Born Digital Wine Awards 2018

Winners released

Born Digital Wine Awards, is the only international wine awards that assess entries from various different languages across a range of categories, and the winners are out today!

New sponsor, new categories – it was all change for the 2018 edition of these awards (that I so love coordinating!) and the result was something that really appealed to people who are creating great content around the world.

This year we attracted more and more writer, photographers and videographers that had never entered the competition and the quality of the work was outstanding. Need to be convinced? Take a look at the list of winners below. Even if you’re a seasoned wine pro, there’s sure to be something there that you didn’t know…


  1. Meg Houston Maker ~ Toward a New Lexicon for American Wine ~ Twitter
  2. W. Blake Gray ~ Please Do Not Buy These Wines ~ Twitter
  3. Becca Yeamans-Irwin ~ The future of Fermentation : The role of Synthetic yeast in Winemaking Twitter


  1. Ilkka Sirén ~ Why You Should Bury Your Wine in the Pits of the Earth ~ Twitter
  2. Sarah Grunwald ~ How One Georgian Winemaker Brought a Cellar to the Sky
  3. Anna Webster ~ Mornington Peninsula’s Moorooduc Estate ~ Twitter


  1. Alice Feiring ~ Noma ~ Twitter
  2. Charine Tan ~ The Unlikely Partners: Somlói Wine and Indonesian Stew ~ Twitter
  3. Jill Barth ~ This French Wine Region’s Pink Lakes Produce The World’s Best Salt ~ Twitter


  1. Monty Waldin ~ Italian Wine Podcast Episode 139: Monty Waldin interviews Joe Bastianich (Bastianich Winery) ~ Twitter
  2. Cathy Huyghe ~ “It’s Like Mansplaining, but for Race”: What the Wine Industry Can Learn about Black Consumers ~ Twitter
  3. Christina Rasmussen ~ Up On Mt. Etna With Frank Cornelissen: The Sprudge Wine Interview ~ Twitter


  1. Ryan Moore ~ Geyserville: History in the Ground ~ Twitter
  2. Al Robertson ~ Is You Wine Vegan? ~ Twitter
  3. Dan Sims ~ Gippsland teaser trailer ~ Twitter


Marcelo Copello – Sustentabilidade no Vinho, o planeta agradece – Translation


Robert Joseph

#Wine Makes a Difference – a change of events

Could there be any better way to do a good deed than through a glass of wine? I don’t think there is and I’m sure many would agree it sounds like a much more enjoyable alternative than running a marathon in a silly suit.

Back in December, I attended an entrepreneur’s group on the theme of philanthropy, asking the question ‘how can we give back to society through our business activity?’ A few months earlier I’d organized a wine party for friends who weren’t able to attend one of my events using the bottles left over from the producers. I’d lined up over a dozen bottles, provided some food to keep us reasonably sober and talked them through what we were drinking. At the end of the night, everyone went home full, happy and having learnt something more about wine – without having spent a penny. That got me thinking… An evening of eating and drinking in the company of like-minded company is something people are more than happy to pay for so, why not use these events to do some good?

About the same time, I read a post in a Facebook group from Carrie Forster. She told her tragic story of how her daughter was diagnosed with a rare, life-limiting disease about the time my own daughter was born. Begging readers not to shed tears (an impossible request), she wrote of how she was organizing to bring Christmas cheer to the families who would be spending that day in the Palliative ward of one of Munich’s main hospitals and how she planned to organize events to help the families of these children. I dropped her a line, we met and she told me about her family’s experience of dealing with her daughter’s disease and consequent needs. Her strength and determination to do something to help families in a similar situation as hers bowled me over and we started talking about what we could do together.

Through her newly established charity, The Sticky Fingers Family Association, she aims to create activities that foster relationships between these families so that they can help and support each other on this journey. Many organisations exist already to help fund research into curing these diseases or provide kids with unforgettable trips but none support the families that are by their sides during their illness. Her planned activities include fun family days out, events for the parents to give them some valuable of me-time (almost impossible even with children that don’t require round-the-clock care, I know!) and informative workshops on aspects that can improve the quality of life of these children.

I told her about my wine party and we quickly decided to pen in a date for a summer garden party along the same lines. Luckily the sun shone for us that day. With 15 different wines – some left over from events, others kindly donated by friend wine producers – and some delicious food sponsored by Florian of Flo and Co, a sticky fingers board member, it was a food and wine lovers delight. Besides an open wine bar, we also held a charity auction for some special bottles from my cellar. The event was a great success raising over 2,500 euro. On 28th February 2019, World Rare Diseases Day, I’ll help Carrie to organize something special, so this is just the start!

For charities further afield, I also chose to work with the German chapter of Simply Smiles, a charity dedicated to giving brighter futures to the children of Oaxaca, one of the poorest regions of Mexico. Their founder and I met when our children attended the same nursery and quickly became friends. I mentioned to her that I wanted to put the wines that I had to good use, respect the passion and dedication that the producers invest in creating them, and allow them to be enjoyed whilst they were still at their best. On 6th July I hosted a charity wine bar as part of their annual fund-raising event that raised over 1,000 euro towards the construction of a new children’s home in Mexico.


After these events, I’m happy to say that my cellar is empty and my heart is full. There’s nothing more fulfilling than using the privileged position I find myself in to make a difference to people’s lives – without having to run a marathon in a silly suit…

If you would like to support any of my fund-raising events, please contact me on

If you would like to hear about more of my events, including future fund-raising ones, sign up to my mailing list. 

Lambrusco Reloaded.. Surprising people with Italy’s oldest export…

When I got the call about organizing an event for Lambrusco I have to admit I had mixed feelings. Exports of Lambrusco back in the 70s battered its reputation. Sweet, fizzy and generally like pop, it was often the first wine people got drunk on in their teens and the last one they wanted to buy in adulthood.

But that was a long time ago and the world – including Lambrusco – has changed.

Since I started working with Consorzio Italia del Vino, I had the chance to get to know the wines of Medici Ermete. Pioneers of Lambrusco, they were the first to be awarded the coveted Tre Bicchieri status from Gambero Rosso, one of the world’s most respected wine guides – an award they’ve now received for eight consecutive years. I’d taken groups of press and somm’s to visit their cellars and enjoy their unparalleled hospitality so I knew they were good. I just didn’t realize how good other producer’s wines were too.

The mission as I saw it was to change perspectives on this wine that people thought that they knew and the plan was to reveal the facets of this amazingly versatile wine through a master class led by an expert and an event which combined with Lambrusco’s amazing food-pairing qualities. Bubblegum pink to bright raspberry practically purple, Lambrusco can be made from bone dry to deliciously sweet but most people only know the sweet version, and only a few buy it on a regular basis. Perfect with deli meats, pasta, risotto, cheeses and even cake, Lambrusco is the ultimate crowd-pleaser. Light in alcohol, it’s the perfect social lubricant and I wanted an event to reflect that.

I’d visited a venue years ago but never had the right event for it. Its time was up: large light room, open kitchen and a snug separée with access to a terrace, all with a homely but hip feel, was the perfect Lambrusco pairing. Now for the experts. Whilst Jossi Loibl, Editor in Chief of DelicatEssen, Munich’s ultimate annual guide for its Epicurious inhabitants, was immediately on board declaring his enthusiasm for one of Italy’s most famous tipple, Andrea Vestri who would lead the professional master class was harder to convince.  Italian born, yet a firm appassionato for French wines, his secret confession was “But I don’t like Lambrusco”. Perhaps. But I do like a challenge.

On the evening I sat with Andrea and Sabrina, a sommelière from Emilia Romagna bursting with enthusiasm and background on her region’s wines and cuisine, our eyes were opened. Wine after wine left us delving for descriptors. More complex than first meets the nose, these wines left us wanting to finish the bottle, never boring the palate. The most surprised of the trio was Andrea of course. He was a convert. This was also a story he would tell – with distinctly Italian humour and animation – on the day of the event.

So the day came, first for the professionals and then for the consumers – wine after wine opening eyes and surprising taste buds. After the master class on the where and how these wines are produced, it was time to mosey into the kitchen, taste another two dozen wines from ten producers and then enjoy some authentic Emilia Romagna cuisine prepared by one of my favourite Italian restaurants in town. Wine, food and friends: exactly where Lambrusco finds its perfect place. As people left, the word on their lips was “überraschung”: surprise. In a calendar of events centred on newer releases of wines that are well known, we’d managed to create something that was different, put a product in its perfect environment and reminded people about the uniqueness of the first and most exported wine of Italy.

Having already tasted many of the wines before the event, I have to say that the biggest surprise for me was the unexpected guest, Petra* the Bulldog. As she and her owner left though, I was thrown a card and a “tell the producer to call me – I want this wine on my list now!” Now that’s the perfect result.

The Lambrusco Reloaded event was organized for the Consorzio Lambrusco in collaboration with Fruitecom on 6thJune 2018.

Name may have been changed to protect identity 🙂

Full gallery of photos here

PHOTOS: Jessica Gales van Maanen

Wine 2 Wine

It was a cold evening in January 2014 in Munich when Marc Roisin and I closed the doors on the second, and what would be the last, edition of the Wine Business Innovation Summit: an event that brought together wine producers, distributors, bloggers, innovators and entrepreneurs in a cosy setting to network and exchange ideas on the future of the wine business. WBIS had started attracting attention – notably that of Stevie Kim, managing director of Vinitaly International.

For us, lack of sponsorship – and time – signed the end, but it was the start of something else. Later that same year Wine2Wine was launched in Verona bringing together – on a much larger scale – wine producers, entrepreneurs, influencers, press and to listen to discussions on issues that are changing our business.

Three years later and I finally made it to Verona for the fourth edition. A new format: 30 minute sessions within one larger theme, reduced time lost between sessions and allowed efficient speakers to really shine. Institutional moments, speaker’s corner sessions (similar to Vinocamp), ensured there was a good balance between the politics and the community.

Felicity Carter gave a very concise presentation about how the problems linked to concentrated city tourism is forcing a need for out of town attractions and how wine can answer that. Examples of cooperation between wineries and local businesses and services were reminiscent of the ambitious and unfortunately failed project of Illasi Valleys I was involved in many years ago. Proof that finding the right people to lead them is as important as finding the people to share the idea.

Millenials were, as always, the hot topic – a segment of the population that now accounts for 40% of sales in the US, this generation of personalized, unique experiences that they can rave about – and don’t have to think too much about.

Robert Joseph, the “Wine Thinker” gave a thoroughly entertaining presentation on the morning of day 2 – complete with explosion sounds effects – expressing elements that he sees are likely to change in the wine business including product formats, distribution channels and appellations. Bring in cans, blends, shopping direct from phones and the business looks a lot different form the traditional wine shop. There was also talk of how Australian wineries have cottoned on to putting wines in boxes to facilitate the Chinese gift-giving custom – much like traditional Champagne houses. I’d love to see more Amarone’s in boxes – especially at Christmas.

Sarah Abbott, passionate pro-European, gave a very reassuring seminar on the Brexit situation opening with a quip “we need a drink more than ever!”. A topic that has left the UK beyond divided, her message was that the UK wine and spirits trade association WSTA, is working diligently with high-profile figures in the wine business, politicians and law-makers, to ensure that the industry will continue to get a good deal. The government’s recent move to freeze taxes on alcohol, the first in many years, was an indication of the acknowledgment of the trade’s importance. What will happen by March 2019, no-one knows but it won’t be left to chance.

The sessions and lessons on China proved more food for thought. Ian Ford, founder of the Chinese importer Summergate gave his session on where the Italians are going wrong – adaptable lessons for many markets. His main message was “get out of your comfort zone” and understand that the Chinese are a different population with different customs and cultures, and work with them.

Excellent organisation, time-keeping, availability of presentations after the event : anyone would think this was more Prowein than Vinitaly. Two packed days of different perspectives and know-how, not to mention networking left me a lot to consider. One thing I’m sure of though – I’ll be back to Wine 2 Wine in 2018….