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The Happening: Symposium for Professional Wine Writers


According to Louise Kiernan from the Chicago Tribune, you shouldn’t be reading this. At the opening session for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers, Kiernan suggested that bloggers and writers step away from the screen and go out and have a life, and meet people (drinking wine optional but encouraged). Her presentation encompassed things to do less (work, write and make assumptions) and things to do more (ask questions – the harder the better and learn how to search court documents and doing FOIA requests, read and surf). Although some of this is a bit contradictory, it’s common sense. Reading other wine blogs has taught me things I have stolen and used and things I would never do even if water boarded. Among those soaking up this advice included Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Tyler Colman, author of “Wine Politics” and Alder Yarrow of Vinography.

So now we know how to write. Who are we writing for? John Gillespie of the Wine Marketing Council wielded a PowerPoint presentation on wine consumption broken down into demographics and percentage increases. Normally, PowerPoint makes my teeth grow sweaters but the data presented was useful and revelatory. Rather than babble about each slide, here are the coolest talking points:

Table wine consumption increased among adults 21 and older with incomes of $35,000 by 1.3 percent. The same percentage increase occurred in 2001, which was also a down year economically.

Millennials, people born between 1977 and 1998, consume imported wine as 41 percent of their consumption, higher than any other demographic group. My guess is that value imports from Chile, Argentina and elsewhere drive this since this generation didn’t grow up as wine snobs.

The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers also includes tastings, writing exercises and ends just in time for the Premiere Napa Valley auction.

Claudia Perry is a freelance writer who blogs at


  1. Katie | Thursday, February 19, 2009

    I actually thought about applying for a fellowship to see if I could go to this thing for free, but the more I thought about it the less I liked the idea….I never liked being told HOW I should write. If I listen to what other writers think I should be doing, I’ll wind up writing like them, which defeats the purpose of having your own voice. Writing is an art, like painting or playing music. The moment it becomes a commodity it loses validity. If I start writing like any of the wine bloggers out there, please shoot me. Eh, I’m just a cranky wench this morning in need of more coffee. Bullocks!

  2. CPerry | Thursday, February 19, 2009

    Hey, this is my second year in attendance and no one is here to learn how to write or have their personal expression shoehorned into some tedious template. Writing is an art, but no one writes in a vacuum and everyone can use the voice in their head or an editor over their shoulder saying, “Is that really the way you want to say that?” In short, the Symposium is getting a little help from your friends not to mention some excellent wine in estimable company Enjoy your coffee. I’m a tea drinker myself.

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