19 February 2010

Winebloggers In The South

After five years of blogging about wine, one steps back and wonders what to do next. Obviously the main site is important and isn't going away, but there is a desire for something more. And in lieu of trophy wives and sports cars, I decided to build a secondary blog. (Note to companies that promote trophy wives and sports cars: yes, I'll accept samples for review!)

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.
Cheers, y'all!

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!


Allen said...

Class act. Long over due and is a great start. More power to you and lets bring wine and food to a new level.

Benito said...


One day I will discover the perfect wine to go along with squirrel stew.

I should also note here that this concept is partially in honor of the late great Lewis Grizzard, who I think would have appreciated the effort. In fact, he wrote the lyrics for the "Watermelon Wine" song linked at the bottom of WITS.


Kimberly said...

You already know that I so, so applaud this effort! You do great work, friend. ; )
And you're right, it certainly is a slog sometimes trying to convince people that we Southerners wear shoes and enjoy indoor plumbing, and even -- Gasp! -- might know a thing or two about how to work our way around a few good wines. : )
It's all about edu-ma-ca-tion, that's what we gotta do. . .

Sheila said...

What a great idea!

I have a friend who, in elementary school, attended a Girl Scout convention in Washington D.C. We were from Arkansas, and she told the girls there that she had bought shoes just for the big trip to Washington...that she had never seen an escalator before...who knows what else. The sad thing is, they believed her!

I'd say the *rest* of the country is pretty ignorant to think we could be that behind....

Benito said...


I'll probably do a mini-review of your site on WITS with an interview if you're interested. I'll be in touch in the next couple of weeks.


Lord, don't I know it. When I was a corporate trainer working up north I maintained a pretty neutral midwestern accent, but whenever I had to get technical--color gamuts, optics, xerography, etc.--I tended to dip back into my Memphis roots just to annoy the Yankees.

Some might consider it intellectual bullying, but whenever I find myself around someone that thinks Southerners are stupid, I'll reference Roman poets, Shakespeare, Churchill, and drop quotes in a dozen languages all in my deepest Southern accent just to prove a point. I once did this while teaching class and answered a smart-ass question with a rather complex physics diagram on the white board. I stopped and said, "Anything further is going to require a healthy background in calculus, y'all."


The Wine Commonsewer (TWC) said...

My favorite Lewis Grizzard quote:

"Instead of getting married again, I'm going to find a woman I don't like and just give her a house."—Lewis Grizzard

Benito said...


I really miss the days of regional columnists that really represented their hometowns, and weren't overly political in any direction. Lewis Grizzard was Georgia through and through, even during his years as a POW in Chicago. Speaking of Chicago: Mike Royko. The first time I went to the Windy City I hit a bar and quietly raised a beer to Slats Grobnik. And could Dave Barry have been as funny without the weirdness of Miami as a source of inspiration?

James Lileks out of Minneapolis is the last one I can think of in this category, but oddly his newspaper writings are my least favorite of all his creative output: the Bleat and his books are far superior to his Star Tribune writings.


Michael Hughes said...

Thanks for linking me on WITS. You're the man.

Benito said...


Of course you'd be included!


Kimberly said...

Hey Benito,

Sure, I'd be interested . . . and scared. But what the hell?! : )

P.S.-- Your response to Sheila about your days as a corporate trainer up North made me laugh and laugh.

It reminds me of when I was waitressing in New York City many years ago, and customers asked me at least 10 times a week if I was from Texas!! I used to say, in my thickest Southern drawl, "Nah, huh uh. I'm from Noooorth Car-o-liiiii-na. We got some other states down there, ya know!!" They either laughed good naturedly b/c they knew I was having fun at their expense, or nervous-laughed b/c they though I really WAS a hillbilly. God it's fun to pick on Yankees with this stuff!!

Samantha Dugan said...

Very cool idea Benito, best of luck with the new project!