The mighty food and wine blogger

April 6, 2013

halenberg1

I enjoy reading the Wall Street Journal, especially the weekend issues with the addition on food, culture, arts and wine. The 5-7 April edition contained an essay written by Lettie Teague titled: “Five wine blogs I really click with”.

This one was again about the wine blogger and his or her influence on the wine industry in general. Lettie claims to have scrolled through 10,000 pages of wine blogs. I wonder if she has come about The Man from Mosel River, but I guess not.

Lettie claims that wine drinkers hardly read wine blogs. Well, maybe so. Of the five blogs she recommends as the best bloggers beyond tasting notes, I knew only one (Brooklynguy). Shame on me.

I learned from the essay that there are about 1,450 odd wine blogs out there (I guess she includes only the ones written in English), of which about 1,000 are amateurs, non-professionals, people who do it for the glory, for personal satisfaction.

Well, people in the wine industry have called wine bloggers a “powerful force, capable of challenging or even eclipsing traditional media and conventional wine critics”. That might be an exaggeration.

According to Allen Wright, who has organized various wine bloggers conferences in North America, only about 18% of all wine bloggers today have been blogging for more than six years.

Hurrah, I call out, I must be one of them since I have started my The Man from Mosel River blog in January 2007. I do not recall all these years but I can also confirm that it is getting harder and harder to keep going.

Regular visitor know about my predicament. Lettie also identifies the one and most important constraint: time. There are so many things out there one could do, and blogging takes time and effort, drains energy, and one needs a lot of passion to just stumble along.

However that may be. Let us have a look at her selection. The five select bloggers are:

1. Brooklynguy
Brooklynguyloveswine.blogspot.com

2. Cellar-Book
Cellarbook.wordpress.com

3. Odd Bacchus
oddbacchus.com

4. The Cellar-Fella
cellarfella.com

5. Benito’s Wine Reviews
wine-by-benito.blogspot.com

I visited all of the blogs above and must say they are a bloody good choice.

To all of us I say, keep on blogging. Some people seem to read our ruminations. Thanks Lettie for letting us know.


FohBoh – The Wine Community and the future of blogging

March 10, 2013

FohBoh web small

The FohBoh Wine Community website

It’s about four years ago that I joined the Open Wine Consortium which was later renamed the FohBoh Wine Community. Membership is about 5,951 when I checked today, so only a few short of six thousand people and/or companies.

The group provides a global platform for food and wine professionals and attempts to help them in their business. It’s a kind of network of people passionate about wine and the wine industry. I am a member but not a very active one. I update my page only very seldom.

As a (mostly enthusiastic) hobby blogger I have to manage my own time even more carefully. My day job requires me to be on twitter and facebook, direct the production of content for our company websites, video clips, write short stories, and coach our team to do PR work on social media. This leaves little time for my own existence as a food and wine blogger. Moreover, having spent so much time in front of a device, I just cannot help it in the evenings and prefer to have ‘time without gadgets’.

I constantly contemplate about stopping my own blog, The Man from Mosel River, despite the fact that when people identify me as “The Man from the Mosel”, I am thrilled and motivated to soldier on. Fact is that I would maybe be better off with a facebook page to which my twitter account “Man from Mosel River” could be synchronised.

I could become quicker, provide shorter inputs, but especially more pictures and video clips. My android hand phone would be the device where most of the input would go through, so no need for a laptop or anything bulky.

Nowadays professional wine bloggers have teams of writers, freelancers etc. to fill their wine blogs. Just think of Jancis Robinson, Dr. Vino or James Halliday. And as time goes by, I am getting slack regarding a regular up-date of my blog. Consequently my numbers are going down as well. I also might have to ‘re-vamp’ my Man from Mosel River, make it more funky and have moving pictures.

Headlines in newspapers and magazines muse and contemplate about the power of food and bloggers. At the same time it is so easy to leave feedback and comments on sites such as trip advisor. Why bother with a fully fledged blog?

Hmmm, I might do something else. But the cracks in my armour are getting slightly bigger. I have to think. As always bear with me.

What would you suggest, by the way?

PS: What I like is my archive which has become quite big over the years and allows me to trace sunken memories and paths of my past.


To blog or not to blog?

December 23, 2012

Mosel Bullay

Mosel in mid December near Bullay (shot taken from the train)

Is the retirement of the Man from Mosel River imminent?

Every December I ponder the very same question. Shall I continue this blog or not?

You might have noticed that I am struggling this year. The last three months were particularly painful. My day job is sucking up all my energies. I have been feeling drained and empty for a while. One could say that I am Gulliverized by my professional responsibilities, which have grown over the years and weigh more heavily on me now that I am getting older.

My stats show this too. I have been sliding a little, and continue to slide a little every month.

I started this blog in January 2007 and have posted a couple of hundred entries. At the end of this month I have six years of blogging under my belt. They say ‘people do not read blogs any more’; these days people are on Twitter and Facebook instead.

So why waste so much energy and time?

When I scroll though older posts I also notice that I am repeating myself. I eat the same food, visit the same places, and tend to drink (if possible) my favourite wines. Am I spent?

Not quite, I think.

Let me tell you what happened to me last weekend in my home town Trier. I had only about 43 hours available. I arrived late the first evening and was much too tired to do anything.

Saturday night, after a family meal, we watched some slides and family photos, before I could go on a stroll and check out the Christmas market. I also intended to have a glass of wine. My favourite wine bar, ‘Weinsinnig’ was my destination.

The place was crowded and I only found a table at the back. That table, however, was reserved and I was asked to swap with a place right across the “wine list”, a wall with about 20 or so wine bottles in metal holders and a description of the wine and the producer. I will tell you another time which wines I sampled that night.

When I went up to that wall with my phone to document what I had tasted (two reds) and returned to my table, a woman approached me and asked: “Are you the Man from Mosel River”? You cannot image how flabbergasted I was. How could she know?

It turned out the the woman was Manuela Schewe, the owner and initiator of ‘Weinsinnig’. She had seen my last post about the wine bar. After the introduction, we had a good chat about wine, wine bars, the vagaries of life and so on.

Well, and when I was leaving I thought that I should think it over again before giving up my blog and retiring the Man from Mosel River.


Red and white in the snow

December 21, 2012

R and W in snow

Without words!

Merry Christmas to all my readers


Intermission

February 28, 2012

I have been slack. Did not write a single blog entry for a while. What is happening to me? Yes, I am busy in my day job. And yes, I am kind of burned out when I get home from work in the evening.

My blog suffers from an “attention deficiency syndrome”, it seems. I have lots of material on wine and food unused, brochures, pamphlets, hand outs stashed up in piles at home. I have photos. I have stories to tell, and do not get it together these days.

OK, I should also admit that I went on a diet a few weeks ago, the Dukan diet, by a Frenchman, Pierre Dukan. I had to interrupt the diet regime a couple of times, sometimes for travels, sometimes for event invitations, sometimes because I was sick of all the protein I had to consume.

The diet is OK but it resembles more a kind of “caloric intake” than an “epicurean adventure”. Right, alcohol is not part of the diet. In fact I drink excessively less than in pre-diet times. Moreover, I have been exercising a lot. That makes me feel very good, I admit, despite all the sweat. I got “the springs back into my ageing legs”, so to speak.

I lost only about 5 kg so far, which is just under 6% of my weight. My target weight is 82 kg. I will reach it in about 10 days I assume and I am happy with my progress. I feel rejuvenated, can easily close the zip of my old jeans again which is a very nice feeling.

The thing I miss is the occasional glass of fine wine, and gourmet food of course.

Today when I looked at my statistics, the figures were up quite a bit. Surprise surprise. I even had a new daily record. How can that be, I asked myself? Could it be that over the many years a a wine blogger I have accumulated so much material that people can find some useful information?

I hope to be back with some more stories soonest. In the meantime bare with me.
Cheers


2011 in review

January 30, 2012

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

Madison Square Garden can seat 20,000 people for a concert. This blog was viewed about 66,000 times in 2011. If it were a concert at Madison Square Garden, it would take about 3 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


Food blogs: The culinary world acknowledges bloggers!

October 28, 2010

A rather Spartan breakfast

I was very pleased today when I read in the Wall Street Journal that food blogs have come of age and that the culinary world acknowledges food bloggers. Great news indeed. Finally, one could say.

Bruce Palling is writing that food bloggers knowledge of haute cuisine is quite remarkable and that the impact of food blogs is significant. For the first time the New York based James Beard Foundation includes in its food writing awards (Bruce calls it: the “Oscars of the Food World”) not only mainstream print media but also blogs.

Bruce cites a couple of outstanding food blogs. For instance Ms. Aiste Miseviciute, a 28 year old fashion model from Lithuania. She writes about what models eat (Who said models don’t eat?). Moreover, Bruce brings example of bloggers eating regularly at Michelin star restaurants such as Felix Hirsch (from Luxembourg, a neighbour so to say for us people from Trier) and Andy Hayler. Their blogs receive 400 respective 2,000 unique visitors a day! Amazing.

Nowadays, food bloggers are even invited by restaurants to eat free of charge and then write about the food and the eating experience as a marketing strategy. This reflects the fact that bloggers are trusted sources of information and as such a valuable avenue for advertisements.

Bruce Palling ends his essay with the following words:
“We should all be grateful that there has never been such a profusion of fascinating accounts of fine dining so available – and provided free of charge”.

Although I cannot claim to have as many visitors as the two gentlemen above, it somehow fill me with pride to be one of the club. I guess motivation to continue blogging should not be a problem for a while.

PS: I have learned to appreciate the Wall Street Journal as a newspaper, although I never played in my life at any stock exchange. I am somehow averse to gambling.


Thrown off the blog

September 21, 2010

Confused goat in the vineyard

Man, do I find it difficult to get back into my blogging routine this time. The longer I am prevented from writing for my beloved blog, The Man from Mosel River, the more difficult it is to get started again.

How can this happen after more than three years of blogging? Was I not until very recently extremely disciplined and full of stories?

Instead I feel sheepish and stupid now. Moreover, I have all this material collected, brochures, tasting notes, newspaper clippings, photos and so on, but I cannot make sense of it.

I do not find the entry point. “Where is the door”, I hear myself shout?

My concentration is gone, withered away as old grape leaves in late autumn.

I lost the famous red threat.

Bear with me, and give me some time to find my feet.

They must be somewhere.

PS: I took the above photo in the City museum of Paris in July this year.


Vineyards of Thailand Part 1: Holiday Park

January 10, 2010

This blog entry if the first of three looking at various vineyards in Thailand. During the Christmas vacation, we went on a winery tour, visiting three Thai vineyards; Holiday Park, Gran Monte and PB Valley, except Holiday Park, all in the Khao Yai area.

Holiday Park, about two hours north of Bangkok, is a complex undertaking, more a holiday home cum entertainment facility than a vineyard cum winery. However, they do produce grapes, as it seems mostly table grapes for direct consumption. When we arrived in the place, vineyard workers were busy “cleaning” the grapes, which was thinning individual bunches of smaller berries so that the remaining ones could grow bigger. The table grapes we saw were very healthy.

Vineyard workers thinning bunches under the trellis system

Table grapes at Holiday Park

Small tractors were converted into small “locomotives” with wagons so that visitors can be driven around the property including a holiday housing park, a lake, an activity centre, the vineyards and a play ground.

The locomotive

The undertaking is obviously targeting domestic tourists and visitors. The staff at the tasting counter did not speak English. But nonetheless there were wines and juices to be tasted. It was my first ever experience with small plastic cups for a tasting.

Plastic cups for wine tasting at Holiday Park

I assume the wine made is just a by-product of the table grape business. The grapes which cannot be used as table grapes and/or are left over are made into wine. The price of the bottle was THB 250 (about 5 EURO or A$ 7.50). We did not buy any wine.

Holiday Park red

If you have small children, Holiday Park is still worth visiting. I suggest you go there early in the morning when it is not too hot. From there on you drive to Khai Yai to visit other wineries or the national park.

I could not find any address for Holiday Park on the internet in English. Sorry folks.


Let there be wine in 2010

December 31, 2009

Pokal of German Riesling

Another year is coming to an end. And what a year this was. We were almost wiped out by the wild fires in February. We had no vintage and no income from the grapes but bought a new traktor. We had sufficient rains but grape prices in Australia promise to be the lowest in recent history which does not bode well for Two Hills our little boutique vineyard in Gelburn, Victoria. So what will 2010 bring for us small vintners?

Many grape growers have pulled out their vines. Thousands of hectares of vines are no more. This is most likely not enough to save the price slide. Many more of us will have to give up and/or supplement their incomes with off-farm work.

There are quite a few “lifestyle” people among us. They will have to decide if the price of “their hobby” is still affordable for another year. Then there are the pure investors, some of them lured into grape growing out of taxation reaons. They will be the first to abondon the industry for greener pastures or just walk away from their losses.

Some of us are the ever optimists banking on the future such as myself. “It will all come good”, one day or not at all, but we hang in there for the love and the passion and the satisfaction growing a good product which will reward our efforts. “Bring it on”, one more time, and let the wheel of life run another circle.

This is my last post for 2009. I will end my three years of wine and food blogging with a total of 401 blog entries. Uff, I made it. This means that every 2.6 days I prepared a new piece during the last 36 months. I am chuffed but not sure if I can keep this up. I have still not found an answer to the question: Shall I continue or do something else? Would that mean to stop drinking wine and eating good food?

I will keep on contemplating about this conundrum.

Another year in Bangkok is coming to an end. The last 16 months since our arrival were quite busy, full of change and excitement. We have not seen much of Thailand as yet but there is, god willing, still some time for that.

Tonight, the four of us will join the Bangkok St. Patricks Society’s New Years Eve party on a boat on the Chao Phraya river. I guess we will have a couple of drinks, maybe dance, and we will celebrate the end of another year on this plante and welcome 2010.

I will let you know how it went. But let me say: Happy New year to all of you. God bless you.