Stormhoek gained a great deal of attention because they gave away bottles of wine to UK bloggers. They are doing the same now that they are entering the US market, sponsoring 100 "geek dinners" by providing the wine.
Now Mankas Hills is offering a bottle of their 2004 Amelie (a Cabernet - Merlot blend) to US bloggers with no strings attached.
And this blog post (the one you're reading) is an example of the publicity and word-of-mouth that can occur even before the wine is received or tasted. Mankas Hills is smart to be the second winery to try this approach. Its pure PR impact will decrease a bit with every subsequent winery to give it a try (although the value of priming word-of-mouth with this sort of offer will continue, at least until bloggers are innundated with free bottles of wine).
My question to Andrea at Mankas Hills: How are you going to track the results of this experiment? At the very least, you should see how many blog posts it generates. But more interesting would be a way to see if you can track sales that are generated as a result, either directly or indirectly.
I'm not encouraging all wineries to try this particular tactic (well, to be honest, I like free wine!), but Stormhoek and Mankas Hills are doing something most wineries don't: trying something completely different. Another example is wineries like J Winery and Mayo Family Winery that added exceptional food pairings to their on-site experience. Can you step outside the lines of "traditional wine marketing"? This really isn't that big a leap - it's giving people who might talk about your wine (influencers) the opportunity to do so (by giving them some of your wine). Smart ideas are often obvious in retrospect.
Can your winery pull a Stormhoek?