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Reading Tom Walk’s blog entry about it being five years for him as a wine blogger, it occurred to me that I’ve watched him morph into so much more than a wine publicist. Even though my wine writer program doesn’t really include wine bloggers, per se, and has more of a focus toward more traditional print media with whom I’ve worked over the years, Tom is epitomizing what’s currently afoot… People morphing into the new wine writing guard, with many of them attaining a stature with as much credibility as the old guard.
For Tom, it’s been having a career as a publicist, then becoming a blogger, and segueing into what I consider a journalist. I’m very comfortable using the word “journalist,” because Tom’s willing to uncover all the dark, hidden secrets within the wine business. He’s then willing to reveal those finds, much to the chagrin of many within our business.
It was Tom who inspired me to blog more. At the time, it was his first year into it, and I had just starting my blog, writing about once a week, he wrote something to the effect that I should be writing more than I was. I resisted a bit, then realized that I should write a bit more. So I ramped it up to five or six days a week, depending on if my Saturdays have anything worth telling, or do I just upload images and stories for the week. It was Tom who so moved me. Recently, I thought, Tom’s really evolved into a new category of gray matter… You know, yin and yang (white and black combined becomes gray), a.k.a. publicist and writer.
The following is his Q&A, with some great answers:
[Q] Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?
TOM: My day job is as a publicist and marketer working with small and medium sized wineries and wine-related companies. In fact, this has been my day job for 20 years. I’m also executive director of the Specialty Wine Retailers Association.
[Q] When did you start writing about wine?
TOM: I started FERMENTATION: The Daily Wine Blog in November 2004
[Q] What prompted you to start writing about wine?
TOM: Ego and Interest. That is, I felt I had something to add to the conversation concerning the business of wine and where wine fits in our culture. I discovered easy to use blogging software and services in 2004 and thought there could be no better vehicle for my writing. At the time I think there were maybe 5 or 6 wine blogs on the net. I didn’t know for sure if I’d be read at all.
[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?
TOM: I’m primarily interested in the cultural, philosophical and political aspects of wine and the wine business. I’m also always trying to understand what role wine plays I my own life. That may sound odd, since it clearly plays a role not only as part of my vocation and as a beverage. However, wine also works as an important sign post and metaphor for me and I enjoy exploring how it does this.
[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?
TOM: If by “your job” you mean the blogging, the main thing that has changed is the sense of responsibility I feel that comes as a result of having a readership of a fairly good size. When I started writing I had a very small readership and that affects how one approaches a subject whether you want to admit it or not.
[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
TOM: The last one.
[Q] What’s your favorite variety?
TOM: Find myself drinking a lot of Grüners these days. I find them refreshing and interesting and wonderful with foods. But truth be told, I probably drink a lot more bourbon than wine.
[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?
TOM: It’s pretty hard to make bad wine these days. But with the economy hurting and with a lot of wine out there it’s truly a buyer’s market. The bargains that exist today, relative to the wine market of two years ago, are absurdly abundant.
[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
TOM: The ease by which one can locate wine using various services such as Snooth, Wine-Searcher, Vinfolio, search engines and other services is an incredible innovation. If you know the wine you want, you can probably find it pretty quickly now. And it doesn’t matter how rare it is.
[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
TOM: Lamb and Pinot Noir
[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?
TOM: In no particular order they would be Jazz, writing, philosophy, bourbon, religion, traveling, Kathy, baseball, golf, friends.
[Q] Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
TOM: I’m inspired by people who have have lived very long lives. I’m inspired by the people I love and their well being. I’m inspired by Gore Vidal.
[Q] For what would you like to be remembered?
TOM: For being the first person to live to be 250 years old. I don’t like the idea of missing anything, so I want to push this life as far into the future as possible.