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
To stand out as a wine blogger
By Jim Gordon, Editor, Wines & Vines
• 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 topicsKnowledge 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 AmericaUS wineries
• Bonded 5,213
• Virtual 1,044
• Total 6,257Stories in backyard
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
New Pinot planting in Clarksburg AVA, Calif.
Hot grape varieties
14,000 to 18,000 new acres planted in CA in 2009
• Pinot Noir
• Pinot Grigio
• Cabernet Sauvignon
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 barrelsAlternative 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"Packaging/Closures
• Excitement in packaging
• Worked for Heinz, but Heitz?
• PET bottles
• Boxes, bags, mini-barrels
• Screwcaps, Nomacork, Diam
• Blind tasting possibilities endless
• Changing winemaking techniquesCompetitive 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