Trends Worth Blogging About

Wines & Vines editor briefs wine bloggers on content and craft

by Wines & Vines staff
French Creek Ridge
French Creek Ridge Vineyards, Pennsylvania
St. Helena, Calif. -- Wine bloggers would do well to learn as much as they can about grapegrowing and winemaking to add substance to their online content, according to Jim Gordon, editor of Wines & Vines, who addressed the annual Wine Bloggers Conference on July 25 in Napa Valley. As a former blogger who has been covering the wine industry in print form for 30 years and online for 15 years, Gordon urged the bloggers to know their subjects well, get their facts right -- especially the apparently trivial ones like spelling -- and look beyond the wine blogosphere for their topics.

Wine bloggers can differentiate themselves from the ever-larger pack by "staking a claim and then mining it thoroughly," Gordon said. By specializing, a blogger is more likely to attract a devoted following and find greater opportunities for his or her editorial content, he argued.

Seven wine industry trends that bloggers should be aware of, he said, are: the proliferation of wineries and good wines across North America; hot grape varieties being planted in California (like Pinot Noir and Pinot Grigio); water scarcity for many vineyards; smoke damage from 2008 wildfires; sources of oak for wine barrels; alternative oak products used in winemaking, and innovative wine packaging including non-cork closures.

Below is the outline of his presentation.

Trends Worth Blogging About
The Future of Blogging and Wine Writing
By Jim Gordon, Editor, Wines & Vines

To stand out as a wine blogger
• Know your subject
• Get the facts from the source
• Get the facts right, even the trivial ones
• Stake a claim and mine it
• Stay ahead of the pack
• Look beyond the blogosphere for topics

Knowledge opens doors
• Readers don't care about how wine is made?
• Your industry sources do
• The more you know, the more they'll share
• Opens new doors for your writing, in biz pubs, science pubs, etc.

Seven wine industry trends
1. Wine across America
2. Hot grape varieties
3. Water wars loom
4. Where there's smoke
5. Barrel sources
6. Alternative oak products
7. Packaging / closures

Wine across America
US wineries
          • Bonded 5,213
          • Virtual 1,044
          • Total 6,257
Stories in backyard     
Alternative text
Nick Ferrante in Ohio         
          • Finger Lakes Riesling!
          • Norton, Traminette
          • 90-pt Chardonnay in Cleveland!!
          • Locavore movement

10 most winery-rich states
1. California    3,031
2. Washington    548
3. Oregon    402
4. New York    260
5. Texas    167
6. Virginia    158
7. Penn.    138
8. Michigan    119
9. Ohio        118
10. N. Carolina    100

Hot winegrape varieties Pinot Noir
New Pinot planting in Clarksburg AVA, Calif.
 Hot grape varieties
14,000 to 18,000 new acres planted in CA in 2009
• Pinot Noir
• Chardonnay
• Pinot Grigio
• Cabernet Sauvignon
Hottest winegrape varieties
Copyright: Allied Grape Growers
Hottest varieties being planted
• Pinot Noir: 36%
• Chardonnay: 22%
• Pinot Grigio: 16%
• Cabernet Sauvignon: 13%
• Zinfandel/Primitivo: 5%
• Syrah: 4%
• Merlot: 2%
• Sauvignon Blanc: 2%

Water wars looming
• Dry winter
• Navarro river lowest in 32 years
• Vineyards compete with cities, fish, crops
• Greens vs. grapes
• Technology to the rescue
• Dry farming comes back?
• Alternate varieties and rootstocks

Where there's smoke
• 2,000 wildfires 2008
• Smoke gets in the vines
• Can taste 4 ppb
• Numerous areas affected
• Filtration by reverse osmosis
• Wineries uncertain about bottling
• How to cover this "force majeure"?

Barrel sources
• French coopers define "French oak"
• What took them so long?
• Tightness of grain is new quality parameter
• Hungary etc., rev up production
• American oak better and better
• Show me your barrels

Alternative oak products
• Everyone does it
• They don't want you to know
• Much, much cheaper than barrels
• Green creds
• Very hard to taste the difference
• End of wine as we know it or an innocent spice?
• "We use 100% French oak"

• Excitement in packaging
• Worked for Heinz, but Heitz?
• PET bottles
• Boxes, bags, mini-barrels
• Screwcaps, Nomacork, Diam
• Blind tasting possibilities endless
• Changing winemaking techniques

Competitive edge
• Ask questions
• Challenge answers
• Check the facts
• Attend industry events (not only consumer)

Action items
• Come to the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley, winewriterssymposium.org, Feb. 16-19, 2010
• Subscribe to Wines & Vines, winesandvines.com, special offer for bloggers conference
Posted on 07.28.2009 - 18:36:34 PST
Hmmm. I wonder why Mr. Gordon is described as a "former blogger." Does he know something the rest of us don't? Or is he now a full-time wine writer/editor who worked his way out of blogging into a paying job by following his own excellent advice?
Todos Santos, CA Mexico