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Wine Blogging Is Dying

By Charles Olken

I can hear the snickering now. There are those who say that wineblogging never lived except in the minds of the bloggers—and they are not far wrong. But they are wrong for one essential reason. What the bloggists have done, and will continue to do even in the face of the evidence that we are all comatose, is continue the conversation.

I had two encounters with blogger community this week, and both of them reminded me that even the best of the breed are whistling past the graveyard. Some of them know it and don’t care. Connoisseurs’ Guide counts itself among the group who blog because talking about wine is what we do.

But, I digress. I was in Long Beach, California last week at a family reunion, and I used a spare bit of extra time to go visit a surprisingly fabulous wine and spirts store in a non-script neighborhood along a non-descript road in a part of town called Signal Hill. There I caught up with the delightful Samantha Dugan who created and still occasionally blogs under the title, Samantha Sans Dosage. When Sam was actively writing her blog, as well as tending to the imported wine section of The Wine Country (a store you must simply visit if you are in the area) and overseeing the management of the store, Sam wrote some of the most moving, emotionally insightful words about why wine is so central to the lives of its devotees. She had, and still has intensely loyal followers, but she simply does not blog as often as she used to. I could go into long discussions of why not, but that is not the point. The point is that wineblogging is not a calling that is a full-time activity. And it is harder work than it looks like. Doing anything well is hard work. Writing well is doubly demanding.

When I got home, I checked in on one of my daily sites, the blog of my friend and comrade in writing, Steve Heimoff, whose eponymous blog is perhaps the most active of the genre—and one of the absolute best. And what did I find. Steve is retiring from wine and while he will keep his blog alive, I am guessing that he will become a great philosopher of life and far less of an insightful voice in the wine world.

I have missed Sam Dugan’s voice, and I already miss Steve’s. No one is going to take Samantha’s place because of her uniquely personal style. And no one is going to replace Steve either. Oh, there will be those who think he was too “popular”, too breezy at times, and there will be those who will not forgive him for liking the biz rather than constantly criticizing it. But, most of all, what we are losing is a voice that appeared five days a week and made us think and allowed us to converse with one another.

Wine blogging is going to miss those conversations. Does his retirement mean that wine blogging is dying. Not really, because it has been dying for years now. Yet somehow, it never gives up the ghost.

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"Why" spend the time wine blogging?
by Bob Henry
Posted on:8/25/2016 8:59:30 PM


Hosemaster got it right when he suggested that anyone who blogs does it first and foremost to satisfy an inner need.

For most, it is to ruminate on a topic, and expose those thoughts to a wider brainstorming audience than just the echo chamber of one's head.

If no one else is reading, it doesn't diminish the value of kicking those ideas aground.  And the simple act of writing them down (and editing them) clarifies one's thinking.

Those of us who comment on wine blogs will miss the forum for discussion that Steve provided.

And the opportunity to meet fellow travelers in the wine world . . . some even becoming friends through private e-mail exchanges and/or off-line gatherings.

And I can say that commenting on Steve's blog brought me to your blog.  For which I am grateful.

So yes, lament Steve's less frequent "voice" -- but I predict he won't disappear entirely.  The urge to ruminate is too great.

~~ Bob




my two cent perspective
by gabe
Posted on:8/26/2016 9:32:13 PM

I was really dissapointed to see Steve retire, he was responsible for a huge percentage of the online wine content that I consumed.  You and the Hosemaster also post rarely, and 1WineDude has lost a lot of steam.  I can't read Tom Wark, but I'm starting to warm up to Blake Grey.  I enjoy WineFolly, and  I'm glad to see John Bonne focus mor on blogging.  Jameson Fink is also pretty great.

I hate waxing philosophical about the good old days, and I think there are still some great bloggers out there.  But losing Steve was tough.  I'm glad you're still putting out a handful of insightful blog posts every once in a while.  Thanks for that, Charlie.

Good observations
by Richard Jennings
Posted on:8/27/2016 12:31:35 PM


My another one that's fading out. I published weekly blogs on wine to HuffPost and my blog for four and a half years. It was a huge amount of effort, however, and the audience remains very small. I love the wine world and the people in it, but am now focusing on writing about topics of interest to a larger audience, with an occasional piece on wine. 

All the best,


by Samantha
Posted on:8/29/2016 2:12:15 PM

Sir Charles,

It was a true treat to see your sweet face walk through the door at The Wine Country the other day. So much fun to see you light up upon seeing five racks of Loire wines and your sheer delight at looking at all the spirits we stock. Very cool moment for me, felt very proud of the place I've spent 20 years loving and building. So thanks for that mister.


As for the tgerribly sweet things you said about my blog here, well I really have no words. I have stopped posting, or had, on my way back now, but mostly it was to rid myself of the shackles of "wine blogging" and some of the crowd that and Ron obviously excluded. Just too limiting and I grew tired of folks that were, "trying to help" telling me how to talk about wine. I get to do it everyday, and see the direct result with the people that walk though those doors you did last week. That was the biggest part for me. I don't mind being called a blogger, just not a wine blogger. Probably only makes sense to me but that's the truth of the matter.

I missed you Sir Charles, feeling your tender gaze fall upon me, and having you meet my Jeremy, was beyond a teat. xoxoxoxo

by Samantha
Posted on:8/29/2016 10:00:12 PM

Treat. It was a treat, not a teat, whatever that is. Ugh. Me suckith at spelling.

Wine blogging
by Ron Washam HMW
Posted on:8/29/2016 10:04:56 PM

Hi Charlie,

I love Samantha's Freudian typo, "was beyond a teat." But I digress.

Gabe, Blinky is the worst sort of wine journalist. I, at least, admit I'm full of crap. He has the ethics of a tapeworm. So there's that.

Charlie, Wine blogging was stillborn. Those of us who do it for fun seem to succeed. Those who try to make it a career move tend to fail. I don't think it's much more than that. Blogging is an opportunity to be thoughtful and creative. Too many see it as some sort of God-given right, or the way to admiration or success.

Blogging changed my life, but I'm convinced now that it's because I just didn't care, because I decided I'd have fun and not care about what others think of me. And, as I've always said, it's only about talent. Talent, by definition, is rare. You might want to be a tightrope walker, but death is likely if you reach too far. Wine blogging won't kill you, but it's death by being ignored. Most never had the chance. They were stillborn.

Samantha is a genius. She should be writing. I'm just nuts. I write to make that known.

by Charlie Olken
Posted on:8/29/2016 10:27:25 PM

I like a good, round treat. Thanks. 

And, yes, Sam has a unique voice and I hope she will let it loose every now and then. 

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