VintageTexas Wine Blog Surpasses 10,000 Readers and 32,000 Page Views per Month….
VintageTexas State of the Texas Wine Blog Report – by Russ Kane
As many of you know, back in July 2008 I started my VintageTexas Blog Project at http://VintageTexas.com/blog.
I originally viewed this as a writing exercise in preparation for a book project. With my sights now firmly set on the book and my detailed chapter outline in hand, I am starting the book that will contain my interpretation of the “Sense of Place” that IS the Texas wine experience.
When I started the VintageTexas Blog, I really did not know what it was going to be. I assumed that it would help me get back my writing “chops”. I also guessed that it would help me to document and organize my thoughts and experiences as I re-established old relationships and worked to understand the changes in the Texas wine industry that had occurred during my almost three year sabbatical. However, after a mere six months, I can definitely say that the Blog has taken on a life of its own, having connected with a readership that wants to share the Texas wine experience with me.
This month, the VintageTexas Blog achieved a couple of major milestones. It surpassed 10,000 readers and 32,000 page views per month. As I monitor the Blog’s stats, I can see that its growth has been continuous month-by-month with no plateau yet in sight. In December, VintageTexas established a presence on Chron.com, the online version of the Houston Chronicle. This has opened a whole new dimension to the coverage for VintageTexas. See link: http://www.chron.com/commons/persona.html?plckPersonaPage=PersonaBlog&plckUserId=vintagetexas&newspaperUserId=vintagetexas&plckScript=personaScript&plckController=PersonaBlog&plckElementId=personaDest
In the past several months, VintageTexas Blog has highlighted connections between Texas and famous wine growing regions like Chateauneuf de Pape, Rioja and Coonawarra, and reported the “surprizing results” that Texas wines compare well with award-winning wines from around the world in blind tastings, consumer shoot-outs and competitions judged by wine experts.
In October of last year, in an effort to better understand the blog phenomenon as well as my own VintageTexas blogging experience, I attended the North American Blogger Conference held in Sonoma California. Yes, there is such a meeting and no, it was not like some weird Star Trek convention with computer geeks standing around in funny ears. Although, I did see one lady with electric red hair and a guy trying to sell a wine gadget called a “Wine Chapeau”.
At the conference, I learned that the most likely reason for the growth in readership on my VintageTexas Blog was that this blog filled a demand in an “informational niche”. To help you understand what I mean by this, realize that at this time, Texas wines and Texas as a wine destination are not widely covered by the national wine media such as “Wine _________” Magazine (fill in the blank with any of the following: Spectator, Enthusiast, or Advocate). Why? The reason is contained in the following facts:
• Texas is the 5th largest wine producing state.
• Texas is the 4th largest wine consuming state.
• 95% percent of Texas is consumed within the state and only about 5% of Texas wine gets “nationally distributed” outside of Texas.
This data indicates that the lack of coverage of Texas wines in the national media is actually predictable and understandable in terms of the almighty dollar. The “Wine ________” Magazine receives little if any advertizing revenue from Texas wineries and therefore does not have a vested interest in giving Texas wines much coverage versus those from California, Washington, New York and Oregon.
However, there are an increasing number of people that are interested in Texas wines, wineries and wine tourism. This premise is substantiated by facts that go well beyond the VintageTexas Blog activity cited above and includes the findings of a report titled, “The Economic Impact of Wine and Grapes on the State of Texas 2007”, produced by MKF Research for the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association (TWGGA), and an independent travel survey conducted by Orbitz Insider. See below:
• In 2005, there were only about 110 wineries in Texas. In 2007, there were over 150 wineries (a 43% increase).
• An estimated 958,000 tourists visited Texas wineries in 2007 resulting in wine tourism revenues of $296.6 Million (a 34% increase from 2005).
• The overall annual economic impact of the Texas Wine Industry on the Texas economy is now in excess of $1.35 Billion (hat’s with a big Texas “B”).
• In 2007, the Orbitz Insider Index named the Texas Hill Country as the second fastest growing destination for wine and culinary enthusiasts only behind Napa Valley, California.
While at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, I also realized that most wine bloggers would “kill” for 10,000 readers per month (that is 120,000 per year) like attained on the VintageTexas Blog. This level of readership is comparable to many foodie magazines published in locales around the USA.
But, there is more information contained in the VintageTexas blogstats. Considering the stats along with emails that come to me directly (The virtual “backdoor” of the blog….Knock, knock. Who’s there?), I have peered deeper into the VintageTexas Blog readership and can now report that:
• 80 percent of VintageTexas readers are from the United States or use a mail server in the USA. I have a rough estimate that 70 percent of these readers are from Texas with 30 percent coming from the rest of the USA. From the emails that I have received, this 30 percent is mostly people considering wine tourism and a few other bloggers, many of which have provided links from their site to VintageTexas Blog, which has provided new readers for VintageTexas.
• 6 percent of VintageTexas blog readers are from international locations. In this latter group, Germany, Canada, UK, The Netherlands and Brazil are the most active international readers on the VintageTexas Blog. It is my opinion (based on my visits to many Texas winery tasting rooms) that this international readership is most likely driven by tourism to Texas and interest in visiting Texas wineries.
In closing this State of the Blog report, I must admit that my original thinking that the VintageTexas Blog would be a transitional exercise was wrong. I now believe that this blog has a bigger and better purpose than I originally comprehended. The VintageTexas blog provides a virtual, communal experience for those in Texas, across the USA and in even in distant lands that want to learn, share and enjoy the “Sense of Place” that is the Texas Wine Experience.
Thanks to the VintageTexas readership for making this blog experience possible. If you have any comments or suggestions for future blog activities on VintageTexas, please post comments to the blog or use the blog’s “back door” and send me an email at: email@example.com. I look forward to hearing from you.
Wine Writer, Blogger and Aficionado
Congrats, Russ. Those are excellent stats. When we met at the Wine Bloggers Conference, I immediately recognized you had a niche that made sense. It seems to me others could copy your philosophy, either by sticking to a geography or some other specialty. Any interest in talking about this at the WBC in 2009?
It is good to hear from you. Your guys really put on a good conference, especially being a first time event.
I think that the “niche” is an oft overlook approach. Many bloggers are just trying to recreate the main stream wine experience and that can be a hard, crowded road to go.
I would definitely be interested in talking about my experience “in the niche” and also possibly about my experience with “the blog to book” concept. Let me know where and when the next event is going to be. I know that I have at least two commitments planned for September. If you do it in October like last time, it will likely be OK with my schedule.
There have been lots of lessons learned on both accounts.