Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk |

Kelly J. Hayes: WineInk

Kelly J. Hayes
Aspen Times Weekly

Not long ago there was a post on the terrific wine blog titled, “Requesting the Favor of Your Vote: the Blog Awards.”

Now if that request had been from just about anyone other than Alder Yarrow, the founder and force behind Vinography, it would have come across as a shameless, self-serving grovel for recognition. But those who read Vinography on a regular basis recognize that this was just another example of Yarrow attempting to bring attention not just to himself, but to the ever-growing group of people who blog seriously about wines and those who love them. In the post, he published a link to his fellow nominees for the awards and encouraged his readers to check them out. Hardly the act of a man looking for a solo spotlight.

A product of the best schools in Aspen (he grew up in the Roaring Fork Valley), Yarrow enrolled at Stanford University and moved eventually to San Francisco where he has become one of the most vocal proponents for wine journalism on the Web. Speaking and instructing at various wine and writing conferences, he constantly encourages others to join the movement by launching their own blogs.

His passion took root in January 2004 when Yarrow opened his laptop and created one of the first blogs devoted to the love of wine. At the time, fewer than 50 other folks were blogging about grapes. Today, hundreds do it. Yarrow’s first post, dated Jan. 15, 2004, explained his reason for undertaking his life-altering project:

“Here we go. Welcome to the journal of my adventures in wine and cuisine. I’ve always wanted a place to go where I could chat about wine with other folks who loved it like I do, so I built one. I intend to share the wines that I sample, my opinions on them, where I buy them, where I drink them, and the good food that goes along with them, but who knows what this will become.

Enough of that. Pour the wine!”

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Well, it has become just exactly what he outlined in that first post. In the ensuing five years, Vinography has become a go-to place for people who want to chat, share opinions, learn and, yes, promote their wines. While Yarrow has a day job (he runs a consulting company called Hydrant in San Francisco), there is no doubt that his passion and persona are both tightly tied to Vinography.

Not every day, but just about, he has penned comments ranging from tasting notes about wines he has tried, conversation about events he has attended, profiles of winemakers he has met, reviews of wine books he has read, and other ruminations. Navel gazing? Sometimes. But more often the postings are informative, insightful and at their very best, inspiring.

Alas, Vinography was not triumphant in the voting at The Foodbuzz Blogger Festival that took place earlier this month in San Francisco.

The winner of the Best Wine Blog went to a blog called 1 Wine Dude. 1 Wine Dude is the brainchild of a Philadelphia-based wine educator named Joe Phillips. He writes in an easy-to-follow, witty, contemporary patter and often ponders how we perceive wine in this day and age.

The other category offered was “What blogger would you most want to be your personal sommelier?” A fun category and one captured by As in Doctor Vino. Get it? Another great blog, was created by wine writer Tyler Coleman, who is, in fact, an actual doctor of economics.

The point is that there has been a revolution in the way in which we write, read and think about wine. Before Yarrow, Coleman and Phillips began their online careers, most wine journalism was the provenance of those lucky enough to work for major magazines and newspapers. Today thousands have a forum to write, rate and rant about wine. And millions can read those opinions and agree or disagree.

Regardless, the world of wine has changed. Google the term “wine blogs” and more than 47 million results appear. Yarrow likes to say that he began his blog after googling the term in 2004. How many listings were there then? Try zero. Wine has become as much about words as it is about grapes.

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