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.


2012 in review

January 2, 2013

The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

19,000 people fit into the new Barclays Center to see Jay-Z perform. This blog was viewed about 72,000 times in 2012. If it were a concert at the Barclays Center, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.


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


The many realities of life

January 10, 2012

The contrast between my life on the farm during the few weeks a year in Glenburn and my day-job as a “promoter of freedom”, as regional director for Southeast and East Asia in Bangkok could not be more striking.

There is a desk job with extensive travels in Asia on the one hand and a holiday “recreational program” on the farm, under the blue and at times not so blue sky in the fields, paddocks and the vineyard, on the other.

One day I study the Weekly Times, a local farm magazine, and read about farm gate prices, noxious weeds, cattle markets, vegetable growing, the newest farm machinery and the export projections for mutton and lambs. I talk to neighboring farmers about the weather, the hay harvest and beef prices. Vintners and wine-makers tell me about the last vintage and the prospects of the Australian grape and wine industry in the years to come. I learn about the current challenges, the successes and failures, the passions and sorrows of residents in our street, Two Hills Road, as well as the ups and downs of rural life in general.

The next day I am back on my desk in Bangkok and answer e-mails, make phone calls, study various progress reports, regional political analyses, accounts and financial documents. I read about parliaments, parties and policies, about the US influence in the Asia region, economic growth, the China factor and so on. I talk to project officers and partner personal, to political analysts and social activists, to Asian parliamentarians and business people.

My two realities could not be more different, I guess.

It takes some time to get used to either of them. I usually immerse myself in farm work the first few days after my arrival on Two Hills Vineyard, partly to forget the burdens and realities of my bread-winning work in Thailand- partly to experience myself what it means to sweat in the vineyard and concentrate on slashing the grass in the paddocks.

I very much enjoy the physical work, the exhaustion, the pleasure after the completion of a task. I can see the results of my efforts almost immediately. This is very satisfying and it is in stark contrast to my professional work about institutional, political and social change in complex transforming Asian societies in the region I am responsible for. These change processes take time (ages), in fact often much longer than our project planning permits and a very different kind of patience, persuasion and perseverance is required than in farm work.

In both I find conditions which I cannot change: the hail for instance which destroys my grapes or the change in global commodity prices, the fall of a government or the call for early elections. And in both I concentrate my efforts on the issues I can influence. I try to do “a good job”, try to be professional, diligent and hard working.

I am very grateful that I have the opportunity to experience these diverse realities; that I feel the pain and the joy which goes with them, and which reward my efforts – at times – or punish me for the lack of it and/or “bad” judgment.

The time on the farm together with family and friends is invaluable. It clears my mind as a beer clears a wine-makers palate. It refreshes me like a lime soda when I jump of the tractor. It connects me to people I love and treasure. It is proof that life is just beautiful.

Back to work now in Bangkok.