What do Winemakers Blog About? - How to Choose Your Blog Content

I noticed that Hervé Bizeul has been on a self-reflective flurry, pontificating on what defines a wine blogger’s philosophical imperatives or something. The point is we all wonder what to blog about at some point or another.

I thought it would be funny to share this pie chart that breaks down the content of most Winemaker Blogs and Newsletters.  Hopefully O’Vineyards blog and newsletters don’t feel like this. ;D

winemaker content pie chart I’m teasing of course.  But there are a lot of newsletters that quite predictably remind you the harvest went great, the wine is available through direct orders, and… well nothing else.

While more introspective winemakers like Hervé and me wonder if we should burden people with our daily chores, tales of the stuff that breaks down, worried scribbles about the weird mole on our backs… …. The most important thing is just to have fun and be yourself.  As long as you’re not treating your audience like a bunch of mindless wine-buying automatons, you’re doing a good job.

Here’s a more detailed version of the pie chart that includes a few more options:

graph(2)

  • Best harvest ever
  • Buy my wine
  • Sorry I haven’t been updating
  • It is hot
  • It is cold
  • The grapes changed color
  • I’m at an overpriced wine fair
  • I was mentioned in a magazine you don’t read

I want to change the way winemakers think about participation in social media. I want them to stop treating twitter and facebook like some alien ritual that just goes against the grain of their character. I need them to start thinking about social media the same way they think about every other kind of social interaction.

If you drop in on an independent winemaker, they will generally greet you and offer a tasting of their wines. I’m pretty sure this is standard expectation. When somebody calls you because they read about your wine somewhere, you are expected to do a tasting with them. And you don’t just quietly pour. Most winemakers who acknowledge this expectation to a tasting will also take the time to talk about who they are, why they make wine, and so on. If I’m way off base, let me know in the comments. But I’m pretty sure this is standard fare. If one or two people drop by the winery while the winemaker is there, a large majority of winemakers will take some time with those visitors.

How much time? Even if a single person comes by, I’ll often spend over an hour with them showing the winery, the vines, and talking about winemaking. Even the speedy “gift shop tour” where I just taste bottled wines with them will generally take a good half hour. And I think most independent winemakers are happy to spend this time. 30 minutes for one dude.

Having a little facebook fan page that you update a few times a week will also take about 30 minutes here and there. But a well-groomed fan page will receive hundreds of visitors per week. You see where I’m going with this?

analytics
This O’Vineyards website, which consists of a few photos and some sporadic thoughts from the winemaker probably takes me a solid four hours per week. It received 1461 unique visitors in the last 30 days. So for about 16 hours of work, I got to communicate my message to 1400+ people.

Now a significant difference is that these web visitors aren’t necessarily buying wine. The normal expectation is that when you spend 30 minutes with “avertis” wine lovers who swing by the vineyard, they will buy some wine and make it “worth your time”.

But it doesn’t make sense to give up 30 minutes just for a few small 6-bottle sales. Our time is worth more than that! The real benefit of those people who take the time to visit us is that they go home and tell everybody else how wonderful their visit was. It’s good old fashioned social networking. Sans internet.

Some winemakers are shocked at the amount of time and energy I put into the Love That Languedoc wine blog (and to an extent this website). I sometimes spend whole days traveling and filming. And even the off days, I frequently spend 1-2 hours reading other cool stuff on the Internet to be on top of the buzz. It’s a huge time commitment. So why do it?

Because people want me to and it’s pretty fun.

We all have a chance to get thousands of people to visit our websites and facebook pages and twitter accounts and everything else. That’s an amazing opportunity. If I called a winemaker in the region and told him I had a group of 150 people who want to visit tomorrow, that winemaker should naturally want to make some time for them. The Internet is no different. 150 visitors deserve your time. Hell, 10 visitors deserve your time.

So stop saying that the Internet is not for you! Get typing. A few minutes per day just sharing your thoughts and developments around the vineyard might get you a steady flow of visitors. And that has a lot of value.

Agree or disagree? Please feel free (obliged to?) comment!

On the tail of posting the “winemaker drinks dirt” video, I’ve been having lots of conversations about how I choose my content.  Between O’Vineyards and Love That Languedoc, I’ve done very silly videos, very informative videos, straight documentary, and very casual “slice of life” videos. And people weigh in all over the place.   Some think that I should only do the goofy stuff that goes viral. Other people think that it’s demeaning and that I would be better off focusing on serious things.  Some people think I should do more tastings, and some other people think I should avoid becoming “the French Gary Vaynerchuk” or “the French other-famous-wine-guy”.

I think that a fair amount of wine blogs tend to focus on vineyard/weather updates or promotional stuff that the winery is participating in.  There are some local event posts.  I want to have all of that too.  After all, my readers are here for a vineyard blog (not a personal blog).  You’re not here to read about my pet dog’s eating habits or my relationship status.

So there are a lot of choices on blog subjects and I have to decide what to post.

How do I decide what to post?!

I really don’t know.  I guess it’s a careful balance of entertainment, education, and narcissism. Ya.  To some extent, I want to entertain you.  To a great extent I want to entertain myself.  And I’m a huge nerd so I need things to be hyper-referential and very well-informed.  Even my goofy gag videos like dirt-drinking are super-nerdy. Or maybe I’m flattering myself (but that just proves how important a part narcissism plays).

Anyway, if I only wanted to make the greatest number of people laugh, I should run a generic meme blog that just links to videos of kittens sneezing and babies biting their siblings.  But I think I’d be bored out of my mind and sort of ashamed of that blog. I really like wine and I have a lot of access to wine-related content so I blog about wine.  If I get an idea/opportunity, regardless of how silly or serious it is, I try to pursue it.  And there you have it.  That’s my process.

The less I obsess over what to include and what to exclude, the closer I get to just being myself.  Thankfully, it seems people really appreciate that.  Thanks for following all of our adventures at O’Vineyards regardless of how silly or serious they get.

How to find us

Domaine O’Vineyards is just a few kilometres north of Carcassonne. GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387

Domaine O’Vineyards
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910

  1. Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou until the D118 (the last straight road) and the Dyneff gas station on the roundabout.
  2. Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
  3. Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which goes up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire.
  4. At the last juction, bear left at the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
  5. After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.