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Still relevant after all these years? I guess



I suppose I should be happy to have made #31 on this list of the Top 100 Most Influential Wine Bloggers.

To tell you the truth, when I stopped working for Wine Enthusiast in March, 2014 and went over to Jackson Family Wines, I was perfectly aware of the fact that I had lost a great deal of whatever “clout” I formerly possessed. That clout was entirely due to the nature of my job as the coastal California critic for one of the nation’s top wine magazines. I never fooled myself that the “love” wineries gave me was because of my wonderful personality! It was entirely impersonal; I knew that it was for my position, which entailed a certain degree of power—the power to give high scores and to include wineries in my articles. And so, when I quit Wine Enthusiast to go to JFW, I knew that that power would quickly ebb.

And it did. Which was fine with me. I had had a great time as a “famous wine critic” for many years, and it eventually reached the point where I was ready for something else. I’m glad I made the move. I love working with the Jackson family, with CEO Rick Tigner and all the other amazing people that make up this great organization. I don’t miss being a wine critic one bit.

But when I took the new job, it did raise questions about this blog. Should I continue it? I floated the idea of ceasing it and asked people to weigh in, and man oh man, did they ever. Overwhelmingly my readers asked me to keep blogging. And since I feel an inordinate amount of respect towards my readers, their loyalty towards me inspired me to continue to blog.

But immediately the question presented itself: About what? I no longer had a gazillion wines to taste. I no longer traveled to every nook and cranny of the coast as a wine writer. I no longer trafficked in the 100-point system, or went to many industry events, or met “new faces” to promote. So I couldn’t write about those things and from that perspective. Instead, I found myself involved in a fascinating world far different from the one I had formerly known, namely JFW. That changed the subject matter about which I wrote, and I worried that my posts would become boring, or too focused on the industry, and that people would drift away from reading my blog.

But I persevered. And for some reason, people still seem to like their daily dose of Yes, every once in a while somebody complains about something or other. But they have for the 7-1/2 years I’ve been at this, so I just let it go.

I try to post five days a week, successfully for the most part. Sometimes the topic comes easily: a gift from the gods. Sometimes, it doesn’t, and I have to think what to write about. Almost always, when I really focus, I can come up with something that means something to me and that, hopefully, means something to my readers. One never actually knows how receptive people are to one’s writing, but this award, coming out of England, is reassuring, in that it tells me that I’m still more or less relevant after all these years.

Yes, I know these “awards” are next to meaningless. But still! I’ll continue to plug away at it, as long as people seem to enjoy reading me. That’s all I need by way of compensation. Of course, if you feel like it, you can always send me a $1 million bill and I’ll guarantee you a lifetime subscription!

  1. I am a relatively new reader of your blog and am enjoying it very much. I started A Wine Journey along the Russian River and can’t wait to return to the area with newly widened perception.

  2. Dear Steve, thank you!

  3. It’s a good thing when good writers / resources get some attention.

    The ranking thing, however, really only can measure one thing: popularity. Popularity is part of the mix, and maybe speaks to potential influence (depends on the engagement of the audience), but otherwise the rankings don’t have much value, I think. It’s sort of like the Billboard Top 100 – shows you what’s popular, but doesn’t say a thing about whether or not those are tunes that you will like.

  4. STEVE!
    Thanks for the link. I’m deeply honored to be among those who are not on the list. I’d like to thank everyone who so wisely ignores me and makes not being on the list possible.

    I’m humbled, and vow to be a worthy omission for as long as I can.

  5. Dear Ron, you are on your own list, a very exclusive one to which the rest of us can only aspire.

  6. Yes, thank you

  7. Steve, it’s good to have you here during your, “I get to say whatever I really want to say” years 🙂

  8. Bob Henry says:


    Your blog is a natural platform to expand on your winemakers interview book.

    Carrying on the legacy of Bob Benson . . . and now your own.

    ~~ Bob

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