Monday, February 21, 2011

Relinquishing The Lodi Wine Guy

Today I announced my retirement from writing as “The Lodi Wine Guy” with the Lodi News-Sentinel.

Knowing there will be some of you curious for more behind-the-scenes info, and without any column-space limitations, I’ll offer more detail…

With the risk of unintentionally sounding “woe is me,” consistently writing a blog is hard work, and writing for a fixed column size of 615 words in a printed daily newspaper is even more challenging.

Over the years I’ve amassed oodles of wine Web site links and subscriptions via email, snail mail newsletters, and Google Reader. All this barrage of info is managed by Outlook rules and bookmarks. In some ways I’m thankful I didn’t get bombarded with tens of daily UPS shipments of wine samples.

Cobbling together the final weekly collection of words meant going as far as visiting the owner of a new tasting room, typing up my chicken scratch, retouching and uploading photos, then making up to six passes to boil down fun tidbits in perhaps 1,500 rough words to a highly-concentrated story with almost all adjectives removed.

That process took up more than 20% of my time, competing with the quality of service I was offering my clients through my winery consulting business. And, quite frankly, the pay for this form of wine art is paltry.

What led to the final decision to stop writing as The Lodi Wine Guy was a kindly proposition to collaborate with my publisher, Marty Weybret, on a new wine-related project through additional blogging.

I had to seriously ask myself if I wanted to be a wine writer or a wine producer. With all my background in the manufacture of consumer goods – along with the fact that I enjoy production – the choice became obvious.

I never thought of myself as much of a writer anyway. I had a talent for writing scripts for the stage, but would purposely avoid courses at U.C. Berkeley that stated a term paper as a requirement. Those I did have to write were often started and completed within 18 hours of deadline with the help of all-night coffee.

Following my passion means helping a select group of Lodi wineries to legally produce the best and most profitable wine possible, making and building our own brand, Panthos, along the way.

Looking back, I have only the most pleasant of thoughts toward Marty and the team at Lodi News-Sentinel, and will gladly work together with them on a more infrequent basis going forward. They have given me an invaluable experience to learn much about the craft of journalism.

And so it’s back into the trenches of making the news.