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October 17, 2007


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Good self-defense and self-explanation. It's just the time-less old guard versus new team confrontation. Some of these people react well to a little hand-holding as they walk throught the shiny, new world on their first exploratory steps. You have to assess their value to you. "Do I need this in my life and work?" If not, move on to more accommodating relationships. If you do perceive a value in this contact, take a deep breath and explain what you are all about. If they still don't get it, move on. Go Lenn!

Bradley: Thanks for the comment. This actually is someone that I'd love to work with going forward, and I've tried to smooth things over, but to no avail. He's just stopped getting back to me altogether.


Maybe try sending him a crisp ten dollar bill.

Let me leave aside for the moment the issue over definitions, as to what constitutes a "professional" or a "journalist." I think what may be of more importance is the question whether bloggers have an impact in the wine world.

If bloggers have no impact, they could freely be ignored. The issue of definitions then becomes moot.

But, if bloggers do have an impact, then maybe the extent of that impact is of more value than actual definitions. For even if someone is not technically a "professional wine journalist," but their blog has a significant impact, then they should not be ignored.

I think it cannot be denied that bloggers do have an impact on the wine world. There are plenty of vendors that see that fact. It is why they send samples to bloggers, invite them to events, etc. They would not do so unless they felt bloggers would benefit them.

It still amazes me the number of companies that do constant Google (or similar) searches to find out where they have been mentioned online. They care what bloggers say about them. They understand the good or bad press that I blogger can provide.

As the wine blogger community continues to grow, as well as unite in some ways, I think the impact of bloggers will only grow. And those in the wine world need to keep up with the time and recognize the potential impact of bloggers.

Lenn, has this person ever even read your blog? I think your words would speak volumes as to your dedication and professionalism in regards to wine. I am sure your blog has impacted the world of New York wines. Those who would so readily dismiss you evidence their own ignorance.


I'd ask him to find another wine writer who covers the Long Island Wine Region as comprehensively as you do.

Keep bugging him, point him to this post. He'll come around.

The thing that maddens me about the "You're not a professional" angle is the obvious counterexample. What, exactly, is Robert Parker's background as a journalist or a wine expert? He's just a former (I assume) lawyer who started writing a little publication about wine.

The desktop publishing revolution of the 80s is the approximate equivalent to the blogging revolution of today: It enabled people to do their own thing outside of the established "gatekeepers." Many of those fell away; some stayed on.

Yeah, no one has as much influence as Parker. But 30 years ago, neither did he.

These dinosaurs don't get it. The year is 2007, not 1977, and the NY wine industry has evolved considerably. Most of the industry organizations that continue to linger seem more and more archaic as time marches on and the wine keeps getting better, more diverse, and more interesting.

New York wine isn't just a big happy club anymore. It's a complex web of traditional offerings and ongoing experimentation that attracts all kinds of consumers from a variety of locations and backgrounds. It's really hard to convey the entire industry in one tri-fold brochure.

Without the worldwide print exposure that the more established wine regions enjoy, the internet has provided most of the news about the developments within NY wine. If someone cannot appreciate the value of bloggers like you, then shame on them. They need to get with the program.

Lenn, sorry to hear that you were put through the ringer. The fact that people who you are a veritable booster for feel threatened by you is a real mystery. Personally, if not for you, I'd know about 98% less about New York wine (the other 2% comes from the nice couple who owns Duchamp Winery in Sonoma...they used to own a winery on Long Island as well as catering company "A Movable Feast".

I think the more accurate word to describe the position of wine bloggers is relevance as opposed to the old fashioned "professional/amateur" dichotomy.

Though it seems silly for him to have asked you if you were "relevant" since the answer to that is so crystal clear.

Lenn - I think there is a significant amount of press (recently) that Long Island wine has been enjoying. But being on the inside I also know how the vast majority of it is innane, uninformed, fluffy pieces (and I include a lot of high profile articles in that.) You know what your credentials are? You're one of the two or three writers devoted to OUR region that can write with the integrity that comes from an insider's knowledge. Not to mention a passion for the subject. Your credentials are the respect the NY industry has for your criticism. Put that on your resume.

I believe I can make an educated guess at to the ID of the mystery disparager.

Some fellow named Dan Rattiner (rhymes with 'Sam the Cleaner') used to publish some goofy little free Pennysaver-type adpapers.

His reputation and publishing empire were not built overnight.

So take heart, my friend.

If a spokesperson or executive has no time for you, continue to report the facts, and speak the truth to his 'power'.

Lenn, this is almost unfathomable to me. What are the credentials for most critics? They are passionate about their subjects, they consume lots of "x", and they are good writers who have managed to gather a following. That is cred. Some go on to get degrees, certifications, etc., but the vast majority do not.

You are the voice of authority as far as I am concerned on Long Island and NY wines. Full Stop. For every person who questions your credential, I imagine there are 5 more who accept them because the proof is in the pudding.

Lenn, you have always been honest about your credentials on this blog, most particularly in your revisions of your wine rating scale.

My guess is that this individual has never seen this blog. If he did, he need not ask these pretentious questions to be assured he is speaking to a professional journalist/ passionate wine enthusiast.

All of us who are interested in a particular topic/ sub-culture (be it food, wine, art, etc.) are critics in the sense that our experiences within this particular realm grant us the basis for making educated comparisons.

To surmise, don't let the man get you down!

As a food writer, I hear this question from the other side of the table a lot. It seems to me that more of the 'credential' question needs to focus on the 'writer' part than the 'wine' or 'food' part unless you're claiming to be an 'expert' in the field. In other words, you write about wine--about your experience with wine--and people respond very well to your writing. You've struck a chord that people can relate to and learn from and trust. That, my friend, means you are unequivically a "wine writer" in my book. If you were claiming to be a credentialled sommellier (or if I were claiming to be a CIA-alum chef) that would be another story. But you (and I) are not.

Ben Franklin didn't have a professional journalism degree either.... yet he somehow managed to change the world with his writing (among other things.)

in the age of Ali G. it's in the establishment's best interest to have a stone wall up (though idiotic to ignore a legitimate blog); in the age of bloggers it's in their best interests to know that they are non-establishment, a threat, and should expect the inevitable backlash and have a vigorous defense ready against the attack (yawn) from the capitalist media, other establishment hanger-ons and VIP BMOCs.

The whole debate is getting a bit silly. Lenn as you and I know we DO MAKE A DIFFERENCE. With time they will find out that they made a mistake in ignoring us. Keep up the great work!

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