By the time you read this, I will be at the 3rd annual Americas Wine Bloggers Conference, as both a participant and a panelist. This year the event is being held in Walla Walla, WA, and the local (and not-very-local) sponsors are looking to roll out the red carpet to the 300 attendees, the majority of whom are independent bloggers.
The first conference was held in Sonoma, and by year two it extended to Napa as well. Both wine areas also extended the red carpet, but it was last year’s visit to Napa that really made me stop and reconsider the influence of on-line media in the wine world.
I’ve no way to accurately gauge that influence, and certainly there are many who would note that any particular blogger saying something good about any particular wine is NOT going to make an ant’s moustache’s bit of difference in increased sales for most wine brands. And for the most part, they’d be right.
But riddle me this, Batman: if collectively those (mostly) amateur voices didn’t have influence in the wine world, why on Earth would most of the wineries pay attention to the fact that a bunch of bloggers were getting together nearby? Why would they roll out the red carpet treatment for those (mostly) amateur writers? In other words, why else would they even care?
The fact is that wine regions are now competing to influence where the 4th annual conference will be held. Considering that just over 5 years ago most wineries hadn’t even heard of wine bloggers or wine blogging, that is an amazing a nd head-scratch-inducing turn of events. Vintank.com, a digital think-tank wine industry group based in downtown Napa, published a report last year in which they claimed, based on statistics, that the potential reach of all of those wine blogs, facebook pages, and twitter accounts when viewed collectively exceeds the subscription base of even the largest wine print magazines.
Navigating the wine blog field is a tricky endeavor due to the nature of the beast, which is widely distributed and full of professional and amateur voices alike. Some resources that can get you started:
The oral of the story, thought, is to at least get started in checking out wine blogs, especially if your only exposure to the wine world has been through the pages of printed magazines. Who knows – You may just find your new favorite voice in the world of wine.