Mark Aselstine
May 24, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Interviews-Jim Rudnick KKT Interactive

Anyone who has started a business in the past decade or two knows how important finding online customers can be. There is a huge pool of potential customers out there, when it comes to wine clubs or wine gifts there are literally tens of thousands of searches every month on search engines. Climbing search engine rankings is one of the most important tasks for Uncorked Ventures over the long term and to that end, we’ve tried to do things the right way and create a lasting and sustainable business for ourselves. Part of that process led us to Canuck SEO and while we’re not a client, Jim Rudnick has been incredibly gracious with us. He’s been willing to answer questions and make suggestions when and where they have been appropriate. In our opinion his Canuck SEO blog is one of the best in the industry at using examples and showing how simple things, like blogging can lead to massive customer gains over the long term. In fact, this blog exists here in large part based on his suggestion and the success he’s seen based on his own blog.

As it turns out, Jim’s also an avid love wine lover as well. While we can’t currently ship wine to our neighbors to the great white north, we hope to be set up with their state controlled liquor stores in the future. For that reason, we wanted to introduce our readers to Jim and his company as well as asking him a few wine related questions.

-When did you start drinking wine?

More than 40 years ago, when the major brands up here were all sparkling whites or roses with tons of sugar….ie the days when I’d buy a Mateus from Portugal and think I was drinking heaven. Like many others I have assumed that I moved thru the normal progression of the German whites as they got less and less sweet, into the Italian chiantis and the smaller French chateaus until about 1990 or so when I discovered that wine DID taste great with a 0 sugar content. Since then, ie the last 20 years I’ve worked my way thru the European brands and their old world styling’s and then discovered the new world and it’s varietals…and can honestly say that I don’t buy much French wine anymore – oh some great ones lie in the cellar but we drink California or Australia or Argentina every day….Chile still is untouched as is most of South Africa…but we’ll get to them I’m sure… Oh, small note, that our LCBO up here “divides” the shopping of wine into country aisles…hence I tend to think of wine as a nationally based category….

-If you had one wine or winery for the rest of your life, what would it be?
Ummm…tough to answer. but at this point, I’d have to say that we love the Heitz cellar wines, the Dunn’s from Howell Mountain or the best perhaps which we still think the the Grange from Penfolds in the .au world…too too many to think of eh! if price does NOT matter, then I’d love to try a 1951 Grange Hermitage…but I’d think that there are less than 500 bottles of it in the whole world….but if you do have one, just email me and I’ll fly down to try same, eh! JJJ Oh, Barolos. It’s been my pleasure to have found some other Nebbiolo lovers and yes, I’ve had some 10+ year old Barolos. They call it the “king of wines” here…and I’d have to agree it’s pretty dang special….but it takes me like 2 hours to consume a whole bottle…the finish is so so so spectacular that I savour it over and over. Oh, Gattinara….is a small “commune” of Nebbiolo growers like a few miles away from Novara, and it’s about the BEST you’re gonna find here in our LCBO that features superb Nebbilolo wines and at great prices. Shoot, just realized that you asked me for a “single” choice…sorry!!! there’s TOO much to think about, eh!

-How does the selection and choice in Canada differ when compared to vacations either in the states or elsewhere?
Differs greatly, I’d imagine….here in .ca, the Niagara area is the focus point with yes other areas in blossom too….our far west province, BC has it’s own special areas too…and we do try to get some of that here…but as you know our LCBO buys only some items and as it’s a monolithic biz…you just cannot get what you want ‘brought in’. The LCBO has probably like 5000 wines available, and most are not for me, I do realize….as they try to cover all levels of sugar and palates….but they do have a Vintages section where you can actually get some decent .ca or .au or .it wines… Barolos eh! That said, when we do vacation, we always ask about local wineries…and sometimes we’re pleasantly surprised, but our trips to SF about every other year bring us to Sonoma and Napa and the wines we do truly love, eh! Must try Washington too….someday…

-If different than above, what’s your favorite Canadian winery?
Would have to say “Thirty Bench” or “Fielding” as both offer up great cabs that are top heavy with tannin and can be cellared for years….um….”Thirty Bench” is our fave right now tho…

-How has the industry changed in Canada during the past few years?
The last few years have seen wine drinking explode here – you see it in the brand new beautiful new premises for the tastings, the in-winery fine dining restaurants and yes, even small boutique hotels being added. there appears to be great “margin” in wine, I’d suspect….and that’s a good thing for our lifestyle!

-Have you had a great wine related experience? If so, what was it?
Oh, gosh….the time that I shared a glass and then a whole bottle with Lee Marvin out in Banff and then we were joined by one of Charlie’s Angels who poo-poo’d our choices and then ordered us some Chateauneuf-du-Pape that I hated? Or the time that I grabbed a bottle right out of another shoppers hands at Chateau Montelana and found out later that he was a rap star and that his bodyguard was veering across the room at me and was stopped by the rapper himself? (names changed to protect the dumb, eh!) got many such stories but doesn’t matter…all wine is fun and if shared, IMHO, it’s the “social elixir” of making friends, eh!

-Anything you’d like to add!
Oh gosh….dunno. I do know tho that all wine drinkers should be encouraged to expand their palates…to try new and challenging tastings so that their palate becomes accustomed to the varieties of bouquet and taste, of texture and tannins and in doing so, they learn “what they like” and the “whys” of that liking too! wine is fun, eh….and that’s a global hope that all will learn!

Editor’s Note: Thanks so much for the time and effort Jim. It was interesting to hear your thoughts on LCBO, which coming from someone who has spent most of his life in California seems like a very, very strange idea in itself. We have no doubt that your SEO business will continue to be successful, we certainly wouldn’t have nearly the understanding of the SEO field that we currently do without your help. Thank you for that, it is greatly appreciated given the amount of hype and confusion associated with the industry as a whole, which does sound a bit like wine where there are so many of our competitors doing things like private labels and shipping lesser wines without being up front with their customers.


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