2011 wine blogging trends and predictions

Wine — By KF Louis on December 1, 2010 at 12:54 pm

It’s that time of year again, where I’m thinking about the big themes and stories that broke in 2010 and what may come in 2011.  But this time, I’m going to be bold and not just jot down some things to myself, but instead, throw out some prediction in public.  Gulp.  There goes the last sip of Cremant and here goes for 2011:

Robert Parker and Steven Tanzer will be cool dudes on the web once again. Let’s face it.  Parker and Tanzer had a horrible ‘web vintage’ in 2009 and spent all of 2010 recovering.  This summer, Jancis Robinson said that the era of the Ivory Tower Wine Critic is over.  I guess the industry needed its pound of flesh because Ivory fell out of favor.  But because Parker is Parker, and consumers are addicted to the 100 point scale, I think he will be able to shake the publicity blues by 2011.  Tanzer?  Well he just needs to more fully embrace the new social media order of the web.  Like many top critics, he has been outspoken about all the novices trying to get their voice heard…he should realize that none of us are really a threat, and his empire will only grow from here.

Wine Blog Snobbery 2.0 evolves into Wine Friendly 1.0. Historically, as a group, we wine bloggers have not been very friendly.  We gaze at our navels, write in vinspeak, and rarely appeal to anyone else besides fellow mavens out there.  If we have learned anything from Gary Vaynerchuk, Joe Roberts (1winedude) and my friend Tim Hanni (whom the WSJ calls the wine “anti-snob”), it’s that we need to reach out to the masses and speak in their language in order to make more money and increase our audiences.   That said, I think 2011 will be the year where  a few well-known wine bloggers attempt to reach into the middle of the market that is currently way underserved.  And those who succeed will be the folks who take a “hospitality” approach to wine blogging…even if it means covering white zinfandel from time to time!

Web cellar tools will get much hotter.  Cellartracker gets acquired by a well-known wine industry firm. Eric Levine will finally ditch the “Flintstonian” user interface and provide a sexy storefront that works for a broader audience.  Then, the partnerships with Vinfolio and Jancis Robinson will start printing money…and then, the big industry guns will notice.  (Side note:  special thanks to CT for putting a halt to twitspamming the twitterverse with all those silly autotweets from customers about purchasing, opening, cellaring wine!)

Blogs that don’t get a facelift will die. Speaking of other things Flintstonian, wine blogs, as a category, have fallen behind the design times.  Including mine!  Insider discussions I’m having on this subject are about “reducing bounce rates,” “learning photography and advanced CSS” and “paying real pros to do that art thing.”   I also think that bloggers will make their content more actionable — read profitable — and perhaps this means incorporating click-to-buy buttons so that consumers can purchase the wine that’s being discussed.

Twitter and Foresquare:  the blogger’s new BFFs. No, Twitter isn’t going away (190 million users). And yes, Twitter really is a powerful eyeball getter if we spend the time to learn how to use it properly.  Next up is likely to be Foursquare…but I won’t even discuss it now.  You’ve got at least another 6 months before you need to know what that’s all about. Meanwhile, just know that I’m the Mayor of Arlequin Wine Merchant in San Francisco.  Neener neener!

Topic watch: Bloggers won’t be able to table the “biodynamorganic-slow-wine”  conversation. That’s because consumers are lagging in this conversation and still don’t know why it matters.  Meanwhile, they love anything with the suffix of ”ic”, and marketers will keep pushing it.

Wine competitions will be under fire. The love/hate relationship between wine competitions and journalists is long standing, because of a negative correlation between score and quality.  But journalists are often careful not to talk too much about this subject because they are often wine judges!  That said, there are a few new competitions planned in 2011 that will certainly stir up the controversy some more — including the Consumer Wine Awards at Lodi.  See this story in the Wall Street Journal on wine competitions featuring consumer judges.

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