For readers who did not attend the recent Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, VA I know all of these blogs flying around referencing the conference probably feels like enough already. Even the rest of the wine bloggers community is starting to realize it. While I was at the conference I felt challenged to be figuring out and more closely defining my blogging purpose. As the days unfolded I found myself bedazzled by all of the bloggers who get all of this free sample wine for review purposes. At first I thought, hey, I want in on some of this free wine too – but I don’t do reviews very often. I thought, well I should just do more reviews… but really, I don’t want to review wine that way. If I choose to write about a specific wine it is usually more about the experience that included the wine – the food, the friends, the place more than whether or not I can smell violet petals or taste cassis. The food, friends, and place contribute as much to my wine pleasure as the sensory elements we are taught be observant of leading up to, during, and after that first sip. So while I was momentarily infatuated with the idea of the free wine gravy train I will continue along with my original purpose for writing my blog. I enjoy drinking (not merely tasting) wine and learning about it. As I learn more I know there are others who are less far along on their wine journey than I, and I just want to share interesting things picked up along the way. I also enjoy catching up to others I have read or known about who are further along the path. I will give a shout out to a wine, a product, a blog post, or a friend along the way.
Be that said, I am not opposed to free wine. I spent many years in advertising and marketing. I understand that sample wines are part of marketing and creating buzz and early opinions. There is nothing better to speak for a good product than the product itself – and why not put the product into the willing hands (mouths) of those who are writing nearly always for no remittance about these products anyway. Most of the other bloggers I have read who accept samples disclose it as such when they review the wine. That’s honest. They don’t promise to like the wine – but do they anyway out of predisposition? Perhaps sometimes. So what? How seriously are you going to take someone else’s opinion on something so subjective anyway? No disrepect to those who do review wines. I read reviews. I learn from some. I enjoy reviews of budget and everyday wines, but I also like to read some reviews of exalted or special or rare wines that I will probably never, but who knows, ever get to actually taste.
From the Wine Bloggers Conference I personally got a lot of ideas and positive energy. I see that as a virtual social community we can be the influencers of wine in many ways. I believe in the power of collaboration and hope the other bloggers from my region continue to feel the same way. The connections made at the conference have helped in numerous ways already. Everyone out there writing about wine come at it from their own perspective and interest, and has something valid to contribute. You just have to figure out who speaks to you.
As bloggers we need to know who our audience is. Are we writing content for other bloggers specifically to read, or for wine consumers and enthusiasts? Me? I love reading blogs from other bloggers about the thing we love to do but I’m pretty sure that is of little interest to the audience reading my blog. I am most grateful for the experience given to me as a scholarship recipient attending the North American Wine Bloggers Conference and can’t wait to attend the 2012 conference in Portland but it’s time to get back to work.
I recently wrote about cork sustainability. That is an interesting subject. I have upcoming posts on new aroma studies, wines from New England, and an opinion of the restrictive shipping laws that still exist in many states. I just visited Virginia and enjoyed some wines that I would like to drink from time to time. I live in Massachusetts, a state that does not allow the consumer to receive wine directly. There are no distributors carrying those wines here. I’m an American citizen. I should be able to order wine from another state if I want. Anyway, a post for another time…