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.