The Most Glaring Omissions From The 2012 Wine Blog Awards Finalists

Vinted on August 14, 2012 binned in wine bloggers conference, wine blogging

Some people are either too intelligent or too timid to criticize programs from which they’ve benefited. That’s usually a smart play when it comes to things like awards, because criticism can undermine those accolades and potentially reduce their value to those who have received them.

But with the 2012 Wine Blog Awards winners announcement being imminent (the reveal will be this week at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland, OR), I felt the timing was right to exercise both my lack of intelligence and timidity, and to share some of what were, to me, the most glaring omissions from the list of WBA finalists this year.

It’s not that I dislike the WBAs, the WBC, its organizers, etc. And it’s not that I want to take anything away from accomplishments of the finalists for the WBAs this year (hell, I’m one of them!). The opposite is true, in fact – it’s because I believe so strongly in the awards, and want to see them continually improve in meaning, scope and impact, that I felt compelled to give props where I thought they were due but had not yet translated into WBC love (look, I’m still a wine consumer and a wine blog fan, here, okay?).

So… here are four wine blogs whose omissions from the 2012 WBAs has caused me a fair amount of both consternation and puzzlement (though to be honest, it wasn’t so bad that a few glasses of Champagne couldn’t cure it… temporarily)…

People’s Choice (because volume speaks… well, it speaks loud!):

  • Rick Bakas’ Back To Bakas and Tim Lemke’s are two of the most heavily-trafficked independent wine websites in the world (you can research this yourself, chances are no matter what traffic measurement source you use they will be near the top of the list). And yet, there’s no real WBA luv for either of them. This should strike you as odd if you’re paying attention to the wine blog field, because the traffic numbers for both of those sites mean that wine industry folk and, more importantly, wine consumers are certainly paying attention to them. Rick might sometimes be guilty of preaching to the converted when it comes to social media, but his media business has also produced new coverts, and is influential in terms of helping to drive how several more forward-thinking wine producers are successfully tackling that sphere. Maybe not critical faves, but on these two wine websites the people seem to have already spoken.

Most Talented (because chops is chops):

  • Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff is far and away the most talented writer and taster whose blog is not in the WBA 2012 field of finalists. The omission makes no sense whatsoever to me and probably also to the people who visit Steve’s blog every weekday. Yes, Steve can be challenging, even maddening sometimes. No, he doesn’t understand how social media works. Yes, he’s sometimes too quick to apply his critical gaze. But Steve shares with abandon, isn’t afraid to impart a bit of his soul onto his blog, and more often than not leaves those who read his work thinking about the topics for several hours after reading his work. And he’s one of the very few wine blogging people whose sentences can be so well-crafted and stunning to read that they fill me with a mild jealous rage.

Most Daring (just because you can’t get the conservative part of your brain around it doesn’t mean it isn’t awesome):

  • Courtney Rich’s is easily the most daring thing going in the stoic and conservative world of wine recommendations. The images are the most obviously edgy, provocative thing about what she’s doing, but she’s no slouch in the wine department, either, and Courtney has the cojones to pair wine with things like Pringles. To get a sense of why we should be celebrating independent work like this, indulge me with a little exercise: spend 15 minutes on her website, then come back and list all of the people with the combination of looks and talent who could pull of something even half as good as what she’s doing; you will end up with maybe three names, male or female, worldwide. So the question ought to be, why aren’t we (that’s the collective we, the entire wine blogging community of content creators and readers) celebrating work like this in WBAs…? I know that in some sense anyone who aspires to write about or cover wine from a media standpoint are all standing on the shoulders of giants like Gerald Asher, but we we shouldn’t stand on those shoulders only to try to copy what’s come before. We can try to reach further heights on similar ground, or we can use that lofty perch as a lookout, a viewpoint from which we can seek out new areas and new ways of doing things – and for me, Courtney’s work is an example of trying something new. Perfect? No. Daring? Hells yeah.






  • gabe

    great post. Love Steve's blog. I had never visited QiutWineing before, but it is incredibly original.

    I would also add Tyler Coleman's "Dr Vino" to that list. While it may lack some of the pizzaz of other blogs, he always seems to be on top of an interesting piece of wine news the moment it happens. While most blogs are people "writing about wine", Dr Vino is the best at reporting on news in the world of wine, and doing it in a way that is interesting and topical.

    And of course, 1WineDude is one of my faves.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Gabe. Dr Vino is I think now a perennial omission, which I agree is odd given the traffic and the high quality of the content.

      • Rick Bakas


  • Sondra

    I agree with you, QuitWineing is amazingly original. I hadn't looked at her blog since the nominations so thanks for the reminder. My bias – there's still an 'old boys' network in the wine world, whether it be the wine spectator or the wine blog awards – staid and safe seem the way of the blog judges. Yet it does give us all an opportunity to see what and who are out there serenading with wine.

    • 1WineDude

      Sondra – I am concerned about diversifying the field, but more concerned about recognizing talent no matter what the shade, gender, etc. I wouldn't so much call it an old boys' type of thing as I would a very conservative thing: wine media, like sports media, is *very* conservative right now, & I'd love to see that change. Cheers!

  • The Terroiriste

    Why is "the combination of looks and talent" only a factor in your nomination of the one woman on your list?

    • 1WineDude

      Terroiste – that's actually two factors, not one. And they're not the only two, but talent is pretty broad so I like to think it encapsulates approach, knowledge, entertainment chops, etc. If you're going to do a primarily photo-based blog, the subjects had damn well better be aesthetically pleasing, whether they're people, events, bottles, food, dogs, whatever. Courtney is attractive so she can pull that off – it doesn't mean she had to be attractive to create great content, but it does mean she should be attractive to be able center the photog subjects around her as an ongoing theme. For example: I'm not that attractive, so I'm rarely the main subject of photos on 1WD. On video, i try to overcome that with energy and passion and hopefully wit. If I couldn't write, then I wouldn't be creating a mostly text-based blog. My intention was NOT to be sexist, I was to compliment Courtney on using her talents and taking chances in a sometimes very conservative environment.

    • 1WineDude

      Whoops – forgot to add here that the looks/talent combo has to do with the medium she chose, not Courtney's gender. Hence the qualifier in the post (male or female) – there just aren't any males doing what she's doing as far as I'm aware.

      Also – this list might have contained 20 blogs. I simply chose the 4 that most stood out to me.

    • Rick Bakas

      I like my wine bloggers paired with credibility. Keep in mind Courtney (as well as Joe and I) have achieved an industry accreditation. Looks or not, to be certified as a sommelier, passing the WSET or CSW requires knowledge and dedication. Reading Joe and Courtney's blogs should put you at ease knowing they have credibility no matter how the information is communicated.

      It's the overly opinionated wine bloggers without any standard of accreditation you have to watch out for. All you're getting is opinions.

      • The Terroiriste

        Rick, I was terse, but I agree with you. The point I'm trying to make is that focusing on a blogger's looks can easily detract from credibility. If the men were noted as being handsome (or not), I'd still feel that way. However, Joe's only noting the woman's looks makes it seem as though if she weren't good looking the blog wouldn't have been on the list.

        Joe, I didn't ignore you yesterday. My email thought "IntenseDebate Notifications" was spam. If your original post had made it clear why you consider looks important for what she's doing, I wouldn't have thought "Yuck. That's sexist." It would also answer the point I just made to Rick that focusing on looks can easily detract from credibility.

        What's really important here, though, is that I now know about Courtney's blog, which is a lot of fun!

        • Rick Bakas

          And it should be noted that Joe is incredibly handsome just in case his writing takes a dip ;)

          • 1WineDude

            Rick – bro, you need new glasses!!! :)

        • 1WineDude

          Terroiriste – thanks; it as good of you to comment, in the end it gave an opportunity to clarify better what I was getting at in the post.

  • @QuitWINEing

    First, to be mentioned with the likes of Steve Heimoff, Rick Bakas and Tim Lemke is truly an honor…and somewhat strange since I bow my head in honor of their amazingness!

    Second, I just want to say how humbled I am by your selflessness. You've taken an opportunity to shine a light on others when you didn't have to. This truly is your moment to celebrate being nominated! And although it was just a couple paragraphs, the notion speaks volumes about your character. Maybe the three other guys didn't need it, but as an unknown person whose struggling to see where I fit in, I'm utterly grateful. You've always cheered me on and I will forever be thankful for that.

    Cheers my friend and a sincere thank you!

    • Rick Bakas

      I just got back from the TEXSOM conference in Dallas. What Joe has done here is what they've been doing in Texas for a while — supporting one another. Texas has more Master Sommeliers and Advanced Somms than most states, in large part because everyone works together.

      Glad Joe gave you props…I'll pay more attention to your work and help you out as best I can.

      • no wine for you

        I believe Clark County, Southern Nevada, specifically Las Vegas has the highest numbers of MS'

        • Rick Bakas

          Yeah, that's why I said "most states". Nevada is #1 or #2.. But the point was why Texas has such a great community of sommelier's. It's because of the spirit Joe brings here.

          • 1WineDude

            Rick – thanks, I appreciate that nod. I am really hoping that the wine blogging community continues to foster that spirit of mutual support.

      • 1WineDude

        Thanks, Rick – I am kind of “Mr. Community” so I agree we need more mutual support. Cheers!

      • @QuitWINEing

        I think we all need a BIG group hug;)

        There are a TON of wine blogs I love, but I can honestly say that I often feel ignored when reaching out to some of my faves. Hopefully today is the start of something special.

        Cheers to becoming friends:-)

    • 1WineDude

      Courtney – you're welcome! But you can thank me most by kicking ass and taking names and becoming so unique and great that your work can't be denied in the wine biz despite how different it is from the norm. Now *that* would make my day. And while I am touched by the nice things you said, I hope others will read that & hopefully be inspired to do something supportive of the wine blog community even if it's a small gesture; thy all count. Cheers!

  • Rick Bakas

    Thanks for pointing that out, Joe. Appreciate you giving some wine blog love here for Back to Bakas. Good call also on Heimoff. Aside from quality writing, Steve was the frickin' keynote at the Wine Blogger Conference two years ago!

    • 1WineDude

      And a finalist the last two years, I think?

  • no wine for you

    Wine Bloggers Awards work the same way wine scores work:
    Only those submitted receive (or not) an award or a score. Does this mean that all others are no good?

    • 1WineDude

      No wine – no, of course not. Hence my post! :)

  • @UCBeau

    I agree with you Joe, completely too! While that's rare, I am happy to see you shining your rather powerful spotlight on some under-appreciated blogs. I read Rick's blog for recipe and pairing ideas, Steve's for his insight and frankly, his experience with wine. Courtney is a burgeoning rock star in the wine world, I think what she's doing is fantastic and only the beginning. Tim is rock-solid with his picks and his is a blog I really think can help beginning wine blog readers (is there such a thing?!) who AREN'T wine geeks get more into wine.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, UC. Appreciate the kind words.

    • @QuitWINEing

      Beau, you, along with a handful of others, gave me the strength to keep up with my crazy antics from the very start. Hope you know how much you are appreciated!

      Thanks so much for the kind words…I only hope I can live up to it! Cheers buddy!

  • Allan Wright

    The Wine Blog Awards serve to showcase a number of well-deserving blogs each year. Your post, Joe, highlights a few of the many blogs the awards can't highlight but that are still deserving. Many more are out there.

    As the organizer of the Wine Bloggers Conference and involved with the WBAs, I would like to clarify a few things about the process of selecting award winners:

    – First, if no one nominates a blog, it won't get an award.
    – Second, the judges work hard to pick the five finalists for that individual category but most blogs won't become a finalist. In the Best Overall Wine Blog category, we had 101 nominations this year.
    – Third, 50% of the final determination is made by public vote.

    So I think your post is a great thing. It would really help if wine bloggers spend the time to talk about their favorite blogs. (Tom Wark does this frequently.) The more bloggers know about other wine blogs, the better the WBA process will be.

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Allan – that's exactly the spirit intended behind this post. Cheers!

    • 1WineDude

      I should add here that I think the judges did a phenomenal job this year on the WBAs. I know firsthand that it's a difficult task. I am really only raising all of this to help ask the Why/Why Not questions and get us all thinking.

      • Wayne

        I nominated both Steve Heimoff and Courtney Rich and was frankly stunned they were not finalist, particularly when you consider they are the front runners in their categories. I think in the case of QuitWINEing, the judges plain got it wrong. Steve has gotten recognition in the past at least.

        I say all of this as a finalist in the category I think Courtney should have won.

        Good post Joe, you are spot on.

        • @QuitWINEing

          Wayne…you've not only been there to support me from the beginning, but I consider you a true friend. I know you aren't the type to fill a person's head with air….so when I see you say, "Courtney should have won," I know you really mean it. I'm utterly grateful for your support, friendship and belief in me and my work.


          • Wayne

            I did mean it. Thanks Joe, appreciate that.

        • 1WineDude

          Thanks, Wayne. But you're not exactly a slouch! :)

  • Rick Bakas

    Another up and coming wine blogger to watch is Madeline is behind that wine pairing infographic that went viral a few weeks ago. She's doing really entertaining stuff as well.

  • gabe

    wine folly looks like an awesome blog. thanks for the heads up!

    funny, i've discovered more cool new blogs on this thread than i did on the wine blog awards website. but don't worry wine dude, you're still the best

    • 1WineDude

      Ha! Thanks for that, Gabe – and glad we could help :).

  • Pat Thomson

    Thanks, thanks, and thanks for tipping me off to those blogs I wasn't familiar with. Bookmarked now!

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Pat.

  • @bluemerlewinery

    Thank you for introducing me (us) to some interesting and fun writers! Cheers from the HK Food Expo.

    • 1WineDude

      @bluemerlewinery Cheers!

  • @JetWineBar

    Joe, I was turned on to your blog by commenters from "philly wine professionals" so it is only fitting to find a new one through you. I went to @quitWineing and immediately fell upon the wine and mother-in-law pairing:

    • 1WineDude

      Thanks, Jet! (woooo ohhhh-ohhh ohhhhh ohhhhhhhh ooh ohh ohh-ohhhh :-)

      • @JetWineBar

        and we do play that song!
        My comment seems to have been truncated (or maybe my mother-in-law got to it). I will keep my comments about the genius-ness of @quitWineing's pairings, but not the bitters I would add to it…!

        • 1WineDude

          Jet – sorry about the truncation! If you ever run into the issue again email me and I can amend and add whatever gets lopped off. Cheers!

  • Roger Power

    I never knew there was so much blogs on wine – looks like its a hot topic. For the record my favorites are Back To Bakas and of course 1winedude :)

    • 1WineDude

      Roger – thanks for that!

  • Trackbacks

  • Trackback from Terroirist: A Daily Wine Blog » Daily Wine News: Kentucky’s Freedom
    Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

    […] According to Joe Roberts, there were four “glaring omissions” from the wine blog award finalists. On his list? Rick Bakas’ Back To Bakas, Tim Lemke’s, Courtney Rich’s, and Steve Heimoff. […]

  • Trackback from Wednesday’s Meritage – Wine Quiz Answer, [Super] Wine List, and Blogs, Blogs, Blogs… « Talk-A-Vino
    Wednesday, 15 August, 2012

    […] bloggers expressing their last minute opinions. You can reserch the subject on your own, but here is the opinion of Joe Roberts (1WineDude) – I recommend checking out the blogs he is referring to – they look quite […]

  • Trackback from Daily Wine News: Kentucky’s Freedom | library
    Wednesday, 22 August, 2012

    […] Joe Roberts says there were four “glaring omissions” from the wine blog award finalists. On his list? Rick Bakas’ Back To Bakas, Tim Lemke’s, Courtney Rich’s, and Steve Heimoff. […]

  • Trackback from Wine Blog Awards 2013 Nominations Now Open | 1 Wine Dude
    Wednesday, 27 March, 2013

    […] the WBAs have been both lauded and criticized, sometimes in the same article and sometimes right here on 1WD, but having had some involvement in how they work (both as a member of an advisory committee and as […]

  • Trackback from Vote in the 2013 Wine Blog Awards | 1 Wine Dude
    Wednesday, 22 May, 2013

    […] got a long (in Internet time) history with the WBAs: I’ve been a winner, a criticizer, a judge, and an improvement-committee-member (yeah, I know, that last one does not quite roll […]

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