Not a tweet–a squawk.

OK, this blog post is all opinion, and in keeping with the subject matter, I call it “squawk,” as in crow noise or a loud, raspy tweet.

Certainly, all you wine blog readers and Tweeter-savvy have heard of Fledgling. You haven’t? Well, get over to Steve Heimoff’s blog (see link below).

Fledgling is Twitter’s new wine, to the tune of a $10,000 investment with Crushpad, the winemaker.

For those who may not know it, Crushpad is a so-called custom crush winemaking facility, which literally means that you pay them, tell them what you want, and they will make it for you. You are responsible for selling, advertising, marketing, and even designing the packaging for your wine—with their help, of course. This is the outfit that brought us Vayniac Cab, made for Gary Vaynerchuk—you’ve heard of him, haven’t you?

The people at Twitter say they got the idea to have a wine brand from employees at the company who also happen to be Crushpad customers.

Light bulbs flashed: if we can use Twitter, the latest gift from God, to network our new brand, we can make a killing.

Not exactly: Twitter claims that the wine is for charity, or at least $5 of its $20 price tag is. The charity is Room to Read.

Am I the only one who finds the incongruity behind the fact that a company that invented a way to pare inanities to 140 characters wants children to learn to read? Talk about newspeak?

I’m not sure yet if I even like Twitter, but I’m certainly getting tired of celebrity wines and networking schemes connected to wine brands. This is truly cheapening the soul of the product.

There’s a reason that only a choice number of people on this earth can offer beautiful wines to the rest of us—it has something to do with study, talent, and passion. What happens to all that when everyone is a virtual winemaker—worse, what happens to the wine when no one makes it except a committee?

I hate this whole idea. But the part in the interview that truly set me off is when Steve asked this question of Crushpad CEO and Prez, Michael Brill:

“What is the significance of this, beyond raising money for charity? I mean, Crushpad getting involved in social media. You’re already calling it “social winemaking.”

…and Brill answered:

“We’re all about getting people involved in the winemaking process and co-creating a product with the customer.”

If that isn’t the most asinine comment about wine that I’ve read in my whole career I don’t know what is. I just finished talking about what I think of winemaking by committee and from afar, and now this fellow talks about getting even more people involved in making wine. What a concept—a reality show that isn’t on TV!

All right, so Crushpad was a good idea to capitalize from those who love wine, want to make their own, but haven’t the stones (and I don’t mean Biz Stone) or money—or both—to go out and do it, you know, like grow grapes, press them, ferment them, nurse the wine, bottle it, and deal with every supplier, bureaucrat and annoyance that comes between the harvest and the bottled nectar.

All that stuff gets in the way, yet you want to tell your friends and neighbors that you own a wine label—fine. But puleeze, don’t have the boss try to make it sound like this is just another good old American networking event to “get involved.”

Custom crush for the consumer is a business built on an ego trip. There’s no disgrace to admitting that, but it is unseemly to try to explain it as more than what it is.
Steve Heimoff blog

If you are reading this entry anywhere other than on the vinofictions blog, be aware that it has been lifted without my permission (and without recompense), and that’s a copyright infringement, no matter that the copyright information appears with it.

Copyright Thomas Pellechia
October 2009. All rights reserved.

7 Responses to “Not a tweet–a squawk.”

  1. Mike Castleman says:

    Well…at least you admitted your bias in the first sentance.

    “Custom crush for the consumer is a business build on an ego trip.”

    How asinine can you get! What a small opinion of the motivation and inspiration of anyone for any endeavor.

    I guess….

    ….we shouldn’t watch a movie if we don’t have the stones to go watch real theatre.

    ….we shouldn’t read anything on the Kindle if a printed book exists.

    ….we shouldn’t eat a restaraunt if we don’t have the “stones” to grow our own food.

    ….etc…etc…you get my point…

    I wouldn’t call your post a squawk as much as i would call it a good ole’ fashioned rant…You are employing the arm chair quarterbacking as on opinion meister the same actions that you are criticizing.

    …guess you shouldn’t blog about someone else’s reporting if you don’t have the “stones” to conduct your research, interview, fact finding…oh well…i should just remind myself i’m trying to communicate with a squawker.

    Oh…and how hilarious is your “small type” that warns against copyright ifringement. After excoriating anyone who doesn’t have the stones to go native as a farming winemaker…you want to warn anyone about copyright infringement as a pajama reporter who just rants about someone else’s reporting.

    Oh the irony…

  2. Thomas says:


    As for “stones,” you should do your research before you rant accusations.

    Sorry if I touched a nerve, but when those who deal in vanity projects try to explain it as some sort of social ideal, I get strange pangs of distaste.

    I’m willing to discuss any matter with anyone, but I think it can be done in a civil manner. Don’t you?

    I should add that your three analogies don’t seem logical to me, unless you believe that watching and enjoying movies, reading, and dining at restaurants is all one needs in order to call oneself a movie maker, publisher, or chef.

  3. Mike Castleman says:

    You referenced “stones” and “asinine” perspectives dude…not me…

    What accusations am i making other than pointing out that your description of arm chair winemakers and their social motivations is no different than pajama reporting on a businessman’s motivation without interviewing him?

    What’s the freakin’ difference? If you’re going to rant and present your view of wine making and social motivation as superior or less “asinine” than the next guy…don’t get caught up in your relative self importance (which is your premise it seems for dissing the arm chair wine maker and Brill)

    I’m all for civil discourse and i wasn’t trying to create a perferct example of irony…nonetheless…just my opinion that you are making no bones about casting aspersions on a whole community wine lovers/drinkers/makers and their social or charitable interests as if you are the arbiter of all that is right or wrong about wine and charitable intent.

    Regardless of my rant…i’m talking about your self described “squawk” that disparaged an entire group as lacking “stones” and quite pointedly called a good man… asinine.

    I know Brill personally…take your own advice…grow a pair, call him up and interview him and if you still feel that he is “asinine” then at least you have the basis of an informed opinion predicated on actual communication and effort.

    Oh…and by the way…i’m an arm chair wine maker who, according to you, doesn’t have the stones to do it the “right” way…

    sigh….I thought you were about dispelling myths instead of perpetuating them? Opinions are easy…facts are hard and at the end of the day…you are just ranting an opinion based on the compilation of your successes and failure in life business or whatever (clearly that is how all our opinions are derived)…your clear disdain for custom crush people (thus the assigned ego trip moniker) is a bit perplexing coming from someone whose blog purports to dispelling the myths and untruths about all things wine.

    I’m more inclined to believe that on this particular topic that you are reinforcing stereotypes that exist in the wine business regarding the validity or purity of one’s effort in creating or participation in the creation of this thing called wine which we all love.

    My opnion…if you are going to trash someone…go after someone who is aligned against wine making/sales/whatever…

    If this is the stuff that “sets you off” or gets under your skin…then dude…get some thicker skin…what the heck is this social effort doing that complicates your life or the wine industry?

  4. Thomas says:

    <p>The definition of “asinine” is “silly or dumb.” It is not exactly an insult of the trashing proportion that you give it. It’s just, well, silly with regard to the specific comment that was made.</p>
    <p>I’ve already told you what gets under my skin about this–repeating myself would obviously prove counter-productive. </p>
    <p>Check out my latest book. In it, you will find that I talk about custom crush (and Crushpad) as one way to get into the wine business. Everything–even an opinion–comes in shades, not in black and white.</p>

  5. ahem, well, after that exchange, what can i add? except to say that i am happy to eat my toast and drink my tea in the morning without harvesting the wheat or picking the leaves. as a wine writer, i do feel that it’s important to visit wineries and observe the process, from vineyard to bottling line, but that doesn’t mean that i have to be in the lab analyzing the chemical properties of the grapes. i suppose there’s nothing intrinsically wrong with having Crushpad make a few cases of wine for a “your label here” project, but that doesn’t mean that people are more “involved” in winemaking, nor does it mean that Crushpad is doing something culturally or socially significant. it’s a business.

  6. Thomas says:

    Yeah, Fredric,

    It seems that many business people have absorbed the so-called social media world to use as an explanation for what motivates them to make a profit. Bunk!

  7. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out.

    In the end, perhaps Twitter should stick to micro-blogging, and Crushpad should stick to making wine.