The other day I received a notification from WordPress congratulating me that I registered this blog on their service four years ago. That reminded me that Dave McIntyre’s WineLine is actually 14 years old this month.
That’s right – I started this blog long before anyone was calling them blogs. It was an email newsletter that I created when my first regular wine writing gig, for Sidewalk.com, ended in November 1999. I maintained an email list, which later migrated to listserv, and “published” once or twice a month, or every few months, whenever the muse hit unless I was busy with paying gigs. Then as now, WineLine was a very periodic periodical.
My early WineLines are still online, courtesy of Robin Garr and his WineLoversPage.com. In fact, 60 of them are there, the last being January 2007, which is probably the time I switched to Blogspot. Then I tried Typepad, before finally switching to WordPress. I also still have my own website, which unfortunately I stopped updating in April 2009, but there’s a pretty good archive of my writings there, too, including many other articles (the paying ones that distracted me from the blog, although there are four-and-a-half years of weekly columns in The Washington Post that are not represented there).
My “Inaugural Issue” shows that I didn’t have much sense for blogging. Since I thought of it as a newsletter, I included several items that could have been published as individual blog posts, thereby artificially inflating my “stats.” My prose had more edge then, and I may have been trying too hard to be hip and funny. (Did I really call Jancis Robinson “the uber-wench of wine”? Yes, I guess I did, my admiration for her evident even then.) But even in this first issue you can see my belief that wine should taste of fruit not trees. It is interesting though that the first thing I wrote about in launching this blog was California chardonnay.
There was also some old-fashioned reporting, from the Napa Valley Vintners Association lobbying in Washington (WineLine #1) to my teargas experience at the “Battle of Seattle” (#3), where the American Vintners Association (now Wine America) was trying to get some trade protections into the world trade agreement. There was comedy, with my “You know you’re a wine geek” tribute to Jeff Foxworthy. And one of my favorites, written in the runup to the war in Iraq: “Code Rosé: Fear (of terrorism) and Loathing (of France) in Our Nation’s Capital” (#28). That one generated some fierce (and threatening) hate mail, as well as a fervent “merci” or two from readers in France.
I wrote about screw caps in May 2002 (#19) and again in September 2004 (#46). The latter article was a finalist for the International Association of Culinary Professionals journalism awards. The next month I wrote about the alchemy of Oregon Riesling (#47), including my interview with Jimi Brooks a few days before his untimely death. That article helped ignite my love of the Willamette Valley and its wines, and I didn’t even visit the region to write it.
I’ve never made a penny off this blog, and I doubt I ever will. Few people read it, and fewer comment on it. But I’ve learned a lot, met some wonderful people, and tasted some wonderful wines. There are many days I want to post something but don’t get to it. I have a backlog of material, just not enough time. But as long as it’s fun, I’ll keep at it.
Thanks for reading. I don’t say that enough.