I look forward to Tuesday — the second Tuesday of each month to be exact. At 7 o’clock, I settle into my spot on the couch, turn on the computer, and grab a glass of Texas wine. My stop for the night is Twitter; I’m there to join other Texas wine lovers to tweet about our shared passion. On each second Tuesday, I spend the night with #TXWine Twitter Tuesday.
What is a Twitter Chat?
For those not familiar with Twitter, a Twitter chat is when a group of like-minded individuals come together and tweet (jargon for a Twitter message). The chat is scheduled at a specific time; #TXWine Twitter Tuesday starts at 7 P.M. CST on the second Tuesday of every month. At that time, participants head online to Twitter or a related Twitter program; TweetChat and TweetDeck are two of the most popular for following a Twitter chat. Once signed in, participants engage in a live chat by following others posts and partake themselves.
When participants wish to join in the chat, they must make sure to add the required hashtag (# symbol with the correct name). For our event, all postings must contain the #txwine hashtag. This is extremely important. On Twitter, the only tweets a person generally sees are those posted by the people the account holder follows. However in a Twitter chat, chances are there a number of people involved that the participant doesn’t follow. In order to read posts by all the people taking part, the participants need to follow the required hashtag. When the hashtag is selected, especially in a program like TweetChat or TweetDeck, the participants will see all related tweets.
The History of #TXWine Twitter Tuesday
Texas Wine Twitter Tuesday has come a long way since its beginnings. The Texas Department of Agriculture’s GOTEXAN Wine Program started the event to spread the word about Texas wine. It, along with the now gone Passport Program, played a role in increasing interest in Texas’ growing wine industry. However, all good things tend to come to an end, and so did both programs. When state funding for the Wine Program dried up, these great opportunities were threatened. Texas Wine lovers didn’t want the fun to end, so they gathered together to help keep Texas Wine Twitter Tuesday going.
So in 2011, as GOTEXAN took a back seat, the Texas wine community stepped in. Lead by Russ Kane and Denise Clark, the new movement, #TXWine Twitter Tuesday, was born. Since then, Russ, Denise, and now Jeff Cope, captain the new ship. These three Texas wine fans and writers oversee topic choice and help to direct the conversations. They also work to advertise the event – at least one of them, if not all of them, will have a blog detailing the next #TXWine Twitter Tuesday. They also see to arranging guests, like winemakers, winery owners, grape growers, sommeliers, and restaurateurs. And when big events come along, they also arrange for help. Their tireless support and work is what keep #TXwine Twitter Tuesday going.
#TXWine Twitter Tuesday
The length and breadth of Texas is filled with wineries and wine drinkers. Getting a group of this size together in one place proves difficult. The virtual world of Twitter offers just such a gathering place: a place for all sorts of Texas wine drinkers to come together and share and learn about Texas wine. On any given #TXWine Twitter Tuesday, I come away knowing more about Texas wine and about my fellow wine drinkers.
There would be no Twitter chat without our hosts. To start each month’s event, they choose a topic to focus what could be a rather random and chaotic chat. During the chat, our intrepid hosts take on the responsibility of directing the tweets. If we have multiple small topics, they help move along the conversation so we can get to each planned point before our time runs out. They also help newcomers join in the conservation, as well as help regulars take part. Without us noticing, our hosts make sure to help conversations move by asking questions to participants and retweeting interesting comments.
The topics these hosts provide range. Some months, specific wines are featured. Recently in February, Jeff and Denise featured five sweet wines: Becker Vineyard’s 2012 (sweet) Riesling, Flat Creek’s Moscato D’Arancia 2009, Llano Estacado’s Cellar Select Texas Port, Messina Hof’s Paulo Port 2004 and Papa Paulo Port Private Reserve Double Barrel 2007. During the course of the evening, we all shared our reactions to the wines, such as what we were drinking, what we thought of it, and what we would pair with it. In addition, the winemakers and winery owners joined us to answer questions. Other months, we discuss our experiences with Texas wine. At the end of the summer, harvest and crush experiences were shared — great insight I much appreciated. Each month, another great topic draws us in. The best way to keep up is to follow our hosts on Twitter or follow their blogs: Vintage Texas, Texas Wine Gal, and Texas Wine Lover.
#TXWINE Twitter Tuesday in 2013
2013 promises to be an exciting year for #TXWine Twitter Tuesday. To start off 2013, out hosts, led by Jeff, decided to have a Tweet-up event. So for January, Jeff enlisted the help of regular tweeters, like myself, and wine shops and wine bars that sell Texas wine. Most locations had a coordinator, a local host for the night. I was lucky enough to coordinate at my favorite wine shop, Vinously Speaking (owned by fellow wine bloggers Veronique Cecilia Barretto and Melissa Unsell). We coordinators helped get the word out, but we also helped our local tweeters join in the conversation. At my location, I helped a number of people new to Twitter and Twitter chats. The locations, including local grocery chain Whole Foods, provided space and specials for the event. At Vinously Speaking, two local wineries were featured: Bending Branch Winery and Pedernales Cellars. In addition, Jen from Bending Branch and Shannon from Pedernales came out to join us and talk about the wine. We also were lucky enough to have our own catering on site. MONZ BONZ (owned and operated by Ramon Barretto) catered the event providing barbeque to pair with the Texas wines. Across the state on a dreary January night, Texas wine drinkers gathered to drink Texas wine, talk to one another, and tweet.
Article by Robin English-Bircher, Vitis Poema for Texas Wine and Trail Magazine