It’s exactly a year since simonwoods.com went from being a passive ‘click here if you want to go to a half-hearted blog’ entity to being a fully-fledged website. What prompted the move? There wasn’t one single major event, just a series of disappointing episodes over the course of three or four years. A Manchester newspaper and a specialist magazine both went bust, leaving me roughly £3,000 worse off. I had written a book that had sold well on four continents, was reprinted three times and took the award for the Champagne Lanson Wine Book of The Year. So was the publisher interested in some ideas for a follow-up? Nope. Finally, a column that I had been writing since 1991 ceased to exist.
Financially, the last 12 months haven’t been exactly a high point. But career-wise…heck, I’ve had a ball. Why? Well, for start off, I’ve moved from thinking of myself as a Wine Writer to thinking of myself as a – brace yourself – Wine Inspirer…. I know, it’s a wanky name, but it best describes what I think of as my role in life, namely inspiring people to drink better wine in whatever way I can. I’ve evolved from basically being a print columnist on-line into (hopefully) being something a little more enthralling. And I’m still evolving.
Also – thankfully – it seems like I’ve finally turned a financial corner. I’m now having people approach me both for speaking and writing gigs not just because of what they’ve seen me do in print media, but because of my explots on-line. Phew….
So to celebrate a year on-line, here’s a list of companies/people/entities that have been inspirational in some way, whether they know it or not, in the last 12 months…
Jancis Robinson – the Meryl Streep of wine, consistently high-class, concise and relevant, whatever she turns her hand to. A role model for anyone looking to get into wine communication, although she does sneeze in a very peculiar manner – and I would like to see her performing ‘Does Your Mother Know?’
Tim Atkin – a late convert to the on-line cause, but now a Twitter fiend, even if his website doesn’t allow any comments.
Jamie Goode – ten years ago, he was simply a guy with a blog and a passion for wine. Today, he’s much the same but has become one of the UK’s A-list wine commentators.
Neal Martin – another Brit who has made his wine name on-line, and picked up a job with Robert Parker in the process. Less prolific than Jamie, and often wears dodgy knitwear, but has a fabulous turn of phrase, and chucks some fine music into his fine wine mix.
Tyler Colman aka Dr Vino – arguably the best wine blogger in the world (apart from me of course…)
Alder Yarrow aka Vinography – gentle but thorough wine coverage, has recently posted some excellent stuff on Australia
Eric Asimov – cogent, thought-provoking writer for the NY Times
Catavino – Ryan & Gabriella Opaz offer plenty of sound advice through their website, plus more pertinent commercial advice for those prepared to fork out a few euros.
Robert McIntosh – a first port of call for those in the UK looking for Social Media advice. Not the best of dancers however…
Catherine Monahan – experienced marketing advice with a South African twist. Blondes are supposed to be dumb – this one isn’t.
Gary Vaynerchuk – he actually seems to be calming down in terms of volume, but thankfully not in terms of intensity and passion.
Berry Bros & Rudd – one of the UK’s most venerable merchants and also an online pioneer.
Rowan Gormley – driving force behind Naked Wines, a company that embraces the idea of Internet connectivity more than virtually anyone else in the UK
Woodwinters – Scottish merchant doing more than most online. On this list because they have nice wines and send me encouraging notes after rather obscure posts…
Andrew Chapman – English equivalent of the above – do follow his wife Ali on Twitter
Randall Grahm – does he need any intro? Does any wine person on Twitter have more followers? Yet he deigns to respond to some of my posts…
Heather Rankin – I’ve never met her, but I like what she does and I really should comment on her posts as often as she does on mine
Bob Young – another person who loves me more than I love him: Bob, I will try to correct this, especially as you’re in the home city of Rob Bell
Robert Joseph – a mentor for me, or should that be Dementor? Continues to write about wine for Meininger’s but now also producing his own wine, as well as being involved in probably more enterprises than even he can remember. Still ruffling feathers and coming up with a host of interesting ideas.
Brain warpers – there are several, but Hugh Macleod and Seth Godin currently top my list