CRM and I are off to Vienna next Thursday afternoon for the 3rd edition of the European Wine Bloggers’ Conference (EWBC). The first edition was held in Rioja in 2008. Lisbon played host for the second in late October/early November 2009. Now in 2010 it’s Vienna’s turn – 22nd-23rd October. (http://winebloggersconference.org/europe/)
Nearly 200 bloggers from some 26 countries are starting to descend on Vienna. Originally the conference was supposed to be limited to just 150 bloggers. Having sold out sometime in August, the organisers proved to sufficiently flexible to allow the number to rise to around 200.
There will be a variety of bloggers in Vienna. Some will be full time writers who also have their own personal blog, some will be from magazines that run blogs, some will be gainfully employed away from the wine industry but blog because wine is their passion, some will be in PR or belong to wine companies or who own vineyards etc. Most of the participants come from Europe but Australia, Brazil, China, Israel, Mexico, South Africa and the United States will also be represented.
The internet and blogging, in particular, has given anyone with a computer and an internet connection, the possibility of publishing their thoughts, their photos, films etc. to the connected world. It has given people the freedom to write about whatever subjects they wish whether there is an audience out there or not. An extraordinary and novel freedom!
Take wine. No longer is it impossible to write about obscure producers and their wines because no magazine will publish it either because it doesn’t fit their publishing schedule or because there isn’t a hope in hell that they will get any advertising or because they judge, not unreasonably perhaps, that their readers are not interested in such producers.
Setting up a blog is free and can be done easily in a couple of minutes. Of course once you have a blog doesn’t mean that you have an audience and, naturally there are good and poor blogs. However, good/successful bloggers reach remarkably wide audiences.
I don’t have the figures for well-known bloggers like Jamie Goode or Eric Asimov who I guess reach a very wide audience. Or the number of visitors Jancis Robinson’s website attracts daily. Incidentally I note that she has over 44,000 followers on twitter compared 9700 for Robert Parker. Catavino (Gabriella and Ryan Opaz, joint organisers of the EWBC) has over 27,000 twitter followers.
Ryan Opaz: well tuned into the social media
Three of Les 5 du Vin – Jacques, Hervé and myself – have our own blogs. Jacques started his blog at the end of May 2005. To date he has had just over 603,000 visits and 1.7 million page views. Current figures show that Jacques is now getting over 19,000 visits to his site a month. Impressive figures. Hervé, who started in October 2007, has already clocked up nearly 575,000 visits in three years. Equally impressive.
I’m very much the junior here beginning Jim’s Loire at the end of August 2008. To date I have had just short of 157,000 visits with monthly visitor figures this year varying between a little over 7000 to just over 9000.
All in all the three of us can claim a total of a little over 1.33 million visits, which I humbly suggest is a quite extraordinary total. I fancy there are a number of trade wine and spirit magazines that would be delighted with such a readership.
Figures for Les 5 du Vins are more modest, although as we launched our blog in February it is still early days. During the week we attract between 100 and 140 visits. Less at the weekend, which is normal I think for most blogs, although this Sunday 233 people came to Les 5 du Vin. A cooperative blog remains fairly rare in the wine world.
But this amazing freedom to publish has its own imperatives and constraints and has the established order really changed? Robert Parker remains the world’s most powerful wine critic, certainly as far as Bordeaux is concerned. Of the currently influential Bordeaux critics probably only Neal Martin has come up through the net. The rest established their reputations through the old media.
Although having a blog can certainly rise the profile of an established writer and bring in a new readership, there is an increasing expectation that you will have either a website or a blog. While I revel in the freedom and opportunities that Jim’s Loire gives me, I’m also aware that without the blog it might be difficult to convince people that I still knew something about the Loire if I had to rely on the occasional published article in a magazine or newspaper.
This year I will be the sole representative of Les 5 in Vienna. Perhaps sometime in the future we will all be present at an EWBC event or perhaps not? Next Tuesday I will report back on my impressions of the conference and whether I should attempt to entice my four colleagues to attend the next European edition. In the meantime there will also be reports on Jim’s Loire.