Mark Aselstine
July 27, 2011 | Mark Aselstine

Wine Bloggers Conference, Thomas Jefferson and Monticello

One of my favorite things about the wine community in 2011 is that there is an easy way for people who want to break into the industry: blogging. No matter is it simply about wine and their experiences in wine, or as a series of tasting notes, writing regularly about wine gives anyone new to the industry the opportunity to attract followers and attention for their work. I think it is pretty clear that there are a number of popular blogs which carry a level of influence slightly below many lesser known wine critics while still having the opportunity to create significant sales for wineries and other wine businesses (yes, even wine clubs). Blogs such as Vinography, Dr Vino and Fermentation should be counted among that group. I also think that even outside of Gary V, there is going to be a wave of new wine critics coming into the public consciousness over the next few decades, the vast majority of which likely got their start with a blog.

Of course, where does a blogger go to in order to interact with industry insiders, learn how to make a living and much more? The annual wine bloggers conference of course.

Started in 2008 in Sonoma, California the wine bloggers conference now travels the United States (and according to press releases over the past 24 hours, soon to be going to Canada in 2013) in an effort to bring industry and bloggers together, while helping wine regions to make a name for themselves. This year, the conference took place in Charlottesville Virginia and gave wine bloggers (who largely are centered in and around California wine country) a good introduction to Virginia wine.

Virginia is, in some ways, the original American wine region. Home to Monticello, the expansive colonial home of Thomas Jefferson, Virginia has long been thought to have perhaps the best chance to join California, Oregon and Washington State as major wine producers in the United States. While New York State, Arizona, New Mexico, Texas, Michigan and a few others can make claim to the next great wine state title as well, Virginia has an extensive history in wine dating back to the American revolution itself.

Thank You Paul Kucher for supplying the wonderful image.

Jefferson for those who don’t know was the American ambassador to France. During his time in Paris he had the opportunity to not only enjoy French wine, but to travel to Bordeaux and Burgundy. He decided to try and bring something of French wine country back to Monticello by attempting to grow classical French varieties such as Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and a few others on the estate.

As you might expect, that didn’t go especially well for Jefferson as he found what many others did until the advent of modern pesticides, European rootstock wasn’t resilient enough against American vineyard pests to grow well in the new world.

Ok, enough about Virginia and Jefferson for now. If you’re someone interested in one day working in wine, blogging about what you’re drinking and why is perhaps your best bet to get started. If you want to become a truly professional blogger (the type who gets hired by a major winery to run their social media) attending the annual wine bloggers conference is a must.


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