Wine Blogging: A Few Changes in 12 Years

12I recently celebrated my 12th full year of writing and publishing Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog. After 3,007 posts, I can say with some certainty that wine blogging is not dead. However, it’s not what it was.

The primary change that has come to the realm of wine blogs is that a shared camaraderie among wine bloggers isn’t nearly as strong as it was in the years 2005 -2010. The think the reason for this is pretty obvious. At the time we all thought we were doing something special. And we were, in a sense, as we put to use this new and efficient digital publishing technology to give the world new wine voices. There was a great deal of support among bloggers, epitomized by the “Blogroll”.

The first Wine Bloggers Conference, which occurred in 2008 in Santa Rosa, probably marked the heyday of wine blogger collaboration with and support for one another. However, sometime around 2011 or 2012, that sense of wine blogger support began to drop off just as social media began to explode. The two are connected.

Another really interesting change that has occurred over these last 12 years is the near disappearance of the claim that bloggers don’t know what they are doing, are amateurs, are careless, etc. These kind of claims almost always came from professional (paid) writers who were confronting a plethora of new voices. But when the blogosphere began produce some really very good writers and commentators who were not going away and who, in some cases, moved on to paid gigs, that hue and cry disappeared.

The voice of the independent wine writer remains loud and clear long after their favored format, the blog, emerged to change publishing. While “bloggers” may not share the kind of camaraderie they used to, there remains a vital, important and sizable lot of such writers across the globe who work to share their passion for and knowledge of wine.

Thanks to all you who keep reading and visiting Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog.



10 Responses

  1. Carl Giavanti - November 3, 2016

    Hi Tom:
    I agree with your points on the improved quality, acceptance and continued relevancew of the wine blogging community. I’m not sure I fully understand the camaraderie comments? I’ve now attended 5 Wine Blogger Conferences and continue to build and develop new relationships that have value to me as a publicist and thus to my winery clients. For the record, you were missed last year at WBC16, and I hope you plan to attend the 10th annual next year?

  2. Bob Henry - November 3, 2016

    A history lesson . . .

    From BusinessWeek “Business Views” Section
    (July 27, 2009, Page 074ff):

    “A Brief History of Blogs;
    How a grassroots groundswell transformed the media landscape”

    Book review by Stephen Baker

    “Say Everything:
    How Blogging Began, What It’s Becoming, and Why It Matters”
    By Scott Rosenberg
    (Crown; 405 pp., $26)


    “. . . Rosenberg, co-founder of the online magazine, describes a remarkable chapter in the history of communication. At this point it’s hard for some to remember that even in the late 1990s most people regarded Web pages as things to read, not places to post and publish. It’s an important story, one that leads not only to YouTube, Facebook, and Wikipedia but also to the transformation of corporate and government communications. Rosenberg writes gracefully and appears to have researched thoroughly. His book may be a bit heavy in detail, historical and technical, for a general interest audience. But many bloggers are sure to relish the history of the drama they’ve stepped into. I certainly learned a lot. “

  3. Bob Henry - November 3, 2016

    Tom, how many non-industry wine blogs are truly “active”?

    Citing these three-year-old statistics . . .

    Excerpt from The Wall Street Journal “Off Duty” Section
    (March 29, 2013, Page Unknown):

    “Five Wine Blogs I Really Click With”

    By Lettie Teague
    “On Wine” Column

    “There are about 1,450 wine blogs today [circa 2013], of which about 1,000 are nonprofessional endeavors (the rest are ‘industry’ blogs), according to Allan Wright of the Zephyr Adventures tour operator, who has organized the 2013 Wine Bloggers Conference in North America for the past five years. But most bloggers haven’t been doing it very long: ‘Only 18% of [wine] bloggers today have been blogging for more than six years,’ he said.

    “Most of the bloggers were doing it just for ‘personal satisfaction,’ Mr. Wright said, since the possibility of making money was quite small. Alder Yarrow, who writes a much-talked-about blog, Vinography, told me that he earns $12,000 to $16,000 from it annually, most of which comes from banner ads. Said Mr. Yarrow, who began his blog in 2004 and has a day job: ‘Monetizing a blog is very hard if you don’t want to sell products, sell advertising to wineries and therefore look like a shill.’

    “Most bloggers are more like Alice Feiring, a traditional wine journalist a traditional wine journalist [former Time magazine wine writer] who has never made ‘a cent’ from her blog, the Feiring Line, which she started in 2004. (It’s one of the few that I read on a regular basis.) But unlike most other bloggers, Ms. Feiring has a newsletter; she has 450 subscribers paying $65 a year for 10 issues. ‘The blog was a soapbox; the newsletter is a mini-magazine,’ Ms. Feiring explained.

    A lack of profit potential isn’t necessarily the biggest blogger obstacle; time is in even shorter supply. Judging from the number of bloggers who allow weeks, months, even years to go by without posting a thought, it’s clearly hard to maintain momentum. Or inspiration. More than one blogger explained his or her absence with a post that began something like: ‘I didn’t drink anything worth writing about.’

  4. Bob Henry - November 3, 2016


    With the purchase of BusinessWeek magazine by Bloomberg Media, the URL to the book review has changed.

  5. Charlie Olken - November 3, 2016

    Twelve years of blogging? Who would have thought you were that old? :-}

    Interesting comments. Two things stuck out to me. One was the notion that blogging is not dead. I happen to believe that wine blogging has evolved in ways that make it both more vital than ever and deader than ever.

    Many blogs have stood the test of time and they are serious, thoughtful and near professional in quality. Most of those are written by professionals like Blake Grey and you. Some are written by folks who have become professional like Joe Roberts and Alder Yarrow.

    But then there is the second side of this equation. Heimoff, who was one of the most popular of wine bloggers, has left the trade and all but abandoned wine blogging. You may have published thousands of entries, but your rate of participation is a pittance of what it was.

    And perhaps most telling is the inevitable dropoff in the emergence of new bloggists. Part of that is that the field filled up quickly, and part of it is that wine, however much we love it, is a limited topic and does not lend itself to endless new articles.

    And finally, there is the boredom factor, which I measure by the number of comments that appear now on the existing blogs. I cannot speak for anyone else’s blog. But the number of readers on my blog is down by about 15% over the last five years, but the number of comments is down by 50% or more.

    So, while I think that wine blogging is healthy in some very good ways, I think there has been a shake out and the least of the blogs, the ones that were less than coherent or less than well-written, have diminished and thus one big reason why there are fewer critical claims about the quality of the writing is simply that the writing is very good among the best of the surviving blogs and little attention is paid to the remainder.

  6. Bob Henry - November 3, 2016


    I promise to redouble my efforts to visit your blog . . . which should bump up your readership number to 16% and comment number up to 51%.

    (At the risk of making a self-aggrandizing statement, I recently reviewed my activity on Steve’s wine blog. I contributed (mostly post-midnight) comments — sometimes multiple comments — to over 400 discrete topics/pieces over the past three years. Such a diverse discussion forum exists no where else in the wine blogosphere.)

    ~~ Bob (“I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead”) Henry

  7. Bob Henry - November 3, 2016

    As for the quality of the writing on blogs, there are still us detractors . . .

    From the Los Angeles Times “Op-Ed” Section
    (February 10, 2012, Page A19):

    “Syntax? Logic? Why?”

    By Michael Kinsley
    Bloomberg View columnist

    It’s been going on for too long, right before our eyes. Inevitably, someone was going to blow the whistle, and wouldn’t you know it would be Felix Salmon, the famous financial blogger for Reuters?

    . . .

    Nothing, though, prepared me for the dazzling brilliance of Felix’s blog item this week [circa February 2012] about the quality of writing on the Internet. … his basic point is that on the Web, sheer quantity trumps quality. …

    Facts, Schmacts

    … Felix’s blog post … argue[s] that all aspects of good writing — accuracy, logic, spelling, graceful turns of phrase, wisdom and insight, puns (only good ones), punctuation, proper grammar and syntax (and what’s the difference between those two again?) — are all overrated.

    . . .

    … Now one of our nation’s leading bloggers has confessed what we all suspected: that bad writing is inherent to the online world. …

  8. Cathy Huyghe - November 7, 2016

    Thank you for this, Tom, and congratulations! That’s some serious commitment and longevity you’ve got going on… I’d like to think and talk more about your point on camaraderie, and why the emergence of social media goes hand-in-hand with the drop off of camaraderie among bloggers in recent years. You’d think it would be the opposite, no? I’ve learned about other blogs and and tried to support their writers because of social media (thanks to social media, I should say), and I’ve certainly felt supported by colleagues and friends in a reciprocal way. I’d be glad for your thoughts on this!

  9. Robert Maes - December 1, 2016

    very Help full 12 Changes in Wine Blogging.

    Have Nice Day

    Nice to meet you…

    I am waiting for next posting.

    Keep Smiling!!!

  10. Glen Rosario - December 21, 2016

    Hi guys

    Thanks for sharing all this great info!!

    Love myself a good cocktail.

    Have Nice Day

    I am waiting for next posting.

    Keep Smiling!!!

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