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The essence of wine blogging: a conversation


It’s been four-plus years since I launched this little corner of cyberspace, and my attitude towards it–towards blogging–has undergone some changes. I point this out not merely because it says something about me, which would be uninteresting, but because it says something, I think, about wine blogging in general: the transformation it’s undergone, and where it might be going.

One thing we all can agree on, I believe, is that the blogosphere has settled down. It was the Wild West in 2008-2009, filled with gunslingers looking for a fight. An exciting place: Dodge City, dangerous, adrenalized, edgy, where anything could happen. Wine blogging was new; everywhere you went (in cyberspace) you had the sense of being in on something revolutionary. Nobody knew where the train was going, but everyone (writers and readers alike) wanted to be on it, for if you missed the train–well, then you wouldn’t go wherever it was going, wherever that was. And nobody wanted to miss the train.

Today, a kind of ordinariness has settled over the wine blogosphere. It’s not revolutionary anymore; it’s become a routine part of our lives, like the morning paper sitting peacefully at my doorstep (hopefully, not in a puddle). I blog everyday the way I brush my teeth: it’s part of what I do. You read everyday because it’s what you do. We do it together, you and I: part of the same community (wine), we reach across the desolations of distance and time to find each other and share.

This sharing is why I keep on blogging. It’s the communication I have with you, my readers, that drives me to get 600 words up by 7:30 a.m., California time, five days a week. I grant you that the communication isn’t always pleasant, coming from your end. Some of the comments here are pretty insulting to me, but I like them anyway, because hearing from people is better than not hearing, no matter what they say. Sometimes, when the comments are personal attacks, I bristle for a minute; but then I think that the purpose of journalism–and my blog is journalism, albeit of a different kind–is to stimulate thinking, even to be controversial.

I’ve written before that I don’t set out to be controversial, but I suppose I do have something in me that likes a good row. It’s the New Yorker I am, I guess. I have strong opinions and I’m not afraid to express them. It’s only fair, then, that my readers should have the opportunity to express their strong opinions, in the Comments section. I like that. I like a dinner table where people are arguing vociferously. I don’t mean fighting: I mean voicing their opinions about things, and disagreeing with others. It all ends happily, of course: no thrown plates, no wine dumped over anyone’s head, no stabbings with the fork.

I can’t see you out there as I sit here, at my desk in Oakland, in the peace of a summer morning. There are some birds chirping, and I can hear the far off rumble of rush hour traffic on the freeway, a mile away. Otherwise, all is silent, except for the click-clack of my fingers pecking at the keyboard. But I can feel you, in San Francisco, in St. Helena, in Manhattan, in London, in Mumbai, in Beijing, wherever you are. You are a vibration that circles the world. Most people will not feel you at a distance because they’re not seeking you, but I am, and do, everyday. It’s an invisible thread that unites us, whether you’re angry at me for something I said, or agreeing with me, or just taking it in for a moment.

I’ll keep on writing as long as you keep on reading: that’s my bond. And that is what wine blogging has become: it’s not an earth-shattering new development that will change anybody’s life forever. It’s not the end of print. It’s not the revenue-generating engine people hoped it would be, four years ago. What wine blogging is, is exactly what this space has become: a digital conversation in a family that just happens not to be related by blood. In that sense, wine blogging is less than anyone thought, four years ago; but on the other hand, it’s precisely what we all expected the Internet to be, fifteen years ago: the final expression (for now) of McLuhan’s global village, “contracted…by electronic technology [at] electric speed,” as Wikipedia puts it.

From that perspective, then, wine blogging–this blog, anyway–has little or nothing to do with that other primal topic of conversation, “Can wineries increase revenue through social media?” Maybe yes, maybe no. That’s a whole different thing. Through all the commotion and hubbub, this blog, like the mighty Mississippi, just goes rolling along.

  1. As a retiree, my motivation for starting my wine commentary was “to keep the gray matter moving.” And I wanted to write about something that I hoped someone–anyone–would enjoy reading. I wanted to “share” like you, and I wanted to also engage and inform–though admittedly on a much lower professional plane than yours and most other blogs. Most bloggers knock out the stuff five, six times a week. Some of it is very interesting, some of it is not–but that’s the price of volume. Not every day is a good “news day.” I enjoy your blog for its variety, its occasional humor, and for its factual information. Lastly, you don’t seem to go out of your way–as a few other notables have–to gain some provocative attention. Keep up the good work.

  2. doug wilder says:


    Thanks! Now I have ‘Old Man River’ replacing Erin Bode’s cover of ‘Graceland’ playing in my brain. You are always the first thing I read in the morning and your take almost always holds my interest regardless if I agree with you or not. That is why your blog is one of four I recommend to my subscribers along with Terroirist, New York Cork Report and Richard Jennings.

  3. Doug Wilder, thank you very much.

  4. Interesting article and timely, Steve, in that I finally had the time to sit down and see what happened to my blog beginning about a yr after yours. I went from weekly for awhile , while our wine making activities took up more and more time. This was on top of managing our mountain(as in straight up and straight down) vineyard on Paso Robles SW side. When time freed up, there was equipment to repair, wines to oversee, and always, first and foremost, the vineyard to check on a daily basis. Actually, if things are going ok, it doesn’t take that long to check out a little over 18,000 vines. Sure, we are a tiny (boutique) vineyard, but we sure are steep.

    Blogs fell off, first to every two weeks, then every 3, and finally I was doing well to get a blog out every month. Then our wines took off, and blog writing fell even more. Pourings take time, sales the same, and soon it was a quarterly blog. Talk about downsizing. In the background there is always the vineyard, and a moment of inattention can be ruinous.

    Take this week for example. I sent you some 2010 Sauv Blanc for review, only to have the temps hit 110 on Monday, cool off to 80 that nite, and followed by 119 in the vineyard on Tues. Our usual 70 degree temp swings, day/nite, were reduced to a mere 40 degrees, and when starting from 119, that isn’t near enough. So instead of writing my blog, we got first 3 gals of water/vine, and then on Tues, 5 gals of water /vine on the entire vineyard, 6 blocs in all. Talk about a madhouse…

    So in summary, I do keep the blog going to our many readers, but actually I thoroughly enjoy sitting down and reading your blog instead of writing mine. When enough “stuff” piles up, I take a break, write an update to our wine club and blog followers, and then hit the winery/vineyard again. It is apparent, altho I love blogging, I enjoy reading your blog a whole lot more. Yes it is easier, but that is beside the point. It is just relaxing to sit down and read your blog, enjoy a cup of coffee, and hit the vineyard. I saw the train, got on it, enjoyed the ride, but in the end, just enjoyed watching it go by. My hat’s off to you…keep on bloggin’.

  5. Steve, some long time ago Time had a front cover with “The Mother” of us all, she didn’t look like me, I don’t think she looked like you, but I guess we are all blood-brothers and sisters after all.
    With that I’ll just listen to “The River of No Return”.

  6. Alfonso says:

    for a change someone spoofs the Hosemaster – turn about is foreplay – Bravo Steve-o

  7. Keep up the good work, yours is the Blog I follow for California information and thoughtful ruminations.

  8. Lee Newby, thank you. You honor me.

  9. Hi Steve,
    Your blog is my favorite wine blog and I read it every morning before breakfast. I really appreciate your willingness share information. (I also love your books.) I ran multiple classical music lists back in the 1990s and quit because of the immaturity of some of the readers and their comments. Most were not even directed at me, but I felt like a psychotherapist and was not getting paid to do intervene with problematic persons. Disagreement is one thing, hostility is quite another. I usually only read your blog and not the comments so am not aware of such responses. I can only say that there are certainly many people who appreciate your blog and your writings. I hope that more of them step up to the plate and let you know so we can keep you going. I think I’ll start reading comments/responses from others, too. Thanks again.

  10. Someone commented on my blog today that you had written on the same topic. It must be “Comment Appreciation” week in the wine blogosphere. Another benefit of the ‘comment’ as an institution—learning about others’ blogs!


  11. Dear Mr. Steve, you are hands down my favorite gunslinger from Dodge City. It seems more than 4 years, but love to read you – like your perspective (although not always on the mark)- hope to continue the dialogue all my life. Thanks for it all and cheers!

  12. Tim, thanks. I love it when people say they like what I say “but not always.” If I never said anything for you to disagree with, would be a pretty bland read.

  13. If you have never been stabbed with a fork you have never really debated a topic “vociferously”. Social media (including the blogosphere) has gifted us endless conversations/debates/arguements/opinions about the topics we are most interested in. It is pure pleasure to be part of the wine world right now. Especially with people like Steve in it.


  1. NEWS FETCH – JULY 13, 2012 | Wine Industry Insight - [...] The essence of wine blogging: a conversation [...]

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