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Monday Manifestos
Wine Bloggers Are Talking To Themselves

By Charles Olken

I am about to commit heresy right here in the CGCW blog. It won’t be the first time, and it probably will not be the last, but it is necessary to set the record straight. I have found out something about wine blogs, and it pains me to admit it.

We are talking to ourselves.

Now, don’t go and get all huffy, because I don’t mean that no one is reading our wonderful words, our Monday Manifestos, Wednesday Warblings and everything that comes in between, before and after. You, dear readers, are the reason we continue this blog in spite of the fact that it is not what we thought we had bargained for.

You see, we thought, in our infinite wisdom, that there was an enormous, like tens and tens of thousands, of hungry wine enthusiasts searching the internet for nuggets of wisdom. And, we therefore presumed that our pearls, our keen insights were going to attract those tens of thousands of unrequited wine word readers. Turns out that it is not so.

We get a nice, tidy readership every day, and we sometimes get comments—which we enjoy. But the readership, and especially the commenters, here and on virtually every other wine blog is pretty thin relative to what some folks would have the world believe. And while the several thousand folks who come by once in a while are very much appreciated, the folks who keep the comments section going are few and far between.

And they are mostly other bloggers and wine industry professionals. A few very active collectors also comment, but not nearly as many as we had thought might. The same situation applies elsewhere as well. Now, we do not mind talking to friends and meeting new friends. And some of the more specific wine technical discussions here have been deep and intense. We did think that we might try to go down that path on a regular basis, but it turns out that the winemakers are pretty busy, and just when you think that some of the more frequent posters are going to jump in and really liven up the party, it turns out that they are too busy making wine or out on the road selling it.

And when you get right down to it, it is the same people commenting. The common wisdom is that a blog is a wonderful tool with which to interact with a broad part of the wine community.

Nope, we are talking to ourselves, and the only reason why that is good is that communication in any form is way better than isolation. For that is what is going on here and on other blogs. There is a community that has formed, and we can talk back and forth for months and years without ever having laid eyes on each other.

It works. Last week, Steve and I ventured down to Paso Robles for their Cabernet Sauvignon get together. And there, sitting in the lobby, was another writer who was introduced to me, and we both lit up with big smiles-—because we are part of each other’s broad community and have been for some time now but had never met. He is part of the “ourselves”, and he and lots more like him are the folks to which wine blogs talk.


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For thirty-five years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


by TomHill
Posted on:5/6/2013 9:58:37 AM

Awwwwww, reason to go floggin' yourself about your blog audience. It serves a useful purpose...and there are some of us out here who are just mere wine consumers and come here every day to see what you & Steve have to say. And sometimes even comment..sometimes to give you a raft of $hit...sometimes to support your observations/opinions.

   True....sometimes it just seems to be a bunch of bloggers talkin' among themselves. It is (sometimes) so predictible. Some blogger will make some comment, raising a new issue, and I know immediately that there will comments about it on other blogs. Or there will be some breaking news (like TWA sale) that I know will sweep across the blogosphere like wildfire.

   But some blogs I read because they are not just offering up opinions or trivial observations, but because I can learn from them (Rob's Fringe Grapes or AlfonsoCevola's are two I like a lot).

   Some I look at every few days, even though I'm pretty certain they'll have the same ole drivel on the 100-pt system or lifestyle magazines or something. But others I come to learn from. And yours, Charlie, is one that I look at every day. Hmmm...maybe I need a 12-step program???

   Yeah...sometimes it might seem like you all are just talkin' amongst yourself or that nobodys listening. But you all do serve a good purpose.



People Are Listening
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:5/6/2013 10:27:26 AM

Hi Tom--

I think the blogs, at least the serious ones, and the Hosemaster of Wine, which is actually a serious blog pretending to be satire, are good for the wine world, but it is the inner wine world and the wiider audience that we all thought were out there just waiting for us to pointificate.

No problem with that, and even though this blog is not the comment engine that STEVE HEIMOFF has become, it does get its fair share of readers and a more serious brand of conversation.

So, do pleae keep hanging out here.

Incomplete Thought
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:5/6/2013 10:31:02 AM

First paragraph should have ended " ....... and the wider audience that we all thought were out there just waiting for us to pontificate turns out not to have materialized.

That's why we are talking to ourselves. That is why long-time CGCW friends like you come here to take to folks who are part of your wine community. It is a healthy thing, this idea of extended community, but it is not what we thought blogging was going to be about.

by TomHill
Posted on:5/6/2013 11:41:04 AM

Charlie sez: " does get its fair share of readers and a more serious brand of conversation."

Yup...that's what I particularly like about your blog, Charlie. It has a higher level of intellect and thoughtfulness than some other blogs. The quality of a blog is NOT measured by the sheer volume of comments it elicits. Some blogs I feel are just written to see how much controversary they can stir up. Eventually, people just start regarding you as an idiot. No idiots at CGCW I'd have to say.



Impeach Clinton 27 galaxies meribanded to an illicit emporium
by Blake Gray
Posted on:5/6/2013 12:29:17 PM

Jesus, Charlie, when I saw your headline, I thought you'd been following me around.

5/6/13/ post
by tom barras
Posted on:5/6/2013 3:35:03 PM

Much like large group tastings wherein only a few bold souls raise their hand and fearlessly express an opinion, so to with blog readers---not sure if it's fear for lack of expertise or not enough discretionary time to even tweet a few characters. 

Also, Charlie, my suspiciion is that bloggers really appreciate that other bloggers are browsing those daily words of wisdom--with or without commentary. Nothing like peer approval, disagreement and commentary.

Attention Barking
by Ron Washam, HMW
Posted on:5/6/2013 7:32:19 PM


While I use satire to make whatever meaningless drivel I have to say at least a wee bit amusing, and I certainly qualify as one of those guys Mr. Hill refers to whom everyone thinks is an idiot, I never, not even from the first post, thought that my wine blog would be interesting to anyone except me. I've said for five years that the subject of wine blogs is not wine, it's the blogger. In other words, I basically agree with all of your points, I just knew most of them going in. I write HoseMaster for my own creative joy. That anyone not held at gunpoint reads it truly astonishes me.

I spent a day in a tasting room where I work occasionally asking everyone who entered if they read any wine blogs. Of the 200 or so ordinary folks I asked, not a single one, NOT A SINGLE ONE, had read one. An outcome I expected, but was still humbled to learn.

So I still write for my own creative joy. And am grateful for the kind support of people I respect, you most notably among them.

by TomHill
Posted on:5/7/2013 7:08:42 AM

HM sez: "I certainly qualify as one of those guys Mr. Hill refers to whom everyone thinks is an idiot".

Sorry, Ron....I would argue that to the contrary. Your stuff is some of the most amusing stuff I've read related to wine. Nope...not an idiot at all.

But your point about writing for your own creative joy is true for a lot of folks..not just bloggers.



by gabe
Posted on:5/7/2013 8:54:11 PM

two thoughts:

yes, the community of wine enthusiasts that is active on the blogosphere is relatively small.  at times that can be a bad thing, like if you are trying to make a living writing a blog.  but it can also be a good thing, because - as you said - it has created a nationwide community of wine lovers.  as my wife always says, focus on who came to your party, not who didn't.

my other thought is just to remind you that there are plenty of people who aren't  bloggers who read and comment on blogs.  in my past year or so of being part of the wine blogosphere, i have been able to talk to winemakers, wine writiers, and everyday normal wine drinkers (who may or may not be wine bloggers, but thats irrelivant to me).

by denise benoit
Posted on:5/14/2013 6:32:54 AM

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