Do Wine Blogs Matter For Selling Wine? (The 1WineDude Conversion Rate)

Vinted on February 11, 2014 binned in about 1winedude blog, best of, commentary, wine blogging, wine buying

One of the criticisms most often levied against wine blogs is that they don’t “move the needle” in terms of wine sales.

Let’s forget for a moment that where I come from, coverage that costs me next to nothing for a product that results in even a handful of additional sales (and additional exposure) – that I otherwise would never have seen – counts for something.

The crux of this criticism is that coverage of wines on the virtual pages of wine blogs does not result in materially meaningful and/or measurable differences in the purchase volumes of those wines. Presumably, this is in comparison to similar mentions in print media (however, it’s worth noting that I’ve yet to see any hard evidence in the form of real data to support print media coverage having a sales bump effect, but I have anecdotal evidence from some California winemakers showing that it does not, as well as some from small producers indicating that some wine blog mentions have in fact increased DTC sales… which I can relay to you privately some day if we ever meet and you buy me a beer…).

The counter argument is usually a combination of two things: 1) that it’s extremely difficult to measure the impact of any media coverage on wine sales, regardless of the type of media, and 2) it’s the aggregate of blog and social media mentions (outside of concentrated special events, promotions, and the like) that amount to an increase in mindshare and small, one-consumer-at-a-time sales that otherwise wouldn’t otherwise have happened. In other words, wine blogging and social media mentions result in a stream of sales that are aggregated from tiny, rivulet-like trickles in combination, and so wouldn’t generally amount to a perceivable spike but do, in combination, make a difference. [ For an example of these arguments, see the mini-debate generated on this topic generated in the comments section of one of my recent posts here ].

I can now supply some data in support of that counter argument, by way of one example: namely, 1WineDude.com.

While I will not supply exact numbers (only because don’t have permission from all of the parties involved to do so), I can give you approximations that I think lend some credence and strength to the counter argument, though I strongly suspect it will be ignored by the wine cognoscenti, who have in my experience demonstrated a severe allergic reaction (sulfites got nothin’ on this!) to facts, data, and evidence if those things do not already support their own already-entrenched beliefs…

First, we need to define a target market, which in this case are wine consumers (duh). According to a survey by Wine Opinions, the results of which were recently presented at an MW residential seminar (and reported to me privately by an attendee), there are some passionate wine consumers that both purchase wine frequently and spend enough to worry their spouses when they do purchase. If you’re a wine brand, you want to be on their radar, because they’re the Holy Grail of wine consumers.

And according to Wine Opinion’s survey results, the high spender / high frequency wine buyers (who purchase often and regularly spends over $20 a bottle) do name some blogs among their resources; these include 1WD, JancisRobinson.com, Vinography.com, BiggerThanYourHead.net, and Terroirist.com. In the case of 1WD, 4% of that group said they visit here “regularly,” with 12% visiting “a few times.”

Now, I don’t sell wine here on 1WD (and almost certainyl never will), but what I try to do is give people at least some convenience in finding the wines mentioned here; I do this via affiliate links to Wine-Searcher.com. So, while I cannot tell you with certainty how many of the 20K or so people who come here monthly actually buy a wine mentioned on 1WD, I can get you close: I can tell you what percent, on average, click through on those links, and are therefore taken as far as logically possible online to the doorstep of purchasing those wines. [ You can question the validity of this assumption, of course, but realize it’s tantamount to also questioning the validity of Wine Searcher’s value model, which is based at least in part on people buying once they get connected to a source that has the wine for which they are searching. ]

Let’s call that click-through percent 1WD’s “conversion rate” (since that’s as close as we’ll get at the moment to a literal purchase conversion in which moolah exchanges hands). What is that rate? It’s at least ten percent (and quite often a bit higher).

The average retail / ecommerce conversion rate? About 3%.  1WD beats that by a cozy margin (and it does that with potentially high frequency consumers who are willing to part with more cash than the average when buying juice). It’s interesting to note that 1WD isn’t unique in this regard, either; media of any kind typically converts by about 10%. That puts wine blogs (okay, at least the better-known wine blogs) potentially on par with traditional print outlets in terms of leading individual people to the precipice of parting with their hard-earned money for wine.

Now, I cannot draw absolute conclusions from this, and since you are reading this I’d love to hear from you as to whether or not you’re in that high frequency/high spend quadrant, because, in the immortal words of the late, great Brandt, ” you are in a unique position to confirm or dis-confirm that suspicion.” But, since I think it’s unlikely that zero percent of those clicking through via 1WD are high frequency/high spend purchasers, and because I’m a boorish American loudmouth, here are my thoughts on what all of this tells us:

Can wine blogs move dozens of cases of wine at a clip? No, but I’m not sure what in the wine world does do that (aside from mentions on Oprah).

Do wine blogs matter in terms of wine sales? Yes, if you know where to look, what to look for, and have some idea of how you want to measure it.

Are wine blogs the be-all-and-end-all of wine sales? Of course not, but the situation is probably nowhere near as dire as the critics would have you believe. Do wine blogs matter less because they don’t cause the needles to jump emphatically? Only if you’re selling by extreme volume, and/or living in the past and don’t care about winning the mind-share of consumers that are the ones most likely to buy your product.

The bottom line: if you offer a wine, you probably want it featured on a wine blog like this one, or Vinography, or BTYH, or the wine blog(s) that according to your research (and you are researching the field, aren’t you??) most appeal to your target consumers (that is, unless you just don’t want to sell any more of your wine than you otherwise would through traditional channels).

Cheers!

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    Comments

  • Thomas Pellechia


    Joe,

    This "cognoscenti" doesn't doubt the numbers, but has a question: Is wine blogging intended as a sales tool?

    • 1WineDude


      Thomas – no, of course not. That's never stopped the criticism, however, that wine blogs don't matter specifically because they don't result in sales of wine; I don't understand it, but I am happy to try to debunk it. Since most blogs are authored by amateurs (see previous article on that here http://www.1winedude.com/esc-dijon-bourgogne-wine… ), there is no evidence to suggest that they are being authored to try to drive sales.

  • Todd - VT Wine Media


    Whether or not wine blogs help to foster sales still remains to be seen. What is clear to me is that blogs do provide a very real amplifier for brand awareness and product recognition. In the last couple of years, when I've been doing research about a particular wine, pre or post purchase, more times than not, I've found the information that I've been looking for, on someones blog. Not on wine searcher, wine.com, or Snooth…and definitely not behind the paywalls of major wine media outlets. In fact the more obscure the wine, the more likely it is that a blogger has done the kind work that can be useful to fellow consumers. Case in point, even today, if I do a search for "Lacrima di Morro + Vermont" in an effort to see what is available in my market, what comes up is one of my own posts from four years ago. It does not help me much now, but I have to believe that others have benefited from it…maybe even the producer.

    • 1WineDude


      Todd – yeah, blogs have a role in providing content about wines that don't get media play in other outlets, no question about it. But I guess what I am saying here is that there should be less doubt about wine blog coverage manifesting in sales. Based on my example, it's not conclusive but seems very, VERY likely that they do. Not high volumes, but it's happening.

      • Todd - VT Wine Media


        I agree, and have just been circumspect due to lack of statistical evidence, even though the anecdotal evidence seems to support the supposition. That said, I will come out and report "I have purchased wine based on information I have found in a wine blog." I've even purchased wine based on recommendation of a wine blogger, even if they have not posted an article about it…because I respect their content enough in general, to therefore respect their opinion and experience.
        Maybe it's time to put together a consumer survey that addresses some of these questions, and the one that Thomas poses below.
        Paging Paul Mabray…

        • 1WineDude


          Todd – agreed! Could be fodder for Wine Opinions as well, and a nice compliment to the French study on wine blogging that was recently written up…

  • Thomas Pellechia


    Joe,

    If wine blogs manifest in sales, then negative reviews should drive sales down. Has anyone done a study on that possibility?

    • 1WineDude


      Thomas – I don't know, I don't work in wine stats! :) I'm not sure it follows that negative reviews drive down sales, though it seems logical. I'd also bet that lack of coverage has a negative impact on sales (I have been told by readers that if they cannot find info. about a wine from any sources online, then they are reticent to purchase it).

  • passionatefoodie


    One issue that conceals the actual influence on sales is that consumers, who read a wine recommendation online, often don't mention that source when they purchase the wine. They might go to a wine shop, look for the wine, but never tell the shop owner that they read about the wine on a blog. Or they might order the wine online, without mentioning to anyone why they selected that wine.

    I saw this in action when I used to write restaurant reviews for a local newspaper. The restaurants often saw a surge in business when the review came out, but few people mentioned that as the reason why they came to the restaurant. However, when the restaurant staff questioned these new customers, they then mentioned that they had seen the review.

    I have suggested before someone who relies on an online recommendation should tell the wine shop or restaurant where they heard about it. That would be helpful in many respects.

    • 1WineDude


      Richard – I suspect print sources would have the same issue.

  • Nate


    As a wine store owner, we notice these things. When a wine is mentioned on a blog, or in the media, we might notice a few more orders for a specific within a few days of the mention, but it quickly drops back down to normal. When a wine gets press in the top 5 of WS, all of a sudden we can't keep it in stock. Everything is everything! People have so many options to get their information and wineries can't ignore a specific area.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Nate.

  • Ed G.


    Wine blogs certainly sell wine, at least to me. I'm always looking to try what's new and different, and blogs feature wines and trends ahead of print.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Ed.

  • @mjgraves


    Let me begin with a statement of a hard-learned fact; I'm not normal. That very fact puts me in some target markets, and outside of others. I've never bought a bottle of Skinny Girl. That said, I sought out a Ramisco when you mentioned it and there was basically none in the US. Unusual varietals are my undoing.

    My own sense is that the blog-o-sphere is a tool in the arsenal of astute wineries. If some discount it that's fine. It leaves that tool in the barn for other to leverage.Perhaps it's easier to smaller wineries to take advantage of what relationships with bloggers can deliver, where they may never be able to afford ad space in the big print magazines.

    Blogs may not sell wines, but the people who read blogs most definitely buy wine. That's a fact that some will use to their advantage.

    • 1WineDude


      @mjgraves – well stated. Sorry about the Ramisco; you're *really* gonna hate me after Thursday's post about the 2014 50 Great Wines of Portugal event…!

      • @mjgraves


        A few especially attentive retailers did eventually offer one or two Ramisco's, so it wasn't completely futile. There's another lesson….distribution & retailer should watch the bloggers to get an early insight into such opportunities.

        • 1WineDude


          @mjgraves – Glad to hear it. I do know that from time to time some importers read 1WD and bring in some of the juice written about here that doesn't have distribution in their region, but I've no hard data on how many outside of the handful who've contacted me.

    • Kyle Schlachter


      Love this quote! "Blogs may not sell wines, but the people who read blogs most definitely buy wine. That's a fact that some will use to their advantage."

      That about sums it up right there!

      • 1WineDude


        C'mon, Kyle, you've got more than that… :)

  • Annefield Vineyards


    Here's the perspective of one winery owner who also produces a blog, called Bottled Poetry. I'll echo Todd's perfectly composed statement, that the blog serves as an "amplifier for brand awareness and product recognition." Ours isn't so much a "wine blog" as a "winery blog" — we aren't going to prattle on about our wines ad nauseum. We'll certainly give tasting notes on new releases, however, but who wants to read that week in and week out?

    Our goal is to build that brand awareness and to foster relationships with our buyers by giving a personal dimension to who we are and what we do. We try to be entertaining and informative; we'll write posts about local attractions, restaurants and places to stay to help those who don't know our region plan a visit; we'll suggest wine touring itineraries; we'll write about little known facets of local history (again, to encourage visitors); we'll comment on issues facing different facets of the wine industry, from zoning controversies to resources issues (for example, recently writing about the California drought). Recipes and wine pairings appear, too — we've had a number of visitors in the tasting room tell us that they try all of the recipes we post. Any subject is fair game, and we always try to relate it back to the winery (Annefield Vineyards). We try to be a "peek behind the curtain" of a winegrower's life.

    Also, by writing on a variety of topics I think we'll attract the attention of those who otherwise might not be looking specifically for information about wine or wineries. That way I think we reach an even broader population. But does it lead directly to increased sales? That's impossible to say.

    • 1WineDude


      Annefield Vineyards – thanks!

  • Marcia Macomber


    While not every wine-blog-sourced sale can be tracked like a smoking gun via direct link from the blogger's web page via site analytics, as you mention, one should be able to make some reasonable assumptions by tracking down same/similar names between various mailing lists, social media and so on. One should see a spike in website traffic immediately following a high-trafficked blogger's review and so on. Bloggers do provide a much-needed role as one of many different types of touches that cumulatively lead to sales.

    • 1WineDude


      Marcia – Yep. And I'm not convinced there's compelling data that would show upticks for print coverage, either. Not that it doesn't do it, just that the data is very difficult to collect.

  • Tom Wark


    "however, it’s worth noting that I’ve yet to see any hard evidence in the form of real data to support print media coverage having a sales bump effect"

    I got your hard evidence here….20 years worth in fact.

    That aside, I can think of one young winemaker recently given lots of love in the NY Times and the SF Chronicle who not only moved cases of wine as a result but augmented their mailing list significantly.

    • 1WineDude


      Tom – :) Well, I'd love to see it, even in aggregate. I'm not saying it doesn't happen – I am *sure* that it does – just that it's really difficult to get anything other than anecdotal evidence. Also, I am a sneaking suspicion that both our examples are talking about the very same person, just at different times and with coverage by different print outlets…

      • Thomas Pellechia


        I don't know, Joe. When I was in retail I dreaded Mondays because of all the people carrying into the shop their Sunday newspaper ads and columns–they generally were wines we did not carry, but that's another story.

        • 1WineDude


          Thomas – I don't doubt it. I'm not saying that those things don't move wine. I am quite sure that they do move wine. I just don't know of any way that gets measured in a meaningful sense, apart from regional distributors who can track restocking orders from multiple outlets in their territories. But that itself doesn't necessarily capture the impact of the mentions/reviews. For blogs this is an order of magnitude more difficult, since handfuls of people buying small quantities of different wines based on blog recommendations is probably all but impossible to track. My point here was to demonstrate that there has got to be some impact, just as rivulets from melting snow from mountains eventually feeds a larger downhill stream, and that it shouldn't be ignored just because the radar doesn't blip in a large way for one wine, etc.

  • Hudson Valley Wine Goddess


    As a wine blogger, I can say that I have had people contact me after they've read my blog to thank me as I introduced them to a new wine and they purchased it in their local store. They love it. So Yes, while a review might not sell cases, it does introduce people to wines they will have never picked up in the first place.

    • 1WineDude


      Goddess (may I call you Goddess? :-) – I wonder if we can get close to measuring that kind of influence. It's like small trickles all building up into some kind of stream of wine sales, though not spiking for any individual wine, but culminating in what I think are probably a good many sales across several wines when taken in aggregate. Cheers!

  • larryschaffer


    There is no doubt in my mind that having your wine mentioned on most blogs is a good thing, and will definitely lead to greater brand awareness and thus 'sales', perhaps not immediately but eventually. That said, it does not follow that this will happen with just 'any' blog – again, common sense here.

    The bottom line is that wineries / winemakers have a greater challenge than ever determining who the real 'gatekeepers' are in all aspects of the industry – from somms to retail store 'gurus', to bloggers. Some will get you ''more bang for your buck' than others, but the landscape is ever-changing.

    Thanks for the post and keep it up, my friend – and I'll send you a few bottles shortly :-)

    Cheers!

    • 1WineDude


      Larry – :) Cheers!

  • @mmeisner


    Of course having a blog can help move the needle. The thing is, most wineries don't have one, and if they do, it's garbage. So if a winery says, "yea we tried blogging and didn't see the return" I'm guessing they churned out a quarterly article covering budbreak, harvest, and a new release.

    Also, I think the customer persona for a blog visitor generally fits into the top of the customer journey; they're still digesting content, and learning whatever they can find about the brand. At this point, the brand's primary goal should be to drive engagement, not sales. As Annefield Vineyards mentioned above, they use the blog as a way to publish content that ventures beyond their own wine, and touches on other lifestyles, events, or recommendations that their audience might find interesting. Once they have a substantial base of blog articles, they can begin segmenting them by secondary metrics for ecommerce and converions (average page value in Google Analytics, or conversion rate for newsletter signups from a particular page).

    • 1WineDude


      @mmeisner – totally agree about engagement. Too often instead we see the equivariant of sales pitches, etc.

  • gabe


    I am huge believer i the power and potential of wine blogs. There is no question that they help wineries find new customers, resulting in increased sales.

    That said, no blogs can move the kind of volume that the Spectator and Advocate do. The reason is simple: those publications are industry standards. So, while a good write-up on 1WD or Terroirist will certainly attract new customers, a good review in the Spectator will move the needle with every distributor nationwide. This is not even necessarily the difference between blog and print media, it's more of a testament to the fact that those publications have been around for decades, and have earned their spot at the top of the pyramid.

    Anyway, I can definitely see a future where the premier wine blogs rise to the top, earn nationwide industry respect, and eventually one or two blogs have the same power to move markets that the Spectator and Advocate currently do. But remember, it took those guys decades to get there, and I think we are still many years away from a blog reaching that level of success in the wine industry.

    As a last thought, there is Pitchfork, which, among young people, has probably replaced Rolling Stone as the most important voice in the music industry. So there is a template for blogs to do it also. But the wine industry skews much older than the music industry, and will probably be much slower to adapt.

    Whew. Sorry to go off on a rant, but that was a really though-provoking article. Great work Mr. Dude!

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Gabe. Your thoughts are always welcome here, bro! Appreciate what you're saying, but I don't think we'll see blogs with the same influence add wine mags after those mags disappear/morph/whatever. Too many voices for only two or so to dominate.

      • gabe


        I understand what you're saying about different voices, but I just think that there will always be a "king of the mountain", so to speak. Mabe instead of one or two powerful blogs, we'll see a page with multiple voices, similar to what is happening at Palate Press or Punch. I guess what I'm saying is that I agree with you that a website has the power to unseat print media, but disagree that there will be a "democratization" of wine, where small guys are as powerful as the big boys. I think there will always be leaders in the industry, whether its a magazine or a blog or the sf chronicle.

  • doug wilder


    Joe, I have a fairly unique perspective on this discussion and hopefully can provide some respectful commentary to colleagues and friends on all fronts. Currently, I wear two hats – One is directing member sales and social media for a mid-sized, family owned winery in Sonoma County that historically receives virtually all its press from a handful of established critical sources. The other hat is as publisher of an online and print wine magazine. (for those who are curious, the answer is 'No, i don't write about the winery I work at'). Before I did any of this I worked as buyer in specialty wine retail, which means I focused on one particular niche of wine and in that capacity wrote about the wines I thought were special enough to recommend. I came to appreciate that what I blogged translated to sales we were able to clearly attribute to that source. I also spoke with customers and found out what prompted their interest in wines. To be continued.

  • doug wilder


    ( from my previous post) First, I will say that professional print media does sell wine: When talking to our members at the winery, if they don't know already they will ask about ratings. Otherwise, they prefer the 95 point Pinot Noir over the 94 point Pinot Noir. When I was in retail, incoming requests regularly surrounded publication of scores,

    Good reviews make any winery, restaurant or retailer job significantly easier.

    On the contribution of blogs, i think it is tremendously difficult to attach any tangible needle movement for wineries and that is a function of at least a couple things. Bloggers will typically review a handful of wines across a spectrum of regions/countries. There is an Aussie, a Greek and Russian River wine reviewed in the same breath. Unless someone comes there looking for a random 'nugget' that will resonate with them they may prefer, for example, to find a specific resource to learn all they can about Finger Lakes Riesling, so they follow a specialist, like Lenn Thompson.

  • doug wilder


    Sorry, the dude site truncates longer posts :) The other thing is when a winery sends wine to a journalist, blogger or other influencer for review, where does that writer send the link to purchase? Some blogs I see (including yours) will provide links to Wine Searcher. It makes it difficult for a California winery to understand the value of a blog recommendation converting to a sale if it is to a retailer in Florida? Beyond that, wineries appreciate the creation of a DTC sale (and customer they now have) v. another bottle absorbed into the wholesale ether. And believe me, when new people call a winery, one of the first questions they get asked is 'how did you hear about us?'

    Surveys of your readers are a great way to answer some of the questions you pose. I am about ready to do another one for the magazine and look forward to the results.

    • 1WineDude


      Thanks, Doug. I suppose a survey here is loooooong overdue.

  • pawineguy


    I'm not sure where to even start here, but to me the problem with this post, and many others on the subject, is that they are written without any understanding of traditional distribution. You don't know what else would move dozens of cases of cases?? Is that serious?

    A high review from WE, WS or WA on a readily available wine does not move dozens, nor hundreds, but thousands of cases of wine, and in some instances 10s of thousands of cases. To move dozens of cases, the winery owner could, instead of making a pitch to a blogger, could have taken the time to make a few restaurant sales pitches and make actual sales.

    I could go on but I am frankly stumped but the entire post. It also neglects the fact that many blog posts and reviews are written as a result of sponsored trips, which is no more than paid advertising.

    • 1WineDude


      PA – I know where you can start, with my last response to Thomas in this comment thread. Part of the point here is that the blog influence functions almost entirely *outside* of the traditional distribution system (in which I have a very good friend who works, by the way, and with whom I discussed this post at length before writing it), in ways that are not easy (or might be downright impossible) to track. But the 1WD example suggests there is an impact when viewed from a wider perspective, and that it shouldn't be ignored even if we cannot point to one number on a sales report and say “okay, there it is.” The dozens of cases was in the context of consumers, not retailers, distributors, or importers. Regarding your comment on sponsored trips being equivalent to paid advertising, that is total conjecture. In my case, for example, I've got a clear policy that states that a) I might not cover anything about the trip if I accept a junket, and b) any coverage might not be positive. Ask Wines of Cahors, or Silver Oak how they feel about the coverage they got from me after PR-sponsored trips (I seriously doubt that they'd consider it advertising). Of course, there are some shills out there, not doubt, but as I've written about before here, I am convinced (if only through statistical probability) that the numbers of those shills are totally overstated in the larger context of the blogging community (on any topic, not just wine).

      • pawineguy


        Maybe I'm missing something then. The theme of the post was whether wine blogs matter in selling wine. You gave us a percentage of click throughs that you get through wine-searcher, but obviously you didn't state if those people proceeded to buy or if they dropped out before purchasing.

        No one is going to argue that if your wine appears somewhere on the internet where people are looking, the needle will move, even if it's just by a few bottles or cases. But that's not the question. The question is whether the effort that they took to get on the blog was worth the return, or could have been better spent elsewhere.

        • 1WineDude


          PA – I can't state what percentage ended in sales, unfortunately, because I simply don't have that info. (so we got as close to that doorstep as logically possible with the data). I'd say the question about the return being worth it is key, and is one in which blog outreach should be considered. Mileage will almost certainly vary based on brand, goals, etc., etc.

          • Tom Wark


            I've been wondering about this concept of "print media". Is there any example today of a member of the wine media that does not publish in digital form? Maybe a few, but not many.

            • 1WineDude


              Tom – almost none, probably. I guess at this point it's better stated as those that publish primarily in one or the other, or that started as one or the other.

              • Tom Wark


                I think the correct differentiation to make between media outlets is actually the one that has been made traditionally for many years and decades:

                Readership Size.

              • 1WineDude


                Tom, not all readers are created equal. Would you rather have a huge number of readers who buy infrequently and spend less than $10 per bottle on average? Or a smaller number of high frequency, big spenders? It probably depends on the brand, target market, and goals. Generally higher numbers ate going to be better for exposure of course, but they can't be the whole story, right? And then there are non-consumer buyers, who will by large amounts for retail, etc…

              • Tom Wark


                Joe,

                You are absolutely correct in your observation about the quality and character of a readership. And it explains why The Wine Spectator is the most influential wine media outlet in history and why it still is the most influential.

              • 1WineDude


                Tom, it also explains why the Wine Advocate, with a relatively small circulation/readership, can command such influence in the fine wine market. An example: am I more influential than those mags are when I get an article published in the Parade food monthly (which is actually happening in March, and I am uber-stoked about it) since it has nearly twice as many readers as TWA, WS, WE, and W&S *combined*? Maybe with some consumers, but certainly not within the wine biz itself, because big purchasers – retail buyers and distributors – are not going there for their wine picks (which I view as a very lazy way of making buying decisions, I might add, but that is another story altogether :).

              • doug wilder


                My publication began as purely digital but the print edition is where I see the most growth over the last year.

              • 1WineDude


                Doug – similarly, I made my name (so to speak) here on line with 1WD, and that has translated into paying gigs. They higher paying gigs are all print, but none of those print outlets are what you’d call traditional wine publications.

  • Thomas Pellechia


    I understand where PAwineguy is coming from. It kind of goes back to my first question: is wine blogging intended as a sales tool?

    Unless I am mistaken, advertising and promotion are sales tools.

    As someone who has been involved in the wine business on many levels, it never occurred to me that when I write on the subject of wine it is intended to sell wine. Unless I were to write back label copy or advertorials, I've always considered what I write to be information.

    To be clear, I'm not talking about wine reviews. I don't write those.

    • 1WineDude


      I personally don't know of anyone who blogs independently with the specific goal of driving sales of wine. Blogging apparently dices purchasing decisions regardless of the intent (which is almost certainly, for the majority, to share information).

    • Tom Wark


      Thomas:

      I don't think the vast majority of those people who start and write blogs intend them to be promotional or sales tools for anyone…with the exception of the blog's author.

      Now, I'm talking about those blogs that express opinion concerning wine. A Blog associated with a winery or retail store or even my own blog could much more easily be considered a sales tool, but again that would be only for the winery, store or myself. And that's a legitimate use of the software and channel.

      That said, a winery or a retailer or a service or a producer of some item may look at blogs or any other communications channel or media outlet and see it as a promotional tool or sales too of sorts. Certainly, I see blogs and other media outlets in part in this way. I know if Joe Roberts or Alder Yarrow or Eric Asimov or the Wine Spectator say something nice about my winery client, that's a good thing for my client.

      PAWineGuy (and you) ask a good question. Is the effort worth it? Consider how I would look at the value behind Joe Roberts saying the following: "Tom Wark is the finest publicist in the history of history and no one compares."

      Certainly I'm going to hope that lost of people read Joe the day he writes that. But I'm also going to make sure that as many people as possible see it by re-quoting it in as many appropriate place far beyond the confines of 1winedude.

      Well, the same is true for wineries who see their name is blog lights. The mention in a given blog may not reach a ton of readers. But the winery is going to make sure the nice words get seen well beyond the blog. They may appear on their website, in emails, in newsletters, in new release emails, in advertising and on and on.

      The point, of course is that the value of a mention in a blog in part depends on what the winery makes of it.

      • Thomas Pellechia


        Tom:

        I am reminded of an incident with one of my books regarding a quote by someone I respect and was glad he liked the book, or at least issued the quote. The editor at the publishing house never heard of the fellow, so he asked me a simple question: who cares?

        The power of someone's words is generally proportional to that person's status, or the status of the periodical for which he or she writes, which more often than not provides the vehicle for a writer to gain any status at all.

      • 1WineDude


        Great points, Tom. I'll let you know what that kind of endorsement would cost… ;-)

  • Jay


    I agree with pawineguy. To me, this post is evidence of a mini-debate within a niche group of enthusiasts. Bit of an echo chamber, really. In the big picture, who cares? If a wine is mentioned on a blog, great. Maybe it'll lead to a few extra cases being sold. But the vast majority of wine consumers, and the vast majority of wine purchases, are completely and utterly removed from and uninfluenced by the blogosphere.

    Don't get me wrong – I enjoy wine blogs, and read several on a regular basis. But their effect and value should be considered with some realistic objectivity.

    • 1WineDude


      Jay – well… Duhhhhhh. ;-) Look, by virtue of even reading a wine blog – any of them – you're already in the tippy top of the wine buying pyramid, something about which we discussed here in great detail a couple of years ago. The vast majority of wine consumers treat it as a commodities product, simple as that. But adding up the wine blog visiting percentage of those consumers, and while much smaller in number, we're still talking about a lot of money being spent.

  • Matthew Horbund


    Eyeballs Eyeballs Eyeballs.
    The more eyeballs the media will get, the more bottles it will sell. So, it's obvious that sales will be increased via a print mention such as Tom Wark mentioned above. However, I'm quite sure that even my little blog has sold a few dozen cases along the way. SO, I'm not moving as many cases as WS is, but I've made a movement. And no, I cant wipe that movement with my blog pages…
    Cheers
    Matt http://agoodtimewithwine.com

    • 1WineDude


      Matt – ha! I think where most people get this confused is in thinking that consumers make huge, mad rushes on wines that are featured anywhere. This happens in very isolated instances, but much more often it's got to be (lazy) retailers and (lazy) distributors and (lazy) importers buying larger quantities based on reviews, in the hopes that those reviews make it easier to sell wine on the shelves with shelf talkers, etc.

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