I need to go on record right now that I hate Jeff Lefevere*.
Why do I hate Jeff… Well, for one, he has the best-looking wine blog in all of the blog-o-world. If his blog design were a person, it would be Warren Beatty, and it would walk around with a smile and a demure but slightly aloof stance, confident that your wife would do him in a heartbeat and not even think twice about you or your kids, because he’s just that cool.
He (I mean Jeff, not the personified Beatty-esque incarnation of Jeff’s blog) is also a phenomenally talented writer; his prose puts the writing on the majority of wine blogs (including some of those penned by professional writers) to shame.
So, there’s jealousy, That’s clearly one reason.
Also, I don’t understand at all his Vin de Napkin comics, and it pisses me off that I’m possibly too dumb to appreciate them.
I guess that’s also jealously?
Anyway, after today, Jeff pissed me off even more because he’s managed to host the only Wine Blogging Wednesday topic that has completely stumped me (I’m not usually at a loss for words… like, ever…). The theme is “California Inspiration,” which Jeff intended to be a homage to the late and inspirational CA wine icon Robert Mondavi, as this week marks the first anniversary of Mondavi’s passing.
The idea is that we should recount a moment of inspiration, a story centering around a specific wine.
Jeff… you magnificent bastard… you have stumped me. Why? Because while capturing the essence of a fleeting inspirational moment in time might be a talented trained journalist’s idea of a writing warm-up exercise, it’s a bear of an activity for hacks like me.
Curse you, Lefevere! May the fleas of one thousand camels infest your armpits!!!
* – Note: I don’t actually hate Jeff Lefevere. In fact, he is an extremely nice guy with whom I had the pleasure of hanging out during the first Wine Bloggers Conference. I’m just stalling because I don’t have a wittier intro.
Wait. I take that back. I actually do have a story. So, I need to go on record right now that I no longer hate Jeff Lefevere.
You know, if it weren’t for two winemakers, and two specific wines, I might not be writing to you right now.
A few months ago (circa September 2008), I had contemplated giving up wine blogging entirely. I loved writing, and I loved wine. But I wasn’t sure that wine blogging was going to be viable for me. I had a full-time career at a big CPG company. My daughter was on the way. I loved playing in the band, and didn’t see myself curtailing those activities or short-changing my kid in the battle for my non-work time. I was pretty sure that wine blogging was going to have to go (it wasn’t exactly paying the bills, either).
There were new wine blogs cropping up pretty much every week. It was a crowded field, and while the majority of those that I’d met who were involved with wine were amazing people, there were enough ‘bad apples’ gunnin’ for me that I felt a little… battle weary.
Then, I got contacted by the staff at Opus One and Penns Woods wineries – two of the finest purveyors of red wine on both coasts – to tour their wineries. Why did they ask me to do this? Because of my writing on 1WineDude. The results of those visits sparked something in my pea-sized, alcohol-wizened brain. “I’m just some punk kid from Delaware – what the hell was I doing talking to these amazing winemaking teams? Holy crap, I’d better take this thing more seriously.”
After getting uber-wine-geeky with Opus One’s Michael Silacci and Penns Woods’ Gino Razzi, I recounted the experiences in the virtual pages of 1WineDude, and put their wines head to head in a blind tasting. Links to the resulting posts are below, and they remain some of my favorites, probably because they convinced me not to hang up the wine bloggin’ spurs:
- “A Sense of Urgency”: The Reinvention of Opus One from the Ground Up
- “No Shortcuts”: How Penns Woods is Reinventing Pennsylvania Wine From The Top Down
- Blind Tasting Smackdown: East Coast Vs. West Coast!
Since that time, 1WineDude has seen steady and progressive modest success, whether you measure it in terms of income, traffic, subscribers, or – best of all – in the number of readers, bloggers, industry folk, and winemakers that I consider to be friends. If I’d given up last year, I’d have missed out on a crazy amount of life-expanding and enriching experiences. Finding the right balance between family, career, music, and wine is a constant struggle for me – but the rewards on all fronts are worth the effort.
So in my case, we have a sort of minor tragedy turned into a sort of minor victory. Thanks to two wines. Sort of.
(images: sacbee.com, 1WineDude)
10 thoughts on “One Wino’s Inspiration (Wine Blogging Wednesday #57)”
You're wrong: that was the perfect intro.
And I'm glad you kept on blogging. Otherwise, I would've never had the chance to meet and <ahem> belittle you in public and online.
Ah, and with double-meaning in reference to my height! Well done, bro…
I'm here for you, that's all I can say.
That being said, are you suggesting that the Opus One was your California Inspiration? Or, was it the fact that being recognized by (what many might consider) an exclusive California winery is what kept you blogging? Oooh, you're better than you're punk kid Delaware origins let on.
It was the fact that passionate people who knew what they were talking about wanted to chat wine with me. It was sort of like the day my band go to play a big venue in Philly (the Electric Factory) as part of contest to open for Bon Jovi, after getting voted into the top 5 Philly bands in the contest.
It was the revelation that maybe I didn't entirely suck. :-)
I'm laughing my arse off. Great post. Are you sure you're not describing me instead of my blog? I have been accused of demure confidence couched in aloofness, which is more social shyness than anything.
Re: Vin de Napkin. They key to "getting" them is to expect that they not be funny, per se. I think of them more as political cartoons, which can cause a reaction, but not necessarily a belly laugh. Or, at least that's the approach. But, honestly, I don't think other people get them either, because I never get comments. That's okay, though. Man cannot live by 800 word blog posts alone.
You're the man.
CURSE YOU, JEFF!!!
Thanks again for a great theme. Cheers!
Joe, what's most important is that you continue to strive for that balance. You're self aware in your goals and the toll they take on other portions of your life, and that's a very important thing. As long as you never lose sight of this, I think we'll be seeing you blog for years to come.
Thanks for that – I hope you're right! :-)
I think that one of the revelations – for me anyways – was that there is no perfect balance. The percentages can change each day. So if there is one golden rule, it's flexibility!
Kudos to you my Delaware friend for creating a really great and honest blog for regular people! It was my first time visiting your site today and I laughed my ass off. I loved your “My story”! I’m also a DE punk trying to find balance and some time for my own wine blog as well. You have inspired me and given me hope that it is possible to succeed if you love what you do! Keep up the amazing writing you funny and witty bastard!
-I’ll be back.
Kind words – thank you!!
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