August 7, 2020

Weekly Crush: Mary, Perth Wine Girl

By Angela Oemcke

Meet Mary, also known to many as Perth Wine Girl on Social Media. Mary’s love for food and travelling the world drew her attention to wine, which quickly became a passion- so much so that Mary is now working towards becoming a Master of Wine. Mary fell into the role as a wine influencer, where she originally used her Instagram as a way of documenting the wines she had tried and enjoyed. However, her authenticity and unique character quickly attracted a large following, and she soon found herself being part of the influencer space. Find out more about Mary’s wonderful outlook on the world of wine, her experience and journey in social media influencing, digital marketing tips for wineries, unique food and wine pairings, and more. 

Mary is an Australian representative for the team @ Sips Around the Globe, a group of 12 wine experts/enthusiasts from all around the world. With different backgrounds and experiences, their aim is to promote the wine industry through their social media channels and marketing campaigns. 

Follow Mary on her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter to check out what she is up to, and visit her website for more information and contact details. 

You say it wasn’t until you came to Australia that you started to understand the hype around wine. Do you remember the moment and which wine it was that won you over? 

At that time I was much more knowledgeable with whiskey than I was with wine. I was born and raised in the country of Venezuela, and the culture there is more around whiskey, rum and beer. Growing up, my family used to have a nice wine at dinner, Champagne for celebrations, whiskey for everything else and orange juice for all those under 18 years old. I was one of the lucky ones to sip juice (lol).

When I was at University I started working at a bar, and the amount of whiskey we sold was incredible. Not to mention the many different types and that other countries produce! It was here that I started to learn more about whiskey, and eventually become a passionate whiskey enthusiast. 

After moving to Australia and getting around I soon became intrigued with wine. I once sipped a Barossa Shiraz with aromas that took me to my childhood, reminding me of a Christmas black cake that my grandmother used to bake. I wanted to know how the wine could taste the way it did, and why other red wines didn’t taste the same. Since then, I’ve been embarking on a wine journey with high hopes and an eagerness to understand more. 

Mary in Chile taking notes in a vineyard

What really kicked off your brand as the Perth Wine Girl? Where did you start, how did you get to where you are now? What advice would you give to people looking to move into the wine influencer space? 

I was using Twitter along with my blog about photography, travels and food. When I started my wine journey I wanted to merge this with my travels and food, so I opened a separate account as @perthwinegirl and used Instagram as a photo gallery to easily capture the wines I had tried. In the beginning I would simply post a photo and write a short 10-15 word caption. Eventually though, after receiving a lot of DM’s and questions from my followers asking for more information about the wines, I decided to add tasting notes and go into further detail. 

I really didn’t see myself as a wine influencer when I started working in the Social Media space. I was, and still am, just hungry to learn more about wine and simply, I enjoy sharing what’s in my glass. That is what really brought me to where I am. 

I work hard studying all things wine, as I aspire to become a Master of Wine. While I’m not changing my focus from this, I appreciate the opportunities and inspiration provided by the influencer space. Having said that, I don’t have any straight advice for if someone wants to become a wine influencer. I just keep doing what I enjoy by being authentic to myself, honest with my followers and humble. I think everyone has their own style, and can truly thrive in this space simply by being themselves. 

You describe enjoying wine as a pure art form, why has it been so important to you personally, and as a wine influencer, to study wine to better understand it? 

As mentioned, I started this wine journey wanting to learn more about the characteristics of wine. So let’s say it is everything from the history, passion, honesty, family, hard work and commitment that goes into a bottle. I want to understand as much as I can so I speak knowingly about the wines I share. That’s just my approach, as everyone has their own personal style of communicating the same subject. 

Mary with her husband:
“He has been my support in this journey, my camera-man everything.”

On social media and influencers…We asked Mary to shed some light on her experience in the wine market as a social media expert, as a big part of what we do at Cellr is make true direct to consumer marketing easy for producers at a fraction of your marketing budget. Find out more here

In what ways do you think wine influencers are able to engage a winery’s consumers, that they alone can’t? 

Not everyone visits a winery, vineyard or cellar door due to geographic access or a number of other factors. If a brand wants to market a product beyond their cellar door, influencers can help them reach their target.  As I mentioned previous, every influencer has their own style. Some will tell the winery story, others the enjoyment of the wine, others how the wine makes them feel etc. There are many different ‘wine moments’ to share, and many of us out there who love to share them.

What do you look for when a winery asks you to share or try their wine?

That the wine be within my style of sharing, if it has a good story to tell, a new variety wine, different winemaking techniques, or anything that’s intriguing and worth sharing. 

Mary in Athens

What stories and digital content gets you excited about a wine? 

Whilst trying to become more wine literate, any content that I can learn from makes me feel like a kid in a candy store. Stories about generations of winemaking, discovering indigenous varieties and exotic wines, wine regions that you don’t hear about and so on…

What do you think the future of engaging wine consumers looks like?

It looks very promising, and yet challenging. Wineries have to do their work and invest in digital marketing. It’s in these spaces where the majority of wine consumers go for information and to explore your brand. Assess what consumers look for, whilst also assessing your own marketing and sales targets. Trends are cyclical so keep in mind that different trends will come in, and then go, and then return again further down the track. 

Mary “Poppins” in Douro

What advice would you give a winery looking to engage with consumers online?

Your consumers will look at your information online. Social media is anything but quick and easy, in my opinion a winery is better off investing in a dedicated social media manager. Many have in-house staff looking after this, or have hired an agency. But yet many wineries responses to their consumers’ comments or DM’s are very slow. Having a dedicated social media manager will help your brand standout. 

This is what I as Perthwinegirl – Digital Century would advise: 

  • Use your social media platforms to engage directly with your consumers, e.g., if there is an opportunity for Q&A make it happen.
  • Focus on your consumers interest and give them what they want (to see). 
  • If you’re on Facebook/Instagram use the story feature to show them anything that could capture their interest such as the winery, cellar door, vineyard, preparations of wine club boxes etc. 
  • Don’t just use influencers to promote sales of your product, promote your whole brand! 

What wine related content do you find your fan base engages with the most?

I have a diverse followers so I tend to create consistent content and keep it flowing, much like a beautiful wine. I blend my content with wine topics like heritage, what’s behind the brand/label, pairing, travel, etc. 

Mary at Mount Etna in Sicily

I have read you love cooking and exploring new culinary terrain, what are some wine and food pairings you have come across that worked unexpectedly well? 

This is an area that can be very much a hit-and-miss affair, as I have learnt through studying food and wine pairings. Whenever my friends text me asking for recommendations it gets me excited- just as this question has haha! 

From the top of my head… 

  • Garlic prawns with Rosé from Shiraz. 
  • Grouper or a big fresh red snapper, fried or grilled, with a chilled Pinot Noir or Malbec…Yum! 
  • If you have a sweet tooth, chocolate chip cookies with high tannin red wine, like a Cabernet Sauvignon. This follows the notion that black tea, which is high in tannins, pairs perfectly with cookies and chocolate. 
  • Also, cookies with fresh mint and soft cheese with Sauvignon Blanc. 

This one I didn’t cook, but it worked well and I suggested this pairing to my friend! In fact, when I mentioned the Cellr Blog interview she said “Omg! The Burrata!!! Make sure you tell them about the Burrata pairing …Yum!” So, here you go: 

It was a 5-course Degustation and I had to work out what to pair with the second course, “Chef Caleb’s handcrafted Burrata, truffle cream, 24-year-old balsamic de Modena, edible flowers, basil & paprika emulsion.”

Here was my thought process: 

  • This is a creamy dish, and the Burrata and the truffle cream will work nicely with an oaked chardonnay. I’m thinking a Margaret River Chardonnay. The problem with serving a full-bodied white wine is that we’ll have trouble with the next course that also needs a full-bodied white wine. 
  • My solution would be serving a contrasting wine: either a rosé that will pair well with the flowers and the balsamic vinegar, or an aromatic white wine like a Viognier that will contrast the intense flavours while still delivering a WOW factor. 
  • Truffles and balsamic vinegar make this dish also pair well with light bodied reds like Pinot Noir or Meunier. Perhaps something from Yarra Valley, old-world style. We would be pairing earthy elements: truffle and balsamic vinegar with earthy elements in Pinot.
  • Having said that, since this is the second dish of a five-course menu, I wouldn’t go for the red wine yet, especially because the third dish very much calls for a white wine. 
  • What would work with all these factors considered? Aglianico Rosato from the Adelaide Hills, Australia.

Why I knew the Aglianico Rosato worked? This rosé comes from a cool region in SA, its vibrant acidity cuts through the Burrata while mirroring the berry and vinous aromas of balsamic vinegar. A nice contrasting pairing to clean the palate after each bite letting the food shine. 

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