The post that follows this marks the 100th wine I’ve covered, and so what better time to have a quick look back at how it’s gone.
I passed the Wine and Spirit Education Trust Diploma Unit 3 Exam (the original aim of this blog), and with it the Diploma as a whole, meaning I’m an Associate Member of the Institute of Wine & Spirits, and can therefore use the letters AIWS after my name. I then went on to do very poorly on the Court of Master Sommeliers exam, but somehow still managed to end up with a document that proclaims me a Certified Sommelier (probably an administrative error). Finally, I’ve complete the WSET Educator Training Programme and can now claim to be a WSET Certified Educator. So over the last six months, I’ve gone from being a struggling student to a graduate and instructor, which makes me happy.
This blog has had something of a transformation as well. When it launched, I was the only person reading. That’s no longer the case, and while Jancis Robinson and Robert Parker haven’t been trying to hire me as a consultant, knowing that there’s some visibility into what I’m doing has encouraged me to step up my game somewhat. I now try to cover the grapes, region and producer in each post, particularly if I haven’t written about one or more of them before, as well as writing a proper(ish) WSET SAT style tasting note for the wine in the glass.
Furthermore, I’ve made what I like to think of as improvements to the structure of the blog itself. I’ve gone back and put in reasonable titles for each post about a wine, added a map for each, compiled them in a big map that shows the origins of all the wines I’ve tasted, and built up a listing of the grapes I’ve tried and each wine that used them. I’ve also made decent progress in term of trying to hit a century of varietal wines, with the 50 grape mark just last week. I’ve also recently implemented custom post types and custom taxonomies so you can quickly see all wines that are from the Adelaide Hills or are Varietal Pinot Noirs. There’s more I’d like to do in that respect, and I may be the only person who uses the new functionality, but as a programmer I like to tinker and doing a bit of PHP hacking is rewarding in its own way.
So if there are three ways I can spend the time I put into the blog, the writing and the site itself are obviously getting the vast majority, which leaves very little time for promotion and trying to draw people to the site. I did get around to setting up a linked Facebook account, and I do tweet when there are new articles, but that’s largely it. I’m not so naive to think that if I just write good articles, people will flock to the site, but I guess I’m just not fussed. This isn’t about having people read what I write – it’s about the writing itself.
I haven’t even gone so far as to tell most people with whom I’m friends that I’m doing this, though now that I’m about to hit my hundredth wine, I think I might change that. No one wants to hear about a new blog that might never get updated after the fifth post, but after six months this has some momentum so I may let some friends know.
Finally, in terms of people knowing I write this blog, one of the reasons I have kept it quiet is that being anonymous affords some level of insulation between who I am online and who I am in real life. However, I wouldn’t write anything here that I wouldn’t say offline, so if anyone thinks it’s important to know who I am, I’m happy to reply to communications with my real name and contact details. It’s not a huge secret – there were only ten Diploma Graduates in Australia, only two of whom are based in Adelaide, and of those two, only one is male, so there you have it.
So that’s the looking back bit, and now it’s time for the looking forward and what I want to do. The first step is really to have a look around. I’ve been largely blogging in a vacuum, and there are a number of excellent wine blogs out there from which I could
steal learn. So I’m probably going to spend a chunk of time over the next week coming up with a list of things I want to do, along the lines of the To Do list I posted in February.
Beyond that, I am keen to hit 100 varietals, so I’ve been picking wines with an eye to that, which means you should see varietal Barbera, Viognier and Cabernet Franc in the near future. The problem is that the closer I get to 100, the harder it is to locally source wines. I think I should be able to get to 70 before I really start scratching, but I’ll probably be searching out rarities before too long. Also, there are some producers who do a number of unusual varieties but I’m trying not to go back to the same producer twice in my first year. So alas, I won’t be writing about the Tissot Poulsard because I’ve already covered their Savagnin.
Finally, I’m hoping that the blog will become somewhat more conversational over the next six months. I get the odd comment, often from the producer I’m reviewing, but I’d really like it if there were more regular contributors. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the few people who do comment – I absolutely do – but rather I’d like them to have some company other than just myself.
To anyone who made it all the way through this self-indulgent blog post about blogging, I salute you, and return you to your regularly scheduled wine coverage.