WineTalk Talked About
Not long ago I issued a post on "The State of Online Wine Talk" in which I took a look at the state of online wine bulletin boards (WBBs), those websites where wine geeks gather to have written conversations on all things wine.
I spent a little bit of time discussing the demise of public use of the eRobertParker WBB and the rise of Wine Beserkers. I didn't spend much time talking about another WBB that has recently seen a significant increase in use: WineTalk.com. I was reminded by a good number of people that WineTalk.com is also becoming a significant place for serious on-line wine discussions. And so with a little prodding, I reached out to Daniel Posner of WineTalk.com.
Posner has been using WBBs for many years and has been an active participant. He is also a wine retailer in New York. He owns Grapes: The Wine Company. Posner has also been an big proponents of opening up direct shipping for wine retailers as well as wineries and was outspoken during the debate over wine in grocery stores in New York. Below is the Fermentation Interview with Daniel Posner.
1. How long have you been active on Wine Bulletin Boards (WBBs)?
2. Do you remember what first attracted you to WBBs?
Yes. A wine we sold (almost exclusively) was featured in the Wall Street Journal one day, in 2002. Wine Searcher was in its infancy. When it appeared in the newspaper and later that day on CNBC, we were the only store in America with the wine, so our phone was ringing off the hook. Since you will ask, the wine was 1997 Vigil Meritage. Whitehall Lane later bought the property.
3. How have WBBs changed, if any, since you first began using them?
I think information has become easier to obtain for everyone (consumers, retailers, critics, importers, etc),
so people are more knowledgeable on the subjects at hand. Of course, some information is false, which makes things a bit more interesting.
4. Describe the role, if any, that WBBs play in selling wine.
WBBs give you exposure, and hopefully some credibility. Customers have constantly praised me for my "pull no punches" attitude on the boards. I have "argued" with clients, winemakers, critics, etc.
5. As a retailer, how do you approach the use of a WBB differently than a "civilian"?
I am not sure that I do. I think I am privy to much more information out there about the wine world, so I try to relay that info to the "civilians."
6. While WBBs are generally congenial places to talk wine, they are occasionally contentious leading to heated conversations. What dynamics do you find tend to lead to the heated discussions on WBBs?
One is politics. Politics is always a cause of hate. Another is just varying opinions. Which is a good thing. Arguments can be healthy. Ask any marriage counselor.
7. When and why did you start "WineTalk.com"?
Winetalk.com has been around since 2004. I have "taken it over" since May 2010. So it is very new for me. I stopped posting in wine boards in Feb 2010. I found some people constantly looking to pick fights with me. I am not looking for fights on the internet. I am looking for interesting conversation. In April, someone approached me about winetalk.com. I passed on the offer, but later accepted in May.
8. How has Winetalk.com progressed and how would you describe the general atmosphere at Winetalk.com?
In just a few months, our membership has doubled from the previous 6 years the site was in existence. The site is also seeing more regular posters and traffic is up. The general atmosphere is what I like. It is good candid discussion, without the childish atmosphere that some people resort to. This is my business, so I take it seriously. I do not have time to constantly defend myself, or engage people, who refuse to take this business seriously.
9. The Parker/Squires WBB has generated controversy for the way it evolved, the treatment of users, the heated discussions and its recent change to members-only status. What is your take on the history of the Parker/Squires WBB?
I registered there in 2003. I was banned by Bob Parker, himself, in 2009. Things became heated because information became much more open. People started questioning the powers that be…in this case, Parker and the WA critics, and Mark Squires. They always had some issues over the years, but the last few years have been devastating for the Parker brand, if there is one. The decision to go "members only" is a tricky one. That discussion board was a well traveled one, but like many others, there was a small group of dedicated posters. Those numbers were dying and since May 2009, had dramatically fallen off. People really started questioning Parker to the point where he was ignoring any and all controversial questions on the site. It is not good to be ignoring your "subscriber" base. So, now he can ignore them, and no one sees it. He treats twitter in the same fashion. He has never replied to a question that anyone has asked him there.
WineTalk.Com does appear to have a growing, robust and informed set of discussion on all things wine. It's well worth a look if you are, like me, always looking for invigorating discussion and a place to learn. The best wine discussion on the internet take place at WBB like WineTalk.com and other locations mentioned in my previous post. Blogs too as well as comment sections at online articles can often result in good, robust discussions. But what sets apart the WBB is the ability for any registered member of a WBB to start up a discussion on any topic they desire.