12 years ago today, I launched this site — then known as LENNDEVOURS. It was my second blog, the first being a fairly generic one that I treated a bit like a diary or journal, and it started covering food and wine in a broad sense. I had just started drinking Long Island wine and not long after, when I couldn’t find a website with information that I wanted about those wines anywhere, I decided to create it myself. Not long after that, I got my first wine columnist gig for a local newspaper.
My wife — my most staunch supporter over the years — framed my first column, which was about local dessert wines, for that paper, but you won’t find it anywhere in our house. At least I hope you won’t. There was a horrible error in the first first paragraph. Something about port wine being from Spain.
As embarassing as that mistake was and still is, it’s also a good reminder about just how much there is to know (and forget) about wine. 12 years into writing about wine, I still feel like little more than an enthusiastic novice. I’ve been quoted numerous times in other media outlets since I started this thing and I’ve never knowingly let anyone refer to me as an “expert” in wine or even New York wine. I’m not an expert. There is still so much more for me to learn. I learn every day. I bristle when I see other people refer to them as experts too, so it’s not just modesty on my part.
I’ve tried a lot of different things with this site — that’s part of the fun of an Internet publication. The things that don’t work out rarely cost you anything more than a little of your time. At its peak, I had more than 10 people writing (and writing at least somewhat regularly) for this site. None of us were making any money. We were just passionate about what we were writing about, whether it was wine, beer, cheese, science or policy. During that era, I wanted to be “Wine Specator for New York wine” but over time it became less and less fun for me. What I had created as a creative outlet had become more about managing editorial schedules and production than telling the stories that I wanted to tell. Some of my top writers moved out of New York and/or starting having kids (and I was having them too). I almost shut the site down several times, but each time someone or something convinced me to stick it out. And I’m glad that I have.
2016 has brought some changes. It’s back to being me behind the keyboard for all but our weekly news roundups — at least for the time being. I wanted to rediscover my love for the medium and I have. I’ve unpublished all of the old, non-New York posts to bring focus to the content.
I’d like to bring back my “Wines of the Year” program, but it will probably look a bit different. I don’t have a team of writers to taste with anymore, after all.
I keep saying that I’d like to get back to doing wine dinners and wine salons that raise money for local charities. Maybe that will happpen before the site turns 13.
There may be a book in me somewhere. Or a subscription-based newsletter. Or both. I’ve never been great about treating this site as a business or thinking about it strategically. It’s something that I need to continue to work on.
This post isn’t just a look back with some out-loud thinking, however. As you’ll see this week, I’ll be adding cider coverage to the mix. After talking with producers and tasting a fair amount of cider in the past few months — some more commercial, others truly artisanal — I feel like I have enough context and knowledge to being writing about it. There are some interesting stories to tell and I’ve had several orchardists and cider makers ask me to tell theirs. I hope I can do them justice.
Starting tomorrow, you’ll also notice the inclusion of regions beyond the New York border — which is long overdue, really. I’ll never stop writing about New York wine, but there are some amazing wines and stories in places like Virginia, Maryland, Colorado, Pennsylvania and beyond too. I hope to tell some of those stories too with the kind of frankness and honest that I’ve always approached New York wine. It’s all too rare in local wine writing.You may even see some “Big 3” (California,
You may even see some “Big 3” (California, Washington and Oregon) stories. I want to leave it a bit more open-ended than it has been.
The New York Cork Report name won’t go away just yet. It might at some point. It might not.
Anyway, this is a long-winded way of me sharing how I got to this point, what I’m thinking about the future and I also want to thank you from the bottom of my cabernet franc-soaked heart. That you spend any bit of time reading what I write, joining me on my journey, is humbling. If not for all of you, I’d have shuttered the site years ago, so thank you. I hope that I’ve been able to give just a bit back to the people and industry that has given me so much over the years.