If a tree falls in the forest… blogging about blogging

1459294_10151740904456805_1348438602_nHello there… it’s been a while. Fifteen days to be precise. Actually that’s not that long, but it feels like far longer – the guilt gets to me y’see. I am kidding, but I have missed writing, even if you haven’t missed reading. Is anyone reading? More on that later.

Anyway, if you ARE reading (and thank you if you are), the reason I haven’t been posting much recently is the need for me to clarify with my new employer, about exactly what I can and can’t write. It was never that easy being employed within the wine trade and writing independently, I suppose, but now that I work for a winery, the waters are even muddier than previously. So, for the record, I work for Seresin Estate in Marlborough, New Zealand. I happen to think the wines are great, which is why working there was a decision that made a lot of sense to me. However, I know that you wouldn’t want to read post after post about Seresin (we have our own blog for that if that is your wont), and equally I know that they wouldn’t be thrilled about me writing post after post singing everyone else’s  praises APART from Seresin. So I suspect the focus of my writing may have to change… I’ll let you know when I do.

Anyway, I thought I would break my self-imposed silence  today, because reading all the twitterings of many wine-writers recently has driven me a little bit crazy. There is a very funny chap in the States called Ron Washam, who writes under the title of Hosemaster of Wine; he writes the sort of biting satire that I wish I could, but that would undoubtedly lose me friends and employmeIMG_0380 (800x600)nt in pretty short order! Mostly his posts make me laugh, but he certainly pulls no punches and is unafraid of naming names, poking fun and generally trampling over the sensibilities of anyone within his sights. This week was no exception, when he wrote a post called “What not to post on your stupid wine blog in 2014″, which essentially took a shot at amateur bloggers, targeting list-writing, photos from wine junkets, discussing terroir and talking about social media. I do all of those things. I wasn’t offended, although I think a lot of people were. My view was that I knew what to expect when I read his site: he isn’t kind, he is funny – and his humour is often at the expense of others. That is what he does – and he does it very well.

It was reading the fall-out and commentary afterwards that riled me more. There were the self-righteously offended and there were the people who seem to think that bloggers are in some way selfishly using up the internet and inflicting their tedious ramblings on the unwitting public. All in all, there were a lot of wine-writers, from the genuinely influential to the people like me who just like to have a place to put their thoughts out there, tweeting and blogging to each other about tweeting and blogging. And to be honest, in my humble opinion, it has all got a little bit daft.

But, hey, I can’t beat them, so I’ll join them.

Personally, I think it’s absolutely fine for the Hosemaster to say what he said. It’s good that he is able, on his site, to question the practices of wine bloggers… However, I think it is equally good that I am able, on my site, to write lists, post photos from junkets (not that I have ever knowingly used that term), discuss terroir and talk about social media. If people don’t like Mr. Washam’s style of writing, they don’t have to visit his site and be offended. Equally, if people are bored by lists of things, descriptions of shoes and breathless excitement about moving to New Zealand, they don’t have to visit my site and read themselves into a coma. If no-one reads our scrawlings, no-one dies and the world does not end, but equally it does no harm for either us to keep writing. It’s the beauty of the internet.

If a tree falls in the forest, and no-one is there to hear it, does it make a sound?

If a blogger blogs in the internet, and no-one is there to read it, does it cause offence?

Write what you want to write, read what you want to read…

Or, in the words of Dr Seuss, “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind”.

When it comes to wine-writers (from the bona fide journalists to muppets like me), we are surely all on the same side – we love wine. Why on earth do we exert so much energy and effort in jousting with each other, when there is, in the great brave new virtual world, room for everyone? And, no, the irony is not lost on me that this post is essentially blogging about moaning about moaning about blogging… I can live with the irony.

.

Caveat: I am small fry and I don’t in any way exert the influence that someone like Ron Washam does, so please don’t think I am arrogantly putting myself in the same league.

****

Today’s stuck-in-head-song – diamonds and rust, Joan Baez

Today’s dinner – cous cous and halloumi

Today’s drinks – 2009 Rockburn Chardonnay

Today’s footwear – brown suede wedges

14 Comments

  • Jamie Goode says:

    Regarding trees falling – they create waves in the air. these are only sounds if someone is there to hear them (or any animal with hearing). In a similar way, the taste of wine is not a property of a wine nor is the sea salty unless someone is able to taste it.

  • Tim Wildman says:

    I always knew Jamie had excellent taste, and now its confirmed.
    He reads WineKat!
    One of your best Kat, keep it real muppet

  • Hello Kat,
    Thank you for the kind words, though imagining that the HoseMaster has any influence is quite a feat.

    Satire is a tricky, often thankless, business. I try to write about all aspects of the wine business, but when one writes about wine bloggers, the response is always the biggest. If my piece had a point, it was that most wine blogs are dreary and derivative (like most people, I suppose), and that to be taken seriously, as almost any human who writes wants, a wine blogger should at least make an attempt to say something thoughtful.

    Most of the folks who derided my piece, your friend Mr. Goode, the Hobbit, among them, were offended by its angry tone. They seem to think that their definitions of “funny” and “satire” are the accepted definitions. Hogwash on the face of it. On my blog, I write in many tones. The reason I write, in fact, is simply to play at the various tones a satirist has at hand, and, in using those tones, find ways to make people laugh first, and think now and then. It is, after all, only wine.

    Your points here are thoughtful and well-spoken, Kat. Thank you for that. And good luck in your new country and new job. The Seresin wines are fabulous!

    • winekat says:

      Thanks Ron… well, your blog remains on my reading list, that’s for sure. I liked the fairy tale a great deal… Glad to hear you also like our wines! It’s a great place to work…

  • Vim says:

    I love cous cous and halloumi

  • A really nice, balanced response Kat. Ron wasn’t really saying that no one should ever use “great” to describe <$15 wine (though I think that's a fair position to take, as it happens), or post crummy pics of winery dogs, or even offer lists – he was trying to get the people who do some or all of those things to think about why and how they do it. It's not unlike the funny "rants" I've read about men who wear bow ties or red trousers or Mums in Leather Trousers. I'm sure some people think of those as "cruel" too, but blogging, like the clothes one wears is a voluntary activity.

    Making his comments in the voice of "Mr Angry from Accounts" is part of the joke, instead of couching it in more cosy, mumsy tones. The reaction of far too many people to his post suggests that they left their senses of humour at the door.Sadly, it also meant that they did not bother to consider the validity of some of the points he made.

    I'm glad – but not surprised – that you're a Hosemaster fan. Please keep on writing – in your own voice. I certainly enjoy it.

  • Pontus says:

    Well written and many good points. Not enough shoes though, there is always room for more shoes.

  • Frankie Cook says:

    Ron’s piece struck me as a rant on first reading as I hadn’t read any of his pieces written in that tone before. I do enjoy the majority of his writing and it’s often laugh out loud funny (LOL for the kidz I suppose!)

    Many of his points are good, though I think the vast majority of wine (and other) bloggers are writing as a means to express themselves and entertain a few friends. We hear that stories are important for marketing, so personal stories should be important for blogging too.

  • Eloquently stated Kat. There are many wine bloggers out there (like me) that do not work in the wine industry and I assume that they (like me) blog since they enjoy writing and a good glass of wine (often times at the same time). I agree that Ron has a right to his opinion–he is a talented writer and a keen observer. There are clearly many out there that enjoy his style (like me) and look forward to his slant on wine and the wine industry. Although I certainly do not have the same following as Ron, I like to think that there are at least a few people out there who enjoy my approach and look forward to my posts, too. Luckily, there is a medium where we can both exist.

  • The Burnt Baker says:

    Great post Kat!!

    Any chance you and Ron could collaborate on a list of the top ten winery dogs as seen on junkets?

  • David Cox says:

    Hi Kat,

    I continue to be a big fan of your writing and your writing style. I love the Hosemaster too! Keep posting please.

    David

  • Catching up with reading your beautifully written, well crafted, compelling posts.
    Missed all the fuss on Twitter but off to visit Mr Hosemaster now. If one this is missing from a lot of wine writing it’s a sense of humour. As he says in his comment “It is, after all, only wine.” Utterly captivating, with a lifetime of intrigue but a drink nevertheless.
    Blogging is democratic and anyone with access to a computer and a connection can express themselves. Not all expose their thoughts to improve their writing or communication skills. Each has their own motivation. And as you point out – you can navigate away in a second.

Leave a Reply

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *

Follow

Get every new post on this blog delivered to your Inbox.

Join other followers: