Thursday, May 04, 2006

The Future of Wine Blogging

Tom Wark of Fermentation brought up some excellent food for thought (or should I say wine for thought?) the other day about the future of wine blogging in his post, "The Wine Media's Feast." Tom is a public relations professional working in the wine industry and partner of Wark Communications. He is Sonoma-based down in California, and since 1990 he has assisted wineries, media companies and other wine-related firms on how to be heard. The point of his post is: wine-blogging could very well be the future of wine-writing and even wine journalism. In any case, it's got a lot of value for the industry, according to Tom.

When I first started my wine blog, not quite a year ago, I wasn't taken too seriously, I suppose. Sometimes I still feel that I am not taken seriously, but this has little to do with wine or even me: One reason blogs in general have sometimes been dismissed because they have often been associated with the daily journals of teen-aged girls. You know: gossip gossp, giggle giggle. But in fact, since 2003 or so web-logging, or blogging, has become a highly influential journal tool, especially in the realms of political coverage and current events.

My objective for this blog was to keep my viticulture/enology education active, and I chose to focus on the wine industry in the Walla Walla area because this lovely town has been my home for many years. I grew up here, in fact, and have watched Walla Walla grow and prosper from wine since Rick Small established one of the first wineries, Woodward Canyon, in our area back in the 1970s. Now there are more than 70 wineries in and surrounding Walla Walla. Also, writing has been a hobby for me and I thought a blog was a way to put my interest in writing to good use, plus I wanted to use my Web Design 101 class tools to see what I could come up with.

Tom from Fermentation says there are now about 300 "Citizen Wine Writers" around the world blogging about the beverage they love -- wine. They are often hobby-writers rather than journalists, but while they may not be professional writers they are, in at least a sense, wine professionals. Citizen Wine Writers bring up to date news to wine consumers as well as to the trade; indeed, the news from a wine blog is often fresher than printed news and easier and quicker to obtain.

There must be something to wine blogging, as we are seeing more and more wineries blog about their wine business and their wines. Even the wine media is blogging. Eric Asimov, wine critic of the New York Times, started a blog last March called The Pour. I was recently in touch with Paul Gregutt, wine writer for the Seattle Times and the Walla Walla Union Bulletin and also a contributing editor to Wine Enthusiast magazine, and he told me he will be starting his own wine blog this summer (Paul, you didn't tell me to keep this exciting news to myself!).

As Tom Wark points out, that the rise of Citizen Wine Writers and the potential for a new kind of successful wine media is now an important part of the story of wine in America.

P.S. Thank you, Tom, for giving me a link on your blog under "Wine Blogs You Need To Read."

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