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Entries in Donna Jackson (14)


Transition to an independent lifestyle, working and living abroad

Ever dream of leaving behind your mundane life, the job that you hate, the dreaded commute, and to live somewhere else? A destination you have dreamed of?






What do you fear?

A change of culture?

Learning a new language?

Can you afford it?

What about medical?

What about pension?

What about your partner who thinks you cant afford to move.

What about your house?

Finding a job or a means of supporting yourself?


In the next few weeks we will be exploring all these areas, and getting your feedback and the opinions of those who have lived abroad happliy, and the solutions they created to the challenges.


Now if you are single, its easy, load up the money in your credit card, pack the suitcase, wizz off and face the music later. Right?

If you are married or have a partner there are two people who must quit their jobs, to start again, so more negotiations, more tension, more challenges, but it could bring a while new lease on life for you both, plus you have a team.



my friend Christine Gilbert who guest blogged on wisequeen when I started it, and wrote with me on b5media, has been travelling nonstop with her husband for 6 years now  they had their baby along the way, are expecting a second one  and are now making a documentary and they funded it all online  find them at  almostfearless.com


If you have children who need educating the decisions become more challenging and require longer term planning but it's not impossible, we will be talking to those who have done it with kids.

This amazing couple from Argentina have been travelling for the past decade, and their epic story is a testament to what humans can do. they have covered every continent in their old 1920s car, had four children along the way and had the most amazing story to tell published in Spanish and English. Sparkyourdream.com is their blog.



What would be the deal-breaker for you to live  for a few years in a country or countries you've always wanted to explore?

I never thought I would be forty plus living in a different culture, and speaking a whole new language, it has opened up an entire new world to me, there have been rough spots and challenges I never thought I would overcome. I've dealt with culture-shock, isolation, home-sickness, being broke, being a published author, being a traveller on a new continent as a local, being an adventurer, being successful, being ill, being married, being single, living between four countries.  meeting amazing people some of whom became  my mentors....


All of it has refined me, and yet not defined me, it has made me stronger and wiser.

The deal for me is I doubt I could have done it for 12 years without the internet.

Can you really be location independent? The answer, yes. Let's explore how.

Sign up to the blog so you can be part of this adventure and become independent.







Amorim 140 years and the story of cork 

On a recent visit to Lisbon Portugal for Vinocamp Lisbon, I was fortunate enough once again to be included in a trip organised by Amorim, this time  to watch cork being harvested from the forest near Alentejo, and then to visit the factory to watch the entire process from when the bark is stripped from the trees, hand-sorted and expertly trimmed by men with knives in the factory, right down to that branded cork that we take out of the bottle without much thought - something I will never do again, I now have great respect for the journey





So twenty or so of us Winos from around Europe, set out early one morning from Lisbon with Carlos and Joana our hosts on a bus that had gathered us up from our hotels and  so we were soon heading for the countryside. After watching a facinating cork harvest, something that will stay with me forever, we drove further on down dust roads to a lovely picnic spread for us under the trees at a lake. The fantastic spread was in true Portugese style, we feasted like Royalty  and enjoyed the fabulous Quinta Nova wine * my  video review on Quinta Nova Wine with Rui Paula here ,  that is part of the Amorim stable. This year Amorim celebrated 140 years in cork.




What I learned about Cork




Cork is a renewable commodity that is havested from evergreen Oak trees. 

The cork oak   in Latin ..   Quercus  (oak)  Suber (cork)  

 The first stripping occurs when the tree is between 15 and 20 years of age.

Subsequent yields follow at 8 to 10 year intervals.

 The world's cork oak forests are concentrated in Southern Europe; Portugal, Spain, Italy & France, which accounts for 67% of the cork oak production. North Africa has the remaining 33%.

The total land surface occupied by this oak is 2.2 million hectares (5.434 million acres) of which Portugal and Spain represent 56%.

The industry employs more than 15,000 workers in factories and commercial departments!

The industry also employes 10,000 seasonal workers for the cork harvest and the maintenance of the oak forests.

The sale of cork and cork products by producers, to the European and United States market, exceeds $1.5 Billion U.S. Dollars annually.

Of this value, the cork stopper is $1.1 Billion U.S. Dollars.

 The sale of agglomerated cork, cork flooring, and other related products approx $400 million U.S. Dollars.



Media Release: 3 March 2011
Amorim, the world’s leading cork producer, has announced record annual 
sales, with more than 3 billion wine stoppers sold in 2010.
The outstanding sales volume figure was included in the company’s 2010 
financial results released last week.
Amorim’s Cork Stoppers Business Unit — the company’s core business —
posted a sales volume increase of 13.8 per cent, further consolidating its 
position as the world’s largest supplier of wine stoppers.




So back to Amorim in  Portugal and this particular cork Harvest.

Who does the harvesting?

The same familes that have worked for generations in this highly skilled field.

It is seasonal work, and more than one of our party  (myself included were comtemplating doing this job which pays well ) . We quickly realised that climbing tees while deftly cutting the bark free for it to fall to the soft earth below without scaring or cutting the tree, is not so easy.

So we watched and filmed and listened to Carlos and Joana in rapt attention and learned a lot.

What happens to the tree once the cork is stripped?

It is marked with a number  and left for another 9 years to grow new cork.

It's a renewable resource


Does the cork being stripped harm the tree

It's a bit like removing  the hard skin on your feet it will leave your feet exposed and tender for awhile, and then re-grow to protect you.


What about the alternatives to cork like plastic  and screw caps are they not more sustainable?

Well this is along going debate. I personally prefer cork and always will, because its part of the tradition of wine, its more romantic, does a real good job of protecting the wine, and may even impart something to the wine, and with recent improvements in technology will go on doing its job for centuries to come as a renewable resource.





What else is cork used for?

Cork has amazing properties and has been used for centuries in so many applications. Today cork is used for insulation, flooring, shoes, handbags, fashion garments, and to manufacture so many other products.


Is Amorim a stakeholder in the sustainabilty issue?

Very much so, and  as I discussed with CEO Antonio at the factory, they take the future of cork and its protection very seriously, they also employ thousands of people across the worldin this labour intensive manual work, in all their international and  regional facilites. They are also constantly improving their facilities. Every tiny piece of the cork is used  even the cork dust which is burned to fuel the factory. Water used in the factory is also recycled.







Read all about it.





I will continue bring you stories about cork and its amazing qualities

Please leave a comment or question  if you wish.

Donna Jackson





I woke up yesterday to a standing start, went into my office, booted up my computer and realised as I was preparing to write my blog post, I could not write about one more start up, Tech wiz-kid, or Tech-meet.

I felt like the Grinch, and I was going up the mountain just in time for Christmas.

No, I had been covering Techcrunch 50s, Le Webs and just about every other Tech-infested corner of Europe and UK solidly for five years, I was done. Tech per se, had become as about exciting to me as warmed-over porridge.

Yes, I wanted to express myself about the people I meet in Tech, or out in the vineyards. I wanted to write about the crazy, wonderful, life I lead, meeting the people who inspire me, and interviewing them for fun, no angles.

Somewhere between the lastest apps and storage systems, between comparing twitter (which I adopted rather early pre @wisequeen) and facebook, between klout, posterous and "social media gurus"( my least favourite nom de plume) and gimmicky software : the juice had all been sucked out and what was left was a dried up orange half. Tech had become Tack.

I wanted to laugh, to poke fun at myself mostly, and also at some of the extraordinary others that I meet along the highways and byways of the Blogging/Tech superstrada.

So far it has been an amazing journey, meeting people face to face as diverse as Queen Rania of Jordan, and @ChrisBrogan (who this month I share workshop duties with in Berlin). People like @GaryVee who I hated watching online, until I got him, met him, traded jibes with, and grew to love.

New Yorkers like Elin McCoy, Ex LA girls like @missrogue Tara, winemakers, serial entrepreneurs like Nicolas Berg, Politicians the list goes on and on.

But I also write on wine, social media and branding of course and these remain my first loves. And I will cover those till my last withered finger drops off. This year Im speaking on wine+socialsharing in Porto, and then in Berlin on B2B and social tools.
I'm also so excited to be invited to cover the wine event of the year in #Paris

I am no technophobe, ask anyone, I was the first person around to buy an mac air, mac pro, iphone, a flip, a flop, a dropbox. But Oh Lord, spare me.

So tech may sneak in by the back door of all the apps and app makers I talk to daily, Tech may sneak in through the side door via the VC s, but I'm not taking it that seriously anymore, because I think its got a little narcissistic of late. Cest la vie

Queen of all she surveys,

Her Middleness


Donna Jackson

Leave a comment if you care to, don't if you don't.


Wine and Food Chile


Watch this space for my wine, food and people tour of the beautiful AND FAMED Santa Cruz valley, Casablanca valley and the restaurants all over centraL CHILE.

Heres my first wine stop in Santiago  1879



If you are looking for the authentic place to eat and drink the best Chileans in Santiago , look no further.



 We followed this up By a weeend in my favorite valley Colchagua, where many of the top estates had been severly affected by the recent earthquake and lost their wine from the broken tanks. 

Here we visited the estate  Lapostolle, Clos Apalta  home of premier French style wines and luckily they had not lost their wine. 


The videos are all up on utube, so follow along on the tour.



 picture here at CASA del BOSQUE CASABLANCA VALLEY CHILE winetasting

Then at the coast to begin the Casablanca tour

We tasted at Emiliana Organic wine estate ( they make great Olive oil too ) and then at Casa del Bosque  in Casablanca see below .




And then finally,  Im at the oldest estate just outside Santiago Santa Carolina with winemaker Andrés Caballero talking about winemaking and  his icon wine Carmenére Herencia which I  was lucky enough to taste from the tank.





The cellar  at Santa Carolina Santiago  which dates back to the 1800s, was not badly damaged during the earthquake, although they were restoring one of the estates heritage homes and offices which were damaged. The cellar is really a national treasure!! and a registered National monument,  built using clay and albumen, in the days when they built things to last. I was lucky enough to spend the entire afternoon been taken through the process with Francesca and the winemakers and then tasting  their stellar Carmenére with the chief wine maker Andrés Caballero.

I will be telling the stories of the people I met along the way so follow along in the next few weeks.

Subscribe to the blog above and you wont miss it.



later on my final night I shared some of that precious bottle with Max from Andes wines. com and Paloma who came to interview me on wine and social media..



Leave me a comment with your questions.


 I have enjoyed every moment, and look forward to coming back to these wonderful places again and again.

Wisequeen on wine from Chile,

Donna Jackson


social communications specialist




Well it seems 20.000 people now follow twittergrader. The site that gives you your twitter grade out of 100. It seems we never outgrow our schooldays and still long to be graded, and then to display those grades in public. But what does it mean? Is it actually a measure of success? Well I've always had a high twitter grade close to 100. In fact my twitter grade has gone up another .10 since the webphoto above and is now 99.5. This could be due to the fact that I've managed to build a following of 1,060 in just a few months of active tweeting and the number of replies I receive.Two months work really. But I do engage. Im told there are people that get perfect 100s. Im not sure how that's possible or even legal, but it happens. I walk the talk, the wisequeen advice we gave here on how to build a social media empire. I believe in this form of communication called social media, use it on facebook twitter and linkedin and xing, and I write on it. I'm always surprised by people who say they are passionate about, or love working with social media, but follow 24 people have 20 following and 17 updates in the year they have been on Twitter. I always want to ask them. So what do you love about social media then? The idea? The name? I don't think twittergrading should be taken too seriously no. I don't think any tool is more than a tool. It's a bit of fun like most tools. What do you think? What is your grade? How seriously do you take it? Share your ideas in a comment here. Wisequeen Donna Jackson Social Communications Specialist.