A Talented New Voice in Wine Kicks it Into High Gear
One of my favorite topics at FERMENTATION going back to the beginning has been those that uncover or help draw attention to new voices writing on wine. I used to do this far more than I do now primarily because the period of 2006 – 2011 was a time when some very good writers and observers of wine began to jump into the wine writing pool with new blogs. It was a very exciting thing for an observer of the wine media to see this concentrated proliferation of new voices.
Today blogging is old hat. In fact, the format is so established that to refer to a writer as a “blogger” is most useful, it seems, as a way to disparage them. The better and more useful construction is to note that a particular writer uses a blogging format.
Amber LeBeau is a writer that uses a blogging format and she does so exceedingly well.
Amber writes at Spitbucket.net. She began SpitBucket in 2016 and I noticed her just a few months after she launched the site. But her work at SpitBucket didn’t really get going until last year when her output increased considerably. I’m not sure what happened to provoke her from going from 3 posts per month to upwards of 50 posts per month, but whatever it was I’m happy she received some sort of metaphorical kick in the ass.
After having received her CWS degree from the Society of Wine Educators as well as a degree in wine marketing and sales from the Northwest Wine Academy, Amber is working toward her WSET Diploma. She has worked at wineries, grocery stores and wine shops, not to mention having authored 800 Wikipedia articles on wine and editing more than 400 more.
Amber is one of the best new voices writing about wine and she proved this in 2018 with numerous posts that didn’t merely track her educational pursuits but also delivered some pretty interesting and deep meditations on the meaning of wine and the culture that surrounds it. The woman can be very insightful, opinionated, and objective in her observations and I like that kind of approach.
The article that prompted me to finally expose this new voice was this: Wine & Politics—Strange Bedfellows or Drinking Buddies? The article isn’t so much a review of Jon Bonné notorious “woke or un-woke” article in Punch from last year, but rather an overview of the reaction to it from those in the wine industry and an explanation of where she stands on whether or not wine and politics ought to be mixed when it comes to writing about wine. Amber’s most important, most useful and most endearing point in her article was this:
“While the vitriol of [Maureen] Downey’s political posts disheartened me, they still don’t sway my overall respect for her work. I feel it would be foolish to shun her expertise or boycott her company just because our beliefs outside of wine are so different.”
In a world where so many people feel it is their responsibility to advertise their politics over every inch of their body, mind and soul, and at all times, Amber’s moderate approach to issues of wine and politics is downright radical as well as refreshing. It is also an indication of the kind of objective passion she brings to her work at SpitBucket.net.
If you’d like a more complete introduction to The Best of Amber LeBeau I suggest to you take a look at her recent 2018 SpitBucket Year in Review. It’s a post in which she reviews her own favorite and most read articles from 2018 and it’s a pretty interesting piece of self-reflection that not too many writers tend to undergo in public.
LeBeau reviews wines too. And that’s all fine and good. She seems to have a fine palate, an education, and talent at describing what’s in her glass. But I find her real talent comes when she ruminates on the various industry, media and business aspects of the wine industry. This year she has written about the CopperCane controversy in Oregon, the nature of wine clubs, how to understand (and use) wine writers, what it means to be influential, wine and the LGBT community, the impact of the Millennial generation on wine and her view of the wine media. This is where she really shines, where she has educated me and changed my mind and where she will inspire you to follow and read her regularly.
Amber LeBeau is an outstanding new voice writing for those who take wine seriously and who read people who are serious about wine. I highly recommend her SpitBucket.net