Wednesday, May 30, 2007

5 Reasons You Should Be Reading Winery Blogs

Do you read winery blogs? If not, you should be. I know, I know: we all have to much to do/read/see/ watch on TV, but if you're a wine lover this is your best opportunity to get information straight from the vineyard, delivered to you by the folks that are actually making the wine you want to drink. (photo by Ian Britton of FreeFoto.com)

Many of the winery blogs I read regularly are extremely well-written, lively, and engaging--which is something to marvel at, considering the fact these folks are blogging in their "spare time" between helping to manage the vineyard, making the wine, averting tasting room disasters, going on public relations junkets, and attending marketing meetings.

So here are the 5 reasons you should read winery blogs, with links to blogs that I think are particularly good.

1. Reading winery blogs dramatically increases your knowledge of winemaking. If you've ever wondered what malolactic fermentation is, or wanted to see a punch-down that doesn't take place in Vegas, then winery blogs are for you. I've learned so much from Jason Haas's Tablas Creek Vineyard Blog, and all the information is delivered in a clear, non-technical fashion with great pictures. (Jason: if you ever leave the wine biz, which I hope you don't, you are a born teacher!) I suscribe so I can keep up with all that's going on in the vineyards, but if you want to learn about winemaking, the impact of weather on grapes, and how work gets done in an organic vineyard, this blog's for you.

2. Winery blogs provide incontrovertible proof that good wine is the result of a long and thoughtful process, not just a marketing strategy. Josh Hermsmeyer, of the new Capozzi Family Vineyards that he started in the Russian River Valley with his wife Candace, has given us a peak into not only the physical work that makes a great winery, but the mental work, as well. His blog, PinotBlogger, has posted on everything from designing their tasting room to the most lucid discussion of Pinot Noir clones I've ever read to how they came up with the name. If you've secretly yearned for a vineyard of your own, Josh's blog brings that experience to you and gives you an awful lot to think about before you take the plunge.

3. Winery blogs demonstrate that wine is made by real people--or at least it should be. This is the best reason, I think. I love getting to know the people behind the wines that I drink. It makes the whole wine experience richer and more satisfying to get to know the people who make you so happy after a hell of a day at work. And how many of us live within driving distance of any--never mind all--of our favorite wineries. Whether it's folks brandishing chickens at Twisted Oak's blog El Bloggo Torcido, or the more sedate days and nights (ok, except for the lost delivery truck) at the Dover Canyon blog, winery bloggers like Jeff "El Jefe" Stai and Mary Baker paint some great portraits of the characters--human, animal, and mechanical--that are involved in making some terrific wines.

4. Winery blogs remind you that good wine should never be taken for granted. Amy Lillard and Matt King upended their lives in Berkeley and bought a farm in Castillon du Gard where they grow grapes, have converted a farm house into a winery, and are making some great wine after lots of hard work. Reading Amy's blog at La Gramiere reminds us all that wine takes time, effort, passion, and love. So, too, does Mike and Helen's blog It's My Vineyard, which focuses on growing grapes and making wine in the Regnie district of the Beaujolais. All the highs and lows of life are captured in farming and winemaking, and that's why it's so special.

5. Winery blogs help to make a personal connection between you, the winemakers, the grape growers, and the wine you are drinking. Who could imagine that two women with roots to the English city of Liverpool, would both be wine fanatics, live in California, and blog? Sometimes the unimaginable happens in the blogosphere, as I discovered when I started reading Elsbeth Wetherill's blog, the Vineyard Diary. She and her husband Steve were wine pioneers in the San Antonio Valley AVA in Monterey, and Escafeld makes the best Petit Verdot I've ever tasted (stay tuned for my thoughts on their Merlot and Zinfandel). Also in Monterey County, Annette Hoff of blogs about her work at Cima Collina, where she draws together grapes grown by superb Monterey growers and crafts them into distinct and distinguished wines. Reading her blog makes me feel like I know all about the growers, the grapes, and the folks who put it all together in the winemaking. It's these personal connections to wine that turn a beverage into a life-long obsession--at least for some of us.

I'll be putting up a new set of links in my never-ending side bar to help you find these great blogs more easily in the coming weeks in case you lose track of this post. But why not subscribe to a few winery blog feeds or bookmark these sites now? And if I've missed your favorite winery blog, please let me know by leaving a comment so that I can include them in the list of links.

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi Dr. Deb -- Thanks for the mention. You have a very informative blog, yourself. Keep up the good work! Annette Hoff, Cima Collina

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks, Annette. That's quite a compliment coming from you!

Mike Duffy said...

At The Winery Web Site Report, we try to maintain a comprehensive list of winery blogs. Your readers may find it useful.

You highlighted some terrific winery blogs (Jason, Josh, Jeff, Mary, Elsbeth, Amy, and Annette). Thanks for pointing out one that we had missed (It's My Vineyard).

Elsbeth said...

Great post Dr. Debs. Love your blog - it's one of the best!

Dr. Debs said...

Welcome, Mike! I'm going to put a link to your report in my winery section--it's a great resource. And glad to point you to It's My Vineyard. It's a good find. Thanks, Elsbeth! Right back at you!

Catie said...

Very nicely said and of course --- I agree. Where else is the wine lover going to get unbiased (mostly) and fresh news other than a wine blog. Cheers!

David said...

I'll have to check some of these links out. Most regular winery sites I've come across don't say much more than what's on their labels, but these blogs sound interesting.

Dr. Debs said...

Hi, David. Let me know what you think, but I believe these go way beyond the labels. Have fun reading!

Mary Baker said...

Thanks for the mention, Dr. Debs! It's been very enjoyable building our blog and creating friendships in the blogosphere. Wine is an industry where people are very passionate about their work and their product, so I think it does make for very personal and insightful blogging!

el jefe said...

hi Deb - as always a great post! And thanks very much for the mention... I think the one thing we could do better is explaining ourselves in other ways than pictures of chickens :) I have some new plans for the upcoming crush, but the challenge will be to make the time to do it!

Dr. Debs said...

Thanks for coming by Mary and Jeff. And Jeff: I didn't even mention the chickens! And the animal link was to Mary's turkeys. And Mary: it's absolutely the passion that makes the difference. And when winemakers share that passion, the readers can really tell!