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Alder Yarrow – Vinography

April 29, 2010 The Press 4 Comments

Few individuals have done more for wine blogging or are better respected in the medium than Alder Yarrow. When I do discuss blogs with winemakers and the few they have time to read, Alder’s blog Vinography is usually at the top of that list.

Vinography has been featured in dozens of publications for its excellence in wine writing and has won numerous awards in recognition of its dedication to wine and wine blogging. It is with great honor that I publish the following interview with Alder, which he wrote while on a tasting trip in Australia.

How did you become interested in wine? Was there a particular wine experience that sparked your current passion?

“In some small way, I grew up in wine country.  I would spend summers with my dad in Sonoma County, and when my grandparents came out for visits, we would invariably go wine tasting with them.  For the most part I have fond memories of cavorting on the lawns outside of these big “castles” but on occasion I’d hang out with the adults and listen to them chat.  I got my first sip of wine that I actually liked on one of these days, which I believe was a late harvest Sauvignon Blanc. I didn’t know that wine could be sweet before then, and that sip convinced me that all wine wasn’t disgusting. ”

“My real love of wine began while I was studying for a time in England.  The food served in the colleges at Oxford University in the early Nineties was awful, and so I found myself cooking for myself more and more.  Thinking that the civilized thing to do would be to drink wine with a home cooked dinner, I would go down to a local bottle shop and buy a wine.  Too intimidated to talk with anyone at the shop, I’d simply look on the lower shelves that I could afford and pick a label that looked interesting.”

“I really enjoyed this exploration, which opened up a whole world of flavors and grapes and places to me, and so when I returned home to the US and completed my degree, I continued to buy wine and cook a lot, both with increasing passion.”

You have witnessed the progression of wine blogging over the last half dozen years, from non-existent to what it is today. Are you happy with the progress wine bloggers have made, or do you see need for improvement?

“While I’m dumbfounded at the level of prominence and attention that I have managed to achieve in the past six years, I’m quite surprised that there aren’t more really good wine blogs written by people who don’t have a day job as a wine writer. Having said that, I do think wine blogs (as well as other social media) have wrought a major change on the wine industry by providing the first real widespread alternative to popular forms of wine journalism, as well as providing the world with some great new voices and points of view on wine.  There’s, of course, a lot of room for improvement in the wine blogosphere (a lot of crap out there), and I’d like to see more ambitious wine bloggers who take their writing seriously enough to improve it and to act more like journalists.”

Do you have a favorite wine memory?

“Certainly one of my favorite wine memories remains the days and bottles I shared with the woman who eventually became my wife in our first vacation together to Tuscany.  It was a perfect spring, and several dinners looking out on the landscape of Montepulciano, Montalcino, and Sienna accompanied by fantastic Sangiovese are among some of my brightest and most indelible wine memories.”

Who excites you in California wine making?

“There’s a lot of fantastic wine being made in California now. The stuff that excites me in California wine is the same stuff that excites me everywhere around the world: little producers focusing on making really high quality wines, and often exploring some of the cutting edges of the industry, whether that be extremely cool climate sites, biodynamic winemaking, new grape varieties, or very old grape varieties. In California, in particular, I’m excited to see people branching out from the traditional grape varieties to try traditional Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, and lesser known French grapes.”

We (consumers) love to mystify wine personalities. Whether it is a cult producer in Napa or a highly esteemed wine critic with global influence; it is almost natural to project on to them a larger-than-life persona. Are there any misconceptions about the “legendary” Alder Yarrow others often have about you?

“I think it’s a bigger misconception to consider me legendary.  I’m not aware of any misconceptions.  As a more prominent figure in the wine blogging arena, I probably come in for more than my fair share of aspersions, but that’s less about misconception and more about small mindedness.”

If you could offer one piece of advice about wine to a newly interested person, what would it be?

“The single biggest piece of advice I can give a new potential wine lover is to be passionately curious.  Try lots of different things, always.  Explore the world of wine as deeply and widely as you can afford to, and pay attention to what you like and what you do not.”

Alder operates and writes “Vinography: A Wine Blog” from his home in San Francisco, at least when he isn’t trekking around the world or speaking at a wine conference.

Vinography: A Wine Blog

Twitter: @vinography

Currently there are "4 comments" on this Article:

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Vinography, Wayne Kelterer. Wayne Kelterer said: @vinography Alder here is your interview on my site. Thank you for doing it! […]

  2. 1WineDude says:

    GREAT advice there “The single biggest piece of advice I can give a new potential wine lover is to be passionately curious. Try lots of different things, always. Explore the world of wine as deeply and widely as you can afford to, and pay attention to what you like and what you do not.” – almost exactly the stuff I tell people who ask me about deepening their wine appreciation.


  3. What this site is all about?

  4. Wayne says:

    It’s about 52 weeks with California wine.

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