The Future of Wine Writing is Coming to Sonoma County

This Thursday, 300+ people will descend upon Sonoma County, California for the 10th Annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference. It is an educational, business and networking opportunity that comes at a time when “blogging” has been transformed into something much different than what it was 10 years ago, yet remains necessarily the same.

Ten years ago, when about 100 or so wine bloggers first gathered at the Flamingo Resort in Sonoma County, wine blogging still retained its freshness; its innovative quality. The wine community as a whole still had some questions as to the utility of this self-made crew. And the potential impact of the wine blogger was still on the horizon.

Today wine blogging and all blogging for that matter is old hat. We know what these wine bloggers are. We know that some have more impact than others. We know that the best wine bloggers tend to move on to paid pursuits developed out of their success as bloggers. We know that wine bloggers, when read by enough people, can carry weight and can help burnish a brand and gain wider attention for a producer or other member of the wine industry.

What has not changed about wine blogging is the fact that we still do and still should understand the Wine Blog as the voice of a single individual. This singular tone that emanates from a wine blog is its defining element…and it always has been.

In the context of wine communications, wine blogs should best be understood as the minor leagues of wine journalism. If you observe the wine blogosphere as a whole, some bloggers are clear standouts and are likely to be assigned a place in the major leagues; given exposure in outlets beyond their blog where more eyes and minds are exposed to their singular voice. In this respect, the wine blogging community is a boon for professional publishing concerns who are always on the lookout for promising, intriguing and educated voices that are able to communicate the intricacies and nuance and stories of wine. And I’m sure the general minor league status of wine blogs will continue to be the best way to understand them for years to come.

This may come off as a view that diminishes the importance of wine blogs. However, to me, it is the most exciting thing about the genre. It always has been. On that occasion when you discover a new, exciting voice that rises above the crowd and delivers a perspective not previously encountered, any keen observer of wine writing and wine communications should be excited or at least highly intrigued.

Joe Roberts, Elaine Brown, Jamie Goode, Alder Yarrow, Elizabeth Schneider, Ron Washam, Meg Houston Maker, David White, and Lenn Thompson are just some of the wine bloggers who have gone on to the Major Leagues. And if you know these people and their writing and communication methods you know that each possesses a very unique voice and perspective on the wine world.

I’ve been at wine blogging here at Fermentation for nearly 13 years. I’ve had a pretty good view of the growth and development of the wine blogging world. I’m pretty proud to be a part of it. And I can proudly say that I’ve attended all but two of the Wine Bloggers’ Conferences.

There is one thing missing from the wine blogging world that I dearly wish I had the time to create and maintain: A daily aggregation of newly published posts from wine bloggers. There are of course a number of daily aggregation services that deliver wine news: Lew Perdue’s Wine News Fetch at Wine Industry Insight, Wine Business Monthly’s Daily Wine News, and Wine Industry Advisor’s Afternoon Brief. All of these include posts from wine bloggers, but do not concentrate exclusively on the wine blogging world. What would be a true service to wine bloggers, the wine industry and wine publisher and editors is a daily digest that includes a well organized and well-categorized aggregation of the day’s new wine blog posts. Perhaps one of the attendees at the upcoming Wine Bloggers Conference will be inspired to create just such a service and receive glory and fame for their efforts.

The point of the above suggestion is both selfish and optimistic. I’d just love a daily digest of the highlights (and lowlights) from the Minor Leagues of wine writing. But more important, it would be from examining this daily digest that the newer voices with the greatest potential could be culled from what is a firehose of wine content being created by wine bloggers.



Posted In: Wine Blogs


9 Responses

  1. Leeann Froese - November 6, 2017

    Great post.

    I love the idea of a daily round up of wine blog posts. How much would each blogger be willing to pay for the opportunity to self – post their content into a service like this I wonder? It could be something I could entertain setting up, if there was enough demand… I think to remain cost-effective it would need to be self-driven, and then the costs would be hosting / admin…

    • Jay - November 7, 2017

      This is something that I have been working around for a while. I wonder if there would be significant traffic for an ad supported site concept. Let me know if you want to talk about partnering on something like this otherwise – the race is on! 😉

  2. Jeremy Parzen - November 7, 2017

    Great post, Tom. You’re one of the “major leaguers” sui generis. I’ll definitely have my wine writing and wine blogging students read this next week at UniSG. Always appreciate your voice in the field.

  3. Kim Badenfort - November 7, 2017

    Thanks for mentioning the Afternoon Brief, which does have a daily blog section, but it’s very select and mostly industry focused. I like the idea of the wine blogger aggregate, and it might even be an idea worth while for Wine Blogger Conference to pick up. It would have good synergy with their conference.

  4. Rusty Gaffney - November 8, 2017

    This is a great idea but like so many other wine-related pursuits, it involves significant time and effort and holds little promise for monetization (is that a word?).

  5. SAHMmelier - November 9, 2017

    I wish I could attend. I’ve only been once but it was a wonderful opportunity to meet so many I follow and respect. There are several pages on Facebook that allow bloggers to post their current pieces, but with each “update” the reach we once enjoyed on FB has declined. Perhaps, as you stated, a separate site would be more beneficial.
    While I have not been writing as much as I once did, the desire and love of blogging is still there. The time and space to do so is more elusive these days.
    Those you named continue to inspire. They deserve all of the attention they’ve been given for very diverse approaches. Thank you for all you do to inform on the issues in the wine world. I always enjoy your perspective.

  6. doug wilder - November 10, 2017

    Going through is usually the first thing I do every day in the office. When I see an article about wine writing I always take time to read in detail. This post reminds me of the era when I actually wrote a blog and posted the following in June of 2011, a response to Steve Heimoff.

    The fact that it received no comments didn’t surprise me and underscores the chronic low interest in readers ENGAGING with wine blogs outside of a small population of other wine bloggers. Just about any other blog category leaves wine in the dust. For example, mommy blogs.strollers, yoga, teething, etc.

    Question: How do bloggers (wine or otherwise) measure how what they write matters?

  7. Marta Sommer - November 15, 2017

    This is a great clue however similar to so numerous extra wine hunts it includes important

  8. Akemi - November 16, 2017

    Indeed wine blogs are the first thing I read before choosing a bottle of wine. From there I learned to prefer my state wineries over commercially produced wines but when I do buy cheap (my salary from and doesn’t allow me spend more) I think the Apothic Red, Crush, Dark, and Inferno are good. their whites are not. the Inferno and Crush are the best and my go to when they are available. I agree you get what you pay for, but everyone’s tastes are different. I don’t think they are as sweet or cough syrup tasting as you make them sound

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