Casillero del Diablo Cabernet Sauvignon, Chile
    • A consistently great crowd pleaser, this Cabernet Sauvignon is as tasty as ever I’ve enjoyed it. We all know that Cab is king, and I’m not a fan of overly ripe, high alcohol Cabernets. I like my red wines softer than those created with big scores in mind. And for it to be in that category, the wines should retail between $40 to $100+. This wine falls into the $11 to $12 category. A great value wine, Casillero del Diablo Cab is a favorite, when I’m enjoying Cabernet.

These wines are very easy to enjoy, almost to the point of being scary… really, really… brahhhhhhhha!

Il Spritz

Il Spritz offered an Orange Spritz for Orange Pumpkin celebrations… As the company states, “Why should kids have all of the fun?”

I have to admit that I was actually game for this one. I’m not big on trendy wine machinations. Too much hard work and thought goes into the process, so removing alcohol for “the ladies,” making wine coolers for “the kids,” that sort of marketing just gets my goat. But, being queried about an Orange spritzer just before Halloween… And, again, being asked to taste something for this holiday… something that I hadn’t yet come up with… okay, I’m in.

The verdict? I loved it and so did Jose. We opened the bottle together, thinking it was possibly going to bomb, but we both went back for seconds. The following day, we had to decide who was going to have the last glass… He’s such a gentleman, he gave it up for me. I didn’t argue, I’m no lady.  The woman inside took over.

This Non Vintage, Il Spritz is very low in alcohol (8 percent). You’ll want to serve it cold. The Italians know how to enjoy aperitifs, while celebrating their lifestyle, and this is a great example of orange deliciousness. It’s a semi-sparkling wine with flavors of blood orange; and it will let you enjoy going to the door and not being tipsy with the kids… unnecessarily scaring them… really. The Mionetto company suggests that you serve it over ice with a slice of orange or a green olive. We skipped the ice part and just went for it. It’s an extremely flavorful and highly recommended for… well… any spirited occasion.


Alameda,Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah®,Dark & Delicious™,Petite Sirah,PS I Love You,Wne and Food

Off beat and darned happy to be… Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah

The premier tasting event for Petite Sirah lovers in-the-world continues to celebrate Petite, with its Ninth Annual Tasting, on February 20, 2015.

Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah® again features a varied selection of Petite Sirah styles, and delectable foods that pair well with Petite. As is the tradition, the wines will be shared by both celebrated producers and emerging wineries. Petite Sirah’s developed a true cult following with an enormous appetite for this obscure grape variety. D&D continues to give these followers the only annual opportunity to gather and enjoy three hours of Petite, palate pleasers, and pals.
For 2015, Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah® is located at Rock Wall Wine Company. Set in a classic location on the original Naval Air Station Alameda, Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah® overlooks the San Francisco Skyline. Prior to Rock Wall being located there, it was the famed Area 51 Event Center, which included film, video, and multimedia episodes. This is a really artsy location, with a twist of wine.

Each year there’s an exodus, as former Sergeant Honey Airborne will tell you, “to taste my Petite Sirah.” With the most diehard continuing to bring in their friends, at a slow and steady pace, there’s only one consensus repeated at the end of the evening… “I had so much fun!”

Dark & Delicious hosts fewer than 1,000 people in an enormous 250,000 square foot space. Enveloped in wine barrels, the hallmark of this event has become the “combination of a perfect cult gathering, craving wine fun!” Guests are all well educated about the wine they love; and they want to know who’s behind the brand. Much of the time, it’s the owner or winemaker, with many wine principals pouring their own wines, sharing their wine stories. People come from all parts of the US, to taste their favorite Petite Sirahs, while sampling exotic California fare. Food professionals from all regions close to the Bay Area provide the eclectic cuisine. Friends gather for another Petite party.

Friday February 20, 2015

Dark & Delicious Petite Sirah®

6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Rock Wall Wine Company


Jo's World,Wine,Wine app,Wine Business,Wine Education

Is living on principles a good thing, or am I holding myself back… from NoteStream?

As it turns out, I’m not holding my self back, when it comes to principles, and I may have helped the current writing condition take a teeny tiny step forward.

I have my principles, and I thought that I may just be stubbornly holding myself back… But then, I’m also not looking to conquer the world, the way my great grandfathers did (Charlemagne and the Kings of Scots… Yeah, that’s what happens when you go digging around in your genealogy).

Here’s the story, for the sake of posterity.

Chapter 1

So, I get this query from NoteStream, an emerging app company, which I ignore, as I mull it all over for a couple of weeks. Their purpose: Learning at Hand, Things like Nature, French wine, travel and modern art

Hi, Jo,

NoteStream, an innovative mobile learning app that encourages personal growth and exploration through the presentation of enriching content in snackable form, is now available for download in the Apple® App Store. NoteStream is seeking professional experts in all fields to contribute compelling and informative content to the platform. These expert contributors will have the opportunity to gain new followers and expand audience reach, and are invited to visit us and our authors to find out more.

NoteStream enables users to discover, learn about and share a wide range of topics, from wine and wildlife to travel and music. Each NoteStream includes an author profile to emphasize credibility and transparency. Once NoteStream Apps are downloaded, they are saved and can be read anywhere, including offline. In addition, when a reader is interrupted or the app is closed, their last place in each NoteStream is automatically saved so they don’t lose their spot.

CEO and co-founder of NoteStream: “Content contributors who join the NoteStream author network will gain a powerful tool to grow their audience, as well as actively engage with them via mobile.”

…and on and on and on….

I ignore it. There’s a call, I can’t bother to take it, Jose is courteous, and I just shake my head.

So, I get the next E-Mail.

Hi, Jo,

I wanted to follow up from a phone conversation I had with Mr. Diaz, a couple weeks ago. He said you may be interested in this opportunity, but that you were quite busy and didn’t have time to discuss.

The number of people using mobile apps vs. internet browsers continues to increase and I want to share a free opportunity for you to join NoteStream’s network of authors by contributing already written content. NoteStream wants to help you reach the rapidly growing mobile audience. We are currently building our catalog of content and are seeking experts to contribute their content to the platform.

Okay, here we go… Now, I’m going to tell it like it is:

Hi, Tiffany,

I’m struggling with this, and here’s why.

This also has no reflection on you, just on principles…

Three things going on:

  • To provide free content allows the app to launch with content, without any compensation to those proving the content… ever; and then, we become promoters, because it’s our content.
  • Yes, the content is already on the Internet; but the writing community is suffering, because writing has become “free” for the taking, if someone is willing to give it away. This is killing writers financially; and the good ones will find other jobs, because they can’t afford to live on air.
  • I don’t believe that I would serve your app well, either, because of my “non-traditional wine” content. My blog is a journal of my existence as a wine publicist, so it’s not just about wine. My topics are far reaching… from wine to wine business, to opinions, to stories I find amusing through living them, to my fears of GMO taking over in the wine grape growing process.

I don’t believe I’m a good fit.

Again, this is not about you, it’s about a process.

Is living on principles a good thing, or am I holding myself back? It’s a modern day dilemma…

Chapter 2

After writing my answer to Tiffany, I thought that that would send her packing. It usually does, when I’m just brutally honest.


I got the following response a few days later. First of all, she took the time to internalize it, and then to understand from my perspective.

Hi Jo,

I apologize for the delay in responding. Thank you for your email, we truly appreciate your feedback. Your points are valid and important to hear. In appreciating the time you took to respond and the similar belief of principles, I wanted to take the time to give a detailed response.

For your first point, the idea of the app to be an open source platform for information, all information accredited to the authors so there is full transparency of content. NoteStream does plan to provide some type of compensation plan for contributing authors. Although this program is not set up yet, I believe your feedback may help bring forth this compensation program much sooner.

For your second point, we believe your words are powerful and credible and this is why we reached out to you. The contributors for NoteStream are identified as experts and contributors limited to those only. This is part of the uniqueness of NoteStream compared to being another forum or search engine.

For the third point, there are several “non-traditional wine” content pieces on the app and this is one of the things that drew us to read deeper on your website. Although some of your content might be more personal, some are factual based and are interesting like the discussion of GMO’s in wine grape growing could be.

Again, we truly appreciate your feedback and your detailed communication in sharing your feedback.

Thank you,


Hum… I had to think about this response. She, too, took her time to respond thoughtfully. I don’t mind hanging out with people like this. In fact, these are the only people that are my associations. She answered each of my objections. In sales, an objection is always just a request for more information, regardless of how it’s framed and appears to be an out-and-out “no, TBNT.” (Thanks, but no thanks.) Still, I had to sleep on it. I woke up with the following answer:

Hi, Tiffany,

Let’s cut through the chase, I’m in.

Here’s why… Your principles, well explained.

  • You appreciated my time and candor.
  • There is a plan for future compensation.
    • SIDEBAR for you reading this: Although the amount that will come from my participation isn’t going to make or break me, it might for future generations, and that’s a great thing for my children and grandchildren.
  • You’re focused on uniqueness, and I know that I fit that category. I’m far from the mainstream; that’s just the way this lifetime is for me.
  • I cited GMO as a non-traditional wine subject that might turn off your readers, and you get it as something of worth.

These are all game changers.

Go for it.


Principles, and standing on them, makes us taller as a society, ultimately. I did my job, and Tiffany did hers…