The SOMM Journal

October/November 2014

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Page 18 of 120

18 { THE SOMM JOURNAL } OCTOBER/NOVEMBER 2014 Deserving Cyber Sips THE EIGHTH ANNUAL WINE BLOG AWARDS { recognition } THE EIGHTH ANNUAL WINE BLOG AWARDS were announced July 12 at the Wine Bloggers Conference, held this year in Santa Barbara County, CA. For the second year, I had the opportunity to serve as a judge, which entailed screening about 125 blogs to select five finalists in each of the nine categories. Every category was evaluated by three or four of the judges, who also included journalists Corie Brown, Mike Dunne, Kate Lavin, Greg Walter and Doug Wilder; radio personality Lynn Krielow Chamberlain; bloggers Rusty Gaffney and Mary Orlin; consultant Paul Mabray; and winemaker Judd Wallenbrock. Once the finalists were named, all the judges ranked their top five in each category. The winners were determined by a 50-50 combination of these "expert" opinions and the online public voting—making it an appropriately democratic process. Here are the winners (with my own favorite in parentheses if different). Best Overall: Jamie Goode's Wine Blog (Enobytes); Best Writing: HoseMaster of Wine; Best New Blog: Girl and the Grape (Italian Wine Central); Best Winery Blog: The Lynmar Life; Best Single-Subject Blog: Washington Wine Report (New York Cork Report); Best Wine Reviews: Wine School of Philadelphia (Ken's Wine Guide); Best Industry Blog: Fermentation (Terroirist); Best Original Photography or Videography: The Journey of Jordan Winery (Brunellos Have More Fun); Best Individual Blog Post: Lauren Mowery, Chasing the Vine, "Turkish Wines: Vinkara Winery Working to Preserve Indigenous Varieties with Delicious Results" (Erin Scala, Thinking-Drinking, "Chasing Mrs. Elizabeth Bird, NYC's First Female Sommelier"). If it seems that I disagreed with much of the voting, I must add that the winner was usually my second or third choice, if not my top choice, in each category. Indeed, I found the general quality of entries improved over just a year ago, even though some of the best-known blogs, such as Vinography and Dr. Vino, chose not to enter this time around. The inevitable blurring of categories that occurs on the Internet made it even more difficult to differentiate among the entrants. For example, while I agreed that the Wine School of Philadelphia published the best-written wine reviews (mostly by its Executive Director, Keith Wallace), I gave the nod in that category to Ken's Wine Guide (from Boston's Ken Hoggins) because of its sheer comprehensiveness. What I consider one of the best single- subject blogs, On Reserve (by Lindsey Zahn), showed up as a finalist for Best Overall, while my favorite blog as a whole, Terroirist (David White and other contributors), was relegated to the Best Industry category. As I did last year, I came away with a few complaints: Too many blogs are navel-gazing wine diaries; too many postings are anonymous, so that we have no idea whom to praise or blame; too many wine "facts" are presented without documentation or attribution; and there's just too much bad writing. But there's plenty of valuable content to be found in the wine blogosphere, as exemplified by this year's award winners. WHERE TO FIND THE BLOGS Brunellos Have More Fun: (site name has changed since the voting) Chasing the Vine: Dr. Vino: Enobytes: Fermentation: Girl and the Grape: HoseMaster of Wine: Italian Wine Central: Jamie Goode's Wine Blog: The Journey of Jordan Winery: Ken's Wine Guide: The Lynmar Life: New York Cork Report: On Reserve: A Wine Law Blog: Washington Wine Report: Wine School of Philadelphia: Terroirist: Thinking-Drinking: Vinography: by David Vogels

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