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Bloggers: Go big or go home



It’s amusing when a blogger hauls my name out for snarky commentary. I always think it’s in order to drive traffic to his blog. The major bloggers wouldn’t stoop to fulminating against me (or each other) because they have far more important things to write about, and also because there’s a certain respect at the higher level where one just doesn’t stoop to dinging other bloggers. It’s called professional courtesy. But at the low level, well, I guess some people just have no manners.

The latest is some dude who calls himself the blue collar wine guy, who dropped my name in his very first sentence, and then just had to add the gratuitous slap that I’m working for Kendall-Jackson so I “don’t have time for research.” This was in response to my post the other day, “18 tips for wineries on better communication.”

What’s so silly about his post is that, immediately after rejecting my premise that wineries should do a better job at providing information (and who could possibly disagree with that?), he turns around and agrees with it! In fact, his entire second paragraph is an observation, along the same lines as mine, that—as he says—“wineries have some problems with dissemination of information.”

Why not just agree with my post and leave it at that? Because otherwise he wouldn’t have any controversy to stir up.

For years, I’ve taken the position that I don’t reply to brickbats from grouchy bloggers and tweeters, because to do so is (a) a waste of my time and (b) only serves to bring attention to people whom nobody cares about anyway. But let me tell you, it does get tiresome being a punching bag.

The good news is that wine blogging is growing up. It’s a lot less negative than it used to be. Bloggers who have been around for a while are learning their craft: they are understanding that they won’t be read by serious people unless they get serious about writing—and that means generating respectable, high-level content, not gratuitous slams of better-known writers. But the bad news is that the slamming still pops up every once in a while. Like Dracula, just when you thought it’s been stabbed in the heart and left for dead, it arises. Or maybe a better metaphor than Dracula is the cockroach. Just when you thought the exterminator has gotten rid of them, out crawls one across your bathroom floor.

Hey, blue collar wine guy, what did I ever do to you? We’ve never met (if we did, I don’t remember). I’ve never insulted you. I never even heard of you. I write a quality blog, which is the reason it’s been around a long time and is still widely read. If I can give you advice (which you’re perfectly free to reject), it would be to stop thinking that you can attract readership by attacking another blogger. That is so 2008. You seem to be a reasonably intelligent person. Use your brain to stay positive and creative. Ad hominem crap won’t get you where you want to go.

Yours sincerely,

Steve Heimoff

P.S. I don’t work for Kendall-Jackson, I work for Jackson Family Wines. I’m happy to explain the difference to you.

  1. Maybe it’s the Hosemaster’s fault? Love your work Steve, thanks for continuing.

  2. Mike: Most things are the Hosemaster’s fault. Unless they’re Obama’s.

  3. STEVE!,

    It’s completely my fault. And if I were you, I’d threaten to sue me.

  4. After reading the Blue Collar article and 18 Tips, as a point of clarification (more for Blue Collar, as he mentions naming varietals specifically, rather than you Steve) wineries must show the percentages of the varietal if we list multiple varietals on the label. TTB is quite specific about it. We have a choice, simply put one varietal on the label that has 75% or more of the wine in the bottle or list every varietal used in the bottle and put the specific percentages of each

  5. What I really cannot fathom is anyone disagreeing that wineries need to communicate more useful information. Isn’t that akin to arguing that mammals need to breathe oxygen? 😉

  6. 1WineDude, yes, and that is why blue collar’s premise is so bizarre. He says he disagrees with Steve — and then says he agrees with him.

  7. I agree wholeheartedly with Steve’s call-out for better communication. After writing a wine newsletter for 13 years, I would say communication has improved, but I cannot begin to tell you how much time I still have to spend trying to track down information about wines and wineries that I write about in my newsletter. Some winery websites don’t even say who owns the winery! In addition, tracking down some winemakers can be a time consuming and frustrating proposition. PR people, either those working for independent firms or those employed by wineries, have become much more visible and helpful the last few years. All I ask is a comprehensive tech sheet that includes the winemaker’s vinification notes, case production, retail price and release date to accompany a wine submission. Amazingly, the last two bits of information are not infrequently missing. Wouldn’t it also make marketing sense to tell the writer where the wine can be bought (if it is distributed) so that information could be passed on to the reader/consumer? I remember when I attended medical school many years ago, there was no instruction about the business side of practicing medicine and I had to learn by trial and error the hard way. I sense that viticulture and enology schools are sorely lacking in instructing prospective winemakers about creating a business model and communicating their product to writers and consumers.

  8. Rusty,

    “I remember when I attended medical school many years ago, there was no instruction about the business side of practicing medicine and I had to learn by trial and error the hard way.”

    No different from law school.

    Or business school. (See this article:

    “Professional” grad schools “mint” theorists — not “street smart” practitioners.

    ~~ Bob

  9. Rusty,

    As the sage observed: “If your business doesn’t generate sales revenue and an operating profit, then its nothing more than a hobby.”

    ~~ Bob

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