Winebloggers In The South or WITS is intended primarly as a set of links for, well, winebloggers in the south. I built this because it didn't already exist. There are lists out there containing most of the thousand English language wine blogs (and trust me, I've seen nearly all of them in the research phase), and winebloggers scribbling away in the various states that aren't California or New York tend to link some of their nearby fellow bloggers, but I wanted a site that would focus on Southerners.
Do I think that those of us in the South are better wine writers? Not necessarily, but I feel that we have a unique perspective combined with a rich literary history and a cuisine that can be both rewarding and frustrating when it comes to fermented grape beverages. There's also something to be said for the "art through adversity" angle: it's easy to be a wine lover in California, but harder in "flyover country". Get far enough away from a major metropolitan area and there's a good chance you're the only wine fan in your neighborhood or social circle. We have to put up with weird laws left over from Prohibition on top of our weird laws left over from the Civil War. We have to combat ignorant stereotypes about wine in our communities while simultaneously fighting ignorant stereotypes about the South around outsiders. Above all we really want to share our love of wine, in our own distinct voices and with our own diverse perspectives. I'm hoping to learn things like how wine fits in with the Caribbean fusion cuisine of Florida, or in a beer and cocktail-focused city like New Orleans.
I'm looking to include winebloggers who currently live and write in the states listed: Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, and Virginia. Why these? I picked the states that say "y'all" and swapped Kentucky for Oklahoma. So far I've found sites from all of the states except for Arkansas, Mississippi, and Louisiana--there's bound to be some out there, and I'm hoping that those bloggers or their readers will contact me and let me know.
Other reasons for doing this:
- I really want to highlight some cool blogs I've found, and my list of links was getting unwieldy.
- I want to stand up for the idea that yes, Southerners can know what they're talking about when it comes to wine. We also wear shoes and have indoor plumbing, despite what popular culture tells you.
- It's an experiment in branding and social networking and other stuff. I'm tracking hits and responses and links from day one, which might be of use in future wine blog studies. If the whole site is a failure at the very least I can leave it up as a set of links to great blogs. And by the way, it's really hard to design something "Southern" without resorting to the Confederacy, symbols of a specific state or football team, or something else that might cause problems.
- I can do profiles on some of these sites, I can post oddities that might not fit here on BWR, or I can just ignore the thing for weeks at a time. Again, the primary purpose is as a list.
- My greatest hope is that it promotes cross communication between various WITS. Like I said, in this part of the country it's very easy to feel like you're all alone in your wine appreciation. And just in the short time since I've launched this project I've found that a bunch of these folks from Georgia and Texas are pretty friendly and are way more active on the social networking front than I am. The more we talk to each other, share ideas, and link one another, the better we all fare when it comes to the broader enterprise of wineblogging.
P.S. Yes, it's been two weeks since I actually reviewed a wine on "Benito's Wine Reviews". Fear not! Next week is mostly wine!