Dissing Mothers and What I learned at the Wine Bloggers Conference
The recently concluded conference of wine bloggers in Portland, Oregon was, as always, enlightening, a great source of ideas for this writer, full of surprises, great fun, dashed with a few disappointments and provided and up-close opportunity to examine the state of wine blogging.
With that in mind, I’ve culled the Top Ten Things I learned at the 2012 Wine Bloggers Conference:
1. Marketing Aside. Wine Bloggers remain somewhat uninterested in marketing their work beyond posts on Facebook and Tweets announcing their latest missive. I’ve noticed this lack of marketing sense by wine bloggers before, but once again it became clear that marketing was a theme that many wine bloggers ignore in favor of focusing on content creation. I remain convinced that the first really good and prolific writer/reviewer in the wine blogging world to devote equal time to marketing as to content creation will be highly rewarded.
2. Rex Pickett Doesn’t Like His Mother. This unfortunate disclosure, among other things, became clear as the author of “Sideways” addressed an audience of wine bloggers on the second day of the conference. Mr. Pickett, who has few things to say about the Internet, writers, publishing and Virginia Madsen, engaged in a Q&A in front of a room of content creators. I may have missed some outstanding nuggets sent forth from Mr. Pickett as I had to leave the Q & A in the middle.
3. Greatness Resides at the Edge of the Pearl: Jacob Grier. There, at the very top edge of the Pearl District in Portland, sits MetroVino Restaurant. What would seem at first glance as a wine bar is in fact the home of one of America’s great young cocktalians: Jacob Grier. I sought out this young bartender who will in the days to come make a great name for himself. His cocktail creations are inspired, pictures of perfect balance, full of whimsy and each delicious. I would return to Portland merely to sit at his bar.
4. Randall Grahm Is My Hero. The Wine Bloggers Conference’s Friday Keynote speaker confirmed that he remains the most interesting man in American wine. A deep thinker with reverential relationship with words and ideas, Randall is today on a quest not merely to sell his wine, but to commune in a deep way with terroir. No longer the Clown Prince of Wine, Randall’s prime role today is to inspire palates and minds, simultaneously.
5. The Greeks Are Coming. The walk around tasting of Greek wines was revelatory. The wines delicious. The change that has overcome that country’s wine industry near total. Don’t worry that the Greek wine labels may rival German for their incomprehensible quality. Just drink them.
6. Pok Pok: Eat the Food—Leave the Wine at Home. The legendary Thai restaurant, Pok Pok, proved to be everything it promised. A revelation of inventive yet simple food that helps redefine our idea of Thai cuisine. However, it was clear, as I sat among 11 other blogging friends, eating dish after dish, that trying to match wine with this food proves a disservice to both. Leave the wine at home when you visit, get a simple beer and eat.
7. Great Panel Discussions Require Great Precision and Direction. I’ve known this but it was driven home as I sat in a panel discussion at the Wine Bloggers Conference. If you want to deliver insight to an audience based on a panel of speakers, make the speakers prepare. Make sure they deliver precise messages in limited number. Moderator: Don’t let anyone ramble. Cut them off at the knees when they do. And leave enough time for audience members to hail, agree with, correct and challenge the panelists.
8. Curation Is the Gift To Wine Blog Readers. The Wine Blog Awards are just one way for wine enthusiasts to identify what’s worth reading in that vast sea of content. Additionally, the curators of wine blogs, those that take the time to highlight what they believe is most interesting, best written and most important, are critical to separating the wheat from the chaff.
9. The Value of Face Time Exceeds the Value of Facebook. One thing is indisputable. Wine Bloggers have built an honest to goodness community in which they concern themselves with one another, root for each others success and truly enjoy each others company. The face time with other bloggers that the Wine Bloggers Conference provides is unquestionably its greatest benefit.
10. Irony Finds a Way. I’m not sure if the one great irony that emerged from the Wine Bloggers Conference was apparent to its participants. The winner of Best Overall Wine Blog at the Saturday Wine Blog Awards Ceremony was Jamie Goode for Jamie Goode’s Wine Blog, a fantastic resource. However, it was Jamie Goode who, not more than two months ago wrote: “I am not a wine blogger…Blogging is dead”. Congratulations, Jamie. It’s an award well-earned.