The very first post, dated May 29, 2007, reported on “Bottling the 2005 at Fielding Hills Winery,” comparing the hand-bottling process to Adam Smith’s famous pin factory. The division of labor was very efficient, I concluded, and the payment (a picnic lunch overlooking the Columbia River and a bottle of wine signed by all the crew who bottled it with me) quite satisfying.
A lot has changed at Fielding Hills since that day. They remain one of Washington State’s outstanding wineries (and a personal favorite of ours), but 2015 is probably the last year they will bottle using friends, family and wine club volunteers and hand equipment. They’s grown, opening a tasting room facility in nearby Lake Chelan, and are expanding production beyond the level where hand-power makes sense.
The Wine Economist has changed, too. Not many people tuned in for that first column compared with the global reading audience today. Total page views since inception are now more than 1.1 million and rising.
In terms of content, the columns posted here continue to do most things wrong, but a few things right. New columns appear only once or twice a week, which I’m told is too infrequent for a web publication. Gotta constantly post content, people tell me, because readers have short memories and will wander off unless constantly pulled back.
And the columns are too long, too, averaging between 750 and 1000 words — about the same as a newspaper op-ed piece. Conventional wisdom dictates lots of short, punchy posts because of limited reader attention span. Incredibly, many people seem to read these relatively long columns all the way through to the end, shattering the myth that no one actually reads anything on the web.
What does the Wine Economist get right? Well, I try to keep the tone positive and I don’t think that’s a bad idea. And I think the style, which is explicitly modeled on The Economist newspaper, is pretty effective, too.
There is also a modest Wine Economist social media presence, which is probably a good thing. You can “like” The Wine Economist on Facebook and follow @MikeVeseth on Twitter (@WineEconomist was already taken) or subscribe to the blog (it’s free!).
There would not be 500 Wine Economist columns were it not for loyal readers and their feedback. Thanks so much for your support. Looking forward to the next milestone. As Buzz Lightyear might say, “To 600 posts — and beyond!”
I was looking for a music video about writing 500 blog posts and the result was an epic fail. But I did find this! Just substitute “write 500 posts” in the appropriate places and sing along. Enjoy!