Sensing revolution at the Wine Bloggers Conference
I just returned from Santa Rosa where I had the fortune to witness the beginning of a revolution (code jockeys would call it an emergent property) at North America’s first Wine Bloggers Conference. The name does not seem to suggest anarchy or shifting tectonic plates, but the people and companies at last weekend’s conference are starting a revolution in the wine industry.
On its surface, the Wine Bloggers Conference was a group of hobbyist and industrial folks getting together to drink wine and exchange ideas, but the whole is often larger than the sum of its parts. During the conference, I met many wonderful people and had a great time, but what impressed me the most were the love, knowledge, and respect the attendees showed for wine.
A new alternative to wine criticism
The depth of the knowledge and the acuity of the collective palate in the wine blogging community offers a new way for the wine world to share reviews and information that will compete with or replace traditional wine reporting. I do not expect Wine Spectator to stop the presses anytime soon, but I believe that their approach to providing wine reviews and wine information is going to be replaced eventually.
The collective base of information and reviews found on wine blogs, many of which were represented at the conference, is a kind of well-educated “Zagat” survey. Aggregating the knowledge of this community provides a clear and compelling alternative to main stream wine media.
Sites like CellarTracker and Snooth bring this information together and let the end user see what lots of people think about a particular wine, not just a few industry insiders. When you add to this wealth of information search services like AbleGrape, you begin to see the emergence of a different way for wine information to be presented to end users that gives bloggers an important role.
We don’t all need to be at the top to have a voice
The interesting thing about this movement is that it does not require all bloggers to reach the heights of Wine Library TV, Vinography, Fermentation, Alice Feiring, or Good Wine Under $20. Doing a little search engine optimization, exchanging some links and supporting each other as we continue to blog is all that is needed to give the entire wine blogging community the online presence it needs to reach the general wine public and have our collective voices heard.
Like all revolutions it is not easy to say where this will lead the wine blogging community, but I am sure looking forward to finding out.
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