Remondat’s words that apply to yesterday’s blog post
Michel Remondat, the author of the editorial piece that sparked it all, has offered a few explanations on Vincent Pousson’s facebook photo. Just scroll down through the 100+ comments (bless you, facebookers). If you can’t be bothered to scroll down all those comments or if Vincent’s facebook photos don’t load for you, just scroll to the bottom of this post for the full text of Michel Remondat’s message.
I guess the important parts concerning what I wrote are:
– Un édito en 10 ou 15 lignes est forcément réducteur. Je regrette d’avoir offensé tes amis. Chaque semaine, Vitisphere essaie d’attirer l’attention des professionnels du vin sur un point, qui pèse ou pourrait peser, changer l’évolution de l’économie du vin…
and then later
C’est un produit commercial avec des contraintes techniques, œnologiques, de marketing et il faut de la formation, de l’apprentissage, de l’expérience pour l’évaluer. Pour ceux qui croient à l’avis des consommateurs donné sur Internet. C’est vrai ça fonctionne pour l’hôtellerie, pas sûr que ça fonctionne pour le vin !
– Enfin, si j’ai parlé de « certifier les certificateurs », c’est parce que j’ai pensé aux agences de notation et leur AAA. C’était un peu osé et ironique ! – Pour finir : Depuis deux ou trois ans, les attachés de presse des salons de vins se flattent d’organiser un « autobus de bloggeurs ». Autobus et bloggeurs, vous ne trouvez pas ça choquant. C’était le point de départ de l’édito !
So rough translation:
“a 15 line editorial is by nature over-simplifying. I regret having upset any of Vincent’s friends. Each week, vitisphere tries to draw the wine trade’s attention to a topic that is relevant or may become relevant, to change the evolution of the wine economy…
“Wine is a commercial product enmeshed with technical constraints, oenological constraints, and marketing constraints, and you need training and experience to be able to evaluate it. For those who believe in consumer opinons being published online, it’s true that it works for the hotel business, but I’m not sure that it will work for wine!
“Finally, when I mentioned “certifying the certifiers”, it was because I was inspired by the ratings agencies and their AAA system. It was a bit much and said with a degree of irony! To finish, for two or three years, press agencies of wine salons have taken it upon themselves to organize blogger buses. Buses and blogs, you don’t find that shocking? That was the starting point of the editorial.”
I probably shouldn’t post this at all
After all, this sort of hyper-nerdy conversation about the ethics of wine criticism or the qualifications of wine drinkers to talk about wines online does almost nothing but scare away the usual visitors to my blog.
But at the same time, Michel has posted a response and it just makes sense to republish it here so that people who read my blog but don’t religiously follow facebook photo comments might also see his response. And maybe it will make more sense to you than it did to me. You know… blogger buses.
Here’s the full text:
Merci de m’avoir invité hier soir. Je suis rentré tard. Il n’y a pas que le vin et le Web dans la vie ! Difficile de répondre à tous ces mots et à toutes ces phrases. Ceci n’est pas une réponse, car je respecte trop les opinions de chacun. Juste quelques explications :
– Je m’intéresse depuis longtemps au vin, plutôt aux vins, mais ce que j’apprécie le plus ce sont les gens du vin.
– Un édito en 10 ou 15 lignes est forcément réducteur. Je regrette d’avoir offensé tes amis. Chaque semaine, Vitisphere essaie d’attirer l’attention des professionnels du vin sur un point, qui pèse ou pourrait peser, changer l’évolution de l’économie du vin. Je défends l’idée que les éditos ne soient pas signés car je préfère le nous au je.
– Le vin est aussi et surtout une activité économique, créatrice de valeurs. C’est précieux. Vitisphere a démarré il y a plus de 10 ans. Nous avons créé 12 emplois, sans subventions, grâce seulement aux efforts de l’équipe. Nous sommes très attentifs à ces notions d’économie, d’indépendance.
– A propos de « journalistes et bloggeurs ». Je ne suis pas journaliste, mais comme tout le monde, je constate les difficultés de la presse du vin. Il serait dommage que ce métier disparaisse. Vitisphere est du côté du numérique, et nous savons très bien qu’il y a du talent, de l’avenir et même de la modestie chez les bloggeurs.
Le vin n’est pas une œuvre d’art (même si certains défendent cette idée) dont la valeur serait corrélée à la force de la critique. C’est un produit qui permet aux vignerons, aux négociants de « gagner leur vie ». C’est un produit commercial avec des contraintes techniques, œnologiques, de marketing et il faut de la formation, de l’apprentissage, de l’expérience pour l’évaluer.
Pour ceux qui croient à l’avis des consommateurs donné sur Internet. C’est vrai ça fonctionne pour l’hôtellerie, pas sûr que ça fonctionne pour le vin !
– Enfin, si j’ai parlé de « certifier les certificateurs », c’est parce que j’ai pensé aux agences de notation et leur AAA. C’était un peu osé et ironique !
– Pour finir : Depuis deux ou trois ans, les attachés de presse des salons de vins se flattent d’organiser un « autobus de bloggeurs ». Autobus et bloggeurs, vous ne trouvez pas ça choquant. C’était le point de départ de l’édito !
At the European Wine Bloggers Conference (EWBC), Ryan Opaz talked about new web tools that allow people to tell stories more effectively online. I’ve embedded the video of his presentation below, his slideshow, a list of all the tools he mentioned, and then a couple attempts to use the tools.
WordPress.org – self-hosted blog with wordpress content management system. This is how I publish the blog you are currently reading.
Tumblr – Perfect for telling short stories with quick uploads or highlighting links/photos/media in an easy, aesthetic way. Might belong in the microblogging category.
Posterous Spaces– One post here and posterous will turn around and post your update everywhere (ie any blog you set up, any social media account, etc.)
Squarespace – A premium website creator that is apparently pretty intricate. For your typical 1000 € website that lots of wineries make, this makes just as much sense (if you have decent design sense) as hiring an outside contractor. Never used it myself though.
Facebook – duh.
Twitter – duh.
Linkedin – why?
Alternativeto.net – Alternativesto totally doesn’t belong in the middle of the microblogging slides, but SUCH is life. It’s awesome for finding new tools in any of these categories.
Google+ – awesome?
RSS/Podcasting explanation – Really Simple Syndication is a system that lets people know when you’ve updated your website. Podcasts are audio recordings that use RSS to appear in your mailbox or mp3 player or whatever everytime they’re released.
AudioBoo – ultra easy way to record audio and immediately publish it
vocaroo – quick audio recordings; sort of a poor man’s audioboo
viadeo – billing themselves as something like the French LinkedIn, it’s not surprising Ryan Opaz glossed over them. It’s very French and very business-y. But a lot of people swear by it.
adegga, vinogusto, winedemon – Ryan didn’t really talk about social media sites devoted to wine but these can be an important stomping ground for wineries to tell their stories. some sites like cellartracker really don’t offer that opportunity to winemakers, but others like Adegga allow for a lot of interaction and “ownership” on the part of producers.
Effort to use the tools
Animoto – I made an animated slideshow for my B&B with animoto. It was pretty painless but the free version is pretty amateur. It beats most of the ridiculously boring slideshow software I’ve seen, but it’s a far cry from the quality level I like. It’s great for a little slideshow for fun. I wouldn’t be proud enough to put it permanently on the landing page of my website. I bet the premium version is awesome though and it only costs like 5 bucks to do an unlimited number of videos for a month.
Dipity – I used this timeline tool and I think I should have used it for something else. I decided to start compiling a history of wines of carcassonne (upcoming book project), but I realize now that I missed the mark. This tool is really designed for contemporary, breaking news events. Or personal uploads. Regardless, here’s my first work in progress on the site.
Bundlr – I started using bundlr for an upcoming Carcassonne audio guide project which also ties into the geolocation presentation I’ll be giving at Vin 2.0 in Paris this December.
Storify – I tried to use storify to make something about the EWBC but it was already November and most of the tweets from the EWBC were already buried in the archives. Unless I’m missing something, storify is really meant to be used AS the event is unfolding. So I missed the opportunity to do one for the EWBC. But Wine Future Hong Kong was happening that day so I made a storify for it. The interface was very easy to learn and I’d say this whole experience was good. I like it. The finished product looked professional and was easy to read. And people loved my summary. It got a lot of retweets and attention. And it just involved me picking out my favorite tweets, photos and links (and I mostly pulled these photos and links from tweets too). And then it serves as link bait because everybody mentioned in your storify is proud that you cited them. Plus sometimes you get the opportunity to be pretty funny. One complaint: I didn’t realize that the URL wasn’t customizable so my hong kong wine future storify still has a soave italy url. Ooops.
The entire conference was themed around storytelling and we had lots of sessions about how to improve our storytelling. My session was devoted to actually telling some stories. I think it went really well and I’m hugely grateful to everybody who stood up to share a story as well as the hundreds of people who attended the session. And a big thanks to Brescia and Franciacorta who allowed us to share our stories in this marvelous venue, the Santa Giulia church, a place all-too-epic for a silly little blogger like me.
Summary of stories told
Name – title – time stamp in video
Ryan Opaz – Introduction – 0:01
Brief intro to the storytelling session
Ryan O’Connell – Judge a book by its cover – 2:00
I told a story about writing my book on the Cabardes wine region. And the help I got from my neighborhood winemakers. Or lack of help. Or in some cases ridiculous amounts of criticism they gave me. And the most hilarious criticisms. Spoiler: “Why is there an asian child on the cover of this book?!”
Brett Jones – Don’t let a prostate prostrate – 7:20
Brett shared a very moving story about how he handled the discovery of his prostate cancer. And his wine tasting on the fourth plinth at Trafalgar Square to promote awareness and early detection of prostate cancer.
Jason Kallsen – Feel the fear – 14:18
“The counterfeit innovator is wildly self confident. The real one is scared to death.” A good story about how Jason learned that Ryan Opaz was moving to Spain without any real plans. And how to create something beautiful we have to go out and embrace the scary world out there! The book he mentions is Steven Pressfield’s “The War of Art”
Anders Aberg – I bought a vineyard! – 18:20
The story of how a successful Swedish film producer bought a little property in the south of France. And how he was a bit surprised by developments of his first vintage. And how much his friends will lie to him about the wine being great! 😀 Follow his adventures in Swedish on his blog Livet i Languedoc.
Louise Hurren – Story of a ball of string – 22:25
Louise talks about how her life has intertwined with wine and drops some twine around the room with every step.
Agnes Nemeth – Bordeaux Lock Out – 30:32
This Hungarian wine writer talks about an epic trip to Bordeaux where everything goes wrong and she ends up treading through the muddy clay vines in the pitch darkness of night until somebody found her in the morning.
Wink Lorch – A Shaggy Dog Story – 39:01
Wink tells a hilarious story full of beautiful and irrelevant details about an American winery that does EVERYTHING possible to make their wine the best on the market. It’s fun to recycle and retell stories and embellish them and all that jazz. Wink shows us how it’s done. Read more of Wink’s serious work at Wine Travel Guides.
Magnus Reuterdahl – Archaeology tells a story – 45:04
This Scandinavian talks about the history of wine in Sweden and how some very old symbols come and go over time and how archaeology tells a story just as interesting as any person can. Read more of Magnus’ wine blogging at Testimony of the Spade.
Oscar Quevedo – Don’t challenge me -49:09
This winemaker in the Duoro Valley talks about how they tread grapes in the lagares and how he almost drowned as a child. And now, people battle in the lagar and Oscar’s near death experience has given him the power to win every time. Follow Oscar on the Quevedo blog.
Joao Roseira – En Memoire de Joe Dressner – 52:09
This portugese fellow decided to talk in French (which was hilarious and awesome) in a tribute to Joe Dressner the wine importer and unconventional blogger who recently passed away. I think Dressner would have loved the spirit of rebellion to Joao’s story and choice of language. He blogs in Portugese on gotaepinga
Thomas Lippert – Recovering from cardiac arrest – 54:50
Thomas suffered a major cardiac arrest and discovered the first EWBC online while he was in hopsital. His incredibly speedy recovery was partially fueled by a desire to attend that first conference and share with other people who love wine. A really touching story. More of Thomas’ blogging on winzerblog.de
While his top ten list has a few items focused on winery blogs (5 No RSS, 10 inconsistent posting), the majority can be applied to all winery websites.
What we have in common
And I agree a lot with him apparently.
My list of things every winery website needs:
A list of wines (with photos of bottles or labels)
Strangely, our number 1’s and our number 3’s are actually identical. The most crucial thing is contact information. A simple email address. And not a jpg of an email address that is impossible to copy and paste. SPAM filters are really good, so there’s not a lot of risk in putting your email address online. And also make your physical address and location in the world available. Wine is extremely related to place and terroir. People who visit your website will usually want to know where you make your wine.
My number two is his number six. My number four is his number seven. But ultimately, Catavino said everything I said, and they did it like 4 years ago. Which goes a long way to explaining why they’re in such agreement with me. 😀
Again, it’s very safe to assume that I read this post in 2007 and forgot about it until now. So thanks for being ahead Catavino and Vrazon!
Where we differ
Use of logos – I basically forgot about this. I mostly agree with them. If you have a nice logo, you should feature it prominently on your website. How have I gone so long without featuring the O’Vineyards logo on our website? It used to be really prominent. But ever since the last major redesign in 2009, it’s almost nowhere on the site. What I did in that redesign though was put my face on every page of the site. One could argue that I’m more recognizable than the O’Vineyards logo. I’ll think on this. Will adding a logo make the site feel too commercial? Is it more effective to have people recognize my face or a logo? Good questions. Will consider more.
No English -While I personally choose to blog in English (and regularly receiveflak for it), I think it’s more important to get people blogging at all than it is to make them blog in a specific language. There are advantages and disadvantages to blogging in English. But the most important thing I think I can do is get more people in the Languedoc Roussillon to blog at all. If they do that in English, French, Occitan, Catalan, or whatever is entirely up to them. But writing nothing is worse than writing in a rare language. To an extent, I actually encourage people to blog in more obscure languages. While the Vietnamese wine blog market seems pretty inconsequential today, if you really love writing about wine in Vietnamese, you will have very little competition and you’ll be able to create a community around your passion. If you force yourself to write in English, you might just struggle to post simple, forgettable stuff that can get lost in the mass of other english language content out there.
Inconsistent posting – I agree partially here. It’s better to post regularly. And it’s good to warn your audience if you’re taking a hiatus. But these are just good suggestions to improve your blog. What’s primordial is that you blog at all. Don’t get worried about posting too frequently. Don’t get caught up in the inertia of a dry spell. Sometimes you go two weeks or a month without posting and you think you have to make a really good post to do a comeback. Or draft an apology. Don’t. Just post something. Anything. Don’t worry if it’s too short, or not that good, or in a weird language. This is the Internet. People know that your winery blog is not a polished, edited magazine. They will forgive you. It is not your day job to post on a blog. So just do your best to post anything and get out of the rut. Don’t get too hung up on intermittent posting or you’ll psych yourself out all the time.
No RSS – I agree that every blog should have RSS tech. It’s just really useful, free, and unobtrusive. But whatever. It’s not a huge deal. And I don’t bring this up anymore because RSS confuses the hell out of farmers. And most Internet users for that matter.
On the 28th of March, Parisians can taste the products of some of France’s most notorious winemaking bloggers. Antonin from Vindicateur and Eva from Oenos are organizing this epic wine tasting at l’Hedonist which will include seven properties.
All the details about the seven winemakers (only six on the invitation, but they promise seven in all!) can be found at Oenos by clicking the invitation above.
Most of these are in French (because we’re in France). Also THREE of these are names you might recognize from my growing list of Languedoc Roussillon winemaker blogs. Iris, Clos Romain and I are all proud Languedociens. Two Beaujolais. A Perigord. And I have no idea where Olivier B makes his wine.
Anyway, a lot of people read our blogs and think “I’d like to taste that wine one day”… well if you’re in Paris, that day is March 28th. Go out to l’Hedoniste. Meet Antonin and Eva. Drink our wine. Be merry.
I’m always out there trying to convince Languedoc Roussillon wine people to blog. But sometimes I feel like my proselytizing is a big waste of time. Because outside of a few very devoted winemakers who are taking up the charge to explore the Internet with me, I see very few results. I hear a lot of excuses. A lot of complaints about time management. I also get a lot of people who sort of stop talking to me and who go out and pay a designer to create a blog for them (something I would have done for free). And then the people in that last group often post once or twice about the weather and then never again.
I just get down in the dumps when I see this lack of enthusiasm.
But there is still hope around every corner!
I recently noticed a change from one of the region’s behemoths. You know how long it takes for big organizations to implement change. So if they’re altering their course, maybe it will inspire the little guys to do it too.
Sud de France used to have one of those embarassing blogs that posted a small bit every six months. And I noticed that they’ve published two posts in August alone. It’s a little early to call it, but I’m guessing that somebody over there is waking up to the huge opportunity they have.
Then again, if you look at the archives, August-October is the only period they actively blogged in 2009 as well. So maybe it’s just an annual flurry of posts (maybe tied into the Festival Sud de France). I hope it’s more than that. Because if they can’t be bothered to highlight all the people talking about their brand, I don’t know how I’ll ever convince poor, resource-starved winemakers to do the job for them.
I also hope that they personalize it a bit more. Put in a photo of whoever is writing the blog. Let that person write it in a personal, human tone. Et cetera.
I know I talk a lot about how awesome Languedoc Roussillon bloggers are. But today, I’m gonna link to some folks outside of the region. Other young winemakers who use video effectively.
Herrenhof – A small family vineyard. Blogging in German and English. I feel like this guy is as involved in day to day work as my dad and me. That’s sort of the magic of video. It conveys so much without explicitly saying anything. Watch for yourself and I’m sure you’ll agree that this dude is very passionate about his grapes.
Quevedo – Oscar of Oscar’s Wine fame blogs in English and Portuguese. He does a lot of video too. He makes a mistake in this one, but it conveys the point that he is a dude who does videos in the vines. Maybe I just like people who go out and film outdoors.
La Gramiere – Young couple in the southeast of France with some very earnest videos.
Looking at these choices, it strikes me that I really like outdoors episodes. Maybe I should do more myself. It’s just that darned wind! Great for grapes but terrible for my microphone. 😀
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.
“The web is theoretically infinite; readers value blogs that sort through the confusion to find things of interest. Some of the highest-traffic blogs provide nothing but links.”
While Tom’s article picks on wine reviewers and wine bloggers in general, I deal specifically with wineMAKER blogs and I think we have some additional psychological baggage.
Winemakers feel like running a vineyard blog means talking about yourself all the time. And it’s cool to do that sometimes. As the Hosemaster of Wine once said, it’s hard to find a blog that primarily focuses on a topic other than the blogger. But don’t spend all your time doing that.
Unless you’re already insanely famous, very few people will devote time to you on a regular basis just to find out what the weather is like on YOUR vineyard. And while it’s fun to drum up support for real world wine tastings, only a small geographical area can show up to your tasting. The Internet gets read by everybody!
“So what do we blog about!?” You blog about everything. Writing a good wine blog is probably 90% reading. You read newspapers and other blogs and then you blog about the most interesting stuff. But winemakers have an edge. We are uniquely positioned to hear stuff firsthand instead of discovering them through traditional wine press. So keep your ear to the ground and talk about things that you find out about in the wine world. Talk about everybody.
If you spend all day pruning, it’s likely you didn’t get exposed to any cool ideas to put in the blog. But on a day where you see other people, keep your eyes open and think “would this be interesting to wine drinkers?”
I really hate manifestos. I think that most of my favorite movements start to die the day they write down what they’re really trying to do… like defining the movement is overly restrictive and dogmatic. But I was busy writing up a general presentation of Love That Languedoc, and I found myself falling into this militant prose that sounds a ton like a manifesto. Well, if I go around saying “no manifesto” all the time, then I’m still being just as dogmatic and restrictive as if I had written down my goals. OH WELL. Here it is:
I refuse to leave our fate in the hands of the global press who are, at best, mildly curious about our region. And, at worst, totally oblivious to it. Aside from a few rare examples, the world’s largest wine producer is also the world’s most ignored beauty.
Well this is the part of the movie where the downtrodden Languedoc takes off her horn-rimmed glasses and lets her hair down and the popular kid (or Henry Higgins, depending on what age you are) suddenly realizes that the coolest girl he knows was there under his nose all along.
Love That Languedoc is my personal project to show the world what it’s missing and now it’s developing a new branch. I want to teach our winemakers how to communicate (without relying on journalists or critics or ME) to a world that is ready to hear them.
I guess I’m thankful that the region needs me. But the day I’m unnecessary will be a great day indeed. We have an amazing advantage in sheer number of winemakers. And our wines are distributed globally as both prestigious cult winesand large volume convenience store wines. So people are already talking about us and our wines.
The next step is responding to that conversation. We need to start training our winemakers to check email and set up a google alert for every estate in the Languedoc-Roussillon. If only 1% of our winemakers spoke up every time somebody mentions their wines online, we would flood the Internet with our voices. We could show our consumers that we appreciate their drinking habits.
And once winemakers start communicating successfully with the consumer, it’s much more likely that they will be willing to adopt more advanced online tools like a blog or a twitter. And they’ll be much more likely to “get it” because it’s part of an authentic foray into communication and not some contrived business effort with no ROI.
And on that day, I’ll just be a happy little winemaker who runs a video blog for the fun of it. And who will laugh about the old days when he would accidentally write a manifesto while trying to explain why he blogs.
There. So I guess the conclusion is nice because it points out why this manifesto is silly. I only blog because it’s fun. I’m happy that it’s increasing my exposure and wine sales and I’m definitely finding ways to maximize the synergy between my blog and my website. But ultimately, the blog is for fun. And sometimes I get these lofty goals to sign everybody up for Google Alerts or whatever. But ultimately, even those initiatives are an attempt to make my blog redundant. One day, when everybody does their own online promotion, I’ll be useless. And it’ll just be for fun again.
Domaine O’Vineyards, located in the North Arrondissement of Carcassonne, is just minutes from the Carcassonne train station, the Medieval City, and the Carcassonne Airport.
GPS coordinates: 43.259622, 2.340387
Wine, Dine, Relax at our Boutique Vineyard
Unique thing to do in Carcassonne
Wine Cellar. Winery Visits. Wine Tasting.
Wine & Food Pairing
North Arrondissement of Carcassonne
885 Avenue de la Montagne Noire
11620 Villemoustaussou, France
Tel: +33(0) 630 189 910
Best by GPS.
Follow the signs to Mazamet/ Villemoustaussou using the D118. At the end of the last straight part of D118, you will come to a roundabout with the Dyneff gas station.
Take the exit towards Pennautier. Continue 500m to a small roundabout and go straight over.
Look out for the second road on your right, Avenue des Cévennes which curves up hill (about 1km) to Avenue de la Montagne Noire on the left.
At the last juction, bear left. the road sign “Ave de la Montagne Noire” (confusing as it seems to show a right turn)
After another 500m you will see our red brick color building in the middle of the vines.