By Rogerio Ruschel (*)
My dear readers, I’m a member of several groups in Facebook to know about the news in the world of the culture of wine, to get to know people and to spread the articles that I post here in my blog “Vino Viajas”. One of these groups is #winelover, created by the Brazilian who lives in Wellesley, USA, Luiz #winelover Alberto, the current CEO of the group.
Above, some winelovers in-person meeting in Sicily, Italy. Luiz (below) was born in a small town named Elias Fausto (near Campinas, São Paulo Estate) and he grew up drinking wine in his Italian family Sunday lunches. He studied Geography at USP - University of São Paulo, but since that time he was trying to learn also about wines.
Today he is a student of the Institute of Masters of Wine of London; a member of the Circle of Wine Writers, also from London; Italian Wine Ambassador by the Vinitaly International Academy; a judge in many International Wine Competitions; and also an educator through TheWineHub, a website with wine-related articles, quizzes and events – check here http://thewinehub.com/home/
The #winelover group is one of the most serious, active and organized that I’m a member on Facebook. I proved that in June 2015 when I did a survey with professionals in several groups of friends of wine to prepare a speech for a congress in Portugal and the #winleover group was the one that generated the highest number of responses (and all very qualified). I think that the explanation for this fact is that the group take the experiences online to real life, like the #winelover against cancer campaign that can change lives and entertaining meetings around the world. It certainly helps that these mobilizations are supported by about 35 #winelover Ambassadors and near 20.100 participants from dozens of countries.
The cancer campaign is based on selling custom T-shirts for the group - the models are chosen by vote. The goal of the campaign, according to Luis Alberto, is "to raise funds to raise awareness about the risks and prevention of breast and prostate cancer and to find potential donors for leukemia patients, through various wine world channels as shows , conferences and tastings." This type of activity is common in the real world, practically does not exist in the wine industry and could save many lives by raising awareness of some types of cancer as early as possible. Luis Alberto also highlights the importance of emotional support for those who have or had cancer, "We have to make them feel loved and that they are not alone."
The meetings (#winelover hangouts) allow participants - people who only know each other by Facebook - can accomplish the main goal of the group: unite the friendship of people around the world who share a passion for wine. And as the group is large, with over 20,100 members, the encounters are frequent and in different countries. Sometimes just eight winelovers who have blogs about wine can represent thousands of readers in an elevator, as this funny picture shows below.
Between February and November 2015 were held about 20 meetings in cities like London, Gangnam, Rome, Marsala, Champagne, Paris, Stockholm, New York, Bucharest, São Paulo, Vipavska, Bordeaux, Mosel, Boston, Lisbon and Vienna. As it says Luis Alberto, "A meeting #winelover is an incredible opportunity to discover new wines and meet people who love wine as you."
As the group is public, unity and quality of members is maintained for 24 administrators of the site and Ambassadors #winelover. Administrators are members who help the founder to maintain the quality of published content and the Ambassadors are in the definition of Luis Alberto, "#winelovers of the highest level accredited to represent our community; the most important criterion is that they are selected based on their credentials to communicate about wine through social media."
Currently, there are 35 accredited Ambassadors, including the Swedish Magnus Reuterdahl (pictured above) who claims to be a real Viking and as such aims to "crush the enemies and hear the lamentation of their women and drink wine."
Jokes aside, I'm glad that there are other Ambassadors of the friendliest group as ambassadors Kats Morse, Switzerland (above); Marinela Vasilica Ardelean, from Romania, author of a beautiful book about wine (also above); the South Korean Mi Yeun Hong who lives in Italy and the Canadian Leeann Froese, Vancouver - both in the pictures below.
I toast to Luiz #winelover Alberto, the members of the group and Ambassadors, all my friends, wishing all of us three things: Peace, Love and Wine!
(*) Rogerio Ruschel is the editor of In Vino Viajas based at São Paulo, Brazil, and has a lot of friends, #winelovers and not winelovers in 120 countries. I accept contributions to improve the translation into English and other languages, thanks.