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The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke, Part Two

Vinted on August 28, 2014 binned in best of, commentary

Back at the beginning of August, we generated a bit of controversy here (imagine that!) with my rant commentary on wine blogging, titled The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke (But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way). C’mon, with a nice, restrained title like that, who would’ve anticipated controversy?…

Much commenting, sharing, linking, and discussion then ensued.

I received an email from a friend of mine who is a journalist (we’ll call her “Elle Bee” for now, as she prefers to remain anonymous), spurred on by that comment storm discussion. In it, she reminded me of something very important that is at the heart of the wine blogging community’s sense of… well… community, and that didn’t really get addressed in detail in my original post or the comments that followed.

The important thing of which her email reminded me is that, individually, as wine bloggers, we have to represent. Like it or not, every one of us is, to the traditional journalist world, and to wine consumers at large who are not creating content about wine themselves, a representative of the entire wine blogging cadre. In other words, you (yes, you) for all intents and purposes are wine blogging.

Don’t like it? Tough noogies. That’s the stage at which wine blogging finds itself. If you want something more for your wine blog, or from wine logging in general, and if you take the wine blogging community seriously and want to see it increase its reach and influence, then please carefully read Elle Bee’s commentary below.

What follows is well-written, cogently-stated “part duex” to the wine blogging community discussion, and is another wake up call to those of us who want to see that community succeed and take things to the next level…

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The Wine Blogging Community Is A Joke (But It Doesn’t Have To Be That Way)

Vinted on August 5, 2014 binned in best of, commentary

During the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara, I performed one of the more self-serving actions of my entire life (and that’s saying something, right there). During Corbett Barr’s keynote speech, I clapped deliberately and loudly when Barr told the conference-goers that the wine blogging community needs to do more to work together and foster community. A few seconds of my obnoxious clapping got (more or less) the entire room applauding Barr’s astute comment.

I label that as self-serving because Barr and I spent over an hour on the phone together prior to WBC14, discussing the current state of wine blogging, during which I pressed hard on the fact that too many wine bloggers view themselves as someone apart from the wine blogging community, and, like their wine print brethren, are too competitive and catty and need to share more in rising-tide-lifts-all-boats fashion.

I fear that, based on the blogging about WBC14 that has transpired since that speech, that much of Barr’s wisdom fell on some deaf ears. While we’ve seen a handful of well-reasoned WBC14 criticism and balanced debate about topics such as the conference’s Wine Writers Workshop session, we’ve seen a bit more carping about the conference not meeting expectations, and/or the speakers being too old, too white, too print, too out of touch, too whatever.

WTF?!?? Are you people out of your minds?!???

Folks, if you’re blogging about wine and want to wine blogging to be taken more seriously, then let me tell you something about the state of your writing, and your approach to the wine blogging community: It’s a joke

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More Proof That Social Influence Is Eroding The Power Of Traditional Wine Reviews

Vinted on May 22, 2014 binned in best of, commentary, wine news

As if we needed any more evidence that consumer perception of wine isn’t all that materially different than how they interact with every other produce available in the market today, the results of a study titled In Vino Veritas? Social Influence on ‘Private’ Wine Evaluations at a Wine Social Networking Site published by Wine-Economics.org provides more proof that wine is not immune from the same type of crowd-sourced review influences that have become the norm of on-line product searching.

The study was conducted by staff from Seton Hall, Oxford and the University of Exeter, from their departments of Diplomacy and International Relation, Experimental Psychology, and Psychology departments, respectively (if you want to go up against their level of smarties, be my guest; I know when I see a battle not worth fighting). Their subject was an analysis of Cellertracker.com reviews, which makes sense since it’s currently the largest such repository on planet Earth.

To the tape (emphasis mine):

“We conducted analyses based on 6,157 notes about 106 wines posted by wine drinkers at a wine social networking site. Our findings suggest that social influence on private wine evaluations occurred by communicating a descriptive norm via written information. We provide empirical evidence that there is social influence on private wine evaluations that is greater than the effect of experts’ ratings and prices combined. This influence comes mainly from the first few group members, and increases as a function of source uniformity. “

Hmmmm. Science and data deal uninformed, incumbent opinions a blow yet again

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Yesterday’s Wines, Tomorrow (Stony Hill Recent Releases)

Vinted on April 3, 2014 binned in best of, elegant wines, on the road, overachiever wines, wine review

Peabody’s Wayback Machine has got nothing on the steep, two mile drive from Napa Valley’s Bale Grist Mill State Park up to Stony Hill Vineyard. Brave that vertical, moss-covered tree-lined climb between St. Helena and Calistoga, and in many ways you’re transported at least forty years back in Napa time, and to what seems an entire world away from the Disney-fied scene of the opulent temples of vino-ness that pervade Route 29.

Feel free to insert your own clichés about technology being the only indication we’re living in a modern age when touring this winery’s weathered but functional buildings and it’s gnarled old Riesling vines. They’re pabulum, sure, but in this case also apt (I was warned to plan on no cell phone coverage when I reached the top of their road; the Wayback machine renders that inoperative, I suppose).

“This is the land that Napa Valley Time forgot,” mused Sarah McCrea, the former corporate marketing brand director who, in 2012, stopped fighting the inevitable call of becoming Stony Hill’s third generation proprietor. “And we like it that way.”

McCrea’s grandparents, Fred and Eleanor McCrea, bought this little chunk of Spring Mountain in 1943, when it was a former goat ranch that “nobody seemed to want.” The first plantings happened “in `48, `49, after the war,” according to McCrea. Some Riesling vines from that era still remain on the property. A small winery was completed in 1953, and trust me when I tell you that, while charming and unquestionably setup in a beautiful place with a beautiful valley view, it would hardly qualify as garage-sized for some of the polished-with-gobs-of-cash winery façades just a few miles farther south on Route 29. Since that time in the fifties, almost nothing (thankfully, blessedly, miraculously) seems to have changed here. Case in point: in sixty years, Stony Hill has employed fewer winemakers than the venerable Pittsburgh Steelers have head coaches.

To put Stony Hill in perspective, one has to understand that when they started in the wine business in Napa, there was no perspective. There wasn’t even much of a Napa fine wine business. There’s is a tale that, as Morrissey sang, starts “from before the beginning…”

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