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Can We Talk?

There has been a fair amount of dialogue in the blog world about the value of ‘social media’ and this ‘new age’ of communications.  I’ve heard others in the wine business ask ‘How much time should I put into this?’ and ‘How can I find the time to spend blogging & ‘friending up’ and ‘linking in’?, etc.

Here’s my 2 cents — I think it is amazing.  I think it is liberating.  I think it is a better use of time/energy than many other efforts…and I think it is honest, fresh, real, a true connection to wine lovers, and probably the opposite of what many in the wine business might think.  Many might think that this ‘virtual world’ is impersonal…and maybe a bit cloaked in hidden identities (who on Twitter uses their real names?) and vagaries. I disagree & here’s why.

I officially started in the wine business (gulp) in 1980 as a retailer in So Cal, although my informal introduction was well before I was of legal drinking age in the mid ’70′s.  Back then, my brother was my ‘guru’ – the guy who turned me onto wine and was the person with whom I actually talked about wine.  When I finally became legal, I mustered the strength to go to a fine wine shop to actually ‘talk’ to someone about wines I’ve enjoyed and sought advice for new discoveries.  I eventually worked for that shop, became the buyer for it, and ultimately became the ‘guru’ for others seeking a dialogue about wine.

Time passed and the era of the fine wine shop…and it’s gurus…passed (for the most part).  And with this also passed the dialogue…the conversation…and can I use the word in this election year, the ‘debate’ about wine?  It went to the self serve environment of the grocery store (at least here in California and a good 35% of the rest of the country) and the resulting void of the Socratic method of learning and yes…discussion about wine.

Pundits ‘preaching’ about wine replaced ‘dialogue’.  And for good reason.  In the absence of discussion, wine was (is) imposing & intimidating, and hearing someone say that XYZ wine is a 90 in his/her book is easier than discussing a wine…they became the replacement gurus.

But it also replaced open discussion about wine with one-way pulpit-style preaching about wine.  It replaced forum.  Socrates, I assume, would be pissed.

So reel this back to social media.  It used to be that people discussed wine – a two-way interaction.  That era changed and evolved to an era of people listening about wine – a one-way interaction.  This new era, using technology, the internet, & social media is a return to talking about wine – a two-way interaction – and that is a very good thing.  It is open, naked, honest, conversational, controversial, and always illuminating.

This is why I am embracing this medium and why I value the integrity of the blogging community.  It is a return to a discussion about wine rather than a diatribe..a pulpit.  Drink Charitably is a ‘corporate’ blog (for lack of a better word – as the ‘corporation’ is really just one guy!), but it celebrates the new age of wine communication.  Here’s to the new boss — same as the old boss — to quote.

Question:  am I alone in this thought or do others think this medium is the return of wine discussion vs wine preaching?  That it is a return to one on one interaction with people?  I truly hope it is not just a replacement guru, not the new ‘gatekeepers’ – but a new age of communication…a new age of wine democracy.  Let me know your thoughts — and as always…drink charitably!

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9 Comments

  1. Dan Mihaliak wrote:

    I totally agree with on the social media and it’s role in people talking and earning about wine. And you know what they say about people who don’t embrace change.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 6:09 pm | Permalink
  2. Henré wrote:

    Hey Judd, fantastically written educational post. While I didn’t experience the conversation back in the 70s and 80s, I can well relate to how wine enjoyment has seem to evolve into critics ridden intimidation. While social media certainly add enormous value in reviving the conversation, I think we can also blame the internet for creating voices for people with an opinion.

    Those opinions escalated to where the internet is now filled with an abundance of critics, often contradictory, sometimes snide, hardly ever doing justice to this beautiful beverage.

    Never talk TO people…talk with them.

    Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 11:55 pm | Permalink
  3. Marco Montez wrote:

    Hi Judd, I absolutely agree with you. However, not everyone is in social media. So we need to find a way to bring the debate back to the table, not just the computer.

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 7:19 am | Permalink
  4. Judd wrote:

    Great comments — and to Marco – there is no doubt that social media is NOT the silver bullet. But it is one way to get the forum back on track. The best way is still to find a preferred wine shop and talk with the staff. Or talk directly with the winery itself. Yes — any 2-way dialogue…talking with rather than to…as mentioned in the comments is best! Thanks so much for the dialogue!

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 7:24 am | Permalink
  5. Henré wrote:

    Marco, you’re right, not everyone is in social media. But everything is turning digital and we need to keep in mind that today’s younger (digital) generation will be tomorrow’s wine gurus. So even if wine and social media is still relatively divided, in due course, it won’t be.

    We’re on the right track…early adopters so to speak.

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 7:27 am | Permalink
  6. Marco Montez wrote:

    Right, I did not disagree… and I’m in fact spending as much time as I can in this social media environment. Because it’s the right thing to do and because I love to be part of it. Just wanted to add another point to the “conversation”.

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 7:57 am | Permalink
  7. Lorenzo wrote:

    gotta concur, it’s a fantastic opportunity to open dialogues with like minded people. wine is also the type of topic that’s prone to aiding social lubrication. ;)

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  8. Judd wrote:

    I absolutely love the term ‘social lubrication’ and you are right, I’ve never witnessed a more ‘civilized’ lubricant!

    Friday, October 10, 2008 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  9. Someone here in Spain asked me a few weeks ago if the educational system in the US gave me a solid foundation to be a successful adult. I said, "Yes and no. Yes, because it encouraged curiosity and passion, and no, because the conversation was one sided, where teachers truly believed that my opinion, regardless of my fledgling experience, was not valid." What social media has brought me is a sense that conversations are two sided – dynamic and interactive – where everyone has an opinion worthy of exploring, or at the very least, voicing. Therefore, on some level each one of us is both an expert and a novice in one breath – a completely opposing view from what I grew up with.

    I’ll stop my rambling now and say thanks for a great post!

    Saturday, October 11, 2008 at 12:55 am | Permalink

3 Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Cheers! From Melissa’s Desk « Family, Love, Wine Blog on Tuesday, October 14, 2008 at 5:47 pm

    [...] for further insight into how social media can help you?  See a recent post by Judd Wallenbrock, Owner & Founder, Humanitas Winery; President/GM, Michel-Schlumberger Wine [...]

  2. [...] Can We Talk? [...]

  3. [...] · Can We Talk?Drink Charitably! [...]

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