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. Continue reading

How Will Extreme Walla Walla Washington Winter 2009 Impact Wines?

One of the blogs I read about wine and wine related issues is Ken Payton’s Reign of Terroir.

I met Ken at the 2009 Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Rosa; we both took refuge under a shady tree during a tasting at Dry Creek Vineyard. We also ran into each other at the EWBC in Lisbon the following November and we both traveled to the cork forest.

Along the way, I’ve learned that Ken is a blogger of the journalistic vein; he’s willing to ask the tough questions. He’s quick to take notes and record conversations of interest. He’s bright, articulate, edgy, and opinionated–and he has weighed in on comments here in this blog as well.

Recently, Ken posted a two part series on climate change and viticulture based on conversation with climatologist Gregory V. Jones who Ken says is  “America’s most rigorous voice in the science as it relates to climate change and viticulture.”

I highly recommend both of Ken Payton’s blog posts on climate and wine but what caught my eye the most, because I’m thinking a lot these days about Washington Wine in order to be competitive for the WBC-Or-Bust contest, was this specific example:

The act of singular events like winter freezes are a little less extreme of late, but they still occur. Walla Walla this past December got down to 10 degrees; that’s at the damaging point for grape vines. Those kinds of things still happen. They just don’t go away. These extreme issues, whether they be with rainfall, hail even, of Winter freezes or Spring frosts, they are still risks to the industry depending on where you are.

Should I win a spot on the WBC-Or-Bust bus, this topic will be something I will want to follow-up on: how climate change is impacting the wine industry in the Northwest and in Washington in particular. I’ve been curious about climate change since I was an undergrad environmental studies major at UC Santa Cruz (where I went following a stint working in Ridge’s tasting room and where we had as a test case Randall Grahm’s Bonny Doon Vineyards!)  I wonder whether wineries will be willing to have front door conversations on this touchy subject. Certainly, the wineries should be prepared to discuss their sustainable practices and the ways they are reducing their carbon footprints.

Word count clocks in at over 400! And I thought this would be a short and sweet post!