Sure, I drink wine. I drink a lot of things. Now what?
Sure, I drink wine. I drink a lot of things. Now what?
Sure, I drink wine. I drink a lot of things. Now what?

I’ve been trying to keep a pulse of The Wine Writing scene over the past while. It’s shaken out quite dramatically over the years (here’s how the wine blog scene looked in 2010).

Some things have remained the same. The merry-go-round of topics is not as varied as you might find in sports, entertainment or tech. No, instead the wine story loop goes something like this: the 100-point scoring system is dead; Robert Parker’s empire has crumbled and is being replaced by Twitter and Wine Bloggers one free sample at a time; there’s too much alcohol in wines; biodynamics and organic winemaking are great… oops, I mean they’re bogus; drink what you like (oy vey); ask Millennials what they want and they will tell you; and the science of alternative wine closures. Rinse. Repeat.

Of course, we all know what’s missing from that loop: canopy management! Why on earth there’s not more discussion about canopy management I’ll never understand.

Wine is surely one of the toughest beats going. Most people would rather just drink it then read about it. There’s not much news in the wine world. And trying to sell wine tasting — be it on video, Twitter, or some other format — as entertainment is about as easy as having a relationship with a fake girlfriend for three years. Hang on a second…

So kudos to those, whether paid professionals, amateur bloggers, or self-employed new media types, who consistently make the effort. In my book, they score points just for being in the game. As Kermit once said, it’s not easy being gullible. Or was that green?

Regarding wine videos, I’ve looked long and hard and have yet to find anything that rises above the fray (aside from the great stuff Lisa and the team at Jordan produce, but that’s not independent fare). I will say Wine Folly has an interesting look and Madeline kind of pops my cork. She’s a Wine Squirrel to watch. Also, you gotta hand it to the donation-meister himself Mark Fusco @ 1337 – still going strong at episode #266 (though not quite ready to take over for Jimmy Kimmel, he’s improving on camera). I’ve been cutting Stark Insider vids for about four years and it’s a long haul, a quantum investment of time and energy with often little to no payback, aside from the occasional, glorious blooper. As SI approaches 1M views on YouTube I’m reminded of the importance of self-promotion. Here’s an insider tip: think caulking. Little did I know an innocent video I took of my wife caulking baseboards would generate 65,000+ views. If you’re new to the game, forget tasting and spitting on camera, and grab some masking tape and caulk. Years later we’ll be able to cringe in embarrassment together.

So here’s some of the more interesting Wine Writing This Week. To be clear I’m not talking about Last Week. This is all about This Week. Wine Writing This Week:

1. There’s Robert Parker. Then there’s everyone else. – the underground HMW, possibly the Colbert of wine, classifies wine writers. “The Wine Writer Classification of 2013 celebrates those who educate and enlighten us at the expense of entertaining us.” We’re all poodles.

2. Try Google.

3. Placeholder.

4. Still searching.

5. Rounding it out.

There you go. That was the top Wine Writing This Week (Not Last Week).

Incidentally, Stark Insider “We’re Twice as Fun… but Only Half as Smart” wine coverage is picking up steam just as the mustard season picks up in Napa. We’re on location again today for a special award presentation. Stay tuned for more on that. There’s never a dull moment when you hang with wine Royalty.

Premiere Napa Valley is once again on our radar. We’ll look for the hammer to fall, and see how much money gets raised at auction, then prognosticate about the vintage, the industry, and the Oscars.

Meanwhile I’ll be heading to Napa and Sonoma over the coming weeks and months for various trade tastings, panel discussions.

Last weekend (not this weekend, last weekend… the previous weekend) I had the good fortune of being invited to the Napa Truffle Festival. Oddly, it’s not really a Festival. It is in Napa, yes, and it does involve Truffles, yes. But it’s more of a sales pitch. Attendees to the festival are pitched the idea of converting wildly expensive land into risky truffle orchards. All told, it’s interesting, if mysterious (see Loni Kao’s piece Truffles in America). Oh: one final reason why I definitely know NTF is not a festival: Jean-Charles Boisset was no where to be found. And if you don’t have a JCB top hat, sabre or impromptu dance, then you most certainly do not have a festival… at least not in Napa or Sonoma.

Clinton Stark
Clinton shoots videos for Stark Insider. San Francisco Bay Area arts, Ingmar Bergman and French New Wave, and chasing the perfect home espresso shot 25 seconds at a time (and failing). Peloton: ClintTheMint. Camera: Video Gear