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This month is a big month for the Dallas Wine Chick.  It’s the one-year anniversary of this little blog and with over 9,500 page views, about 3,100 Twitter followers and almost 600 fans on Facebook, you all have exceeded my expectations for success and created this amazing wine community.

You’ll see a link above to my first advertiser, Wine Chateau, a great online retailer of fine wines, who offers you a shipping discount with the link above.  Thank you Wine Chateau for your support of Dallas Wine Chick.

Recently I had my first wine-related speaking opportunity for EFactor, a local networking group.  Alex Andrawes, the CEO of wines.com and a friend on Twitter, asked me to join a panel session with some esteemed names in the wine business.  So I found myself on a panel with two Texas winemakers — Dan Gatlin from Inwood Estates and Dave Duchman from Duchman Family Wines as well as two personal friends – Andrew Chalk, D Magazine producer for Side Dish and Lindsay Woodard, owner of Retour Wines in Oregon.  About 55 people gathered at Cork Wine Bar to taste wine, hear the discussion and network.

I first introduced myself as the “accidental blogger.”  For those of you who know the story of starting Dallas Wine Chick, I just wanted to share my passion and experience of wine with others.  I started first on Twitter and when I reached a certain following; I thought about starting the blog.  To my shock, it happened.

The discussion was interesting.  We were asked as a panel to discuss the wine industry in Dallas.  Dan talked about how Dallas remains a challenge for him and other markets like Houston are much more supportive of Texas wines.  I talked about how Texas wine – especially in Dallas – needs an image overhaul to occur before consumers can support it.  In my discussions with other winemakers, including Lindsay who was there to debut her wonderful Retour Pinots in Dallas, the market is definitely supporting wines from other regions.

Andrew voiced the frustration of the room when asked about challenges with wine and restaurants.  Because consumers are better educated and know the retail price of many wines, paying triple mark-up is a detriment.  He believes that if restaurants were to even double the price of retail wine, they would immediately see higher sales because people would be willing to buy more wine.  I wasn’t asked this question, which was probably a good thing, but my pet peeve is “cookie cutter” wine lists that have been purchased by a distributor.  If many restaurants would take the same care with wine lists as they do with their food, consumers would have a better experience.

We talked a lot of about social media.  Lindsay doesn’t use social media today because her customers aren’t using Twitter and Facebook.  Dan has an Inwood Estates Facebook page, but it doesn’t seem to be populated often.  Dave has his marketing department handle their social media efforts and they are active.  Andrew uses a blog, but not Facebook or Twitter for business.  So, that leaves me and Alex as the poster children of the power of social media.

There was also some general discussion about the three-tier system and I think many of those in the room were surprised to hear about how wine gets from the winemaker to your home.

All in all, it’s the type of panel discussion that brought together many perspectives – winemaker, wine writers, wine retails.  We just needed a distributor to get a holistic view of the wine business.

As we wrapped up the Q&A, one audience member asked if it was still possible to get outside funding for the wine business.  Dan responded with a well-known, but sadly true quote – “If you want to make a small fortune in the wine business, be prepared to invest a large fortune.”