Manifesto: To Texas Bloggers…Together We Are A Community
Before I posted my comment to Jeff Cope’s near philosophic question (Wine Bloggers – Are We in a Competition?), I found the question he posed to be something akin to Bill Cosby’s comedic line…“why is there air?”. However, the more I thought about it, the more serious I realized his question was.
In my comments I stated that it was my feeling that Texas bloggers are not in competition (although frankly, some are more competitive than others and perhaps it may vary with the time of day as well – obviously a complex topic).
In his blog, Jeff highlighted seven blogs on a singular subject (a recent event at William Chris Vineyards). I think that he was a bit surprised that this happened and perhaps also questioned the relevance of his blog in the blogpile.
- @DeniseClarkeTX aka Denise Clarke – http://texaswinegal.tumblr.com/post/25797829529/hye-society-welcomes-all
- @JDewps aka Jessica Dupuy – http://www.jessicadupuy.com
- @MattMcGinnis aka Matt McGinnis – http://whatareyoudrinking.net
- @SAHMmelier aka Alissa Leenher – http://sahmmelier.wordpress.com/2012/06/28/living-the-hye-life
- @TXWineGeek aka Jim Baker – http://txwinegeek.com/2012/06/william-chris-friends-food-and-wine
- @TXWineLover aka Jeff Cope – http://txwinelover.com/2012/06/watermelon-thump-chef-throwdown-william-chris
- @VintageTexas aka Russ Kane – https://vintagetexas.com/?p=6380
- @VitisPoema aka Robin English Bircher – http://vitispoema.blogspot.com/2012/06/28-hye-society-learning-all-about.html
- @wowaustin aka Laura McCarley – http://wayoutwestaustin.com/?p=11751
My first response to Jeff was that seven blogs on a topic was really small potatoes; check how many CA-based bloggers hit on the same topics (Example: Rodney Strong Rockaway Vineyard). More after the jump!
The culmination of my opinion as stated in my comments (hopefully now a bit better formulated) was…What was important about the seven aforementioned blogs was that there were so many different ways the bloggers focused their attention. They also had different approaches, ways to convey the story that they decided to tell. This, in my eyes, was complimentary rather than being competitive.
Since Jeff portrayed me as the “old man” of Texas blogging, I felt emboldened to manifesto and continued his line of philosophy and mentioned four aspects of blogging that I think are of critical importance (especially in Texas, a new and developing wine region):
- Bloggers need to find their “eyes” and “voice”. Eyes are what bloggers see, or even better put…what they experience. Sometimes it’s on the surface of an event (factual), but other times it may be something diffuse or below the surface (emotional), or even something that the event evokes from past experiences that provides context for the event. This is what distinguishes bloggers and their different viewpoints of the same event. A blogger’s voice is the expression of their message, i.e. how they convert it to text (the narrative). Some of it is style, but it is often something more than that. It also contains an element of passion and personality. My voice does not have to be (and should not be) the same as yours.
- Rarely should the story/message in the blog be about you, the blogger. The story is what you hear, see and feel, and even sometimes what you remember (voices in your head; if not in yours then mine – I can hear them regularly while blogging). The blogger is the conduit and at times the vessel, but most of all we bloggers are the communicators. Ever see bloggers that take pictures of themselves with winemakers and such. Usually, these are bloggers trying to make themselves part of the story by proxy.
- The end game in blogging is rarely blogging itself. Some bloggers have made it so and been successful. However, with all the bloggers that I’ve had the pleasure to meet and read, blogging is usually a path to something else. My recommendation is to enjoy the journey and help your readers do the same.
- Blog to your true readership and followers, not for other bloggers or to enhance your ego with other bloggers. Nuff said on this one.
OK, enough with the manifesto and let’s get back to Jeff’s question of competition among Texas bloggers. To some, blogging may be a competitive field. They seem to exude competition…if you blog about something, it takes away from my blog on the same subject. Further, if we differ in thought or comment, there can’t be friendly banter or spirited repartee in the quest for truth and knowledge. It has to be a death match for all to see; never agreeing to disagree. In the case of the William Chris event that we Texas bloggers covered so well, each of the blogs gave readers a slightly different point of view (fact), conveyed in a different manner (voice) and focus (eyes).
Now, as a challenge and on a more serious note, I suggest that we take on the task to read and actively discuss this HoustonPress blog (Behind the Cellar Door). How to you feel, what facts and knowledge can you bring to bear.
Jeremy Parzen (@dobianchi) in Austin who also blogs for both himself and the HoustonPress once said that Texas bloggers lacked a spirit of community found in other more developed wine regions. He also encouraged us in Houston and in Texas to work harder on community. I believe what he meant was for us to contribute jointly to a greater awareness to our readers what Texas wine drinking and wine drinking in Texas (realizing that these are not the same) has to offer and what’s so special about it. Furthermore, we need to be supportive of each other’s activities (through retweeting, following, blog rolling, linking, etc.) things that I agree (self-included) are things that we don’t do often enough. Now, I need to go check my blog roll. Pardon me.
Jeff, what I think that I’m trying to say is, in the final analysis, if we don’t demonstrate a spirit of community, we are, in fact, in competition. To paraphrase the words of Patrick Henry; united we blogger stand, or divided we compete!
It’s been great to see the wine blogging community grow here in Texas since I first moved here four years ago. And it’s also been wonderful to see a “sense of community” begin to emerge…
why are we all here? The bottom line is that we’re here because we all enjoy wine and we enjoy talking about it.
I don’t believe that there is any “mission” per se or “manifest destiny.”
I do believe that it’s all about community: I met one of my favorite bloggers and now best friends through wine blogging (Alfonso Cevola, http://acevola.blogspot.com) and then I met my wife Tracie P through wine blogging too (she’s blogging these days at http://mylittlesugarpie.com).
And, of course, my friendship with you, Russ, is another one of those bonds that I truly cherish (I really mean that). Not because I like following your blog (which I do) but because knowing you and exchanging ideas and impressions with you (literally) widens my horizon.
In my book, that’s what it’s all about… And that why I continue to do what I do…
Thanks for the shout out, amico! Let’s pop some Bucci Verdicchio together soon!
Russ, I’m thrilled to have met a lot of interesting, smart people who I’ve learned from in the wine blogging community like the seven bloggers listed here and @DoBianchi. I think there is a sense of community, even if it is a bit diffuse. One of the reasons I’ve continued writing for the past couple of years is the commaraderie shared in the wine, beer and cocktail communities. Its beyond just the writers – its the producers, marketers and consumers too.
Looking forward to more events and occasions to share a glass and a story with this group.
Well said, Matt. Totally agree. I can’t imagine a writing topic that more naturally lends itself to community. Wine brings people together in a way that little else can. From the combined efforts needed to grow and harvest the grapes, to opening a great bottle, the joy of wine multiplies when shared with others. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to meet you all and all the amazing people in the wine world.
Let’s make it a point to “engineer” a meet-up of the group every now and then.
I agree that there should be more gatherings. Getting to know other bloggers is great. I also think we need to consider a TX wine blogger’s network, a site to collect everyone who shares a love for writing about wine. A lot of other communities have one, and with all the talk lately, I think we should too.
I would love that. The Red Room that Matt covered recently would be a great spot. I would also offer up my husband’s office with huge porch downtown. A great place for small parties.
Go for it. Great idea. Send out an announcement and we will try to be there.
I would add not to limit your community to Texas-centric wine bloggers – just as the Texas wine industry is linked to other wine producing regions and through their collaborations, synergy takes it up a notch, so too can other points of view – but I think y;all are on to something – at the very least popping bottles and have fun
Agreed oh wise one. But, I guess what we are saying is…community needs to start at home and branch outward.
Thanks for your input.
I just thought of another comment that is very important to wine blogging in what has become known as the Other 46 or 47 states (not on the west coast primarily). Your wine blogger that covers local wine in ____ (fill in your state’s name, in our case it’s Texas) is serving a very important role. Most likely, the major national wine media are not covering your state’s wines, wineries, vineyards and local wine action (locapour) including farm to table action, which is getting really hot with the foodies right now.
So, by covering the local wine scene and your experiences with it, you are providing a needed service to other wine lovers and aficionados. I’ve been amazed with the traffic on VintageTexas which is far beyond anything that I imagined when I started this. When I compare these stats with other bloggers especially in California, I’m always surprised (usually mine is larger that those for consumer-oriented wine blogs in terms of page views per month).
Why is this? Well, California wine bloggers are generally covering wines and related topics that are already covered in other media. However, in many states like Texas, there is little other media covering their local wines, events, etc.
Well said, Russ. The whole point of blogging is to offer points of view not found elsewhere. As long as one does it with skill and professionalism, there’s always room for another opinion. The problem comes when bloggers decide it’s not about the subject, but about them, and write — and treat others — accordingly. That’s the side of blogging that’s not fun.