I’m a fan of Wikipedia. I like the idea of a constantly updating encyclopedia at my fingertips, despite the rap that it gets from some (traditionalists?) that it’s not accurate. While my go to source for general wine info is still the Oxford Companion to Wine, edited by Jancis Robinson, as well as a few other atlas’, Wikipedia has begun to take over some of my mindspace.

It has its downfalls for sure. For example, it can’t come close to Appellation America as a reference for North American wine growing regions or for information on grape varieties. Where Appellation America’s cataloging of North American wine growing regions is broad and deep, Wikipedia’s wine section is merely broad while the Oxford Companion is deep on only certain areas.

So, I was very intrigued when I saw Encyclowine.

Encyclowine has only launched in the past week. It is, essentially, Wikipedia for wine…a user-created and edited encyclopedia for wine. It is not filled out as yet. Also, I’ve noticed over the past  couple of days that the site has been both up and down at times. So what we are talking about here is potential. However, the potential IS exciting.

As with the Wikipedia, Encyclowine is meant to offer deep content on everything as long as there is someone willing to write it and others willing to edit it later. Like Wikipedia, the hope is that a collaborative effort will help create an Online index of everything-wine.

There is a great deal already on Encyclowine for the person researching varieties, regions, wines, production, etc. The question that Encyclowine has to answer is why create such an open-source encyclopedia of wine outside Wikipedia or try to compete with Appellation America’s headlong dive into deep/broad info presentation? One answer, which seems to be a regular refrain among optimistic web developers, is "because we can"

If you visit Encyclowine give it a chance. Surf around. Explore the potential. Because it is there. If you are very knowledgeable on a particular wine subject, register and write an entry. This is how this source will grow. It could, if they play their cards right and spend their marketing dollars and time correctly turn into the kind of source that replaces the print world’s Companions.

3 Responses

  1. Dixie - May 27, 2006

    Hi Tom,
    Thanks for writing the review, and thanks for the suggestions.
    Why create EncycloWine when Wikipedia is around? It is a little bit of “because we can” – there have been wikis created about tons of different topics big and small, and I was astonished that there was no wine wiki. Mostly though, I feel that Wikipedia is so broad in scope it is difficult to post or find specialized articles about wine. A wiki specific to wine is a way to bring ease of use to a subject that has thousands of components. Each component can be treated in-depth without “off-topic” interwiki links or articles to get lost in.
    Please don’t get me wrong – I think Wikipedia is awesome, and I’ve contributed to non-wine articles there. And I’m obviously not interested in competing with it since EncycloWine has a different focus.

  2. JohnLopresti - May 29, 2006

    EncycloWine is a wonderful idea, as a visit there shows. It represents a breath of fresh air in the trade and art of winemaking, and has marvelous potential to remake winemaking itself as a forum for information interchange in a field which traditionally has added a dollop of mystique, an aliquot of secrecy, and a Vernier calibrated modicum of hyperbole above and beyond standard tradecraft. I have met some pretty dedicated folks in the viticulture side, as well as a few winemakers, all of whom would be likely to find EncycloWine a refreshing idea whose time has come. GNU is a great software platform for these kinds of information sharing endeavors. The site managers need to do a few extra things which I can see now at their startup. I will be talking with them soon. Great info Tom.

  3. Amber, Mtlk Terr, WA - December 18, 2007

    Hi Tom, I looked at Encylowine and it just seems to be an EXACT copy of Wikipedia articles. Are there any other sites out there with original content dedicated to wine?

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