Inevitably being at the European Wine Bloggers' Conference raises questions about why we are blogging, how to do it better, who our audiences are and what are the differences, if any, between blogging and other forms of wine communication.
When I started writing about wine over 20 years ago I was a wine writer or as I preferred a wine journalist. Now am I a blogger who is also a journalist or is it the other way round or is there no longer any really useful distinction between a blogger and a writer/journalist? That blogging is just another tool for communicating offering different opportunities from the printed word and, doubtless, having its own limitations. Blogging, for instance, allows me point up more regularly the shortcomings of 1855 than would be possible in a published magazine. On the other hand the three news stories that Decanter magazine (through decanter.com) have taken from me about 1855 will, I'm sure, have reached a much wider audience. Of course some of the information that came to me through blogging about 1855 then went into the Decanter stories.
On Friday in the initial round-table panel presentation and discussion, Evan Dawson, author of Summer in a glass and managing editor of the New York Cork Report, said that "specialism is the future of wine blogging". There are now so many bloggers out there that to be successful you need to carve out a niche. I'm pretty sure that Evan is right – bloggers need to find something that sets their site/blog apart from others. Whether it is by concentrating on a particular area, a particular style or some aspect of the wine world such as natural or organic wines. Equally it might be on a more campaigning theme – an area I think has not been fully explored by blogs.
Whether there is a real distinction between bloggers and journalists there ought to be one area of agreement between the two – if you sign up to go on a trip you keep your side of the bargain by turning up no matter how late into the night you partied. Yesterday on one of the EWBC trips to Franciacorta, the hosts and main sponsors of this year's conference in Brescia, only six people out of the 20 who had signed up turned up. 14 no shows, unless there is a very good reason why they didn't make it, is a disgrace and highly unprofessional. Such behaviour reflects very badly not only on the absentees but also on wine bloggers and the European Wine Bloggers' Conference.