Blog-Spot: DallasWineChick

Last fall I met this great gal, Melanie Ofenloch, who’s one of the newer members of our PR Advisory Council at Auburn. When I needed a vice chair for the council, she stepped right up (and she’s been cracking the whip over me ever since). Later, I found out that in addition to her PR job in Dallas and life as a mom, Melanie is a pretty well-known wine expert, although she’d probably be quick to argue that point. But if not an expert, then at least an aficionado…big-time. Her blog, DallasWineChick, gets thousands of page views a month, and she’s got 3000+ followers on Twitter who share her zeal for the grape. Here’s more on Melanie.

What’s your day job like?
My day job is EVP of a large global public relations firm. It’s high intensity and keeps me on my toes 24/7. I get to work with some of the best brands in the world, so it’s a lot of fun.

What’s your blog life like?
My blog life usually involves at least one wine event a week – whether that’s a wine dinner, sampling wine sent to me by wine companies, trying a new wine bar or attending an industry event. This week, for example, I headed to Fort Worth to taste a line-up of Texas wines and have a portfolio tasting for a company distributing wines into Texas. Today I have a dinner with the winemaker of Red Car Wines. Last week I hosted an event for eight where we tried “wines off the beaten path” at the Fairmont Hotel.
Why’d you start DallasWineChick?
I call myself the “accidental blogger.” I first started on Twitter and went back and read my Tweets after the first 90 days. I was terribly boring and didn’t have any new take on the subject of marketing or PR. I decided to talk about wine – and my following grew from 30 to almost 1,000. I said that when I hit 1,600 followers I’d start the blog. That happened a year ago in February.

Was there a particular wine “moment” that turned you on to this hobby-passion?
Another accidental circumstance. I was on a business trip in San Francisco for a client and we were asked to come early. The client realized she didn’t need us so we made our way to Napa. My life was literally changed by one sip of a Stag’s Leap Cask 23. I remember being overwhelmed by the moment – absolutely astonished that the wines I had been drinking tasted so different. Later I was overwhelmed by the price of purchase as I prayed my credit card would go through (I was young). Several days later, I had to use all of my marketing skills to convince my husband that paying that much for a special bottle was worth it. And, several months later on our anniversary, I was validated as I saw he enjoyed it as much as I did.

Most memorable trips to vineyards?
My trips to Napa and Sonoma have always been memorable. My goal is to find the family-owned, estate wines that haven’t been discovered yet. Some of my favorites are Larkmead, Ladera, Lancaster, Sojourn, Failla, Michel Schlumberger, Pina, Peju, Frank Family, Vincent Arroyo, Goosecross and Barnett Vineyards.

Fav wine picks for under $50? Under $25?
This is going to probably be an exercise in frustration because we buy a lot of our wines from the vineyard or a wine club.  
  • Under $50 – Failla Viognier, Failla Phoenix Ranch Syrah, Vincent Arroyo Petite Syrah Reserve, Larkmead Firebelle, Ladera Cabernet, Goosecross Cabernet, Va Piano Cabernet, Alexander Nicole Rock Star Red
  • Under $25 – Summers Cabernet, Raptor Ridge Pinot Noir, Groom Syrah, Sacre Bleu Cabernet and Lancaster Sauvignon Blanc.
“Experiment, enjoy and figure out what you like.”

Blogging. Why do it? How do you find time to post?
I like to blog because it gives me a reason to talk about wine. It’s opened so many doors in the industry and I’ve even landed my first wine/spirits-related account – the Wine & Spirits Wholesalers of America. I get to help promote an entire convention dedicated to the subject of wine and spirits. I also attended my first wine blogger conference in Walla Walla, Washington last year.  I’ve committed myself to post once a week and daily on Facebook/Twitter (@melanie0). That way it’s manageable with the real job and provides an outlet for my passion.
Any parting thoughts?
Just want to reinforce that wine should be about the experience. No one should be told what to drink or trust their wine decisions to a critic. Experiment, enjoy and figure out what you like. Becoming a “wine expert” is knowing what wine is good for you and what wine is not. It’s the journey that’s the fun part. Cheers!

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