On Wine Blogging: Turning Your Passion into a Profession

Posted on: July 30th, 2016 by

In 2004 I started a wine blog. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine 11 years later giving away almost everything I owned, moving across the country to a taxidermy-strewn and roach-ridden East Village NYC apartment, and commuting by subway, train, and cab for a job as Senior Editor at Wine Enthusiast magazine.

I feel a little Talking Heads when I contemplate, “Well, how did I get here?”

I better figure out an answer soon. Because I am headed to the Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California, to sit on a panel taking place from 4:30-5:30 on Saturday, August 13th.

Here’s the description:

From Passion to Pro – Getting Paid to Write About Wine: We know from surveys the vast majority of wine bloggers do so because of their passion for wine and expressing their opinion about it. But there is nothing wrong with getting paid, either! Learn some tricks of the trade, ways to make the jump from personal blogging to paid writing, and stories of the trials and successes of being a wine journalist. Our presenters are veteran wine journalists Randy Caparoso (moderating), Jameson Fink, Debra Meiburg MW,and Deborah Parker Wong.

So, what’s my secret? What tips will I reveal? Well, you’ll have to come to the conference! What’s that, not headed to Lodi? Other plans? No biggie. I’ll be sure to run a recap of what I shared, questions that came my way and how I answered them.

BTW, I L-O-V-E QUESTIONS! Please ask them while I have a microphone in my hand. Or when holding a glass of wine, a can of beer, a burrito, my teddy bear, whatever/whenever!

I’ll be updating like(ish) mad on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat. (Yes, I’m a snappin’. Trying to spend more time there.) And be sure to track #WBC16 for all the feels.

Oh, and I am really excited to hear what Randy, Debra, and Deborah have to say. I plan on doing a lot of hardcore listening. There is no doubt what they share will influence what I have to contribute and I know I can learn a lot from this trio on stage with me.

(Sidebar: Are we on a stage? Was kinda hoping the four of us would have leather recliners with a cup holder that is actually an arctic chiller large enough for a bottle of Pét-Nat.)

Ok, I’m going to relent and give you a little taste sip of what I want to talk about. If I had to highlight one step I took in my wine career that most shaped who I am personally and professionally, it would be the four-year tour spent as a wine steward at a grocery store in my Seattle neighborhood. Like all the roads I’ve traveled in this now 12-year journey, it involved a lot of luck, skill, and personality. Plus hard work. And a fair share of (deep) anxiety.

So this post has been a little glib and pew-pew exclamation point-y. Which is who I am. Well, maybe not so glib. But I would like to get serious and say how much it means to me to be able to take part in a panel at the conference. There are going to be a lot of familiar faces there. People I met at prior conferences (Virginia, Portland), those I’ve traveled with, and folks I’ve been champing at the bit to meet in person or haven’t seen for years.

I’m probably going to be very emotional. (And not just from the heat.)

jameson fink long island

BONUS: I decided to find my first ever blog post. Would I cringe? Beam with pride? Cringe with pride? Pridefully cringe? Let’s see:

first blog post

Well I feel very hipster having my first wine being an eight-year-old Grüner Veltiner from a crazy good producer like Prager. Jebus and Joly Chenin? (Though The Drunken Cyclist is probably shaking his head at my lack of an umlaut on Grüner. Sorry dude. I was so young and naive. Or is that naïve? (NOTE: I learned that the two dots over the “i” in the preceding sentence are not an umlaut but a diaeresis. Here’s why.)

I was fortunate to be working weekends at Randolph Wine Cellars in Chicago at the time. My wine drinking savvy went from zero to Grand Cru in a month. Oh, and I misspelled Riesling. [D’oh!]

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14 Responses

  1. Leeann Froese says:

    Jameson,
    I am so looking forward to meeting you in person as I am not sure we actually met when I attended my first WBC in Portland.

    I am so happy to have been able to connect to you via your writing and social media over the last few years, and look forward to your panel! I’ll be sure to heckle/cheer/ask questions.

    #gogetit

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Leeann,

      Looking forward to seeing you there and appreciate you keeping up with me via the blog and social media.

      Also, I believe the heckling section is SRO so get there early! 😉

      Jameson

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  2. Frank Morgan says:

    Excellent! Appreciate your writing and look forward to seeing you in Lodi, Jameson. I’m bringing bubbles in a large bowled stem to share at your session :). Cheers!

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Frank,

      Excited to see you as well.

      Maybe for #WBC17 we can go head-to-head on a panel? One thing is for sure: it’s going to require plenty of Champagne.

      Jameson

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  3. Thanks for elaborating on what we’re going to breakdown on our panel, Jameson. I’ve been compiling a list of experiences and observations that have helped shape my career and I’m looking forward to sharing them. We’re on countdown for #WBC16! http://winebloggersconference.org/

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  4. I had no idea you were going to be there! This is such good news! And in French, the two dots are called a tréma, which is really my only reference!

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  5. Tom Riley says:

    Thank you so much for saying “champing at the bit,” instead of “chomping” which most people write and is just so cringe-worthy. Wish I was going to be in Lodi to hear this panel. Trying now to recharge the blogging batteries so I think I’d benefit quite a bit from what you all have to say. Best of luck!
    Tom

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  6. Wish I was in attendance. Would love the inspiration and to hear your journey.

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  7. Chad says:

    Jameson,
    Great meeting you at the conference and thanks so much for both talking in front of everyone and connecting over glasses of wine, etc. I appreciate how honest and vulnerable you were and found it very encouraging. It’s impressive how long you’ve been blogging and I hope someday to be able to say the same. But like you say, it’s a sublime combination of luck, skill and quite a bit of anxiety. I think I’ve got that last part down, still looking for the other two… Santé!

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    • Jameson Fink says:

      Chad,

      Thank you so much. It was very inspiring to be at the conference and came back more energized by, and engaged with, our blogging community.

      And yes, I’m sure you can channel those anxious moments into building on your skills and making your own luck.

      Jameson

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