Blogging in the wine industry is very widespread to say the least. So much so that last year saw the inaugural American Wine Blog Industry Awards, with 25 different wine blogs nominated among seven categories. Now, many of these wine blogs are about the review and consumption of wine, but in this column I will be focusing on those blogs that deal with the business of wine. The label converter can learn a great deal about the wine business by reading these blogs.
Fermentation: The Daily Wine Blog (http://fermentation.typepad.com)
Fermentation is without doubt one of the leading wine blogs out there. Authored by Tom Wark, a public relations professional working in the wine industry, Fermentation is linked to by just every other wine blog. It has been around since 2004 and Wark is approaching 1,500 blog posts (more than one a day). Fermentation also conducted the first ever American Wine Blog Industry Awards, which received more than 400 nominations - which gives you an idea how many wine blogs there are. Fermentation focuses on a broad range of topics related the business of wine. Recent posts include an interview with another wine blogger, a review of 2007 wine industry news, and a discussion of wine gift giving.
La Gramiere (http://lagramiere.typepad.com/blog/)
In 2005, Amy Lillard and Matt Kling uprooted their lives and moved from sunny California to the south of France where they purchased 11 acres of land and started a winery. Virtually from day one they started blogging about this adventure. It is a fascinating read - they share every part of the process of producing wine - from pruning the vines, crushing the grapes, all the way through to selling the wine. Recently they discussed in detail the printing of their wine labels and their trip to the printer to do a press check. For any converters in France, they are looking for a new label printer for their 2008 vintage, who can print on recycled paper using soy based inks.
Pinotblogger is a blog about the startup Capozzi Winery. Similar to the La Gramiere blog it started as a way to chronicle the journey of establishing a small winery, this time in the California wine growing region of the Russian River Valley. Unlike La Gramiere you don't get much insight in to the day-to-day operations, but Josh Hermsmeyer (the blog's author), provides his thoughts on many winery related topics. Recently he had two posts that discussed wine packaging and design, and the importance for wineries to focus on design to forge stronger customer relationships. Pinotblogger was the winner of the Best Winery Blog at the aforementioned American Wine Blog Awards.
Dr. Vino (http://drvino.com/)
Dr. Vino is Tyler Colman who really is a Doctor - he wrote his doctoral dissertation about the political economy of the wine industries in France and the United States. So if you are interested in the business and politics of wine this is the blog to read. The tagline of this blog is "wine talk that goes down easy", and he really does cover a wide range of topics in a well written, concise style. He teaches wine classes at NYU and the University of Chicago and he has just written a book titled "Wine Politics: How Governments, Environmentalists, Mobsters, and Critics Influence the Wines We Drink". Recent posts include a discussion of wine flights (a small tasting of several two ounce wine samples) in New York City wine bars, the problem with wine corks, and the opportunity of the falling US dollar for the California wine industry.
No discussion of wine blogs would be complete without featuring the Stormhoek blog. Stormhoek is a small winery in Wellington, South Africa, with an award winning blog. The authors actually use their blog as their primary marketing tool and they have been so successful that in 2006 the American Marketing Association nominated Stormhoek one the best 50 marketers in the world. Since they started the blog and their unique marketing campaign in 2005 they have gone from 50,000 cases a year to more than 300,000 cases a year. The blog has the tagline "Change the world or go home", and they have certainly changed the world when it comes to marketing wine. As far as content goes the blog gives an interesting blend of vineyard information, wine information, and the marketing ideas they are currently working on. You can learn as much about marketing as you do about the wine business by following this blog.
Peter Renton is the founder of Lightning Labels Inc., an all-digital label printer in Denver, CO, USA. He is the author of the company's blog, at blog.lightninglabels.com.