This is an indispensable tool for those who want to follow, in English, what really goes on in the world of Spanish and Portuguese wines – lively, informative and, most important, first-hand, on-the-scene knowledge!
Victor de la Serna http://elmundovino.elmundo.es

10 Commandments of Winery Blogging!

Moses and the Ten Commandments

Ideally, we try to limit our posts to the subject of Iberian wine. That said, our small consulting company has gained traction over the past year, giving us hope that it will continue to develop and excel well into the future. With growth, however, comes welcomed attention from both Spanish and Portuguese wineries alike. And with their keen focus upon us, we feel it is our duty to provide them with a bit of extra marketing knowledge that we’ve accumulated over the past three years of writing for Catavino. And to be honest, some of you Iberian wine nuts may find these blogging tips interesting and we hope that you as readers will feel the need/desire to add in a few of your own! So without further ado, please read on with booming voice and dramatic pauses!

  1. I. Thou shall not use Flash. Flash is pretty. Flash is for games, movies and art projects. Flash is not for wine blogs, nor is it for wine sites. Flash takes a long time to load, contains no information for Google and is annoying to watch/look at when trying to read text. Plus if I have to wait more than 10secs for it load, I’m gone and off to your neighbors site!
  2. II. Thou shall enable comments. A blog without comments is not a blog. Don’t be afraid of them they are positive tools, and even when you get a bad comment, which is rare, you’ll be able to troubleshoot and respond to it in an honest dialog; whereby, putting out any fire before it spreads.
  3. III. Thou shall not talk about your &$#!!?! awards all day! Please tell me about your awards once in awhile. I think 4 or 5 times a year should be more than enough. But let’s be frank. Although, we appreciate that you received a purple clover and blue diamond for your magnificent organic, single varietal, vineyard select wine from a random committee, in the end, I’m reading your blog because I want to better know you, because I love your wines, not the awards committee that charged you too much to enter your wines in their great taste off!
  4. IV. Thou shall talk about others wines. This may be shocker to you, but wine drinkers actually drink more than just one wine. Really, we do! And ironically, we know you do too. With this mutual understanding, we promise that if you mention that you enjoy another producers product, we won’t run away in horror and disgust, refusing to drink your wine again. In all likelihood, we’ll probably thank you and reward you with more loyalty. Why? Well, because you showed to us that you’re human and are willing to help us expand our wine world, if only a bit.
  5. V. Thou shall comment on other blogs. Blogging is about conversations, and bloggers like to hear from you. If you read something interesting, leave a note. Say “hello” or drop a smiley face ;) It means a lot to us, and in doing so you’ll be spreading your URL around the web like a dandelion’s seeds in the wind.
  6. VI. Thou shall link to others, again and again and again. This is basic SEO, but it is also friendly and useful. They say the best sites are the ones that send you away the most often. In the end, the more useful the information you point me to, the more I’ll come back to your site to look for more information.
  7. VII.Thou shall talk about things that have nothing to do with wine. Please tell us about your rose garden, favorite restaurant, philosophical thought of the day or travel plans. Blogging is a human endevour and very few humans only talk about wine everyday in their real lives.
  8. Watching ones fate
  9. VIII. Thou shall include many photos and videos. We don’t care if they are taken with a cell phone, reel to reel film projector, lomo, or otherwise. We want imagery. You don’t need professional photos, and in fact, we don’t want to see tailored videos and photos. We want to see photos of your everyday life taken with your camera. If they are a bit rough, it’s not a big deal, since ours are most likely too. Just please post them regularly and get a flickr account to share them with us. I’ll even make you a friend and leave you comments if you do!
  10. IX.Thou shall not be a perfectionist. Please use a spell checker, but we’ll forgive you if things slip. Sometimes the best editors are your readers. Enjoy the fact that spontaneity is a virtue and a signal that you are enjoying yourself. If you fret about what your going to say, you lose the moment. Remember, blogging is not a press release, it’s a conversation.
  11. X. Blog Readers Please Contribute Community and community building are important…what is your number 10?

So there you have it. Can’t wait to see what everyone has to add!

Cheers,
Ryan Opaz

  • Avi

    Great post. How can bloggers writing on specific regions (*as opposed to just wineries) improve their blog and improve awareness of their wine region? Should wineries in non-English speaking countries be writing in English? I write about Israeli wine (<a href="http://israelwine.wordpress.com) “>http://israelwine.wordpress.com) and am always looking for ways to improve? Do you guys have any suggestions? The work you're doing for Spanish wine is incredibly inspiring for someone trying to do the same with eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines.

  • Avi

    Great post. How can bloggers writing on specific regions (*as opposed to just wineries) improve their blog and improve awareness of their wine region? Should wineries in non-English speaking countries be writing in English? I write about Israeli wine (<a href="http://israelwine.wordpress.com) “>http://israelwine.wordpress.com) and am always looking for ways to improve? Do you guys have any suggestions? The work you're doing for Spanish wine is incredibly inspiring for someone trying to do the same with eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines.

  • Avi

    Great post. How can bloggers writing on specific regions (*as opposed to just wineries) improve their blog and improve awareness of their wine region? Should wineries in non-English speaking countries be writing in English? I write about Israeli wine (<a href="http://israelwine.wordpress.com) “>http://israelwine.wordpress.com) and am always looking for ways to improve? Do you guys have any suggestions? The work you're doing for Spanish wine is incredibly inspiring for someone trying to do the same with eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines.

  • Avi

    Great post. How can bloggers writing on specific regions (*as opposed to just wineries) improve their blog and improve awareness of their wine region? Should wineries in non-English speaking countries be writing in English? I write about Israeli wine (<a href="http://israelwine.wordpress.com) “>http://israelwine.wordpress.com) and am always looking for ways to improve? Do you guys have any suggestions? The work you're doing for Spanish wine is incredibly inspiring for someone trying to do the same with eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines.

  • Robert

    excellent post, as always, and very useful. I also happen to agree pretty much 100% (although I'd suggest saying Search Engine Optimisation rather than SEO in point 6) why is it that the best consultants also manage to somehow combine their work with dispensing great free advice as well? I guess this is the demonstration, proof in the pudding and all that. thank you

  • Melissa A. Dobson

    I LOVE this advice. Much needed and appreciated from this wine blogging beginner! For my number 10 (X): Show your personal side. Share stories from your day-to-day vineyard life, let us get to know (and love) your family, staff and customers.

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  • winehiker

    I'd have to say that my 10th Commandment would be "Thou shalt not require thy readers to log in to leave a comment." Speaking hypothetically, if I have to register on your site just so I can comment on your posts, I won't be happy about giving you information that you shouldn't require from me. Plus, I may even forget what it was I was going to say in my comment by the time I'm done registering or logging in. But by then, I will have probably decided that it's not worth my time to spend any more brain cells on your site anyway. If you want people to comment on your posts – and you should – then make it easy for them to do so quickly.

  • http://www.wineconversation.com Robert

    excellent post, as always, and very useful. I also happen to agree pretty much 100% (although I’d suggest saying Search Engine Optimisation rather than SEO in point 6)

    why is it that the best consultants also manage to somehow combine their work with dispensing great free advice as well? I guess this is the demonstration, proof in the pudding and all that.

    thank you

  • http://familylovewine.wordpress.com/ Melissa A. Dobson

    I LOVE this advice. Much needed and appreciated from this wine blogging beginner!

    For my number 10 (X): Show your personal side. Share stories from your day-to-day vineyard life, let us get to know (and love) your family, staff and customers.

  • Ryan

    AVI, ask a lot of questions, interact with others, and record your journey. We all love to follow others as they experience something first hand. Oh and remember blogging is 2-way not 1-way Winehiker – Right now, In fact if you have to register you really are commiting a sin against commandment number 2, since this is not the idea of comments! Thanks Robert and Melissa for the kind words. anyone else have a number ten?

  • http://israelwine.wordpress.com Avi

    Great post. How can bloggers writing on specific regions (*as opposed to just wineries) improve their blog and improve awareness of their wine region? Should wineries in non-English speaking countries be writing in English?

    I write about Israeli wine (http://israelwine.wordpress.com) and am always looking for ways to improve? Do you guys have any suggestions? The work you’re doing for Spanish wine is incredibly inspiring for someone trying to do the same with eastern Mediterranean and Israeli wines.

  • Gabriella

    I think there is a very important number 10 that Avi alluded to: Thou ought to challenge thyself to think outside of the box. Turn to others for inspiration and see what sparks you. We all get stuck writing the same tasting notes, climbing on our same soapboxes, and generally, doing what is most comfortable for us. Why not do something different, a touch outside of your comfort zone? Have your readers help you name your<a href="” target=”_blank”>http://www.pinotblogger.com/2005/11/22/update-on-winery-name/“>next label! Do a <a href="video ” target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7nlV6MGic“>video tasting note Or find a fun way to include your customers in spreading the word about your wines..like a <a href="rubber ” target=”_blank”>http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/2008/06/take-your-rubbe.html“>rubber chicken! Whatever it takes, use your imagination!

  • Gabriella

    I think there is a very important number 10 that Avi alluded to: Thou ought to challenge thyself to think outside of the box. Turn to others for inspiration and see what sparks you. We all get stuck writing the same tasting notes, climbing on our same soapboxes, and generally, doing what is most comfortable for us. Why not do something different, a touch outside of your comfort zone? Have your readers help you name your<a href="” target=”_blank”>http://www.pinotblogger.com/2005/11/22/update-on-winery-name/“>next label! Do a <a href="video ” target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7nlV6MGic“>video tasting note Or find a fun way to include your customers in spreading the word about your wines..like a <a href="rubber ” target=”_blank”>http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/2008/06/take-your-rubbe.html“>rubber chicken! Whatever it takes, use your imagination!

  • Gabriella

    I think there is a very important number 10 that Avi alluded to: Thou ought to challenge thyself to think outside of the box. Turn to others for inspiration and see what sparks you. We all get stuck writing the same tasting notes, climbing on our same soapboxes, and generally, doing what is most comfortable for us. Why not do something different, a touch outside of your comfort zone? Have your readers help you name your<a href="” target=”_blank”>http://www.pinotblogger.com/2005/11/22/update-on-winery-name/“>next label! Do a <a href="video ” target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7nlV6MGic“>video tasting note Or find a fun way to include your customers in spreading the word about your wines..like a <a href="rubber ” target=”_blank”>http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/2008/06/take-your-rubbe.html“>rubber chicken! Whatever it takes, use your imagination!

  • Gabriella

    I think there is a very important number 10 that Avi alluded to: Thou ought to challenge thyself to think outside of the box. Turn to others for inspiration and see what sparks you. We all get stuck writing the same tasting notes, climbing on our same soapboxes, and generally, doing what is most comfortable for us. Why not do something different, a touch outside of your comfort zone? Have your readers help you name your<a href="” target=”_blank”>http://www.pinotblogger.com/2005/11/22/update-on-winery-name/“>next label! Do a <a href="video ” target=”_blank”>http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VZ7nlV6MGic“>video tasting note Or find a fun way to include your customers in spreading the word about your wines..like a <a href="rubber ” target=”_blank”>http://www.elbloggotorcido.com/2008/06/take-your-rubbe.html“>rubber chicken! Whatever it takes, use your imagination!

  • http://www.californiawinehikes.com/winehiker winehiker

    I’d have to say that my 10th Commandment would be “Thou shalt not require thy readers to log in to leave a comment.”

    Speaking hypothetically, if I have to register on your site just so I can comment on your posts, I won’t be happy about giving you information that you shouldn’t require from me. Plus, I may even forget what it was I was going to say in my comment by the time I’m done registering or logging in. But by then, I will have probably decided that it’s not worth my time to spend any more brain cells on your site anyway. If you want people to comment on your posts – and you should – then make it easy for them to do so quickly.

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    AVI, ask a lot of questions, interact with others, and record your journey. We all love to follow others as they experience something first hand. Oh and remember blogging is 2-way not 1-way

    Winehiker – Right now, In fact if you have to register you really are commiting a sin against commandment number 2, since this is not the idea of comments!

    Thanks Robert and Melissa for the kind words.

    anyone else have a number ten?

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    I think there is a very important number 10 that Avi alluded to: Thou ought to challenge thyself to think outside of the box. Turn to others for inspiration and see what sparks you. We all get stuck writing the same tasting notes, climbing on our same soapboxes, and generally, doing what is most comfortable for us. Why not do something different, a touch outside of your comfort zone?

    Have your readers help you name your next label!

    Do a video tasting note

    Or find a fun way to include your customers in spreading the word about your wines..like a rubber chicken!

    Whatever it takes, use your imagination!

  • Gabriella

    David, speaking of admitting the truth, whether it be about your wines or your vineyard, check out La Gramiere's recent posts on Mildew: <a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…”><a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/b…It's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…It's a great example of wineries standing up telling it like it is!

  • Gabriella

    David, speaking of admitting the truth, whether it be about your wines or your vineyard, check out La Gramiere's recent posts on Mildew: <a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…”><a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/b…It's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…It's a great example of wineries standing up telling it like it is!

  • Gabriella

    David, speaking of admitting the truth, whether it be about your wines or your vineyard, check out La Gramiere's recent posts on Mildew: <a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…”><a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/b…It's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…It's a great example of wineries standing up telling it like it is!

  • Gabriella

    David, speaking of admitting the truth, whether it be about your wines or your vineyard, check out La Gramiere's recent posts on Mildew: <a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…”><a href="http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/b…It's ” target=”_blank”>http://www.lagramiere.com/blog/2008/06/battling-t…It's a great example of wineries standing up telling it like it is!

  • David McDuff

    Thoughtful post, Ryan. Just about all of the commandments could be just as easily applied to wine and food blogging in general. For a winery blog in particular, my tenth would be: Don't be afraid to let your readers know when one of your own wines didn't live up to your hopes or expectations. It may not seem like the greatest sales technique but, in the end of the day, those that really care about your wines will respect you for your honesty and humanity.

  • Ryan

    David I love your #10 Totally right on! Admitting you are human and that not all wines are created equal is very important! Also this could be applied to almost any industry to some degree…the real thing is honesty. THanks for the contribution!

  • Iris

    '10: not far from David's advice: Don't be afraid to talk about the difficulties, you meet during a year in the vineyard – every year is not a "millésime du siècle" (at least not outside Bordeaux:-)), so if you have to struggle with too much rain, if pests are threatening, hail has come down on your wines or (like often in our case), wild boars are quicker than you to harvest your best grapes, talk about it, not to make people cry with you, but to show them, that – like in any other profession, you have to deal with uncertainty, go ahead after a defeat and always have to count with "mother nature", who is not always only a loving creature….

  • http://mcduffwine.blogspot.com David McDuff

    Thoughtful post, Ryan. Just about all of the commandments could be just as easily applied to wine and food blogging in general. For a winery blog in particular, my tenth would be:

    Don’t be afraid to let your readers know when one of your own wines didn’t live up to your hopes or expectations. It may not seem like the greatest sales technique but, in the end of the day, those that really care about your wines will respect you for your honesty and humanity.

  • Melissa A. Dobson

    David, I think that your #10 offers valuable advice. Like Ryan said, honesty in business and acknowledging your shortcomings or missteps lends to credibility. We all learn from the experience and I think it's better to acknowledge a less-than-ideal wine yourself, or someone else almost certainly will.

  • http://www.obiscoito.com Ryan

    David I love your #10 Totally right on! Admitting you are human and that not all wines are created equal is very important!

    Also this could be applied to almost any industry to some degree…the real thing is honesty. THanks for the contribution!

  • http://lisson.over-blog.com Iris

    ’10: not far from David’s advice:

    Don’t be afraid to talk about the difficulties, you meet during a year in the vineyard – every year is not a “millésime du siècle” (at least not outside Bordeaux:-)), so if you have to struggle with too much rain, if pests are threatening, hail has come down on your wines or (like often in our case), wild boars are quicker than you to harvest your best grapes, talk about it, not to make people cry with you, but to show them, that – like in any other profession, you have to deal with uncertainty, go ahead after a defeat and always have to count with “mother nature”, who is not always only a loving creature….

  • http://familylovewine.wordpress.com/ Melissa A. Dobson

    David, I think that your #10 offers valuable advice. Like Ryan said, honesty in business and acknowledging your shortcomings or missteps lends to credibility. We all learn from the experience and I think it’s better to acknowledge a less-than-ideal wine yourself, or someone else almost certainly will.

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    David, speaking of admitting the truth, whether it be about your wines or your vineyard, check out La Gramiere’s recent posts on Mildew: . It’s a great example of wineries standing up telling it like it is!

  • Cindy Boney

    Thank you soooooo much for the 10 commandments. I am a new blogger and I love to blog about Texas wines and wineries–but actually, I blog about any wine I love to drink. Your commandments have not only confirmed that I'm on the right track, but it inspires me to press on. Thanks again!! Boneygirl cab

  • http://txwineblog.blogspot.com/ Cindy Boney

    Thank you soooooo much for the 10 commandments. I am a new blogger and I love to blog about Texas wines and wineries–but actually, I blog about any wine I love to drink. Your commandments have not only confirmed that I’m on the right track, but it inspires me to press on. Thanks again!!

    Boneygirl
    cab

  • JIKvig

    X: Thou shall use social networking for what it's worth. Word to mouth is really important, and social networking is the new way to make your brand more known. It's free, and it can help you reach a bigger audience. Great post by the way!

  • http://jikvig.com/wine/ JIKvig

    X: Thou shall use social networking for what it’s worth.
    Word to mouth is really important, and social networking is the new way to make your brand more known. It’s free, and it can help you reach a bigger audience.

    Great post by the way!

  • Enobytes

    Great top 10! I agree with Winehiker's #11 comment, "Thou shalt not require thy readers to log in to leave a comment.” Its an extra step most are not willing to take, so its always good to make it easy for users to comment.

  • http://enobytes.org Enobytes

    Great top 10! I agree with Winehiker’s #11 comment, “Thou shalt not require thy readers to log in to leave a comment.” Its an extra step most are not willing to take, so its always good to make it easy for users to comment.

  • Ignacio Segovia

    I enjoyed your article about the 10 commandments. I believe that that I do not meet them all, but maybe I will in a short time following your advice. You're riding something very interesting this summer. I hope that the experience is very positive and represents a major push for the wine blogging in Europe. I hope to continue in touch with you. Regards, Ignacio Segovia

  • Philip James

    I actually thought #10 should be, as you said: "Blog Readers Please Contribute". ie. the blog readers should contribute by commenting.

  • Robert

    Funny! I thought that too at first. I think it works.

  • http://www.vendervino.com Ignacio Segovia

    I enjoyed your article about the 10 commandments. I believe that that I do not meet them all, but maybe I will in a short time following your advice.

    You’re riding something very interesting this summer. I hope that the experience is very positive and represents a major push for the wine blogging in Europe.

    I hope to continue in touch with you.

    Regards,
    Ignacio Segovia

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    I actually thought #10 should be, as you said: “Blog Readers Please Contribute”. ie. the blog readers should contribute by commenting.

  • http://www.wineconversation.com Robert

    Funny! I thought that too at first. I think it works.

  • Enobytes

    Number X "Thou shall integrate a search mechanism on thy site". If users are forced to open a separate window to search on content from your blog, tis annoying! I won't name names, but several wine blogs don't incorporate a search mechanism. Shame on them!

  • http://enobytes.org Enobytes

    Number X “Thou shall integrate a search mechanism on thy site”. If users are forced to open a separate window to search on content from your blog, tis annoying! I won’t name names, but several wine blogs don’t incorporate a search mechanism. Shame on them!

  • Gabriella

    Additionally, please provide all information about a wine on the wine page. There is nothing more annoying than my not finding any information about your product other than a small thumb-sized picture or having to fumble with PDFs to get the basic details about your wine.

  • Philip James

    Gabriella – if thats the case, then i'd like to add "dont remove pages for wines that are sold out". Just because they are sold out, doesnt mean they no longer exist!

  • http://www.catavino.net Gabriella

    Additionally, please provide all information about a wine on the wine page. There is nothing more annoying than my not finding any information about your product other than a small thumb-sized picture or having to fumble with PDFs to get the basic details about your wine.

  • http://www.snooth.com Philip James

    Gabriella – if thats the case, then i’d like to add “dont remove pages for wines that are sold out”. Just because they are sold out, doesnt mean they no longer exist!

  • Cindy_Boney

    Thank you for this post. I have it as a separate link on my toolbar so I can refer to it often. I read this about a month ago…started blogging away…and have returned to check myself. I feel I can give myself a 9 at least. The main think I know is I'm having a blast, and I'm finally doing something I've wanted to do for a long time…journal/blog about things dear to me. Thanks for your sharing your passion and your heart!!

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  • ryan

    Cindy thank you for the great comment. This is the type of comment that makes blogging worth while. One tip, please tell us where you are blogging, so that we may com check you out! Cheers, Ryan