This past holiday weekend my wife, my dog, and I headed down to the wine country of Paso Robles, California. Each year a group of 17 vineyards called the Far Out Wineries get together to host a wine tasting event. For a price of $35 you can spend 4 days visiting any of the wineries and taste their wine for free. To make it even a better deal the money goes to charity (tax deduction!) and you can win some prizes as long as you go to at least 8 of them. It's a brilliant marketing plan to get people down there and buying their wine.
This was our third trip down to Paso in the last two and half years. One thing we noticed this time is that there are a number of new wineries popping up. I don't know if it's the economy picking up, but it seems like the wineries have doubled in number. When we got to Carmody McKnight I had to ask, "With all these wineries popping up, can I expect this annual wine tasting event to expand from 17 to 30 and go on for a week?" I feel like I should have known the answer...
The sommelier explained that the 17 wineries that participate are good friends and that they've been doing the event for nearly 30 years. It's an exclusive club. Though the newer wineries are quite good, it's not practical to let everyone in the club. As you start adding more people the value of being in the club actually goes down. It would be difficult to coordinate events like the annual one around Presidents Day and probably lead to the whole group collapsing under its own weight. The sommelier also pointed out that there is a delicate balance to strike. For instance the new wineries could get together to form their own network and compete with their own program.
It struck me that this is very much like blogging networks. I'm part of The Money Writers which is a group of ten bloggers. We have the same issue of newer bloggers asking to be part of our network. We feel we are a good size and adding new people would increase the complexity. And often other bloggers will go out and join other networks. The only difference is that I encourage bloggers to join networks and don't view it as competition in the same way that the wineries do.
Can you think of some other area where this concept of a limited network enters your life? (Outside of blogging, I couldn't think of any.) Let me know in the comments below...
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