Dry Creek Vineyard Gets On the Customer Review Bandwagon - Sort Of

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By Courtney Cochran

Those of you who follow this blog probably know that I'm a big fan of user reviews and the whole "wisdom of the crowd" model that's taking the online world by storm. Lamentably, wine web players - outside of a handful of cutting edge companies involved in the Wine 2.0 movement - have been slow to get on the user review bandwagon. But with Sonoma-based Dry Creek Vineyard's recent addition of user reviews to its ecommerce site, there may be hope for change after all.
User Review Under Review
Problem is, Dry Creek Vineyard has gone and incorporated a user review system that's only partially palatable. The winery - which produces Fumé Blanc, Zinfandel and other varities near Healdsburg, CA - now allows any customer who visits the site to score Dry Creek Vineyard wines based on a five-star scale, and to leave qualitative comments, as well. But users don't have to log in to rate the wines, and a wine's overall score doesn't include an indication of the number of total reviews that comprise its star rating (e.g. 4 stars, based on 20 reviews).

When a user logs in before rating a product or service, the review is often linked to his or her other reviews, a fact that allows viewers to gauge the relevance of the reviewer's score. Scores by users with many reviews or a history of honest, on-target reviews tend to carry more weight among viewers; with Dry Creek's pseudo-anonymous review system, it's not possible to gather this kind of information.  Besides this, being able to quickly see the total number of reviews that contribute to a wine's overall score is appealing for obvious reasons. Finally, I'm a little dubious about the editing that may be going on behind the scenes; a perusal of the winery's Signature Wines page showed that 8 out of 10 wines carry 5 star ratings; the remaining two had 4 stars.

Bottom line: I applaud Dry Creek Vineyard for this pioneering step forward for a wine site, but would encourage its managers to bring the site up to current user-review standards.

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