By Courtney Cochran
When I spent three weeks in the south of France last summer I chronicled just about everything I did in my blog. Besides documenting winery visits to tony spots like Bordeaux’s Château Margaux and Châteauneuf-du-Pape’s Beaucastel, I blogged about nightclubbing in St. Tropez, shopping in Cannes, and gambling in Monte Carlo.
What could be more natural, I thought?
To me, these experiences were integral parts of my wine country travels. But to others, I’m sure some of these activities – the clubbing, the shopping or the gambling (or all of them!) – may seem like hedonistic side jaunts unrelated to wine.
But these “extras” are exactly what I love about blogs (short for web logs). Unlike more traditional publications, blogs are highly personalized and often include eclectic commentary on authors’ unique experiences, impressions and opinions. They bring their subjects – whether they’re widgets or wine makers – to life in a way more mainstream publications simply can’t.
No question about it, blogs are now key players in the editorial landscape, and the opportunities they afford travelers to gain an inside look into the activities and personalities of places can’t be underestimated. And although there’s no shortage of wine blogs out there, a handful of them do terrifically well at showcasing wine country travel.
Let’s take a closer look at a few of my favorites:
Founded in 2004 by San Francisco-based entrepreneur and wine enthusiast Alder Yarrow, Vinography may just be the most popular wine blog on the Web. In it, Yarrow ably canvases a broad swath of wine-related subject material including wine reviews, event listings, industry trends, and – yes – travel. His coverage of a trip to New Zealand in late 2006 is rife with amusing insights, beautiful photography and useful tips on tasting, touring and dining. Besides this and other travel notes, Vinography includes an extensive list of links to other wine blogs, publications, and resources, making it a dynamite jumping off point for your foray into the wine blogosphere.
Gang of Pour
Run by a wry group of wine writers located in Detroit, Ohio, California, and Canada, Gang of Pour takes on the subject of wine in decidedly amusing ways. With features like “Rednecks & Red Rhônes” and “Lot-a-Palooza” (about something called “lot” wine production), Gang of Pour puts an entertaining spin on its subjects that’s made it one of the Web’s most popular wine blogs. And with a rich cache of travel-related reporting, it’s a favorite of mine for tips on where to go and what to taste in off-the-beaten-path places like Niagara and Oregon. Watch for regularly updated wine travel features in Gang of Pour’s “Daze of Wine and Road Trips” e-journal.
Tom Cannavan’s wine-pages
Wine-pages is the long-time passion of Tom Cannavan, whose day job is editing “Fine Expressions”, a glossy bi-monthly magazine devoted to wine and premium drinks. Founded in 1995, wine-pages is a veritable Internet dinosaur, but don’t expect antiquated design or features: The site is spiffy and up-to-date and includes a great archive of wine-related material, from a BYO guide and book reviews to tasting notes and travel guides. And with its detailed notes on excursions to wine country around the globe, Cannavan’s site is my pick for the most practical wine travel tips. Voyagers can expect to find advice on “eating and sleeping” and “wines and things to do” throughout Europe, in the US, and in South Africa. Bon voyage!