WBC 2010 on Wine Writing: What’s next?

What is the Future of Wine Writing? asks Steve Heimoff, Tom Wark and Ken Payton in the next panel at the 2010 Wine Bloggers conference in Walla Walla Washington. These three will make a few statements and then open it up to the floor for conversation, debate, and discussion.

Tom Wark of Fermentation doesn’t think there’s any value in making a distinction between wine writers and bloggers. He suggests that the conference is misnamed: instead of Wine Bloggers Conference, it should be the Wine Writers Conference.

What goes around comes around, says Steve Heimoff. There will always be new wine drinkers so there will always be a need for wine 101 and writing that teaches people about wine.

But how will wine writers in the future make a living? Not likely to make much from wine blogging, but what you do with it or where you take it. More likely for bloggers to get picked up by wine companies to work for them or to do other kinds of writing that pays the bills. Some folks, like Hardy Wallace, have used their blogs to move into other areas of the wine industry, for example, wine making.

Ken Payton of Reign of Terroir makes the point that wine writing isn’t just one genre but that there are multiple genres: from people who write reviews to those who focus on environmental issues to those who avoid reviews to those who are educators. Some people are generalists and some are specialists.

Ken Payton suggests we think of our readers as people who are not customers or consumers but fellow travelers.

So who’s the audience? Consumers? Fellow travelers? Professionals? He thinks that as wine consumption increases, there will be more interest in wine, and reading about wine, more readers and ample opportunities to explore more topics online and educate consumers.  Avoid the ghetto of simple minded wine writing, encourages Ken.

Tom Wark points out that as more magazines publish using subscriptions that are sold to people reading on an iPad.

Heimoff says there will be a need for reviewers and writers who write about wine, who tell a story, and don’t just give a wine a number. Instead of spending time getting more followers on twitter, he thinks more bloggers should develop their writing, the quality of the writing, and the amount of research writers do before they hit publish. Automate what else you do so there’s more time to write.

It’s question and answer time, and I have to be honest that I think this is deteriorating. I try to do my best to report without too much opinion on what I hear. While I agree that it would be great if people chose to spend more time on their writing, to do research and revise, add photos and links, to say that people need to spend less time on social networks and more time revising and researching is stupid. I don’t think people aren’t choosing one over the other; instead I think they are choosing to spend time participating in social networks instead of watching TV or other forms of recreation. I know that’s true for me and people that I’ve talked to about this.

Finally, there’s one more comment from a panelist about twitter that I have to address. And that was a rhetorical question about which you’re rather read a tweet or a well-written article. This is the kind of question you hear from someone who doesn’t have a clue about twitter and what it offers. When I go to twitter, I find a huge wealth of knowledge, great links to blog posts, news stories, you name it. If you’re following the right people, and they’re following you back, twitter is a rich conversation that you get to listen in on, and participate in if you wish.

BTW, I waved my arm around to respond to this but was ignored.

2 thoughts on “WBC 2010 on Wine Writing: What’s next?

  1. Art:

    I think Steve’s primary point with regard to Twitter was not really with regard to Twitter. I think his point was that if you want to improve your writing you need to spend less time tweeting and more time writing.

    I’ll agree that I too often find a great deal of interesting info on twitter and even worry I’m not following enough people to really get all the info I need.

    In any case, sorry I didn’t see you waving your hand.



  2. Thanks Tom so much for stopping by and commenting. And I accept your apology!

    I’m going to write more about this topic because it seems like an overall theme of this conference–how to improve the level of writing on blogs. As a college writing teacher, I know how hard it is to help people improve their writing.

    The bottom line really is that people have to be motivated to do the hard work of revising–and few people know how or want to. There’s no magic pill. Like I said above, people are choosing to spend as much time writing as they want to. Then they spend time doing something else. It’s easy to blame twitter and social media for poor writing but TV and other ways to spend time (including family!) could also be “blamed.”


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