WBC11 Day 1: Jancis Robinson’s Keynote—“Wine is King!”

For those who are unfamiliar with her, Jancis Robinson has been writing about wine since 1975 and, in 1984, became the first non-trade person to pass the Masters of Wine exams.  She is one of the wine literati, and she was asked to speak to bloggers at the Wine Bloggers’ Conference 2011 because she has made the important and significant transition from print to online wine writing.

Jancis’ keynote was clearly meant for wine lovers who are writers, not those who were just wine lovers or just writers.  She was witty, and insightful, but also blunt in her expectations.

Jancis Robinson at the Wine Bloggers' Conference 2011 (WBC11)The theme of keynote was about trying bring writers and bloggers together, with the acknowledging that much of the wine writing community, both traditional and non, has not fully embraced that idea.  In a quote that hit the Twitterverse like wildfire, she proclaimed, “One day, wine bloggers will become…people.”  However, she also said that the debate around print versus blog is very reminiscent of corks versus screw caps.

Jancis’ keynote also focused on the need for bloggers to pay attention to details.  She reminded us all that hardware is rapidly changing, so it’s important that our websites are compatible with the latest devices.  She expressed concern over bloggers that don’t date what they write and over those that only use spell check rather than actually editing a post as “silly little typos diminish your product.”

5 Highlights & My Thoughts:

  • Jancis mentioned Tom Wark’s post on conversations he had with wine bloggers about suggestions for creating a well-read blog, in particular the importance of “spend[ing] as much time marketing your blog as writing it.”  Jancis confessed that she knows she should do that, but doesn’t.This is a point that was really driven home for me throughout WBC11, as I also know this is something I should do more of, but am not actually doing.  So, I plan to work on it.  As readers, you probably won’t notice too much of a difference, except for there being more readers (hopefully).
  • Jancis Robinson at the Wine Bloggers' Conference 2011 (WBC11)All of us at the conference would agree with Jancis’ emphasize on the importance of “spread[ing] the word of wine,” otherwise we wouldn’t write blogs.  The difficulty is in trying to do that in an all-inclusive way.  Jancis actually spoke to this a little, emphasizing the need to foster a community because wine can be intimidating, as she bluntly stated and as most of us know.  So, it’s important for the wine writing community (traditional writers and bloggers alike) to be explicitly encouraging to the newcomers and the ones who don’t have a lot of knowledge.This has always been a goal of mine—making wine less intimidating.  That’s why I try to look at the everyday aspects of life, of wine, and of wine in my life.  However, there isn’t much of a public conversation going on in the A Glass After Work community.  This is something I hope to change, both with “Questions of the Day,” “Mailbag Mondays,” and Facebook posts.  Hopefully, you’ll be willing to come participate!
  • Gender ratios…only 15% of visitors to JanicsRobinson.comare women.  According to Jancis, it is a very male thing to spend money for information on wine.  However, she did think it was a very positive thing to see how many women were at WBC11.Admittedly, I’ve always had an interest in gender-related issues, so this struck a cord with me.  Most of my wine blogging friends are men.  Most of the local DC print wine writers I’ve met are men.  And, most of the winemakers I’ve met are men.  Don’t get me wrong, I think they’re all doing some wonderful things, but Jancis’ observation made me think about the importance of being involved in the growing Women & Wine community.  Up until now, I’ve been a lurker, but I think it’s time for me to actively engage in the conversation.
  • Humility is a very, very important quality in someone who writes about something as magical as wine.  We never know it all.This is something that I try to remember, but can never been reinforced enough.  I’m always trying to learn more because I will never know it all.  In fact, I’ll only ever know a miniscule amount, but I absolutely enjoy learning and tasting along the way.
  • “Wine is king.” …I wholeheartedly agree!

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