Stormhoek: Shiny, happy people do Grapes 2.0

Recovered from the Wayback Machine.

Talk about webloggers being had…

Frank Paynter had a couple of odd posts about Stormhoek, the South African wine made famous by weblogging.

It would seem that Stormhoek was really nothing more than a concept in search of a vineyard in 2003, and now that some level of success has been reached, is scratching the vineyard. Or is that the true story?

According to another story, something calling itself “Stormhoek” in South Africa is trying to raise capital, by again depending on social media. This time, instead of hosting a dinner with free booze, the folks are asking people to buy a vine:

First, buy a vine. Then ride on the coat tails of Stormhoek’s powerful marketing campaign: blog about your purchase, send out a press release, tell your existing customer base about it. You will be aligning yourself with a feel-good story, that has a proven viral marketing value, and at the same time you will be doing some very, very good for the local wine industry.

But who is the real Stormhoek? And how powerful is that “viral marketing value” if the prime instigator behind the campaign is in Texas, snacking on Bar-B-Que, lecturing on marketing on a trip sponsored by the people who seemingly own the Stormhoek name, but not a drop of the grape?

From Grape Wine News:

The Stormhoek website is handling the situation with what one must assume is panache, and a continuation of its mastery of internet communication, by almost ignoring the financial collapse of the brand’s owners. It’s blog format has brief, downplaying coverage, wedged between rather longer entries on a marketing guru and a cartoonist. ‘While the issues are being sorted in the UK’, it says with rather splendid airiness, ‘back at the vineyard, we are busy thinking about harvest and the more mundane things we need to do to get wines made and in the hands of customers around the world.’

mundane things we need to do to get wines made… Like, having grapes?


According to a UK trade publication, Off LicenseHugh Macleod and the two who owned the original company that went bankrupt, Orbital, will be continuing the marketing campaign. There is no mention of the fact that the Stormhoek “name” is no longer associated with any actual vineyard. Or at least the new owner of Orbital’s assets, Origin’s Stormhoek is not associated with any vineyard.

One must be excused for displaying a sour face when hearing about the “success” of the Stormhoek marketing effort, after trying to wade through the mess that is Stormhoek. However, I won’t make a comment on the lack of transparency associated with this issue, because I’ve been reliably informed that the players associated with Stormhoek never promised transparency. It was another Web 2.0 pundit who promised transparency. The Stormhoek Web 2.0 pundit promised something that isn’t as interesting.

I frequently get my Web 2.0 pundits mixed up. It’s a failing of mine.

In the meantime, may I suggest a local wine? It’s not as chi-chi clever, but at least you know you’re paying for the grape, not the meme.

Second Update

An older article on the origins of Stormhoek confuses the issue of what is “Stormhoek” even more. Money quote:

Deal with it quickly and diffuse the situation politely. After a while the trolls will get bored and go home.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email