October 2008

Blog Fog

By: Anthony Dias Blue

One side effect of the technological revolution has been the proliferation of blogs. I guess the blog is the ultimate expression of unbridled free speech. The problem is that anyone with something to say, however off base or half-baked it may be, can and does utilize the form. In order to get attention in the crowded, noisy realm of bloggers, they try to outdo each other by being as outrageous and controversial as they can be.
There are a multitude of wine blogs, some pretty informative, some pretty geeky and some a total waste of time. Somebody sent me a wine blog written by a fellow who is named for two botanical species. In it, this tree guy rails against wine competitions, which he calls “one big racket.” In his simplistic view, competitions are all profit. Never mind the cost of the venue, office staff, software, rent, meals, insurance, judges’ fees and travel expenses, attorneys, warehouses, volunteers, etc., etc.

Even more annoying, he characterizes all competitions as “evil.” Where does that come from? They “feed on insecurity, mediocrity, and hope.” Right. Just like the Academy Awards and the Grammies.

All right, I have a definite bias: I run the biggest competition in the country. The San Francisco International Wine Competition drew 4,240 entries in 2008, its 27th year. The number of entries has grown steadily every year. This would not seem to signal a growing disillusionment with the idea of the wine competition.

Yes, there are some totally frivolous and inane judgings with bad premises and questionable results, but there are a number of large, well-run, comprehensive competitions that take place each year. They are judged by highly-qualified people who take their duties seriously and give up several days to perform what they see as a service to the industry.

Treeman goes on to proclaim, with the swaggering, misplaced self-congratulatory tone only an un-edited blogger could summon, competition gold medals are “meaningless.” Ask Sonoma winemaker Bill Canihan of tiny Canihan Family Cellars whose first wine, a syrah, won a Double Gold and Best in Show at the San Francisco International in 2007. “It convinced me to stay in the wine business,” he told me, “and to continue to make the best wine I can.” Doesn’t sound either meaningless or evil to me.

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