Looking ahead to the Wine Blogger’s Conference

By Leeann Froese

We are looking forward to sending two members of our team (myself and Sujinder Juneja) to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Finger Lakes, New York this August. This will be my 4th consecutive conference, and Sujinder’s third.

Wine Bloggers Conference

Being named Wine Enthusiast’s wine region of the year in 2014 made me very curious about what this region has to offer, because as world wine regions go the Finger Lakes Region is still relatively unknown.

This is not meant as a slight towards the region because I feel like our own home wine region here in British Columbia is also off the radar, and this is something we have in common. That same Wine Enthusiast article also named Canada / British Columbia / Okanagan as one of the gems to discover in the world. What will New York have to offer? In my minds eye it’s not as hot as it is here in the west, and I have never traveled into this particular area south of Ontario so it will be new territory for me

Adam Strum, publisher and editor of Wine Enthusiast, writes “The New York wine industry has made a remarkable comeback in the past 30 years in terms of the quality of wines, number of wineries, and economic impact.”

The Finger Lakes Wine Country boasts over 100 wineries centered around the region’s four main lakes: Cayuga, Seneca, Keuka and Canandaigua.

Vineyards at Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars - photo credit - Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

Vineyards at Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars – photo credit – Dr. Frank Vinifera Wine Cellars

British Columbia has more than 200 wineries, but like Finger Lakes, the Okanagan wine region is centered around Okanagan, Skaha, Vaseaux, Tuc el Nuit, and Osoyoos Lakes.

Summerhill Pyramid Winery's vineyard in the Okanagan Valley, BC

Summerhill Pyramid Winery’s vineyard in the Okanagan Valley, BC

In both cases, these bodies of water offer a moderating effect to the landscape and allows for premium grape growing. Is this where the similarities end?

I am sure that both regions offer people who love what they do, and I look forward to learning what kind of tourism infrastructure and hospitality the Finger Lakes region offers. What other compare and contrast points will we find? I am feeling confident the wines will not be the same!

More on the Wine Bloggers Conference and the Finger Lakes region to come!

Meet Clement Chan With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese

It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week #withTownHall we introduce you to Clement Chan

 

Clement Chan

 

Clement is co-owner of Le Tigre Cuisine – a food truck and catering company. He is also was a season three contestant on Top Chef Canada.

In May, Clement and partners are planning to launch Torafuku, a ramen restaurant with West Coast Flavours. and as a sneak preview to that, just this past week under the banner of the new restaurant Torafuku, Clement and his team won best dessert at the BCPMA Healthy Chef Competition. Congrats!

I wanted to introduce you to Clement this weekend, because tonight he is part of something very special: #dinnerpartyYVR.

Partnered by Cressey, and sponsored by one of our clients Serendipity Winery#dinnerpartyYVR is a social dining event that has connects Vancouverites in around the home dinner table, all to raise funds for charity. More than 30 hobby chefs cook for strangers in their homes, and the guests pay to attend, but all proceeds of each dinner are donated to a charity of the hobby chef’s choosing.

Clement, along with 12-year old #dinnerpartyYVR veteran Liam Lewis, will host a dinner party for some special dinner guests. Diners will be treated to a gourmet meal in Cressey’s luxurious Meccanica Penthouse.

He has a lot going on!

Whether you already know Clement or not, please help us support him and say hello.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Take photos like a pro from a camera or a phone

Photography Tips Anyone Can Use

By Ali Harris

One of the things I learned in my first photography class is that “The best camera is the one that’s with you“.

It’s no secret that today almost everyone has a camera of some kind on them at any given time. This speaks volumes to how our society and its interaction with photography has changed over time in its value, purpose and process. What used to be an incredibly lengthy and confusing process, has now become available to everyone!

I recently had the pleasure of speaking with three commercial photographers who we have worked with for food, event or portrait photography:

Ali Rahimi  – Vancouver/Montreal

Charles Zuckermann – Vancouver

Phillp Chin – Vancouver/Toronto

These three have more than 60 years experience combined, compared to my five, so I am happy to incorporate their tips and tricks and work them in with my own.

Please find the follow advice on how to take photos like a pro – from any device.

Go to the Light

Stay away from having bright backdrops, especially windows in the back of photos – instead use this light to your advantage and turn your subject to face the brightness and let it illuminate your photos!

Think in Threes

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The Rule of Thirds, also known as the Golden Ratio, is a guideline for composing your photos. It involves dividing the image into 9 equal sections and placing your subject where the lines intersect. Putting your subject in the middle is a no-no, as this will create a static photo. The idea was developed by renaissance painters who found that the eye doesn’t rest at the centre of the photo… instead, it wants to wander. Of course, there are times when it’s appropriate to break the rule, but always have it in mind.

Exposure, Aperture and Shutter Speed

Exposure indicates light sensitivity. A high ISO (International Standards Organization – referring to the industry norm for light sensitivity) allows you to take photos in low light. However, if the ISO is too high, the photo will appear grainy.

Aperture is the size of the physical opening of the lens and determines the focal length or depth-of-field. The higher the number, the a smaller hole letting light in, which I know, is a bit confusing. A low aperture means a larger hole letting light in which will lead to the background being out of focus.

Shutter Speed is how long the lens remains open for. A long shutter speed will show motion in the photo, and may lead to a blurry photo. A short shutter speed is best, to capture a sharp image.

Presentations and Presenters 

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This is a shallow depth-of-field – notice everyone in the background is blurry

Do you need to capture someone giving a speech, giving a cheque presentation, or receiving an award? Use a medium to shallow depth-of-field (Aperture) to make the cheque and/or presenters ‘pop’. This means that only the people and cheque will be sharp and the background will be blurry. You can change the depth-of-field by lowering the aperture on your camera.

Avoid shooting from below people. To get the most flattering angle, have your camera at eye level or higher!

Large Group Photos

  • Do you need to take a photo of your hockey team or staff? Align your subjects largest in the centre and smallest on the outside and have even numbers on either side.
  • Be as close to the crowd as you can without cutting off their heads – you want to see their faces as much as possible.
  • Take quite a few shots – have lots of countdowns to avoid people blinking
  • Break the ice by making a joke!

Phone Photos

  • Take your picture a little further back than you would like to give yourself room to crop it.
  • Download an editing program or use the one that comes with your phone.
  • Tilt your phone/camera a little. This gives a much more playful vibe.

What to do if the room is dark 

  • Use a high ISO to increase the speed that your camera takes the photo.
  • Use the built in flash on your camera or smartphone and if your camera doesn’t have one, use your smartphone’s flashlight as a flash, by holding your camera with one hand, and the smartphone in the other.

What has a better chance for publication? Horizontal or vertical photos?

Most print and online publications request Landscape (Horizontal) shots, but periodicals/magazines often use Portrait (Vertical) shots. Most photographers submit both.

When in doubt, hire a pro! Care to share your favourite photography tips and tricks? Leave them in the comments below!

Wine and Food Event Season is Upon Us in BC

By the Town Hall team

Events to celebrate – mark your calendar now!

Since March 25th’s #bcwinechat was about events, we thought we should share our clients’ events – but there is far to much to say for 140 character!

Check back often for updates…

Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store – BBQ Book Signing & Tasting – April 10
You are invited to celebrate the book launch of Grilling with House of Q, written by BBQ expert Brian Misko, at Well Seasoned in Langley, BC, on April 10th. Mark your calendar for a smoking hot evening of BBQ tasting and book signage by Brian.CARPROMO_BRIANMISKO_BOOKLAUNCH

 BC Wine Appreciation Society – 10th Anniversary Gala Celebration – April 16

Join the BC Wine Appreciation Society on April 16 at 7:00pm for their 10th Anniversay Gala celebration! While you walk around and admire the view that the Diamond Ballroom has to offer, you can sip on wine of over 35 BC wineries, savour some delicious cheese and socialize with your fellow BCWAS members.

And as a bonus it will be super easy for you to add new favourites to your cellar. Order as few as three bottles from any winery – an easy way to get a start on your summer sipping! Get your tickets here!

BC Hospitality Foundation – Dish ‘N Dazzle – May 7
Taste more than 80 wines from Argentina and bites from some of Vancouver’s most celebrated chefs at the annual Dish N Dazzle party at the Convention Centre East. Presented by the British Columbia Hospitality Foundation, the annual fundraiser also includes a cocktail competition and an amazing silent auction. Reserve your tickets now.DND-2015-Web-Banners

Chefs’ Table Society – Spot Prawn Festival – May 17
The Chefs’ Table Society of BC, in partnership with the Pacific Prawn Fishermen’s Association, and Fisherman’s Wharf, present the 9th annual Spot Prawn Festival May 17. The FREE celebration includes live entertainment, fun activities for children, and free cooking demos by top local chefs.

When the boats come in, live, local prawns are for sale at the dock, or buy tickets to the Prawn Boil or for local beer and wine, all while enjoying the dockside atmosphere and live entertainment.IMG_6043

Blue Grouse Estate Winery – Grand Opening – May 23
You’re invited to attend the grand opening of Blue Grouse’s new tasting room and winery facility. Nestled in the heart of Vancouver Island’s Cowichan Valley, Blue Grouse is one of Vancouver Island’s first wineries, working with vines originally planted in 1977. Winemaker and vineyard manager Bailey Williamson will be in attendance to showcase the latest vintages from the historic estate, and you will be treated to snacks and live music.Blue Grouse-Vinny

Okanagan Crush Pad – Mother’s Day Brunch – May 10
Mother’s Day is May 10 and Okanagan Crush Pad has teamed up with three Summerland businesses to provide a casual and fun Mother’s Day treat! They will be serving True Grain waffles, drizzled with maple Roch syrup, and My Chocolate Crush will be on-site providing luxury handmade chocolates. Enjoy all this with Haywire’s The Bub!OCP-Tasting-Room-4

Bottleneck Drive – Wine in the Garden -May 28
Celebrate spring with Bottleneck Drive wineries on May 28th at 6:00pm in VanDusen Botanical Gardens (Vancouver) to taste over 75 wines with food pairings from Truffles Fine Foods. Enjoy live music, a silent auction and wander the beautiful gardens.OCP-Switchback-Vineyard-Guests

Wines of Provence Tasting – June 6
Get patio ready! Be transported to the beautiful, sunny south of France in a glass, at a complimentary tasting of rosé wines from Provence. Visit the 39th and Cambie BCLDB location on June 6 (exact time TBD) and sample a selection of refreshing and delicious rosé wines from Provence, on feature throughout BC in the month of June.IMG_2778

Bottleneck Drive – Heard it Through the Grapevine – June 13 – 14
Join Okanagan Crush Pad along with Summerland’s Bottleneck Drive members to kick off the summer tasting season! Enjoy live music throughout the day, free tasting and great deals on great wine. The tasting room will be open 7 days a week hereafter.OCP-Switchback-Vineyard-5

Mt. Boucherie Winery – Lobster Fest – June 27
Join Mt. Boucherie Winery on June 27th for Lobster Fest and enjoy the panoramic view of Okanagan Lake as you dine in the winery’s picnic area for a three course meal of fresh lobsters paired with Mt Boucherie wine. Please check back on the Mt. Boucherie’s events page for more information.MB-Events-Page-Banner-2015

Mt Boucherie Winery – Stretch, Sip and Savour – Every Sunday from May 24 to September 13
What’s more relaxing than unrolling your yoga mat, and getting out a glass of wine. Starting May 24th, visit Mt Boucherie every Sunday (11am to 12pm) for a relaxing outdoor yoga class followed by a glass of wine and a light lunch. To register, please call the winery at 250-769-8803 or email sales@mtboucheriewinery.com. yoga9

Mt. Boucherie Winery- Mt. Boucherie Presents Becca T. – Second Saturday of Every Month from June 13 to October 10
Dance to the beat of pop and jazz singer, Becca T. as she performs live under the Mt. Boucherie white tent on the second Saturday of every month (1pm to 3pm). Starting June 13th until October 10th, bring a friend, your favourite snack and sip a glass of wine as you enjoy a musical afternoon out in the vineyard. Please check back on the Mt. Boucherie’s events page for more information.
MB-Events-Page-Banner-BeccaT-2015

Well Seasoned Gourmet Food Store – Weekly Cooking Classes – Weekly
Well Seasoned offers weekly cooking classes with various exciting themes taught by professional chefs. See the full list of classes from Date Night to Modern Indian and many more!chefjohnwalls_newfeature

Meet Annika Reinhardt With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese

It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week #withTownHall we introduce you to Annika Reinhardt

Annika Reinhardt

 

I wanted to introduce you to Annika this weekend, because she is also known as Social Bites; and next weekend Social Bites is hosting something very special: #dinnerpartyYVR.

Partnered by Cressey, and sponsored by one of our clients Serendipity Winery#dinnerpartyYVR is a social dining event that has connects Vancouverites in around the home dinner table, all to raise funds for charity. More than 30 hobby chefs cook for strangers in their homes, and the guests pay to attend, but all proceeds of each dinner are donated to a charity of the hobby chef’s choosing.

“This event provides the platform to do social good while enjoying good food and new friends” Annika says. And to date, $15,000 has been raised for Canadian charities!

The next #dinnerpartyYVR takes place on Saturday, March 28, 2015

Whether you know already know Annika or not, please help us support her and say hello.

Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Friday Night Liquor Story

By Leeann Froese

Ho-ly! Well what a day it has been, if you work in liquor in our Province.

And I have something to add. Today I met with British Columbia Minister of Justice Suzanne Anton.

Earlier this week I got an email from Anton’s office asking if I could meet with her this week. It was stimulated by an email I sent in December to Anton and copied in premier Christy Clark, MLA John Yap, and MLA Rich Coleman.

I had no reply to that initial letter until 10 weeks later when I received a form letter. In the meantime, the trade and media became increasingly vocal on social media as the weeks passed, and I followed the situation along with our winery clients. At one point I shared a couple links to YouTube posts of governmental debates that mentioned our clients in the Legislature, and commented how the situation was a total sh*t show.

So today I spent an hour with Anton in her office. I had never met her before, had no particular love or hate toward her, and no expectation of how the conversation would go. I queried why she had contacted me to meet today, of all days, when the pricing was going to be announced, and how any consultation seemed after-the-fact. It turned out that her office had taken some notice of what I’ve been sharing on social media and she sought a chance to chat with me. Also, I’m one of her constituents; her office is conveniently up the road from me.

I found her to be very accessible, open to feedback, and she was as open and candid with me as I was with her.

As an industry stakeholder I explained that Andrew and I own our burgeoning marketing agency with a specialty in wine, and we attempt to make a modest living as well as support others via our promotional work with wineries in BC and from overseas. I stated that our clients’ success at the retail shelf and in restaurants is our success too, and the new price model set to be implemented on April 1, 2015 is being very negatively received by BC’s wine and liquor industry. This industry does not feel that they have been asked for input and they are very nervous about what the final prices will be.

She shared with me that the government knows there are some people who are not happy but there’s also people who will be happy, most of all consumers, who, as we have all been reminded, now get to enjoy happy hour, wine at farmer’s markets, and soon in select grocery stores. (I admit I personally am pretty glad about happy hour.)

But I said to her again that I did think it was a sh*t show (and yes I used those words) that the industry had a lack of consultation and that the numbers are not public, and that our winery clients are frustrated and uncertain. I also noted that the private retailers, who stand to take a hit in their margin, are an important trade channel for both our domestic and international wine clients. I mentioned that private retailers are frustrated that they cannot sell to restaurants, and Anton indicated this situation will not change.

I also said that she must have noticed that among all of my cohorts the talk is most negative, and that key wine writers had a lot to say on the matter. She said that she had not directly spoken to these wine writers, but would if she had been approached.

Among further discussion on the topic she shared with me that any price fluctuations will be minor and the announcement that was going to follow today was the release of the information to hospitality customers. I didn’t really clue in that ‘hospitality customers’ meant that the public was not going to see what the wholesale markup model is going to be, so I am disappointed that after all this waiting, we still don’t all know the prices.

At this late hour I am drafting this post and the day is all but over. Many of my clients and journalists have gone to bed, but that was not before the online world was set aflame with indignation and frustration. Sigh.

However, being the glass-half-full person I am, I want to end this post with a glimmer of hope, and that is that it’s still a very much a time of change in our province. The liquor act is being analyzed from end to end and rewritten, and that job is not finished yet. The government remains open to ideas and feedback so I definitely recommend anyone in the industry or otherwise who has something to share should contact their MLA. Especially if you come across any rules or laws that seem to be antiquated or silly.

A last note from my meeting: Anton said that any media or trade writing on the topic of liquor should reach out to her communications person Jeff Groot.

Now I will watch and wait.

Meet the Hootsuite Owl With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese

It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week #withTownHall we introduce you to the Hootsuite Owl!

 

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Owly does not have opposable thumbs, so here he points to the sign while I hold it.

Hootsuite is a Vancouver-based company that offers an online social media management system. Hootsuite has a dashboard that helps users keep track and manage their social network channels. From a business perspective, it can enable a business to monitor what people are saying about their brand and help companies respond instantly.

I attended a social media meetup at the Hootsuite office a while back, and admired their brand integration, heavily based on owls. Their office HQ is the Owls Nest and their Owly mascot is named for the company’s URL shortener owl.y. So I jumped at the chance to meet the superstar mascot.

I have a few friends that work at Hootsuite, and I cheer on the company’s success as a local company that employs more than 500 people. I cannot imagine Town Hall ever getting bigger than 10!

In any case, it’s not the best picture, but hopefully you will see the fun in it too.

Have you ever met Owly? Whether you have or you have not, please do say hello. Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

 

Meet Tyler Harlton With Town Hall

By Leeann Froese

It’s Saturday – that means it’s time to introduce you to one of the fabulous personalities in the world #withTownHall

This does not mean they work as part of our team, or are our client (although sometimes they are).

We just interact with so many amazing people that we want to expand networks and introduce them to you, and you to them.

This week #withTownHall we introduce you to Tyler Harlton.

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Tyler is the owner and winemaker of Summerland’s TH Wines.

Relatively new to wine, first Tyler was a pro hockey player (drafted by the St. Louis Blues), then a lawyer, and now, as a winemaker he is winning over palates one at a time with his BC wines made, by hand, starting in the vineyard.

We are really proud of Tyler on his journey as a BC wine producer, and we invite you to help us congratulate him, as he was just named one of the Western Living magazine 2015 Foodies of the Year!

Whether you know Tyler already or not, please help us congratulate him and say hello.  Leave a comment below – or go give this post a like or share on Facebook or Twitter.

 

7 Tips to Build Your Online Relationship

By: Amy Chen

Image Credit: Ricky Shetty, Social Media Mastery Conference Facebook

Image Credit: Ricky Shetty, Social Media Mastery Conference Facebook

Whether it’s with your customers, employees, stakeholders, or suppliers, a genuine relationship is fundamental to any successful business.

As our world is shifting quickly to social media platforms, effective maintenance of online relationship becomes just as important as an in-person relationship.

So, what are seven tips to follow in building and maintaining an authentic online relationship? Ricky Shetty from Daddy Blogger and a panel of social media experts (Matt AstifanWendy McClellandMichelle CastilloSteve DottoCadi JordanVincent NgKatt StearnsJonathan Christian, and Kemp Edmonds) who spoke at the recent 2015 Social Media Mastery Conference offered several nuggets throughout the day-long event.

We have rounded it up the best of our ability into seven take away tips:

1. Do unto others as they have done unto you.
If you want others to Like, share and engage on your posts, do so first and reciprocate. Remember to be respectful and thank others when they engage in your conversations. Just like any relationship building, the more time you spend engaging in it, the more you will get noticed. But make sure your engagements are meaningful, appropriate and reflect the kind of personality you want others to perceive.

2. Go the extra mile.
Social media, especially LinkedIn, is a world full of professional connections. There are many others with a similar background as you. To get noticed, you need to build connections by going the extra mile. Thank others when you make a connection with them. Or, offer encouragement, compliments and expert advice where appropriate.

#Selfie at Social Media Mastery

The #selfie exercise at #SMMastery.

3. Use hashtags.
Use hashtags (but don’t overuse them) so your content appears in conversations with likeminded individuals. When you have a common ground with others, it’s much easier to engage in an authentic conversation and build a relationship.

4. Pictures are in.
Visual image is where it’s at in social media. People are drawn towards images and colours. Use images wherever possible in your social media posts. It is only when you have someone’s attention then you can have their ears to listen.

5. Tag appropriately.
The rule of thumb is to only tag people who appear in your photo. Don’t flood and spam your social media connections by tagging photos of people who do not appear in the photo. Chances are, your connection won’t be sharing or engaging in the conversation if it’s not relevant to them.

6. Find common ground.
Part of building and maintaining a relationship is finding your common ground with the other person. When you share the same hobbies, stories, or have a similar common ground, you’re able to start a conversation that you’ll both relate to and find interest. From there, a meaningful and authentic relationship can be built and often leading to a successful business relationship.

7. Treat it as a real relationship.
If it’s not something you will want the whole world to know about, don’t share it on social media. Treat every connection you have on social media as an in-person relationship. Behave as you would in-person.

What do you think? Do you agree? Do you have any tips to add or share? Let us know below.