At its heart, the essence of writing about wine is no different to any form of storytelling. Whether you are a journalist or a blogger, it makes little difference. Right?
“The future of wine journalism is stories. Stories written so well that people will pay to read them. Earn their trust. Be their guide.” Bruce Schoenfeld, a regular contributor to World of Fine Wine magazine, had this to say to an international audience of writers and bloggers at the 2019 annual Wine Media Conference (formerly Wine Bloggers Conference). The event was this year held in the Hunter Valley, north of Sydney in New South Wales, Australia, the first time it has been held outside of the US in its 12-year history. “You are wine writers, or you want to be wine writers, or you wouldn’t be here,” Schoenfeld said.
While Schoenfeld made little distinction between journalists and bloggers, this was not the case with all the speakers at the conference, whose audience was dominated by American wine bloggers. “Blogs are important,” offered Liz Barrett, PR consultant and US wine blogger, during the Online Versus Print Wine Writers discussion on day three. “They offer a certain authenticity because they have a passion. It’s authentic because these people aren’t being paid,” she said, a blogger herself. “Most people do it because they love doing it. They are not trying to be a journalist.”
The “them and us” relationship became a recurring theme, as was the increasingly important role of wine marketers in the wine writing/blogging world. “Wine writing is controlled by wine marketers,” Schoenfeld said. “Wine writing used to be controlled by editors.” Judging by the large number of wine marketers present in the audience and in presenter roles, he might have had a point.