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
VinoCamp Languedoc was full of interesting conversations. One of the round table discussions, led by ethiquettes.fr, was about sharing success stories and fail stories of winemakers going online.
This session might itself be seen as a success story (or a fail story). On the success side, I think it’s remarkable how many winemakers were present and spoke up. I’m super happy about that. And I think they left with a few really good concrete numbers and ideas that they can enact in their own wine communications strategy.
On the fail side, we see how there’s always a need for more time and more channels of communication. As the conversation gains momentum toward the end, there are more than a couple people talking. It’s the kind of round table discussion that fares very well in a chatroom where multiple conversations can be going on simultaneously. But we do see some real world limits.
Also, this session revolved a little too much around me (especially in the first half), but you know how it goes.
Other interesting conversation points include Olivier B, La Gramiere, e-publishing options, Vin de Merde, Gerard Bertrand, Apero Bic (can’t find this), Hervé Bizeul, Matthew Jukes, Domaine Revelh, hotmail’s viral marketing, Naked Wines, and more. At one point I mention In Roussette We Trust as an example of other regional promotion blogs. I rather ineptly fail to mention Bourgogne Live, Oenos or Jim’s Loire. My bad.
Bypassing normal means
Olivier B was promoted without the conventional media
Love That Languedoc doesn’t wait for the interprofession
Was Olivier B a one shot?
Can there be a Love That Loire (Oenos et Jim’s Loire suggest there already are), Love That Bourgogne (Bourgogne Live), etc.
Talking about other people
Ryan – Don’t talk about yourself
Les domaines avec un nom de famille (Bertrands, Chapoutier, Duboeuf)
Amy Lillard – Transparent story telling as opposed to artificial sales pitches
How much time does it take?
The video went up of my talk at O’Reilly’s London Ignite 4. I announced earlier that I would be presenting on Pretending to be an Expert. And while it went very well, I get the sense that some people were hoping for a how to. Which will surely come soon. I’ll do a tutorial on how to sound like a total wine snob. But for now, here is the video dramatization of my personal journey through wine expertise and wine ignorance.
For those who don’t know, this is a terrifying format in which you only have five minutes and your slides automatically advance every 15 seconds (so you gotta be fast, planned and effective).
I should mention here that there are lots of experts who actually are talented and knowledgable and so on. But most of them are confident enough in their own expertise not to be troubled by a silly ignite talk by little old Ryan anyway.
After talking to my parents, I realized I should also explain what the hell a lolcat is. Lulcatz are an Internet meme (trend) that involve photoshopping awful spelling and grammar onto adorable pictures of kittens. If that doesn’t make sense to you immediately, then don’t bother trying to understand. You never will. It’s just silly and the most base sense of Internet humor. In a way, the symbolic opposite of expertise.
I don’t know why I spent so much time talking about wine, keynote speakers and workshops. What we all want to see is evidence of wildly debaucherous EWBC parties (drinking wine in moderation all the while) and video montages of Michael Cox getting his boogey on.
Well, without further ado:
And some photo albums from the attendees of the EWBC conference:
At the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Vienna, Elin McCoy spoke to us all about the future of the Ivory Tower wine critic. It was a keynote so we all got to sit in for the speech which addressed the rising number of voices in wine journalism and the effect that has on the old guard. Robert Parker got named specifically. (edit: I should mention that Elin knows her stuff. She literally wrote the book on Robert Parker.)
And Jim Budd uncovered an interview that Parker was doing just a week or so before where he shares his own views on the “white noise” generated by Internet wine writers. So this is a topical question being pondered around the world and it’s not limited to 200 wine geeks in Austria.
“”Taste a little less; think a little more.””
Obviously, there was a lot of content to Elin’s speech, but I’ll focus on one key point that I think is getting overlooked in some of the recaps. Elin specifically defines the Ivory Tower critic as somebody who stays far away from production. They sit in a tower and taste. Now, she picks Robert Parker as a sort of icon of this style, but Bob still does travel to wineries (and he did this a TON when he first started). But she harps on him because his style is sort of characterized by focusing on tasting notes and points.
I feel torn because I wholeheartedly agree that the wine world is overly focused on the retail/consumer end of things. But does my opinion actually matter? I left my life in the states, bought a vineyard, and live and breathe wine all day (as fanatical a wine nerd as it gets) so what I like in wine writing doesn’t necessarily correspond to your average consumer. Aren’t publications that focus on tasting notes more useful to the average wine drinker?
Most people who enjoy an episode or two of Love That Languedoc aren’t always going to be able to go out and buy the bottles I’m tasting on the show. They might go out and try another Languedoc-Roussillon wine that is available, but my website cannot be considered a useful consumer guide. Instead it’s more of a regionally themed travel rag. Something that gives behind the scenes access and can make them dream a bit. Is this useful? Does this model even compete with the Ivory tower critic or consumer advocate?
Hell, is the Wine Advocate even an ivory tower publication? I understand David Schildknecht (who tastes Languedoc Roussillon for the Wine Advocate) is coming to the Languedoc this December [edit: he’s not coming til spring], as he does every couple of years. So if there is an ivory tower, he’s obviously not in it all the time. It remains to be seen if he’ll come all the way out to Carcassonne to visit me, but the point is he’s visiting somebody.
Elin McCoy got us all thinking when she proposed that the Internet’s many voices will usher in a new era of wine journalism focused on getting dirty and really getting involved in every part of wine. I hope this is true, because I’m like the exact opposite of an ivory tower critic (using her definition). I live in the mud with the winemakers, making the stuff. My writing and videos are unpolished and barely edited. So I hope to god she’s right–that people really want this uninhibited sort of wine story-telling. But I don’t know that I’m in direct competition with more practical published tasting notes and consumer guides. I bet there’s a place for everybody in this world.
And a lot of people will enjoy looking up to whatever towers are erected. If you don’t believe me, check out Suckling’s new teaser which is literally just a montage of him scoring wines.
But then maybe his “I’m Here” video montage is an attempt to tear down the ivory tower stereotype. 😀
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
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:
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’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 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?
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!
How to find us
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.