The Connoisseurs’ Guide to California Wine has long been a resource for consumers looking to find great wines from my native state. Founded in 1974, the publication was among the first I purchased when I first got into wine almost 30 years ago. My old green CGCW guidebook has long since been replaced by other wine pubs and I haven’t thought about the Connoisseurs’ Guide for a decade or more. So I was surprised last night as I read a post entitled, “Wine Blogging: Can It Survive?” on their blog, no less. This post was inspired by an earlier musing by Steve Heimoff.
After thinking about both posts for a bit, I wonder why most times wine bloggers are referenced by the wine writing establishment the issue of making money comes up? Most likely because they themselves would not do what they have been doing for free and are mystified why we choose to spend time blogging with little or no monetary reward. The irony, of course, is these same wine writers are using the blogging medium to syndicate their somewhat disparaging views about wine bloggers.
If you look at the wine blogging scene today there are hundreds of entrants chasing the attention of a niche audience who have both a passion for wine and the tech savvy to know what a blog is. The top wine blogs, according to the alawine.com listing, are mixed between pros like New York Times wine writer Eric Asimov, wine blog pioneers like Vinography, New York Cork Report and Tom Wark’s Fermentation. The only “new entrant” is 1WineDude who has been around for 4 years. But for the hundreds – or even thousands – of voices in the wine blogosphere there are really only 25 or 30 who have built online communities of any size.
So that brings me back to monetization. Even the very top trafficked independent wine blogs don’t produce enough clicks to make online advertising a viable source of income. Sure, they could make a few bucks here and there but the volume is just not large enough for anything significant. For the rest of us, the income might cover the server costs and some of our travel expenses but that’s about it. For some, just the access to the wine industry is enough with event passes and wine samples a nice perk. For others, such as the folks at Catavino and myself, outside consulting opportunities in the wine industry help pay the bills. But the vast majority of wine bloggers make little to nothing from blogging. And I don’t see anything wrong with that.
What do you think?