As Social Media Director for Charles Communications Associates, I’m attending the Wine Bloggers’ Conference in Portland this year. This morning, on my way to the Keynote session, I bumped into 1WineDude himself, Joe Roberts. We had a quick bite to eat and a Q&A about what’s new in the dude’s world:
Katie: Hi Joe. You’ve had a busy year! What have you been up to recently?
Joe: I just got back from Santa Barbara, which was my 20thtrip of the year. Instead of focusing on getting wine-related certifications this year, I wanted to get immersed in wine areas like Santa Barbara, which don’t get much attention. I also traveled to Great Southern in Australia, where I had some fantastic Cabernet Sauvignon. But it was tough to even find a hotel around there!
I also just got back from Crete. There are some great stories coming from there, where you’ve got evidence of some of the longest winemaking history in the world. Yet they are completely starting from scratch in terms of the modern wine business, like mixing old wine varietals with new popular varieties. I even spent two days at Silver Oak in Napa recently.
Katie: What has been the biggest revelation from all this travel?
Joe: There is an immense amount of competition out there. So much good wine is being made. Even in places as far away as Crete, they are querying professionals who have their Masters of Wine and writers like me and picking our brains about how to reach new markets. Basically, if you aren’t defining your niche and asking customers what they want, you are going to get left behind.
From a regional perspective, I find it interesting that we treat French regions like they are a continent apart. Meanwhile, in Australia, regions are seriously almost a continent apart! In that country, it’s basically like having different countries in terms of the diversity of wine regions.
Katie: It sounds like you’ve gained a lot of insight from all this travel. Are you planning to travel into the fall?
Joe: I’m going to take a break after my trip this September to Bordeaux. I’ll be at home after that, working on some projects and spending some time with my daughter.
Katie: For now, though, you’re here in Portland. Congratulations on being a finalist for Best Overall Wine Blog and Best Reviews on a Wine Blog, by the way!
Joe: Thanks! I’m on two panels this year and I’m excited to be here. Overall, though, I think we need to be taking more chances in the wine blogging world. We don’t do enough fringe, exciting stuff in the blogosphere. Wine coverage is like sports coverage, in that it’s still really conservative versus a lot of other types of coverage. I want to encourage people to push the envelope as far as they can or we run the risk of getting too formulaic.
Katie: You’ve definitely got a point there, and I think you did a good job of stressing it in your recent post, the Most Glaring Omissions from the 2012 Wine Blog Awards Finalists.
In terms of pushing the envelope, what unique wine most inspired you this summer?
Joe: This was totally the summer of Italian Vermentino. It’s delicious and no more than $13. This was definitely the summer of Italian white wines in general, which I’ve been geeking out about lately.
Katie: Yum. I’m a big fan of Gavi and Arneis myself. What’s your fall wine pick?
Joe: I’ve been really craving Douro reds. I may be on a Douro red kick in the Fall. They aren’t the most food friendly wines, but when you consider how low their acidity is, they actually pair pretty well with food.
Katie: Thanks so much for your time, Joe! Best of luck!