Hi, my name is John. As this piece will appear on the City of Santa Rosa Blog as my first piece in addition to getting posted on my own blog, I thought I would tell you a bit about myself.
I crushed grapes in the Russian River Valley as a child, worked a Dry Creek Vineyard as a teen, put together a Santa Rosa restaurant wine list in my twenties, sold Sonoma County wine in my thirties and wine accessories to winery tasting rooms in 42 California Counties and over 40 states in my forties. Last year, at fifty, I was hired by Guinness McFadden to manage his tasting room and wine club in Hopland.
Generally, I know wine. I also know sales and marketing. Exhibitor Magazine awarded me their Expert Exhibitor Award over thousands of other trade show exhibitors three consecutive years; I introduced attendees to the wines of Sonoma County and sold tons of wine. I used to help wineries establish effective messaging as a consultant, and stepped down from the board of Destination Hopland this year to accept a paid position helping with social media marketing messaging.
A few years ago, I competed to be the lucky winner of a Murphy Goode contest with the prize being a great social media marketing position, writing about the experience of making a wine, exploring Sonoma County and sharing the best places to visit, and focusing attention on the brand. I received the 8th most popular votes out of a couple of thousand entrants, but didn’t get the gig. Hardy Wallace was the choice of Kendall-Jackson and Murphy Goode, and he was the right choice; but he changed the job as he filled it and the original mission of writing about wine with Sonoma County acting as a co-star never really got accomplished.
I knew how to write, had wine industry knowledge experience, lived in Santa Rosa for over 40 years, earned a four year degree in marketing, and was perfect for the job – except I was old and didn’t really have the social media chops I needed to have to get the Really Goode Job.
Goode job, great job, no job, whatever. I changed a blog I was writing into a wine blog and became better versed in all of the social media channels in which I was previously lacking. Now, when there are a million social media marketing gurus, I am a real marketing guy with both social media and traditional marketing skills. I’m an old school guy that can offer demonstrable return on investment on real initiatives, while allowing that ability to inform my social media messaging output.
Having said all that, I bring a ton of experience, varied, deep, and wide to my McFadden tasting room gig. If you visit me for a tasting, I’ll share info about every wine I pour, putting all of the wines in a unique context. I try to educate, entertain, and hopefully move you to want to join our wine club.
Most folks enjoy what I offer, but when painting pictures with words, I believe in using the broadest brush possible. Here’s an example of my over the top messaging:
Everyone has tasted a buttery Chardonnay before, the butter note comes from a winemaking choice called malolactic fermentation which converts malic acid (green apple and citrus notes) to lactic acid (cream and butter notes). Together with barrel fermentation (oak, toast, and vanilla notes), this secondary fermentation can rob good grapes of their flavor or can disguise bad grapes with flavors not found in a vineyard.
I pour Chardonnay made from grapes from the first vineyard, McFadden Farm, planted in Potter Valley over 40 years ago, organic from day one. The grapes are great. Robert Mondavi, Kathryn Kennedy, and Piper Sonoma all buy our Chardonnay grapes. Our 2010 McFadden Chardonnay has gorgeous green apple and meyer lemon notes, drinks with the refreshing brisk acidity of a Sauvignon Blanc, and pairs incredibly well with foods that oaky Chardonnays just beat the Hell out of.
Last weekend, I poured our Chardonnay for about a thousand tasters during Hopland Passport wine weekend. I told folks right up front that our Chardonnay was different, that it allowed us to show off our Farm’s fruit, and we wouldn’t ruin it with barrel fermentation or malolactic fermentation. I asked tasters what part of the grape butter comes from, then told them butter comes from cows not grapes, and that fake butter belongs on movie theater popcorn and not Chardonnay.
Over the top? Of course. Purposely hyperbolic? Yep.
I’m not saying that Monsanto RoundUp, Barrel Fermentation, Malolactic fermentation aren’t viable choices in someone else’s vineyard or winery, and I know there are plenty of terrific Chardonnays that have all three of these things going on where McFadden Farm does not. Blah, blah, blah.
I’m not selling other peoples wines in my tasting room, so I get to tell my stories the way I like, the way that presents our wines in the best light. We increased our revenue over 90%, almost doubled, this Hopland Passport over last year’s spring Hopland Passport, so obviously most everyone “gets” what I do, appreciating what is meant to be a surprising and humorous delivery. I don’t do boring.
I do know that there are some who don’t get or like what I do. I am not the guy for the humorless, the dull, or the hypersensitive. I had one person this weekend accuse me of “insulting other wines,” when I said we didn’t want to ruin our Chardonnay with manipulated oak and butter. Seriously, if you are obtuse, come into McFadden on one of my days off; but if you are part of the 99%, the intelligent and open to fun – and can handle a little hyperbole – then by all means, please come visit me.
John can be reached most weekdays at the McFadden Farm Stand and Tasting Room in Hopland from 10:00am to 5:00pm at (707) 744-8463. He’s the very best tasting room manager ever, while simultaneously the most handsome eligible man in Mendocino county.
The previous statement was an example of hyperbole, not hubris. John is too talented to have to engage in hubris. You will have to decide whether that last statement was hyperbolic or not.