20 Years of Wine Blogging at Vinography


Last week, as such occasions do to us as the years march on, an anniversary was reached. As of January 14th, 2024, I have officially been writing here on Vinography for two decades.

And boy have things changed.

When I started tapping away here in 2004 if you wanted to regularly read things about wine, you basically had three options: check out books from the library, catch a wine columnist’s work in your local paper, or read one of the three major magazines available about wine: Decanter, Wine Spectator, or Wine & Spirits. If you were digitally savvy and adventurous, you might know about a few websites like The Wine Pages, but by and large, that was all there was.

I began writing about wine here mostly as an experiment to see if I could figure out how blogs worked and what they were good for. After a few weeks, I found myself writing almost daily.

Vinography quickly became a creative outlet, a passion, and a serious avocation. In a right-place, right-time fashion, I shortly attracted a lot of attention for being a pioneer of American wine blogging, joined relatively soon by a small cadre of fellow amateur writers who built a great online community.

Me in the early days. A 2006 shoot for San Francisco Magazine in my haphazard cellar of the time.

Ah, those were the good old days of Wine Blogging Wednesdays. Monthly, someone would choose a wine tasting theme, and a deadline, and then everyone would blog on that theme, with the host responsible for building a summary post listing everyone’s articles once they had been published.

Broader community engagement was great back then. From the thousands of people visiting my posts, I would regularly get 20, 30, or even 50 comments on my posts, and enjoyed some great back-and-forth with readers. We intrepid wine bloggers all read each other’s stuff, commented on each other’s pieces, and felt like we were pioneering a new genre of wine writing, which, in fact, we were.

The explosion of hobbyist wine writing between 2004 and 2010 was astounding. Thousands of people around the world began writing about wine, and the search results for wine-related topics were changed forever. In those years, any query about wine in Google was far more likely to turn up an article written by a wine blogger than it was any piece written by a “professional” wine writer, as most of their content, if it was online at all, was locked away behind paywalls.

As with any widely adopted creative pursuit, the quality and dedication of these online efforts varied considerably, but more than a few of us who began wine writing in those days have gone on, to make something of a career of it, if not a (usually tenuous) living.

If online wine publishing was a rising star in the first 10 years, offline wine publishing was a dying comet. One by one, newspaper wine columns disappeared, as did most of the regular wine columns and coverage in more food-related magazines.

The democratization of digital publishing that made the wine blogging revolution possible represented a tectonic and irreversible shift in the media landscape. As eyeballs moved online, so did advertising spend, draining revenue from traditional print outlets. The low cost of publishing and the race for online attention drove the rise of clickbait publishing, further cheapening the market value of the written word. Paid rates for the written word began a steady decline.

When I was the shiny new thing of wine writing in 2006 and 2007, I got offers to write for various publications at rates between $1 and $2 per word. These days, most offers I get are for $0.30 to $0.60 per word, and some are piece rates that would if I bothered to calculate the rate, be laughably lower than that.

A more current and somewhat more silvered me: drinking the house red wine at a refugio in the Dolomites in 2020.

Things are a bit different in the online engagement world these days. I still have thousands of people showing up to…

Source : https://www.vinography.com/2024/01/20-years-of-wine-blogging-at-vinography