A few thoughts about wine writing, the blog's fourth birthday, and what I've seen over the past four years:
• Where are the beginning wine drinkers? One of the most popular posts here over the past year was my interview with Allison Davis, who wrote the Hairpin blog post taking the wine business to task for making wine so difficult to understand. It was the 11th most popular post, quite impressive given that it didn't run until the end of October. And it made me wonder: Why do wine blogs have such a difficult time attracting new wine drinkers? I ask the question because my traffic for the day not only set a one-day record, but came from places it usually doesn't come from, including some non-wine sites. Which means these were visitors who don't usually come to the blog, even though the focus here is on masking wine easier to understand. My only conclusion is that wine bloggers -- even those like me -- are seen by beginning wine drinkers as part of the establishment. Which is kind of depressing, actually, and something I'll need to work on.
• Searching for dollars: The blog earned about $1,500 over the past 12 months, not quite as much as it made in the same period a year ago. In other words, it's still difficult to make a living from wine blogging. Some of that is my fault, though. I didn't do as good a job as I could have soliciting advertisers and taking advantage of the increased blog numbers, mostly because so much of my time is taken up doing other blog things. I may be at the point where I need to find someone to help me with the blog, and especially the monetary side. And there is always the potential for a Wine Curmudgeon shop, no?
• Honesty is the best policy: I've always taken pride in full disclosure here, whether it's subscribing to the eGullet code of ethics for online writers, disclosing my relationship with anyone or anything I write about, and letting you know whether I paid for a wine or got it for free. This year, it looks like you appreciated that more than ever. The disclaimer post on the left sidebar, which details the purchased/sample thing, was the 23rd most popular post. And who says you can't get ahead in blogging by being straight with your visitors?