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The mission of this blog is, uh,

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I finally met Alan Kropf at the Wine Bloggers Conference. He and I had had a bit of a tussle a year or so ago, when I said some things he didn’t like and he proceeded to dub me his “arch-nemesis.”

I never replied because, without knowing him or anything about him (except that he is Editor in Chief of Mutineer Magazine), I figured he was just some middle-aged, sweaty jerk with a chip on his shoulder, trying to hustle his way to fame and fortune by attacking the power structure. As it turned out, Alan produced the wine blog awards ceremony at the Conference (and what a tremendous success that was), and when I saw him onstage, it turned out that he’s not a sweaty jerk at all.

He was young, tall and runway thin, dressed in an off-white suit with red sneakers and eye-hiding shades. Very hip and El Lay, a boulevardier-of-Sunset Strip image. Afterwards, he was hanging with his peeps, and I approached for a chit chat. It was a little tense, at first, but we’ve now emailed each other several times, and I’ve decided that Alan Kropf is going to be my new friend, and that’s all there is to it. (Of course, I hope he feels the same way.)

Life’s too short to sweat the small stuff, as I said in my keynote talk at the Conference. And the wine industry is too small a place for people to harbor grudges. That’s even truer when you’re in a single region, in this case California, which — as big as the state is — is still a relatively small village when it comes to wine. Everybody knows everybody, if not directly, then in a Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon sense. And California being the ultra-mellow place it is, it’s only right that we who work here should get along with each other.

Alan suggested I create a mission statement for this blog. I told him that I’m not big on mission statements, because they tend to be pompous sermons with hifalutin goals that rarely if ever get accomplished. Besides, I’m not sure what the mission of this blog is. I suppose I could say something about “elevating the conversation in the wine community” or “being an inspiration” or “to speak the truth boldly,” or “to address the industry’s issues,” or “to open up wine writing and criticism and make it more transparent”  — stuff like that. I guess all those things are true, but somehow, when you try to put a mission and a motive into mere words, they generally fail to describe its fullness and complexity (much like wine reviewing, I guess!). Anyway, when you come right down to it, the mission of this blog is no more and no less than to give me the opportunity to do some interesting writing.

The word “mission” is strange. I think of a mission as a crusade. The Mexican padres built “missions” up and down El Camino Real in Spanish California; those missions were to convert the Native Americans to Christianity, whether they liked it or not. I don’t particularly trust people who are on a mission. I don’t want to convert anybody to anything, and I don’t want anybody to try to convert me.

Still, Alan Kropf made this statement: “You owe it to yourself to make sure that you are not misunderstood.”

Yes, I’m just a soul whose intentions are good
Oh Lord, please don’t let me be misunderstood

Mr. Eric Burdon and The Animals

I’m not sure there’s anything I could say to anyone that would prevent me 100% from being misunderstood. All I can do is talk to people through this blog, be as truthful as I can, let equal parts intellect and heart show, and hope that people get where I’m coming from. That’s all any of us can do in our lives, isn’t it? Be yourself, try to understand where others are coming from, and trust that the law of karma returns the favor.

I had an interesting wine on July 4. Maxine and Keith made barbecue (chicken and lamb), and among other bottles we opened, there was a 1998 Hartford Dina’s Vineyard Zinfandel, from Russian River Valley. A guest had brought it, and she was a little worried it might be dead. It was my job to open it and pronounce a verdict. The cork pulled out clean — not always the case with an older bottle. The wine smelled clean and inviting. The taste was rich and sweetly fruity, with a dry finish. It suggested raspberries. Delicious, and what was more interesting was that the alcohol was well over 15%. It shows that when these high-alcohol wines are balanced, they can take more age than you might think. Still, it’s a gamble to hold any California wine for 12 years, unless it has a prior history of aging, and your cellar conditions are ideal.

  1. loved this blog . this was exactly what i needed to read and do believe. im presently in this situation and im being misinterpreted and represented in a negative light by one former associate. ive tried to understand and allow a forum of dialouge for us to engage he has still chosen to create a very negative environment and ive been retaliating with my truth so . i only hope truth wins and understanding ensues thankyou for this lovely blog

  2. Steve, because I am one of your thousands of best friends, I have taken upon myself to write a draft mission statement for you. Here it is. (And, oh, lord, please do not let me be misunderstood.)

    –This blog exists because I enjoy writing it. Its mission is to entertain me first and you second. I know a thing or two about wine. I have a thought or two about wine. I have a big pen. My name is STEVE!. I put it at the top of my blog because this is my blog. At the end of the day, if I have had some fun talking to you about wine and you have had some fun reading what I talk about, then this blog has fulfilled its mission. It’s not any more complicated than that. Have a nice day and come back tomorrow for more.

  3. I’ve become addicted to your blog. It’s the first thing I read when I get to my desk. If I had to describe your “mission” I’d say it is to provide a thoroughly enjoyable read.

  4. Jim Caudill says:

    It seems clear that Dan Goldfield and Don Hartford were doing it right in the mid 90′s. By coincidence, I also pulled the cork on a 1997 Hartford Court Dutton Sanchetti Pinot the other day, with the same trepidation you describe. I’d overlooked it in the racks (and one bit of evidence of how the recession impacts us all is that I’ve been working through my cellar, often to great disappointment with older wines) and the first indication something interesting was about to happen was an equally wonderful pop of the cork. It was a warm and inviting wine, shocking really both for its age and the fact it hadn’t been stored in the best of conditions. Hats off to Hartford, and excuse me while I wander through the racks looking for another Hartford gem.

  5. Lori, thanks a lot!

  6. Jim, maybe it’s that cool, crisp Green Valley/Forestville climate.

  7. Thanks Charlie. How much do I owe you?

  8. Peter A says:

    Thanks, Steve. I’ve been wanting to enter the world of wine blogging for some time but have been hesitant to dive in for lack of a focused, unique mission statement. I certainly know what I want to write about, so the root of my paralysis may be the myth that lacking a mission statement leads to a blog of little influence and low readership.

  9. Steve, glad to help out. Send royalties.

    I did borrow it already to help out the Hosemaster. He was getting some nasty flack from folks who don’t get him, and it occurred to me that he also needed a mission statement.

    So, I used yours. I may even use it on my own blog, if I ever have one.

  10. Peter I think you just have to jump in and start swimming!

  11. Steve, I think you’re working from the best kind of mission statement. It is unspoken and totally apparent to committed readers over time without ever having to explicitly spell it out as a guiding tool for you or us. The blog’s authenticity and topical decisions form the statement all by themselves. Oh, and one other thing is an apparent and alluring element within your unspoken and fully formed mission statement…”to provide a credible and comfortable platform for Charlie Olken’s color and subplots”

  12. Adam: lol re: Charlie. But you hit the nail on the head. I just want to be authentic and topical, and gladly leave it to my readers to let me know when I wander.

  13. Steve,
    Gonna let you in on an old Dugan family saying. This was something passed down from generation to generation and I have always valued it…seen the wisdom in it and as one of your readers I feel compelled to share it with you now.

    Never let a man in red shoes tell you what you need.

    Use it wisely my friend.

    Now seeing as my blog is autistic and tropical maybe I can get Sir Charles to hook me up with a mission statement too…

  14. Sam, I live in Oakland, the fashion capital of the world. Red shoes are not an automatic disqualifier from anything.

  15. Steve, you live in Oakland. Red sneakers might be gang colors. I would stick to black if I were you.

    And, Adam, I agree with you. Steve’s blog makes me think of all kinds of things, and in his own kind and generous way, he lets me say them.

  16. Steve,
    I think what the Dugan elders were trying to convey with their saying is something more along the lines of…..take advice only from those with whom you would like to see yourself as. May or may not apply here but I read your blog and I have read, (past tense) that magazine….I keep coming back here. Just sayin’

  17. YES! Eric Burdon RULES!!!

  18. Back in the day, young dude!

  19. Whoa, I totally missed this, though I’m pumped beyond words at the dialogue. I particularly liked Adam’s comment about the unspoken mission statement, as I think this is Steve’s approach, and I can definitely respect and admire this approach, as it’s certainly better than someone that does a mission statement because they think they need to and then not support it.

    I love that you wrote this post Steve, and I hope that if anyone else has reservations about you or your intentions that they read it. Bravo sir.

  20. And yes, I agree. Eric Burdon does rule, especially when he performs songs about fine beverage with groups called “War”.

  21. Steve,
    I’m glad you and Alan spoke at WBC. I’ve really enjoyed getting to know him over the past year. His passion, boundless energy and optimistic enthusiasm for all things beverage fascinate me. And his photographer is amazing. I like how the magazine has evolved.
    I’m even happier this post linked Alan Kropf and your pursuit of a blog mission to lyrics from Eric Burdon & The Animals. :)
    Lisa

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