“takes advantage of the medium”
“an enterprising first stab at self-publishing”
–Jancis Robinson, Vintner turns e-author 21 Dec 2010
What a trip. Seven years ago, I was reading the Oxford Companion to Wine and daydreaming about being a winemaker. And today, the editor of that book and one of the world’s foremost wine writers is bigging up my writing on my little old wine region!
And she knows that I want other winemakers to do the same thing. I want them to write testimonials for their own regions. And she sees it as clearly as I do as she wonders “How many more wine producers will be moved to invade the territory that used to be the preserve of professional and many semi-professional wine writers? It could be a perfect activity for the winter months in between those sales trips to Shanghai.”
Of course, Jancis isn’t worried about her job security. But all the same, I think this is a perfect time to address the notion that I’m encouraging winemakers to take wine writer turf. I see this more as an opportunity to expand the world of wine writing.
I’m not asking winemakers to steal ground from wine writers. If we tried to write our own version of the Oxford Companion, we’d do an awful job. Because we lack objectivity and distance from the subject. Instead, we have to conquer new lands. Invent new genres or reinvigorate types of writing that were abandoned in the past century.
So what if, in general, winemakers lack the objectivity to write excellent wine manuals and reference books. That subjectivity makes us perfect authors for authentic portraits of every wine region on earth. Every appellation, AVA, DOC, DAC, or plain old neighborhood that makes wine has inspired hundreds of winemakers and farmers. It’s time for farmers to start giving back and sharing our love of our land with the world. If you’ve ever been touched by a place, it’s time to write your book. And we’ll win over new readers who weren’t ready for the reference books and tomes. We’ll enchant them with medieval castles and gorgeous pictures of limestone on clay. And the next thing you know, they’ll be drinking wine every day and then they’ll want to read more objective books from the critics and pros. That’s my dream world anyway. Let’s make it happen!
And yes I appreciate that we don’t all have time. It’s ridiculous that winemakers have to leave the vineyards they love so much for the Shanghai sales trips Jancis alludes to. But that is life. We are expected to wear many hats and perform many jobs. And I think some of you may be ready to be authors.
How cool is that? In October, Evan Schnittman told me about Amazon’s self-publishing platform. And here I am just a couple months later with a book about the wines of carcassonne. Amazon is mailing me a proof right now. In January, I’ll approve the proof and Wines of Carcassonne: The Cabardes AOC will be for sale online. Awesome.
I want a free copy!
I bet you do.
When you click submit, the page will refresh and it will look like nothing happened. Check your email to find out if you won.
So why write a book?
The Cabardes is a really cool appellation.
- It’s right next to Carcassonne
- It’s tiny
- It’s dominated by independent producers
- It has a unique climate
- It has a unique blend
One starts to wonder how there aren’t already books written about the Cabardes. Well, those advantages that make the Cabardes good and interesting also make it hard to mass market.
Our small production size means we can’t justify spending a lot of money to promote the appellation. Even if we did market our appellation very well, we lack the large industrial producers to supply wine after that sort of promotional campaign. The unique climate and blend that make the wine so interesting also make it sort of bizarre. People don’t expect these varietals to appear together, especially not in the Languedoc. Furthermore, people don’t expect these varietals to EVER go together in a French AOC. In reality, all the things that make the Cabardes radically special make it hard to promote. It’s complicated.
Well I love complicated. And what’s more, being a winemaker gives me the perfect perspective to write a book about the appellation. This isn’t an objective reference book that has to cover all the wines of France or all the wines on earth. I am only talking about the wines I can see from my hilltop. So I can take all my time. I can slow down and give you strange little details that I think are fun even though they aren’t important by most standards. I can share a little gossip about who has projects on the table, what people did before they got this property, trends in certain estates. That’s fun stuff right? I just get to tell you why I’m charmed by this place.
So what next?
I’m going to be devoting a lot of energy to the promotion of this book. I haven’t even written a post about it until now, but your tweets and facebook updates have helped hundreds of people hear about the book. In the first 48 hours of the contest, we gave away 50 digital copies in ten different countries. Thank you for all your support.
And more importantly, the next step for winemakers everywhere is to follow my lead. Write the book for your appellation or your neighborhood. If you need any help, email me. Some of this stuff is pretty technical. Formatting the novel was actually pretty tough without any good software. So please please please ask me for help. I’d love to see more books like this one. One for every appellation!! 🙂