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Wine Blogging and Social Media

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When I first came onto the wine social media scene back in late 2008/early 2009, I knew I wanted to move my writing in the direction of this tasty niche. I immersed myself into the wine bloggers’ culture on Twitter and Facebook and spent years getting to know other people in the industry.

Simultaneously, I began writing more for non-writing publications. After a short stint with a local East Bay food magazine, I took a journalism class to continue honing my craft. I learned what my “voice” read like, and pursued other freelance opportunities.

I was also finishing my B.A. and continued learning both online and offline about social media and businesses’ uses for social media.

wbc12

I am fortunate to have been able to attend the Wine Bloggers Conference held 2012 in Portland, and felt a small momentum building. Again, during this time, I was working full time, going to school part time, and moving into a new home with a retired parent with medical issues, so my momentum was on a metaphysical level with myself only.

With that said, my writing again took a backseat to life in general until I attended the Wine Tourism Conference in November 2013. This conference was held in Portland also at the same host hotel as the Wine Bloggers Conference of 2012, so it was nice to be in familiar territory. I learned a great deal at the conference, and appreciated the professionalism of everyone.

Portland, Oregon

Shortly before the Wine Tourism Conference, I found a writing gig on craigslist.com for feature article writing for a small lifestyle magazine in the East Bay. I started cranking out some articles for the magazine and again felt a force moving me away from my current vocation towards something that allowed more creative writing.

It was only by happenstance that I saw a job listing for a freelance social media coordinator on a Facebook group in late December. I recognized the company listing the job as I’d been following the owner Janet and vice versa on Twitter since late 2008.

BostonWineExpo

What a thrill! The gig was to create content and post on social media for the country’s largest trade and consumer wine event, the Boston Wine Expo, held every year in Boston. I dived right into the gig while attempting to juggle the rest of my life in addition to the freelance article writing I’d been doing.

I created Tumblr blog posts, created and scheduled content on Facebook and Twitter and engaged with anyone and everyone who wanted to discuss the event on any social media platform. Towards the end, I also created an Instagram account for the media agency owner’s use at the actual event.

The event was held in February and by the beginning of April all social media began to wind down. It was a bittersweet moment when I emailed my final invoice. I’d been vigorously looking for other social media freelance work and had confirmed Janet would give me a good recommendation.  Nothing panned out, but Janet confirmed that I’d be able to head the social media in the fall for the Boston Wine Expo. Needless to say, I was thrilled.

Which us brings us pretty much to the present. I’m doing a small freelance job for Janet right now, summer’s here, and I’m leaving this week for Buellton and the Wine Bloggers Conference.

So, my question is this: If I’m not blogging consistently, but am doing other writing, including creating social media content for wine industry purposes, can I consider myself a wine blogger? Or am I guilty of not fulfilling an unspoken belief that I must maintain a somewhat consistent presence both on my blog and in the community?  My conviction is that writing is writing and blogging is social media. Despite the fact that I’m not keeping my personal blog current doesn’t translate to I’m not active in the blogosphere or in the social media world.

And yes, I wrote this post because I’m going to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Santa Barbara County this week, and want there to be a more recent post on my blog than my last one of August 2013!

In any event, I’m caring and sharing about wine as much as my life allows and that’s all we can ask from ourselves, right?

Cheers!

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No Longer a Wine Bloggers Conference Virgin and the Tales of the Traveling Tiara, Part I

It’s been over a month since I returned home from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Portland.  I had such an amazing weekend *alone* that when I finally returned to the Bay Area on Monday, I was unprepared for the denouement of the entire weekend.

I hadn’t had too much or even enough wine at the Conference, and I continued to drink wine in the evening for a couple days after I returned.  After that, I’d had my limit; I’d become burned out on wine!  I had to put the festivities of the weekend on a back burner including any writing because when I returned my fall family schedule was in full throttle —  my son had started first grade and club soccer, and I had a night class beginning at the end of the week.

This post will be a nice reminder of an amazing weekend I had for which I’ll forever be grateful.

When I arrived in Portland, the first thing I noticed was that it was HOT!  I’d arrived on Thursday August 16 mid day since I wanted to connect with friends before the frenzy of the Conference began.

Since I’d arrived before many of my friends, I settled in the room for a short time and decided to take the opportunity to explore downtown Portland.

I caught the MAX line outside the hotel and took the train across the river into the city, getting off a few stops before my destination.  Since I love music second to wine, I decided to try to find some local record/CDs stores for some hidden gems.

The first store I went into was strictly hip-hop, and the owner was offended I didn’t ask him first if I could take a picture of his store for my blog.  I left quickly and found another victim, which I found at Jackpot Records on SW 9th Avenue.  I was more comfortable with the music this store sold, jazz, blues, mostly vintage, and some vintage rock on LP, but held out on buying anything.

I finally stumbled and fumbled in the heat to Everyday Music (after a confusing trip through Powells’ Bookstore), and found two great finds:  A Hindu Love Gods CD (REM with Warren Zevon on vocals from the late 80’s/early 90’s) and an out-of-print Bonnie Raitt CD.

Happy but tired, I made my way to the MAX station I’d exited and found a seat amongst the commuters for the ride back to the hotel.  After a quick dinner of black bean hummus and vegetables with a couple glasses of my new favorite King Estate pinot gris with Doug Levy (http://douglevy.com/WFW/), Jeff Weissler (http://consciouswine.com/) , and Luke Whittall (http://winecountrybc.wordpress.com/), the Conference began with the Welcome Reception provided by the Oregon Wine Board.

This was a fun event, but a little intimidating for me as well.  As great as it was for me to taste many different wines that night, my focus was on meeting people I’d been virtual friends with for years.  I don’t know how the conference had handled welcoming receptions in the past, but that night should have had fewer wineries to allow more mixing and mingling among the attendees, in my opinion.

The wines that stood out for me that night were pinot gris and pinot noir (my first foray into both varietals) produced by Johan, Cooper Mountain, and Evening Land.

The next day, August 17, was a truly memorable day!
……….(TO BE CONTIUED)……..

Writing for Wine

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Deciding to do something takes more than a decision.  It takes reflection, it needs to be shared with friends, so they will support you on your decision, and it needs to be acted on.

I took a journalism class a year ago because I thought it would help me with writing.  I wanted to find a more distinct voice, and I wanted to learn more about what it takes to write an article.  I am fortunate that one of my articles for my class was published in edible East Bay.  I’d been doing freelance marketing for edible East Bay, and while the editor assigned the article to me for both my classwork and for her magazine, I was grateful my first article was published.

I wrote a subsequent article for the magazine about an application for a new viticultural designation in eastern Contra Costa County.  I enjoyed writing the article immensely, but ran into some confusion that exists within the Bay Area’s official wine-growing designations.  The article was shelved and I haven’t written anything since.

Even though it had only been a few months since I’d written anything of importance, and I was very busy with family issues and summer vacation travels,  I felt as if I were leaving something unfinished.

Last Friday I met with the editor to catch up as we’d not done so in a few months due to travel schedule conflicts.  She and I discussed my next writing assignment.  I’m not sure what the exact article will be about at this moment, but can say it is wine related.

It seemed serendipitous that I was receiving a wine article assignment the weekend of the Wine Bloggers Conference in Charlottesville, Virginia.  I’m going to make this serendipity my “push” to keep writing regularly on this blog so I can focus on next year’s conference in Portland which, incidentally, is being held on my birthday.

~H

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