This question seems ludicrous to a lot of American wine professionals if I believe what I read in the last few days about the new TTB guidelines. In Europe and mainly in France this question was answered years ago by the Evin Law: yes, talking and writing on social media and/or on the Net about a wine or a beer brand is advertising. It also falls under the restricting law related to health and to young people. That is why in 2008 the French site of the Heineken beer was closed as it was supposedly targeting young people. Some critics on Champagne (just before the holidays) were considered advertising and as such the magazine was fined. Some videos on Champagne (yes, Champagne) could not been shown in France but were available on YouTube in their “American” version for everybody to watch them.
Will the new guidelines of the TTB impact the American wine industry as heavily as French laws did for the French industry? Maybe not. According to Cathy Bussewitz in her article in The Press Democrat, wineries will have to list their name and address on their Twitter account. On videos, even on YouTube, they would have to include mandatory mentions. What will be the impact on YouTube Channels such as the ones of some preminent wineries – richly paid for to YouTube? What will be the consequences for digital tastings on Twitter and all the various #ChardonnayDay or #CabernetDay twittering?
Those questions are still open to discussion. Wine and digital media professionals do not have the same answers. According to Bussewitz, Foley Family Wines and Jackson Family Wines aim to follow regulations, citing Andrea Smalling, chief marketing officer of Foley Family Wines. Digital media professionals are more skeptical: is it really necessary to have more rules? If one considers how negative an impact rules had on the French wine industry, one might just hope that the American wine industry will band against an other freedom-destroying regulation.