Wine Blogging and the Return of Alder Yarrow
A few days ago Alder Yarrow, publisher of the venerable and award-winning “Vinography” blog, wrote something surprising and something I’ve long wanted to write at FERMENTATION:
“So now, pandemic and its imposition of house cleaning, cooking, and home schooling duties notwithstanding, I am going to indulge my passion. I’m going to write about wine like it’s actually my job to do so. I’ll do a little consulting on the side, just to make sure we can still pay our bills, but the vast majority of my time will be focused on Vinography.”
It seems those of us who really enjoy imbibing good, thoughtful writing about wine have something to look forward to.
When I begin contemplating publishing a blog in 2004 I looked around the Internet for examples of good wine blogs. The problem was finding examples of wine blogs. But then there was Vinography. Here was a wine blog (one of about 4 or 5 that I’d found) that was making a very serious attempt at publishing regularly, if not daily. Moreover, Vinography took a serious and efficient approach to reviewing wines. In Yarrow’s first month out of the box (January 2004) he reviewed a number of wines, did a rundown of wines tasted at that year’s ZAP tasting, reviewed a couple restaurants and considered a number of other subjects.
When I did start FERMENTATION I wanted to be like Alder Yarrow, but without the reviews. I wanted to publish regularly, produce quality commentary, and deliver insightful observations. Not sure I ever got there, but he did serve as an inspiration in that pursuit.
Alder’s work bore out my theory that the wine blogging platform (essentially a technology that removed economic and technological barriers to publishing) would lead to new voices emerging that previously would never have seen the light of day. Alder’s work has been awarded numerous Wine Blog Awards, Born Digital Wine Awards, a Louis Roederer International Wine Writing Award, as well as other awards and recognition. He was recruited to write for Jancis Robinson’s Purple Pages. He has been invited to sit on industry conference panels and to lead discussions. He published a book. And his audience is loyal.
But like so many independent wine bloggers who were getting paid nothing or too little for the work they produce and saw other distractions and life events intrude, Alder’s production waned:
“For the past six or seven years, I’ve watched and almost viscerally experienced my avocation — my primary personal passion — squeezed to the point of near death. Those of you who are faithful readers can’t help but have noticed the reduction in the volume and quality of my writing. For the last couple of years from my perspective, Vinography might as well have been on life support.”
I can sympathize. My production at FERMENTATION has waned from what was once at least 7 posts per week (sometimes 14) to two or three today. Like Alder, it isn’t a matter of getting tired of what I do here, but rather a matter of having more pressing and even paying pursuits that demand my time. And there’s that five-year-old boy who demands a bit of time from me here and there.
Today, wine blogging isn’t what it used to be and it is exactly the same as it used to be. What’s changed is that using a blogging platform is commonplace where from 2004 through 2010 is was the new thing. Who would show up on this new publishing platform was an ever-present question. And we got some pretty interesting additions in that time to the wine blogging world:
Eric Asimov, Steve Heimoff, Elaine Brown, Frederic Keoppel, Deborah Harkness, Gary Vaynerchuk, Tyler Coleman, Joe Roberts, Randall Grahm, David White, Jamie Goode, Jeff Lefevere, and…Alder Yarrow…to name but a few.
But now, after 15 years, we get to find out what one of the original and one of the best wine bloggers can do when unleashed. My guess is lots. Alder has always taken a wide-angle view of wine, writing reviews of individuals wines, reviewing the wine press and the news of the day, occasionally advocating and reporting on behalf of consumers and their rights, covering interesting events, focusing on food and wine pairings and delivering restaurant reviews. It will be fascinating to see how far afield from or how much deeper into these topics that Alder takes us.
As I said, I envy Mr. Yarrow. I’ve always wondered what would happen if given the chance to work full time on FERMENTATION. I can’t yet. So for now, I’ll live vicariously through Alder’s new chapter in wine blogging.