Bloggerview #29: Hardy Wallace
I like Hardy Wallace. In fact, I think everyone likes Hardy. It's his upbeat and authentically positive disposition that does the trick. The real neat trick is that this upbeat, authentic, enthusiastic attitude comes through loud and clear at his wine blog, Dirty South Wine. Now most folks probably became acquainted with Hardy as a result of his winning the opportunity to become Murphy-Goode's social media evangelist. That's neat too. But, it's not nearly as neat as his blog. What I like most about Dirty South Wine is the diversity of content. You never actually have any idea what Hardy will be writing about next. It could be beer. It could be food. It could be tasting notes. It could be comic. It could be industry analysis. If you don't know Dirty South Wine, you should. It's a treat.
1. When did you begin blogging and why?
I started blogging in 2007. Even though my palate is warped, and my writing skills are like a 13yr old girl’s IM stream, I just really wanted to start creating content about wine. I had been active on some wine message boards for a few years prior, but I wanted something without restrictions.
2. In two sentences describe the focus of your wine blog.
A humorous and curious sprint through the world of wine typed out like I was being chased by an angry mob? Or just- Wine is meant to be crunk.
3. What sets your wine blog apart from the pack?
I really don’t know- I have always tried to push it forward. It is blend of quirk, un-professionalism, and a few drops of bizzaro. I love doing it. I'm extremely grateful to have readers and supporters.
4. How would you characterize the growth in your readership since beginning your blog?
In 07 I was psyched when my traffic reached 10 uniques per week. Most people reading my stuff probably found it by accident. As I created more content, the visitors grew. Anything that sounded fun, I tried– video, wine dinners, cooking… A local retailer started using some of my posts as shelf-talkers, I organized a ridiculously time consuming (but extremely fun) Atlanta Wine Pairing Challenge, and became happily involved in the online and offline wine community. Add-in the buzz from the Murphy-Goode job, and the growth has been pretty amazing.
5. Do you accept sample for review?
I accept samples- but I feel guilty about it sometimes. I post about wines, will write some tasting notes, impressions, but I’m not a critic. The guilt comes in when an unannounced box shows up that I have no interest in tasting… I hate to see people wasting money and juice, and I know so many other bloggers that would do a better job with their wines. That being said, if someone wants to send me samples of grower Champagne, Cru Beaujolais. and library release Riesling– release the hounds!!!!! (Just email me first)
6. What kind of wine rating/review system do you use and why?
In the professional world of wine– I’m a horrible review guy. I just write how much I liked or didn't like it. I almost always taste wines paired with food, in a non-structured setting. That's how a consumer is going to do it, and that’s how I enjoy wine.
No scores, no points– though at one point I thought about rating wines with kung-fu like terms– “monkey fist”, “feral tiger” , “hidden crab basket” “Drunken ManBearPig” and combining it with the the 100pt scale, but starting at 101 and going up to 102.36 in .17 increments. I’d love to hear the excitement with people rejoicing over scores “Boo-Ya!!!! My Albarino just scored 101.85 ManBearPig!” The more I think about that, the better it sounds. I officially start adopting that scale today.
7. How do you fit the maintenance of your wine blog into your daily schedule?
Right now it is challenging. I am working really hard to get the Murphy-Goode blog rolling at full steam. This has left my recent posts on Dirty South Wine fairly brief. That being said, I have a ton of stuff coming up with Dirty South Wine- A total redesign, the first ever online Popeyes Fried Chicken Wine Pairing Challenge, some great video shoots, and a few other surprises. Since moving to CA, I am working around the clock.
8. Have you utilized any particular techniques to successfully market your blog?
All I’ve really tried to do is to stay active in the wine and food community and to have fun with what I’m doing.
9. In your view how, if at all, is blogging different than traditional wine writing for print?
People don’t curl up with a good blog. Most people come to blogs for nuggets and are far more tolerant of mistakes. To me, blogging is about getting good stuff on the plate now (rare to medium rare). I think more people come to look vs to read. Judging by traffic, it also looks like more people are reading at work than at home.
10. Which other wine blogs do you read regularly?
Too many to list, but a few off the top of my head– Suburban Wino, Benitos Wine Reviews, WineTonite, Lenndevours, 1WineDude, Do Bianchi, My Daily Wine, Rockss and Fruit, Saignee, Besotted Ramblings, Good Grape.. and a hundred more.
11. Do you believe wine blogs have made any marked impact on the wine industry or wine culture?
Sure- For the industry, wine blogs stuck a stick in the spokes. The outpouring of blogs added this new "maze of twisty little passages, all-alike" and added thousands of voices out there.
How much time has been spent by the industry trying to figure out who to interact with, to try and determine who is influential, and ultimately “who sells wine”? The answer is anybody. If a customer or potential customer discovers your wine via “Shady Acres Cat Breeding and Wine Blog” (a cult classic) and makes a decision based on what they read– that is influence.
; If they then take what they found and spread it on twitter, facebook, or any other outlet, that is even more influence…
For the industry, the growth of wine blogs has meant in order to succeed in that space they must switch from targeting specific writers, to participating in the community. Ultimately, this is good for everyone.
For the consumer / wine culture, it has given everyone a voice.
12. Vacation: Paris or the Caribbean?
Paris for sure. Wine is too expensive in the Caribbean and I can only eat so much conch. If I get too hot, I start sweating pan sauces.
13. Pet: Dog or Cat?
Either– as long as they belong to someone else.
14. Airplane Reading: New Yorker or People?
With a lot of flights with onboard wireless, I’m online writing, tweeting, and goofing off watching youtube videos. I flew about a 100 days a year for the past few years, and most of Dirty South Wine was written on flights.
15. Car: Prius or BMW?
WIth the amount of dirt roads and might-as-well be dirt roads in wine country, I’m going with Subaru.
16. Chablis or California Chardonnay?
Mature Chablis. Though I am a defender of any good Chardonnay. The ABC rap is for suckers who refuse to testify!
17. Describe what you would have at your last meal?
I’d want and open door to the cellar and kitchen at Bern’s Steakhouse in Tampa. Grabbing mature wines from regions and varieties I’ve never had- I’d still want to be trying and discovering new stuff, but I’d finish the meal with 80 year old Crimean dessert wines while using Miller High Life to cleanse the palate.
18. What is Heaven Like?
Being able to work as hard as you can at something you love while still having time for the people you love.
19. If you could invite 4 people dead or alive to your fantasy dinner party, who would they be and who would you have bring the wine?
The living are usually better dining companions. I’d go for Kermit Lynch, Weird Al Yankovic, Matt Richardson aka Rowdy Food, and my Dad. Weird Al brings at least one bottle.
20. What advice would you give to someone considering starting a wine blog?
Write about what you really love and not what you think people want to read. Don’t sweat it, just start, have fun, and laugh at your mistakes. Once you get rolling accept the fact that no one ever reads or comments on your favorite posts.