Mark Aselstine
 
May 24, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Blogger Interviews-Vinography

We recently had the opportunity to ask one of favorite bloggers a few questions via email. For those new to reading about wine online, Vinography is certainly an essential resource and is a blog which we read almost daily here at Uncorked Ventures. Alder (the writer, founder, editor etc) has been extremely forthcoming with us during our limited discussions which we both appreciate and respect. He’s a no non-sense editor and we think his blog should be used as an example and as a best practice for anyone just starting to write about wine.

Why do we read his blog? To start, we enjoy his writing style, but more importantly the content he covers is probably more suited to our business than any other blog out there. Aside from his extensive tasting event coverage (during which you might see him walking around Ipad and wine glass in hand, typing notes for the blog) we also enjoy his coverage of wine regions and current happenings in wine. Unfortunately, some blogs fall into the problem of only reviewing sample wines which readers can’t possibly access, that doesn’t happen with Vinography. While Vinography will cover the higher end of the market more often than some other blogs out there, there is plenty of information there for anyone interested in wine no matter if you’re a fellow blogger, in the business yourself as a third party, consumer or even a winery. Lastly, if you are a winery looking for a landing spot for your advertising dollars, he has the nicest looking set of demographics in the industry.

Lastly, we’d be remiss without taking a moment to thank Alder for his time. We realize how often these type of requests must come in and appreciate the time and effort clearly evident in the responses which appear below.

-When did you start drinking wine?

In some small way, I grew up in wine country. I would spend summers with my dad in Sonoma County, and when my grandparents came out for visits, we would invariably go wine tasting with them. For the most part I have fond memories of cavorting on the lawns outside of these big “castles” but on occasion I’d hang out with the adults and listen to them chat. I got my first sip of wine that I actually liked on one of these days, which I believe was a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. I didn’t know that wine could be sweet before then, and that sip convinced me that all wine wasn’t disgusting.

My real love of wine began while I was studying for a time in England. The food served in the colleges at Oxford University in the early Nineties was awful, and so I found myself cooking for myself more and more. Thinking that the civilized thing to do would be to drink wine with a home cooked dinner, I would go down to a local bottle shop and buy a wine. Too intimidated to talk with anyone at the shop, I’d simply look on the lower shelves that I could afford and pick a label that looked interesting.

I really enjoyed this exploration, which opened up a whole world of flavors and grapes and places to me, and so when I returned home to the US and completed my degree, I continued to buy wine and cook a lot, both with increasing passion.

-Vinography started in 2003, how has the wine blogosphere changed in the 8 years since?

Back then there wasn’t a wine blogosphere to speak of. Now there are thousands, maybe tens of thousands of wine blogs around the world. It’s a bit crazy, really. Now there are blogs that are taken quite seriously as legitimate outlets for the kind of wine writing that used to be exclusive to a few top magazines and newspapers. We’re seeing something of a democratization of writing about wine. There’s a lot of crap out there, of course, but a lot of new voices on wine, mine being but one, have emerged, and the consumer is much the better for it.

-Do you mind sharing one great wine experience with us?

Well, since it’s top of mind, and I can still almost taste it, I’ll talk about my experience last night. I was at the World of Pinot Noir conference in Shell Beach, and the last evening of the conference, they have a dinner where everyone brings along at least one bottle of wine to share with friends. The evening was winding down, and I had tasted a lot of really amazing, and really expensive wines, when I wandered around the corner and bumped into a winemaker friend of mine who had just extracted the cork from a dusty bottle. It was a 1959 Chambolle-Musigny Premiere Cru Burgundy from a producer that doesn’t even exist anymore, and it was utterly sublime. It literally stopped about eight of us in our tracks for half an hour. We just stood there sipping this wine, transported. The gal next to me kept saying “Oh my god. Oh my god” over and over again. I felt the same way. This wasn’t one of the top wines of Burgundy, it was a humble mid-range wine, stored well, probably bought for under $10 on release from the winery, and it was rocking our world. It represented everything good about wine, and what is so magical about Burgundy.

-If you only could drink wine from one winery, or one winemaker for the rest of your life…..which winery, or which winemaker would you choose?

This is such an impossible question. One of the things I like about wine is the sheer variety of it. Any wine, no matter how great, would get boring if it was the ONLY thing you had to drink.

-Any advice for those interested in pursuing either a career in wine or simply wanting to gain more attention for their wine blog?

Career in wine, huh? Isn’t that an oxymoron? Anyone who thinks they’re going to make a decent living in the wine industry likely has a rude wakeup call coming. Anyone who thinks they’re going to make a decent living writing about wine is either unbelievably naive, or simply insane. If wine is your passion, you should definitely find a way to exercise it, but everyone should think twice about whether the best way to do that is to make it your job. If writing about wine is your passion, then you simply just need to do it. Every day. Start a blog and just crank out the content. If you have a blog, then force yourself to write something every day. The way to get more attention for your wine blog is to have great content and lots of it. Period.

Thanks again Alder. We can certainly appreciate the sentiment on the difficulty making a living in the wine industry. We’re reminded of the old saying, it takes a large fortune to make a small one in Napa Valley….we’ve heard a few wineries joke that the paradigm should be changed given the global wine market. Having been open ourselves now for around 14 months, it’s certainly a difficult and competitive industry, but we couldn’t imagine going back to doing anything else. We’ve also found not only wineries, but sometimes direct distributor competitors can be among the most supportive and understanding people we’ve met anywhere. There is a camaraderie among the wine industry which neither Matt nor I have see in any other industry we’ve been a part of. It’s that camaraderie and yes, the product which makes this whole venture worthwhile.

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