The Voices of Wine
Next week somewhere in the neighborhood of 250+ people from around the country will gather in Sonoma County for the second North American Wine Bloggers Conference. It's an event I look forward to with great anticipation and with the intent of coming to some conclusions about the future of wine writing.
Though I recently had some thoughts on the state of wine blogging, what I may not have mentioned in that post is that it's pretty apparent that the wine blogging genre is a subset of the overall wine writing genre. And yet what is very interesting is how "blogging" appears to be linked in the most general way to "social media".
I don't want to debate definitions, but rather note that I see "social media" as ways by which groups and individual's interact in community-based settings, while blogging is really about publishing a voice. Though social media tools can and are used to promote "voice publishing", the world of blogs strikes me as being something entirely different than Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn. However, there seems to be a tendency when educational forum speak of wine and social media to lump blogs in with these other tools. This is confusing.
The Wine Bloggers Conference will attract voices and those people interested in what those voices say and how best to interact with those voices. The conference has grown tremendously from last year primarily because of the success of last year's conference, but also because the number of Bloggers appears to be growing and because blogging is rising up the ladder of things industry folks need to be aware of.
I'll only be making one official appearance at the Wine Bloggers Conference when I present the American Wine Blog Awards to the winners on Friday in the afternoon. I'm looking forward to this. The opportunity to recognize and honor the very talented people who won an AWBAs this year is exciting for me. I may even have something of interest to say at this gathering in addition to introducing the honorees. The rest of the time I'll be meeting with other attendees and enjoying the seminars.
The expansion of the wine blogging world and its acceptance among the wine trade and wine consumers astounds me. I've watched it closely from 2004 to the present go from just a handful of blogs with few people reading them to too many wine blogs to know and great interest in the cultivation of wine blogs as a new form of wine media.
But what strikes me is this: the emergence of wine blogs isn't something that I think has occurred as a result of a new mind set among wine lovers and the wine trade. I think wine blogs would have emerged at any time the technology allowed it. Wine lovers talk. They love to talk. They love to say what they think about wine. They always have. But the ability to do this has been very limited, until the emergence of the easily updated and distributed and promoted blog platform. The voices have always been there. Now they have an easily created microphone.
Atleast for some bloggers, the social media aspects arrive when they organize tasting groups/tasting parties etc. and then write about their observations. But I think you’re mostly spot on. The technology makes it go, but there’s also that uniquely aspect to our American point of view: the endless quest to discover if you can monetize your blog….
“…but there’s also that uniquely aspect to our American point of view: the endless quest to discover if you can monetize your blog….”
Let me go out on a limb, probably receive a thousand nasty responses and a bunch of people thinking that I’m an old asshole who can’t get with the modern world: as a blogger, I emphatically do not want to be confused with being part of the so-called social media, which I consider an over-hyped version of hucksterism.
I don’t particularly think that my station in life is to constantly network for financial gain. But hey, I’m broke, so maybe I’m also an idiot!
Tom Wark has it spot on. The explosion of wine journals in the 1970s happened because of two things. Folks wanted to talk about wine, and the level of interest and the cost of entry allowed Connoisseurs’ Guide, Parker, the Wine Spectator, the California Grapevine, Art Damond’s Wine Discoveries all to come into being.
Print is no longer inviting. The space is occupied, it is a declining space in any event and the cost of entry is prohibitive.
But the Internet is a horse of a different feather (to quote some wise man somewhere). The cost of entry is next to nothing and folks want to talk about wine–or almost everything else if you look around.
Twitter, FaceBook and all the other ideas are nothing more than places to talk about wine. Somehow separating all but the most earnest of bloggers from those who tweet about wine all day long is not really worth the effort.
The separation comes at the level of effort and the inevitable desire of some folks to find a way to get paid for their opinions.
I have said this before but it bears repeating. A blogger who turns his or her hobby into money is a journalist or a promoter. There is nothing wrong with that course of events. All of us who started in the 1970s were hobbyists who tried to monetize our hobbies.
We were welcomed into the trade by its members then, and I welcome all 1000 bloggers now. Good luck and go get ’em. Guys like me and the rest of the old crew will be exiting the stage soon enough, and you are the future of wine writing. Let the best words win.
I do hope that members of Charlie’s “old crew,” many of whom I know, are as circumspect and pragmatic as he is, and I hope he doesn’t exit the stage anytime soon. Personally, bloggers and social media have invigorated me. It’s exciting to find new ways to think about wine PR and to find potential new outlets and customers with whom we can build relationships.
I’ll look for your observations. It’s interesting to see the aspect of taking social media and being able to make money off of it….it’s not as easy as most people think. I don’t know many bloggers that want to depend on AdSense or Amazone affiliate commissions to pay their mortgage.
I just came across this really cool site called “Giving through Growing!” Basically, Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi is partnering with the American Community Gardening Association (ACGA) in an effort to increase awareness of the community gardening movement. Woodbridge by Robert Mondavi created a site that allows you to plant “e-seeds” to help promote “Giving through Growing.” You can also send these “e-seeds” to friends and family to help raise money for the effort … I think they’ll get a real kick out of them, try it out! http://www.woodbridgewines.com/garden