Cortney Casey from Michigan By The Bottle shares the story behind the popular Tweet & Taste Michigan Twitter Events. Thanks Cortney and Shannon for all that you do to promote the Michigan wine industry!

For wine lovers, few experiences are as enlightening as sitting down with local winemakers and picking their brains on the labor and love behind transforming what’s in the vineyard to what’s in your glass.

That’s the concept that spurred MichiganByTheBottle.com’s Tweet & Taste Michigan series, which built upon similar successful “virtual tastings” in other wine-producing regions across the country. The weeknight event encourages Michigan wine fans to purchase specific wines from a featured winery or wine trail (typically with discounted shipping), then “meet up” on Twitter to discuss their impressions and directly ask questions of the winemakers themselves, who also take part.

You name it, the winemakers have answered it, from queries about their vineyard practices, grape sourcing, oak techniques and appropriate cellar-stashing periods to tasting room ambiance, pricing and distribution, winery history and popularity of specific wines.

Everyone uses a hashtag, #ttmi, at the end of their “tweets” to ensure they can follow the conversation, creating a chat room-like environment. Helping augment the conversation are several facilitators, including myself and my husband, Shannon Casey, founders of Michigan By The Bottle; Claudia Tyagi, a master sommelier; and several wine bloggers from throughout Michigan and beyond.

Black Star Farms was the first to team up with us when we launched the project back in March, and the inaugural Tweet & Taste was a resounding success, attracting 70 active participants contributing nearly 900 tweets. We’ve since followed up with successful TTMI events highlighting Shady Lane Cellars, Lake Michigan Shore wineries, Wineries of Old Mission Peninsula and, most recently, Silver Leaf Winery. We’re already working on plans for the next one!

While admittedly nothing can top a face-to-face rendezvous with the makers of our favorite Michigan wines, not all of us fanatics are lucky enough to live along a wine trail, where such interactions might be more feasible. And meeting up in person with wine lovers scattered across Michigan would likewise be a challenge. Tweet & Taste is the next best thing — with the added benefit that virtual wine tasting “party” can be attended in such haute couture as slippers and PJ pants!

On Nov. 16, Black Star Farms will be hosting its own virtual tasting on Twitter, and we’re eager to take part. An ardent fan of sparkling wine, I’m chomping at the bit to try the two new releases slated for sampling that evening: the 2009 BeDazzled and the 2010 Bubbly Nouveau (soon to be listed on their website).

Twitter tasters can give their impressions and get answers from Black Star Farms’ affable winemaker, Lee Lutes. The event starts on Twitter at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16 using hashtag #bsfbubbly. To find Black Star Farms on Twitter look under @bstar2009.

To ensure you catch all the action, we at MichiganByTheBottle.com recommend using a Twitter client like TweetChat.com, which will automatically add your hashtag to each tweet and help you easily follow the fast-moving conversation.

To encourage participation, Black Star Farms will be offering the pair of bubblies for $20, a 20 percent discount off the regular price of $12.50 apiece. They’ll be available in all three Black Star Farms’ locations (the Bubbly Nouveau is being released at the BSF wine dinner Nov. 12, and available to the public after that) and also can be shipped throughout Michigan and to various other states. For more information, call Coryn Briggs at (231) 944-1311.

 We hope to “meet” you online Nov. 16! Cheers!