7 Year Itch

Seven years ago today I hit “publish” on my first post on Wannabe Wino. I did not know at the time how much the wine blogging and wine community in general would come to be a part of my life. I’ve made life-long friends through this endeavor, found my community, and have tasted more wine than I ever thought possible.

When I hit publish on this post, it will be post number 1491. 1491. Not even a fraction of the wines I’ve tasted in that time given I long ago gave up trying to write about every single wine I tasted. I’ve been to Portugal, Canada, various US wine regions, and attended 5 out of 6 annual Wine Blogger Conferences.

Thanks for reading for all these years and here’s to 7 more! (Maybe?)

Cheers!

 

I’m Tired of Being Told What Not to Write

I read a lot of wine blogs. I have over 1,000 in my feedreader. Every single day I go through the new posts on all of them. Once every couple of months I do a widespread search to look for new wine blogs. Why? Because I like to read about wine and I like to monitor what’s going on in the wine blog world.  While I’m not the oldest of the wine blogs out there, I’ve been around for quite some time in terms of the age of the wine blog-o-sphere. In nearly 4 years I’ve seen countless wine blogs come and go….some flaming out in a couple months and some mysteriously disappearing with no warning after years.

Recently, I’ve seen articles pop up on many different wine blogs and in the comments of others decrying those of us who write wine reviews. It’s “boring,” “useless,” “not entertaining,” etc. At Palate Press just two days ago, an entire article ran on why no one reads wine blogs and a long comment train followed saying that folks don’t want to read wine reviews. Additionally, check the comments in this post over on 1WineDude.

But here’s the thing: Only other wine bloggers (and perhaps PR and industry folks) care about articles about wine blogging. It’s navel-gazing of the most extreme sort. (I fully realize that I’m being hypocritical as I am currently writing a piece on wine blogging, forgive me the transgression.) Articles on the wine industry as a whole? Again, generally not something the regular everyday consumer is interested in either. Leading me to the main point: Who is your audience? I write wine reviews, vineyard visit stories, the occasional book review, and the once in a blue moon dabble into navel-gazing. My target audience is someone looking for a review on a wine they are thinking about purchasing, wondering what wine in their price range that they might enjoy that night, or perhaps thinking about visiting vineyards in part of the wine country that I’ve happened to visit.

I may just be one of those “amateur bloggers whose coverage of wine is limited to a handful of random samples we’ve just received, a trade tasting we’ve attended, or a press junket we’ve just been treated to” * (by the way, go read this “About” section on Stephen Tanzer’s new blog, it’s one of the douchiest and most self-serving things I’ve read in a while) but as a fellow wine blogger, even if you don’t write wine reviews, what does that matter to you? Go ahead and write about the wine industry or educate people on wine terms, or whatever it is that floats your boat. I’ve got my schtick and you’ve got yours. I won’t tell you you’re boring and useless and how about you stop telling me what to write too?

*I’m being facetious here. If you continue to read Tanzer’s “About” section, apparently living wine is the key—defined as visiting wine regions for a total of several weeks a year (yep, I have that one covered), tasting thousands of wines with their makers annually (so I probably taste closer to 500-1,000 this way), and more at their dining room tables (totally have this one in the bag). Given I’m only one person, this is not my job, I do it in my spare time, nor do I make a penny or ever intend to make a penny from it, I’ll say I taste a damn lot of wine a year. Though I would never make the claim that I am a professional. I am what I am and I’ve never held myself out to be any more or any less.

Killing Time

I’ve got a couple hours before I leave for the airport, and I’ve clearly got an addiction to posting daily here on the blog. I can’t help myself….it’s actually quite difficult to break the habit after doing it every day for over a year now!

For some time I’ve been contemplating changing up the design of Wannabe Wino. I’m even tossing around the idea of going to self-hosted WordPress so I can have a pretty blog design that’s all mine.

However, I am absolutely challenged on anything to do with websites. The most basic stuff (like figuring out how to put my photo in the sidebar here) takes me hours of trying and almost always ends up in me crying out to Twitter for help. We won’t even talk about what used to happen over on Blogger when I was actually allowed to edit the html in the template….

That said, any thoughts on self-hosted WordPress? I’d appreciate any pros/cons so I can make an informed (or as informed as I can in my techno-challenged world) decision.

Wine Blog Spotlight: VINEGeek

Getting back into the habit of spotlighting my favorite wine blogs, I want to call your attention to a relative newcomer to the field.  Started in June, I’ve been following VINEGeek since he introduced himself to me on Twitter. I love his blog and if you aren’t reading it, you’re missing out on a great addition to the wine blog world.

Jim pulls no punches in his blog. If he spent $85 on a bottle of wine (and he did….rich taste!) and it doesn’t measure up he’s going to tell you. What really makes me visit his posts is his “free association” image at the end of each post. He finds an image that he associates with his review of the wine and adds it to the end of each review. Sometimes I get it right away, and other times I’m left scratching my head, but it always makes me chuckle. His tagline pretty much says it all “Wine is interesting.”

Vinegeek posts about 2 times a week (let’s encourage him to post a little more!) and I’ll be looking forward to his upcoming Mourvedre Mondays as he starts to explore one of my favorite grapes. Head on over and check out VineGeek and add Jim to your feed reader today.

WBW #60 Round Up: I Have Zinned

A hearty thanks to all who busted out some Zin to participate in the 5th birthday of WBW! As you probably gathered by now, I set the theme for this momentous occasion to I Have Zinned. I asked everyone to grab a bottle of Zin and pair it with their favorite grilled or BBQ food.  Zin and BBQ is one of my favorite pairings and it seems to be wbwlogosome of yours too! Though I did discover this time that Zins that have aged a little don’t seem to have the oopmh to stand up to sweeter BBQ sauce.  I think several others had the same revelation!

Overall, 30 folks joined us for WBW #60, with posts on 29 wine blogs!  Across the board, 46 Zins were reviewed for this WBW.  I’m happy so many joined in for the 5th birthday celebration of WBW!  I know participation lags in the summer as folks tend to be on holiday and such, so I appreciate the effort! Below are snapshots of all the posts, click through to read everyone’s full take on Zin and BBQ (or pizza in John’s case…though I kinda wish he’d grilled up some tofu or something ;) )

Our first entry came in over a week early from David at Cooking Chat. He picked the 2007 Ridge Paso Robles Zin to pair with his ribeye. Sadly, he found it to be a bit underwhelming for the price point, though I expect it might have needed a little more time…07 is young for a Ridge Zin! Read his whole take here.

Ryan over at Oe-no-phile also joined with an early entry. He went off the beaten Zin path and picked a 2006 Old Vine Zin from Sineann, a winery with a Zin vineyard that straddles Oregon and Washington…so technically it’s a Washington State Zin. In short, he loved loved loved it.  Check out his fully review here.

Another early entry, Jason of This Blog and 20 Bucks Can Definitely Get You a Great Bottle of Wine (wow, that’s a mouthful!) picked a Zin I am very familiar with the 2006 Camellia Cellars Leconi Vineyard Dry Creek Zinfandel.  He paired it with an Heirloom tomato salad and grilled Moroccan chicken. You can read his review and check out his dinner here.

Randy, The Wine Whore, joins us for the WBW, and chose a Zin that I also have hanging around waiting for me to taste it!  He picked the 2006 J. Keverson Old Vine Dry Creek Zinfandel and presents us with a fun pictorial review of his experience tasting it.  Visit The Wine Whore for his review.

Bill from Wine for Newbies brought out the big guns for this WBW, tasting through 6 Zins! Though he admits he only tasted one of them with his BBQ! All 6 hail from Lodi and he picked the 2007 m2 “Old Vine” Soucie Vineyard, the 2007 Bargetto Zinfandel Old Vine, the 2007 Macchia Zinfandel “Oblivious”, the 2006 Mettler Vineyards Zinfandel “Epicenter”, the 2006 Harney Lane Zinfandel “Lizzie James” Vineyard, and the 2006 Michael David Gluttony “Old Vines”. Head on over to Wine for Newbies to read all about them.

Richard, who writes Silene’s Cellar, told us a lovely story of his first eye-opening Zin experience with a 1977 Monteviña Special Selection Zin.  He follows up that tale with a a blind tasting of 3 Zins (great minds think alike!).  Richard picked that 2005 Hendry Block 7 Napa Zin, the 2005 Dendor Patton Wisdom Mendocino Old Vine Zin, and the 2005 Sequum Riverwash Dry Creek Zin. Which won? You’ll have to visit Silene’s Cellar to find out!

Next up, Shea of Just Grapes. Shea chose to write up his visit to Mazzocco Winery after the Wine Blogger Conference where they make many Zins (I’ve visited before, but not in years). He tells us about the 6 Zins he tasted, with his favorite being the mighty pricey $120 2006 Antoine Phillipe Reserve. Read about them all here.

My roomie from WBC, Catie, aka the Walla Walla Wine Woman, brings us, what else? Zin from Walla Walla, Washington! I was actually surprised by the number of Washington Zins that popped up for this WBW, though I would expect nothing less from Catie!  She picked the 2005 Forgeron Cellars Zinfandel and paired it with Bulgogi, which sounds delish! Head on over for her recipe and wine review.

Our first Zin mishap comes from Rob over at Wine Post. (Who, by the way, recognizes how multi-talented I am at smiling and talking at the same time.) He picked up one of my favorites, a 2006 Titus Zinfandel. Sadly, he found it cooked. What a shame, it’s a great wine!

Then there’s me. I also did a blind tasting of 3 Zins! I chose the 2003 Sky Saddle, the 2004 Ridge Lytton Springs, and the 2005 Mauritson Rockpile Cemtery Vineyard.  I tasted mine with BBQ and found my BBQ sauce seemed to overwhelm the Zins, but of course, I didn’t let that get in my way! Read about my Zins here.

Kevin over at Under the Grape Tree joined us with a Zin from afar.  Now, I don’t see too many Zins coming out of Australia, so I was thrilled with this obscurish pick.  He chose the 2006 Groom Bush Vine Zin from Barossa. Over two days, he paired the wine with a grilled steak and BBQ ribs, and thankfully had better luck than I did with the BBQ sauce pairing! His review is here.

The Brix Chicks went all out for this WBW! Brix Chick Janesta reviewed the 2006 Gluttony Old Vine Zinfandel one of many Zins the Brix Chicks tasted that evening! They also smoked some meat and Janesta posts a photo of Sean Connery as 007…how does that connect with the wine? You’ll have to read to find out!

Jim from VineGeek submitted the post on Zin he did last month, seeing as how he had just written about the exact topic at hand, I decided to let him slide ;) He chose the 2006 Cline Bridgehead Contra Costa County Zin, and sadly found it a bit lacking for the price point.  His full write up is here.

Gwendolyn, aka the Art Predator, (gee, what’s with all these bloggers with several aliases, lol), joins us with yet another Ridge Zinfandel.  Folks love Ridge Zins, one of the kings of Zin in my mind! She picked the 2006 Ridge Lytton Springs to go with her marinated tri tip and it blew her out of the water! Check out her review here.

We got another Brix Chick post out of the event too! Liza wrote up several of the other wines that they enjoyed with their brisket.  To round out the tasting, they enjoyed the 2006 Harney Lane Lizzie James Vineyard Old Vine Zin, the 2007 m2 Wines Soucie Vineyard 1916 Block Lodi Old Vine Zin, and the 2007 Newsome Harlow Big John’s Vineyard Calaveras Zinfandel. Quite the tasting. Head on over to the Brix Chicks for the details!.

Over at Drink What You Like, Frank brings us yet another Washington State Zinfandel! That’s three so far! I had no idea so much Zin was coming out of Washington, but that makes my mission clear: I must have some.  Frank searched through 5 wine shops in Seattle before finding the 2006 Maryhill Zinfandel.  He find it to be a decent QPR wine and hopes to taste more Washington Zin in the future. His review is here.

Joe, the Suburban Wino, has a great sildeshow/video up of the tantalizing ribs he made to go with his Zin. It’s worth a visit just for the drool worthy BBQ, as well as his review! He chose the 2006 Cartlidge and Browne Amador Zinfandel. It appears he preferred his ribs to the Zin, but thought it was fine for the price point. Visit Suburban Wino for the full review!

Our 4th Washington State Zinfandel comes from Kori over at Wine Peeps! She tasted 2 Zins blind (clearly another great mind!), the 2005 Forgeron Zin (same as Catie!) and the 2006 Columbia Crest Reserve Zin.  The meal she had with it made me want to hop on a plane and beg her mother to make BBQ for me too!  Find out which Zin prevailed by heading over to Wine Peeps.

Not a traditional WBW post, but Hello Vino participated by bringing us some info about Zin!  They write about the history of Zin, talk about how alcohol levels affect the fruit, and offer suggested grilled and BBQ foods to pair with it! Head on over to Hello Vino to read all about Zinfandel.

A fairly new wine blogger, Dee Wineo loses his WBW virginity on the Zin and BBQ theme!  He BBQ’d up some pork steak (which I just learned about last week when friends of mine made it for dinner while I was out in St. Louis!) and pulled out a value Zin to pair with it, the 2007 Foxglove Zinfandel.  Read about how his pairing turned out here.

My favorite Lush, Thea, aka Winebratsf, of course joined us for this WBW as she has a similar affection for Zinfandel like me! Raising it up yet another notch, Thea attended the ZAP summer outing and visited 3 wineries and tasted a plethora of Zins. She chose to focus on Rockwall Wine Company and D-Cubed Cellars in her post, highlighting 2 of their Zins along with the BBQ at the event. Visit Luscious Lushes for the full report.

Debbie, the Hudson Valley Wine Goddess, had a mishap with her post too: her dog ate her tasting notes! Now there’s a new twist on the old “the dog ate my homework” excuse!  Not to fear, being a trooper, Debbie sacrificed and opened another Zin in time for WBW! She chose the 2006 Truett Hurst Red Rooster Old Vine Dry Creek Zinfanel.  Read her review here.

My friend John over at Anything Wine joined in on the fun, though being a vegetarian he skipped the toss some meat on the grill part….I think he should do a follow up on how Zin pairs with grilled tofu or veggie burgers! John picked the 2006 Seghesio San Lorenzo Block 8 Zinfandel.  A sure winner, head on over for his take on the wine.

Now, I hope the link for this participant will work. Grace, the CellarMistress, posted her WBW on FaceBook. I’m not sure if you have to be her friend to read it, if so, let me know and I’ll reproduce the whole thing here. Grace chose the 2006 Seghesio Family Vineyards Della Costa Alexander Valley Zin.  You can (hopefully) read her review here!

Michelle from My Wine Education had to do a local twist on the theme, being loyal to her beloved Cincinnati (and also started Wine Blogging Thursday)! She picked the 2006 Zincinnati Zinfandel from Mendocino. The story on this wine is that a local distributor teamed up with a CA Zin producer to create this wine! Swing by My Wine Education for the full story!

John of Brim to the Dregs came out of WBW hiding to join in on the BBQ and Zin theme on Wine Blogging Thursday as well. He had a little trouble with the grilling part…first it rained and then his cooking skills failed him and his steaks were a bit more well done than intended. Good thing he had an excellent bottle of Zin to make things right! John chose the 2005 Fritz Dry Creek Zinfandel (one I’ve had many times!) and you can read his review here.

Our founding father Lenn also came in for Wine Blogging Thursday ;) with a Zin he had trouble finding.  He picked the 2000 (oldest Zin for this WBW!) Neyer’s Pato Vineyards Zinfandel. Unfortunately, he thought it seemed tired and speculated that perhaps it hadn’t been stored properly for the time it lived in the store. Head on over to Lenndevours for his review.

Another Wine Blogging Thursday participant, Jill of Domaine 547 came out of blog, Zinfandel, and WBW hiding to join in the fun! Jill doesn’t drink a lot of Zin, so I appreciate her stepping out of her wine zone and trying a Zin! She picked the 2007 Homefire Homecoming Dry Creek Zin. It made her reconsider stocking some Zins in her soon to be open brick and mortar store! Read her review here.

For a Wine Blogging Sunday entry, we have Andrew of Spittoon, our first international participant for this WBW!  He had a bit of trouble finding a Zin, his stores only had two options.  With little in the way of choices, he ended up with the 2007 Bonterra Vineyards. Sadly, he didn’t find it very food friendly.  Read his full review here.

And finally, joining us for Wine Blogging Monday is Erika of StrumErika.  Erika plucked the 2007 Merryvale Jan Vineyard Napa Zinfandel from the share pile at work to pair with her sister’s famous hot wings.  While the wine didn’t live up to expectations, the hot wings sound mighty fine to me! Visit StrumErika for her full review and wing recipe!

Thanks again to everyone for breaking out the Zin in honor of WBW’s 5th Birthday and Zinning with me. And as always, a nod of the hat to Lenn for founding such a lasting event and for having me host this month! If I missed your post, please let me know and I will happily add it in!

Vintank

Vintank kindly and generously donated to the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarship.  Thanks in part to their generosity, the scholarship committee was able to fund full or partial scholarship for 11 wine bloggers!  Without their support, these worthy folks would not have been able to attend the WBC and the rest of us would have missed the opportunity to interact with as many of our peers as possible.
Vintank, in case you haven’t heard of them, is one of the newest and hottest things in the online wine world.  For their clients, they create strategic social media plans, assist with sales and marketing, and a whole host of other things.  They recently released a White Paper that’s pretty much a must read if you have anything to do with wine and the internet.  Titled “Vintank Social Media Report” it is the result of months and months of reserach and surveys of those in the online wine business…be it blogs, retailers, or social networks.

So head on over, and at the very least, read the Whitepaper.  And if you are in need of social media strategies for your wine business, consider Vintank.  Again, a heartfelt thanks to Vintank for their generous donation.

Spotlight On: Anything Wine

Today we continue my series spotling some of my favorite wine blogs around the net.  To date, I’ve brought you Caveman Wines, Wino Sapien, Brooklyn Guy, Wine Camp, and Luscious Lushes.  In this installment, I present to you my friend John, who writes the wine blog Anything Wine.

Borrowed from Anything Wine!

Now, I’ve “known” John for quite some time.  He started Anything Wine just a few months before I put keyboard to blog post and put up Wannabe Wino and he was among the bloggers I read from the beginning of my wine blog reading days.  Back in the day, John didn’t post as frequently, but in the last two years he’s hit a stride of pretty regular posting.  I first met John in real life at the DC International Wine and Food Festival where we made our way through an ever-growing crowd.  Then, he and his wife (also a Megan spelled the right way!) came to my house for a party and later that fall I saw John again at the Wine Blogger Conference.

Besides being a wine blogger, John has a lot of wine experience to share with all of us.  He recently passed the test to become a Certified Specialist of Wine, he works at a wine shop, and his family owns a winery in Virginia.  John does a really great job of presenting a varied view of the wine world to us.  One day, he’s telling us about a Virginia winery, the next a bargain wine, and the next a bit of interesting wine news.

John enjoys many of the same wines I do, and he has a quick and easy way of getting across his notes on a bottle.  In his reviews, he always tries to tell you a little bit about he winery he’s talking about, which I always appreciate.  All in all, John’s a great read over on Anything Wine and you should add him to your feed reader to enjoy continuous updates!

Wine Blog Spotlight On: Luscious Lushes

Today I continue my series spotlighting some of my favorite wine blogs .  I read a lot of wine blogs. Somewhere in the vicinity of 400-500 a day (if they post that often). I subscribe to almost every wine blog out there because I want to see what’s going on with everyone across the board.  Some haven’t posted in months, some post every day, and others in between.  Thank god for Google Reader!  Out of all those wine blogs, today I want to tell you about my friend Thea who writes Luscious Lushes

Thea comes under my spotlight today for several reasons, but in particular, I want to call her out today and give her the credit she deserves for her work on the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarship.  Not only does Thea write an amazingly funny wine blog, but she’s been the driving force behind the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarship.  Without her, it wouldn’t exist, and a bunch of really worthy wine bloggers would not be getting the chance to attend the conference this summer.

Beyond her tireless work recently on this effort, Thea is a cheerleader for all things wine, bloggers, and social media.  She’s been my partner in crime for several memorable days of terrorizing Napa and Sonoma, writes a fabulous blog, and she loves Pinot Noir.  Luscious Lushes chronicles only a small fraction of Thea’s adventures.  To get the full picture, you need to read her blog and follow her on Twitter where she may just be the most prolific wine twitterer out there.  If there’s a wine event within a few hours of San Francisco, you can pretty much guarantee that Thea will be in attendance.  If you can’t see her, you can still probably hear her infectious laughter from a mile away.

Thea is a laugh a minute and her true love and passion for wine come through in all her interactions with the wine community.  Not to mention, Thea knows everyone.  If you are interested in wine, and you don’t know Thea, you should really seek her out and get a glimpse into her wine-soaked world.  Add her to your feed reader, and you won’t be disappointed!

Time is Running Out!

Dear fellow bloggers, winery folks, social media people, and PR firms-

We still need help to meet the last bit of demand for the Wine Blogger Conference Scholarships.  It would be absolutely fabulous if we could meet the need of all the wonderful bloggers who have applied for assistance, but we need you to dig deep to help us do that.  Any amount will move us to the goal, really, send us $10 if you can!  wbc1

The Flamingo Resort needs us to pay them in full for the wonderfully discounted rooms they have so kindly offered in support of the scholarship by June 1, so we haven’t got much time.

If you can spare a dime, please head on over to the scholarship donation page and help us out.  We will (if you want) feature your information as a donor on the main scholarship blog, and starting after the recipients are announced, I will be featuring each donor in a post here. We are so close, and every dollar counts at this point!

Many thanks to all who choose to donate!

-Sonadora

Video Killed the Radio Star

“Video killed the radio star.

In my mind and in my car, we can’t rewind we’ve gone too far.”

Are you singing along yet?  Cause I am.  And I’ve been singing this song to myself for quite some time now, only with slightly different lyrics.  Twitter killed the blog comment.  Twitter killed the blog comment.  And then I hum the tune in my head.

I’ve been on twitter since March 17, 2007.  And for a little while, I was tweeting into the wilderness with just a few other winos, testing a new platform, seeing that new followers joined up, my blog readership began a steady uptick in traffic from twitter.  But it came at a price.  You see, the people most likely to comment on a blog (in my humble opinion) are involved in social media…they have blogs of their own (whatever the topic), they are one twitter, on facebook, etc.  And while those people, and others are clearly still reading blogs, twitter has moved the conversation.

I still get a lot of traffic every day from twitter.  But all those folks who used to leave comments on my posts….well, it seems they comment on twitter now.  And that makes me sad.  I believe that twitter has a place and function…but I don’t want it to kill the blog comment.  Because I think that people who wouldn’t normally comment on a blog are much more likely to come out of the woodwork if they see a couple comments on the post.  But those first comments from those who are already engaged in social media seem to be coming on twitter.

For example, yesterday I received these tweets about my posts, yet, between the two posts on the blog I only got 2 comments in the same time period.

chambertinone of the most important vinous RT’s of the quarter? quite possibly: RT @Sonadora http://bit.ly/QDgxN

She_Loves_Wine@Sonadora I’ve wanted to try that for a while. It’s so odd to me up here bc I first assoc Schlum with Oil Fields. :-) I’ve heard it’s gr8.

JuliaRosien@Sonadora Easy Drinking: http://bit.ly/WXeGt love that it’s peppery and still goes down easy – Glass for me please!

mwangbicklerGreat post by @sonadora on winery tasting rooms. http://bit.ly/YnRnM

I’m just as guilty of this as anyone else, but I’ve been making a concentrated effort to get back into commenting around the blog-o-sphere.  I think that while twitter is one strategy to draw new folks to your blog, making relevant comments on other bloggers’ posts is just as valuable, if not more valuable.

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