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May 12, 2009

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What a wonderful push for NY wines! Looking forward to reading through these posts.

Just curious: how was this event financed. Did journalists and bloggers get subsidized?

Joe Dressner

Joe,

Thanks for reading and for the comment.

Bloggers paid for their own travel hotel and meals save one sponsored dinner and one sponsored lunch, both of which would have been paid via event registration fee if the sponsors hadn't approached me.

Lenn:

How about journalists? Did they pay for their travel, non-sponsored meals and hotels?

God bless you Joe Dressner. Jesus loves you, more than you know.

Joe,

I guess you're new to my blog and to the idea of TasteCamp, which is meant to be by bloggers for bloggers.

There weren't any "journalists" invited, only bloggers. Of course I consider bloggers journalists. Perhaps you do not.

Lenn

Its true, I'm new to the idea of TasteCamp.

So all they got was they were fed twice by the sponsors of the weekend. Otherwise, they paid for transportation and hotels and meals?

Joe, that is correct. Everyone paid for their own flights (or gas if they drove. Everyone paid for their own hotel rooms. Everyone paid for their own taxi/van when they weren't driving. Everyone paid for breakfast and dinner on the Saturday. Everyone bought their own breakfast and lunch on Sunday...except me. I did allow my friends to pay for my chicken sandwich and beer Sunday after TasteCamp had concluded.

Thanks for the clarification. I looked on your web site and don't fully understand who you are. Are you an independent blogger or are you a PR person for New York wines? That is, are you on a salary or get fees from a sponsoring institution or do you have a day job.

How about the members of the LENNDEVOURS Team? Are they on salary from New York Wine promotional agencies or is writing for this web site a hobby.

You asked me earlier if I though there was a difference between a blogger and a journalist. Yes, I do. I have two wine blogs and I don't consider them works of journalism. Their stated intent is to promote the wines my company imports.

A journalist, at least one with ethical integrity, is free of legal and monetary entanglements. They have a professional ethics code that forbids meals, free trips and junkets. They can't be bought. Look at the New York Times code or any major code (AP or any journalists association) for more clarification.

The beauty of the web is any imbecile (myself included) can appear to be writing unbiased material. The internet affords legitimate journalists, cranks and pr people a self-publishing mechanism. But access to a self-publishing mechanism does not make one a journalist.

Joe, I can respond to this comment quickly and easily....

I have a day job that is completely and utterly unrelated to the wine industry. I work in software, actually.

The LENNDEVOURS team is 100% unpaid.

We all do this because we have a real passion for local wines.

Unlike yourself, we DO treat this as a journalistic endeavor (and I think most good bloggers do), which is probably why I don't see journalists and bloggers as separate groups.

As far as "being bought," no one has even tried to buy us yet :)

My hats off to you and your team. I know way too many journalists and bloggers who gladly accept free meals, accomodations and free trips to viticultural regions. Have you codified your policy somewhere?

But don't you think having sponsors works against your independence?

Lastly, could send me a url to an article on your site where you pan the wines from a New York winery?

Thanks,

Joe

Joe and LENN, there are so many types of bloggers out there, it's like saying "Ah all those people who print articles on paper"

Blog=Tool
Tools are used in different ways. Some use them for good some for evil. All have there place. There are blogger/journalist, blogger/importers, blogger/self-promoters...etc.etc.etc

Joe your wine blogs are not journalism, since your not a journalist. The printing press is used for printing newspapers, and also poster sized adverts for brands. The users of the printing press are not lumped together though, since that would be silly!

As to ethics here's a code of ethics from someone of some importance in the wine world that seems to be quite eloquent: http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/a20090418.html and allows for the fact that dinners sometimes are paid by others, a fact that does not allows lead to corruption.

cheers,

Joe,

I haven't codified my policy, no. I don't think that my readers care, frankly. But perhaps I do need to consider it for people like you.

No, I do not think that sponsorships on my blog affect my independence at all. I state up front with anyone who approaches me (I never approach anyone about sponsoring my blog) that I will not sell advertorial and no one expects it.

I also do not accept advertising from any individual winery. If I were to do so, I would need to stop writing about that winery, which is against the goals of the site.

I'd invite you to visit the "Taste Notes" category page and read through the reviews. "Panned" can mean a lot of different things. It's also important to remember that I don't publish reviews for every wine that I taste.

http://lennthompson.typepad.com/lenndevours/tasting_notes/

Ryan:

I agree with you. I'm trying to find a critical tone on this "blog" and I can't really find one.

While it is admirable that Lenn is doing this out of enthusiasm, there must be something critical to say about the wines of New York State.

I'm a specialist of French and Italian wines and there are disturbing trends throughout those regions. On my two blogs and on my corporate site, we go into this in detail.

Lenndevours though reads like a promotional site for New York State wines. Certainly, there must be something critical to say....

Joe, I don't think you've been reading my blog for very long then.

I say plenty of negative things about New York wines. Keep reading. Or don't. But you shouldn't say such things without doing your homework :)

Joe,

I'm one of the contributors here, and perhaps I can help.

My day job is as a news reporter / anchor for the ABC News affiliate in Rochester, NY. I do not accept even a free sandwich at a press event for something that is not "hard news" in nature. I don't accept bottled water.

Those same standards apply to wine. I cover people, events, and issues with a passion for the story of wine, but that does not mean I come with an open palm. In fact, I often have to insist on not taking free wines. I also avoid the rather common "industry discount" that is available at purchase. I hope that the many industry folks I've met in the Finger Lakes can affirm my adherence to this mentality.

We've upset plenty of people by reporting and writing honestly. Do we occasionally make friends in this industry? Sure we do. Do we seek out or accept special treatment? No we do not. In my piece published this morning, you'll see that I wrote very honestly about the wines from a Finger Lakes producer that were submitted for a special event. I doubt that went over well, but it was my honest assessment.

I've long appreciated your judgement on what makes for a quality wine, and it's nice to chat with you. Cheers.

Joe,

First, it's great to see you join our discussion; I've enjoyed your wines for years.

But I'm not sure if the reader is really served if there are negative reviews here. I struggle with the same issue on my own wine blog and podcast. With so many great wines I find it much more enjoyable to point out what I find really good and don't publish many bad reviews (but I will be doing so shortly for a wine I raved about 2 years ago but is utterly disappointing today). And if you read Lenn's tasting notes here you will see quite a few with 2 stars or less.

If this was 30 years ago when there was a lot of crappy wine in the market and many brands coasted on reputation, that would be one thing. But today it's rare to see truly flawed wine so I'm not sure if publishing negative reviews really does any good. The market tends to correct for such things IMO.

Tim, thanks for chiming in. As a fellow wine-blogging old timer, you know I respect your opinions...

...except when it comes to publishing negative reviews. I have absolutely no problem publishing negative reviews. I have in the past and I will in the future.

The biggest problem I have is that I taste way more wines than I'd ever have time to write up full reviews of. I need to come up with a valuable way to get more reviews on LENNDEVOURS. If I taste 10 wines from the same winery, I don't want to hijack LENNDEVOURS for two weeks only publishing reviews from that winery.

I'm toying with the idea of doing one primary review for instances like this and then listing my raw notes for the others underneath. The problem there is that if more than one wine is worth highlighting....

And how do I decide what wine deserves a full review vs. not? I wrestle with it almost every day.

Tim,

Fair points, but it's also fair to say that our coverage on Lenndevours ebbs and flows. There has been a wave of strong wines in the last two vintages, so that helps any review. But we're also working on several posts related to some of the big mistakes that are being made in the NY wine industry. I won't give too much away, but there are serious problems in some areas. We've never been hesitant to be honest on this blog.

Lenn,

Here's how I would approach it:

(First, I'd bad the idea of scores, but I'm like that!)

Wine is subjective in almost every sense. You should write about the wines that tell unique stories. They don't have to be all positive. But wine is a story, and there is so much banal bunk out there that it hardly merits mention.

Evan: One reason that I feel the desire (maybe not a need, but a desire) to include something about every NY wine that I taste is that I try to be a consumer advocate on some level. I want people to know that if they go to XYZ Vineyards, they should try wine A, but that wine B may not be worth trying. If I only write about A OR B, I can't really do that effectively.

Lenn,

I'm in the same boat on the number of wines tasted vs. reviews posted. So I'm going to log every wine into Snooth so others can find them even if I don't get reviews posted.

I certainly don't have the experience everyone here has with Long Island wines. I have visited wineries twice and tasted wines in various venues. I have not found anything I like, but I'm a particular guy.

I know the argument that it is an area good for potatoes tires all you folks, who will be quick to point out that Bordeaux is also sandy. Without getting into that argument, has someone written a good explanation of why the soils of Long Island are good for wine production? I'm not talking about the cool ocean breezes explanation, but a geological explanation.

I'd also like to know the general density of plantation and what sort of clonal material is used for different grape varieties. Is there any material on this? Anyone working with smuggled selections massale.

Lastly, is anyone doing a natural vinification at low yields, with no enzymes or innoculated years. I don't want to argue about these techniques but am just curious if anyone works in that way.

Thanks,

Joe

Joe,

In the Finger Lakes, Hermann J. Wiemer is the only producer that I am aware of making wine in this fashion. Their single-vineyard Rieslings are distinctive, low-yielding sites. Winemakers and proprietor Fred Merwarth does not use commercial yeasts for his Rieslings and, as of two weeks ago, the 2008 Rieslings were still fermenting.

I don't care to speak for Fred or anyone else, so you're better off contacting them for more info if you're curious. Also, I do not have information on how each of the 106 FL wineries makes their wines, so this is hardly definitive.

Cheers.

Wish I had something to say other than I'm a big fan of Joe's wines...

Oh wait..some of the best Chinon I've drank have had Joe's name on them AND some of the best new world cab franc I've had were from L.I.

Here's to looking at the positive!

All the best Cabernet Franc from the Loire come from limestone and clay vineyards. The lower vineyards sides, in sand, producing quaffing wines at best.

Keep your eye out for Niagara Escarpment grown cab franc in the future then. Clay over limestone is my mantra up here.

Isn't Catherine & Piere Breton's les Galichets wine grown on gravel? I was impressed with that one.

Their Trinch blend from 07 is very similar to what we grow on the sandy/light gravel soils up here by the lake.

Joe... I'm not a blogger or journalist... just an outsider who is a fan of LI wines reads lenn's blog each week.
Not sure what you are driving at here with your emails. It seems on one hand you are criticizing Lenn for not beeing overly critical and then you quickly change topics to wanting to know geologic detail of LI soil. Seems you are digging for something specific, but not asking outright, and the conversation seems to be jumping all over the place.
Lenn posts a few tasting notes each week which is only a tiny sample of what he has actually tasted. If you are looking for some notes on a particular wine, email him and I'm sure he'll share his comments with you for anything he has not formally "published"; when Lenn publishes something on a given winery, I'll often shoot him an email about other bottles in their portfolio if I have specific questions - - - and he always responds (whether it be positive or negative).
As for geology, there are a slew of wine makers / winery owners who read and respond to Lenn's site (especially Shinn, Paumonok, & Raphael)... maybe they can chime in with some of the scientific / geological details you want.

Joe,
The geological name for our soils at Shinn Estate Vineyards is Haven. They are well drained and formed of very fine sandy loam. They are underlain by glacially deposited gravelly rocks and stones. These uniques ancient soils provide the breadbasket for feeding the vines that produce our distictive wines. When well cared for(in our case biodynamically)these soils produce profound wines of historic significance.

We do not look to other regions of the world to find the solutions to making great wine here on Long Island. We look under our feet, standing in our own vineyard.

We are moving in the direction of making all of our wines with indigenous yeast. We will be releasing the first of these later this summer.

We do not use enzyme additions.

We would be happy to answer any other questions that you may have.

Thanks for your interest.

David Page
Shinn Estate Vineyards

Joe,
I forgot to add that our vines are planted at a density of between 1500 and 2000 plants per acre. A variety of clonal material grafted to devigorating rootstocks is from Entav Inra in Bordeaux.

David Page
Shinn Estate Vineyards

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