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A Long Look At The Wine Blogging Brouhaha

By Stephen Eliot

I would submit that good writing is good writing regardless of format. Words written on paper are not inherently different than those read from an electronic screen, yet I have always gotten the sense that the wine-blogging universe believes otherwise. Good writing, in my view, should inform, inspire and entertain in ways that enlighten and leave an indelible mark, and whether in print or floating somewhere out in the internet ethers, good writing will always be about words and they way they are joined.

Now, sometimes good writing takes the form of tidy, well-crafted prose, and sometimes as an incendiary, writer’s catharsis very much meant to bring discomfort to the status quo. The best of last week’s blogs aims for and hits the bulls-eye precisely if discomfort is its target, and Joe Roberts’s piece The Wine Blogging Community is a Joke (But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way?)1 is a recommended read for any and all who so much as dabble in the world of writing about wine.

It is on the one hand a call for community and, on the other, an indictment of the whiney carping that, at least to me, seems one of the constant and conspicuous traits of the new electronic democracy. Written in reaction to the electronic brouhaha over a wine writers’ workshop at the recently concluded Wine Bloggers Conference wherein professional writers James Conaway, Mike Dunne and Steve Heimhoff were dismissed by many as old white males who were hopelessly out of touch with the diversity of the new, younger wine lover, or what Joe describes as the “true cultural diversity of the wine drinking public”, the article and the extraordinarily long list of comments offers up enough food for thought to keep intellectual hunger at bay for weeks.

I confess that I find it amusing the Joe chastises some bloggers as thinking themselves better, more significant than others when, with the exception of very few voices, Joe being one, the blogging community as a whole seems to similarly think the same of itself when compared to professional print journalism. I cannot say that I fully grasp what Joe’s plea for a united blogging front might mean to professionals and those who would be, all of whom must compete for the limited writing moneys to be had, and I suppose that I am unmoved in my beliefs that, as in most endeavors, the best will rise to the top and lesser talent will see life as unfair. I do, however, loudly applaud Joe’s willingness to call for an end to myopic complaining and the puling, thinly disguised self-pity that runs rampant in the wine-blogging arena.

It seems to me that those who would write about wine for more than occasional and carefree amusement will be best served by wasting less time putting the other person down and focusing more on honing the real craft of writing and mastering the subject at hand. Have something to say that has not been said before, and learn to say it clearly and with a voice that will be hard to ignore.


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your post
by Howard Hewitt
Posted on:8/13/2014 9:19:58 AM

You said it, Stephen. I attended the WBC and thought the sessions were generally to minimally helpful. I've written for seven years now on wine, with a career background in journalism. Some of the writing is crap - some is pretty good. Improve your craft. Certainly there were valuable tips offered from the three old white guys on Sunday morning. Hey, I have nothing against old white guys; I hope to be one someday. Okay, maybe I am one already!

Wine Blogging
by Catie
Posted on:8/15/2014 10:50:40 AM

I've been wine blogging since 2005, so I have seen my share of bloggers come and go. While some people want to corner me as a "writer," in my heart I will always be a blogger. There is nothing wrong with the title. It is a title that I am proud of and wish more bloggers, as well as writers, embrace it and not minimize it. Now as I stand back and watch this all play out, historically we seem to go through this every four years. I was part of the "scene" when Parker referred to us as Blobbers. There are three sides to this: the side that complains about the old white guys, the old white guys who minimize the bloggers; and often with young white guys jumping on the old white guy band wagon (and who are modeling themselves to become an old white guy, and betting on some good hits ...). Then there's me, as I am curious about the old white guys. Are there any old white guys who are single, like women, rich with no heirs that would like to date an old white woman? 

On Behalf of Old White Guys
by Charlie Olken
Posted on:8/15/2014 10:56:10 AM


Not eligible on the latter point, but please, if you wander back this way, give us a link to your blog. If it is as interesting as your response, I want to be a reader.

by 1WineDude
Posted on:8/17/2014 2:14:25 PM

Thanks for the kind mention.

You nailed it for me with this: "call for an end to myopic complaining and the puling, thinly disguised self-pity that runs rampant in the wine-blogging arena."

Only, I'd add that this is not specific to the blogging arena, I've seen it play out on the wine writing print side as well (so it might just be endemic to wine media in general?).

Anyway, I think we're collectively better than that carping/self-pity business, and so I'm (hopefully) appealing to that better nature somehow. In retrospect, I see that blog post as my version of a wake-up call to the community (I am good for one of those every 2 years or so... :)

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