Or maybe I was just the first one to see the request and respond. Not sure.
Or maybe I was just the first one to see the request and respond. Not sure.
So… I’m “freshly pressed,” so to speak (specifically in terms of palate fatigue and possible liver damage), from the first North American wine bloggers conference in Sonoma. Overall it was a fantastic event, about which I could pen a great number of virtual pages in covering. But that’s not what I’m going to write about.
Not exactly, anyway.
I’m also, as I type this, just returned from a visit to C. Donatiello winery in Healdsburg. I could write a lengthy amount (what else is new, right?) about how nice owner Chris Donatiello is (he’s quite pleasant, and generous), how beautiful the aroma garden grounds were (very), or the quality of their wines (extremely promising for a first vintage, but unfortunately not yet widely available – anyway, more on those upcoming on my twitter wine review feed).
But that’s not what I’m going to write about. Not exactly, anyway.
Instead, I’m going to write about how the face of wine media is changing, and why that’s dangerous for wine bloggers. Because I just spent the better part of three days at a conference where I and my fellow wine bloggers were being at times courted by the Sonoma wine industry, which helped to sponsor the event.
The congregation of 150+ wine bloggers at the WBC, whose individual influence in the world of wine could by-and-large be considered modest (at best), or insignificant (at worst), has amassed the collective power and reach of this new(ish) arm of the wine media – one that is now drawing a larger and larger amount of wine marketing attention. Gary Vaynerchuk underscored this during his WBC keynote speech, when he provided the energetic NJ businessman’s view of the opportunities available now that the ‘old guard’ is no longer the all-dominant force in wine media. The attention given to bloggers by PR departments is a natural progression – and now this is happening for the world of wine.
This is a dramatic turn of events compared to how wine blogging was viewed (more or less as a fad) a little more than three years ago. The winemakers, PR, and the Sonoma wine industry in general “get it” – and it’s all happening rather quickly thanks to the immediacy of the Internet.
Which means that wine blogging has the potential to completely screw itself now.
First, I need to make one thing very clear: there is nothing wrong with what the PR departments in Sonoma are doing by sponsoring the WBC and courting the wine blog-o-world. It’s their job – one that they’ve been doing for years with the traditional wine media.
In a way, wine blogging has arrived. The danger is that, as guest panelist Tracy Rickman told us during one of the conference breakout sessions, outside factors (such as the potential influence of the courting PR) can influence us to become more and more mainstream. At the moment we actually become mainstream, we have lost our edge (and might as well be ‘overtaken’ by the next phase of wine media, whatever that may be).
In the same breakout session, Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff cautioned that winery PR would no doubt attempt to “use” us, and that we needed to be prepared – and cautious about to whom we lend our trust. Keynote speaker Alice Feiring (yes, she actually entered CA wine country for this…) added (among some very inspiring dialog), “Trust no one.”
Go on blogging, of course!
I’m not saying that bloggers need to become prudes who completely shut down at the very thought of having to walk a tightrope line of credibility just because they’ve been invited to an industry event, or a personal winery tour, or the like. Heaven knows I’ve got no problem whatsoever being courted by winemakers, PR contacts, or the wine media in general (in fact, my view is that it’s about time this has happened).
The trick is maintaining the willpower to keep a unique, individual, and (hopefully) credibly opinionated voice as a blogger while the “courting” ramps up.
I don’t know what the future will bring, but I’m looking forward to the ride…
Cheers (and “Organic Flow” forever)!
What do you, me, and the upcoming first-ever North American Wine Bloggers Conference (Oct. 24-26 2008 – yes, it’s on a weekend, presumably because none of us wine bloggers make any money blogging so we have day jobs during the week) have in common?
I dunno, either.
Uhm…. We’re all carbon-based life forms consisting mostly of water, that like to drink wine?
Other than that, I’m not really sure. And okay, conferences technically don’t drink wine; conference attendees drink wine.
Anyway, this week I’m off to the Flamingo Resort in the greater Sonoma area to take part in the 2008 WBC. What this means is that you can expect to see some poorly scheduled and erratic posting activity from me over the next 10 days as I try to capture at least some of what the WBC event is all about. Plus, I’ve got some time off in Sonoma after the WBC to hang out the little Dude-el. Family QT, here I come!
I’m not sure exactly which parts of the 2008 WBC I’m going to cover. I’m sure that the event is going to be a blast for us wine bloggers, and I expect a good number of my wine blogging colleagues to cover the event in detail. What you shouldn’t expect from me during the next week and half are any boring recaps of the WBC breakout topics. Nothing against my fellow wine bloggers or the WBC organizers (who have done a fantastic job with the agenda), but I just can’t imagine the average wine-drinking dude or dudette 1WineDude.com reader has much interest in reading about how to monetize wine blogs, or the waxing philosphic of how wine blogging can achieve media credibility.
Hell, I’m a wine blogger and I barely care about those topics. But… I think that you might care about some of the other awesome stuff that is going down at the WBC this week (click here for details).
What you can expect from me during the next week and half:
For more on the Wine Bloggers Conference agenda and setup, check out winebloggersconference.org. For detail on just how much wine is going to be put in front of us during the conference, check out WBC coordinator Allan Wright‘s interview at WineBizRadio.com. Let’s just say we will almost always be presented with the option to refuse some wine during the weekend.
(images: 1WineDude.com, maps.google.com)
The first tidbit comes to us by way of Italian wine website Sommelier.it, and proves that anyone can be wittier than me without actually trying too hard!
“Un altro wine blog molto originale, nel linguaggio, nell’aspetto e nel modo, spiritoso, di trattare i temi, 1 Wine Dude, Serious Wine talk for not-so-serious drinker , ovvero discorsi seri sul vino per bevitori non poi così seri“
And here is the Google translation, in English:
“Another wine blog very original language, appearance and manner, witty, to deal with the issues, 1 Wine Dude, Serious Wine talk for not-so-serious drinker, or Speeches for serious wine drinkers not-so-serious“
“Speeches for serious wine drinkers not-so-serious“? Man, that is way better than my tagline! Dammit….
The next tidbit comes to us from global beverage news website Just-Drinks.com and was kindly pointed out to me by a friend / reader. I couldn’t make this story funnier if I tried so I’m just going to reproduce wholesale for your enjoyment:
FRANCE: “Vin de merde” wine producer sells out
24 September 2008 | Source: just-drinks.com editorial team
[ Editor’s Note: Told you I couldn’t make this any funnier if I’d tried ]
Asked why he named his wine “Vin de Merde”, Jean-Marc Speziale, from the Languedoc region of France, said the area needed the attention.
“This draws attention to the fact that we make very good wines,” he told just-drinks yesterday (23 September), adding his 5,000 bottles were almost gone after the nationwide publicity they garnered.
The bottles labels are decorated with a fly on the corner of the label, and a tagline underneath the name reads: “The worst hides the best.”
Speziale’s success comes at a time when the internet remains an illegal medium for alcoholic drinks publicity. The wines, a red and a rosé, retail at EUR39 for a case of six bottles.
And here I thought it was sex that sells, and it’s actually shit that sells. Go figure…
And last but not least, fellow wine blogger Arthur over at Wine Sooth has launched an interesting experiment that involves YOU. He’s started another blog called Wine Surveys, which seeks to congregate input from the wine drinking populous on various wine topics.
The survey Arthur is currently running is gathering data on how you drink your wine and what serving temperatures you prefer for various wines. Check it out here, and add your voice.
Enjoy your weekend!
Whoops, one more thing ‘ere I go, I wanted to give a shout out to Beer Wine & Cigars, who recently featured 1WineDude.com as their wine site of the week. Thanks, guys! Don’t let the title fool you, they don’t necessarily think that you need to enjoy their namesake in that particular order, and wine lovers who don’t dig cigars will find plenty to like on their site.