For years, Alder Yarrow was one of those guys whom everyone wishes they had in their back pocket: he kept obsessive notes about the restaurants he went to and the wines he drank, and they weren’t just random scribbles - they were the real deal. “I was the go-to guy about food and wine for my friends and family,” he recalls. “I found myself answering the same questions over and over, and knew there must be a better way of delivering that information.”
In 2004, Alder typed “wine blog” into a Google search bar and got zero results. Then he typed in “Vinography” - and got “Address Not Found.” As a busy Internet consultant, Alder was aware of blogging, but hadn’t yet explored it. “Blogs were becoming reasonably established by that time,” he remembers. “It not only seemed like a good way to get my notes out, but it was also a smart business strategy to learn more about blogs.”
Alder began researching blog tools, and came across Movable Type. “I wanted complete control over the design,” he says. “Movable Type seemed like the most powerful piece of software out there.”
And thus Vinography
was born. Alder began posting about wines he liked and restaurants he had visited in a friendly, straightforward style that resonated with readers. Several times a
week, he posted thoughtful, extensive notes about wines he liked; he attended events and tastings
, and posted comprehensive lists of wines he had tasted, scored with his own system, often complete with price points. His insightful, detailed posts revealed a consistent theme: he was crazy about wine.
Four years later, Vinography
has become one of the most respected wine blogs in the world. From breaking stories like the tattletale scandal at Wine.com
to calling foul on wine snobs
, Vinography is on the short list of anyone interested in wine, from top wine writers and critics to everyday oenophiles.
His consistent, even-handed writing has made Alder Yarrow a respected wine expert, in demand at wine-related events around the world. Earlier this year, he led two packed wine seminars at the Aspen Food and Wine Classic
, one of the toniest food and wine events in the U.S. Later this year, he will present for the third time at the Professional Symposium of Wine Writers
; in 2009, he’ll be a judge at the Chilean Wine Awards.
Despite the accolades, it still feels somewhat unreal to Alder: “I’ve gone from being some guy with a notebook who likes wine and knows a little bit about it to someone who is globally recognized as a wine journalist and critic.” He pauses. “And that’s utterly gobsmackingly unbelievable.”
Vinography is now running on Movable Type Pro, and Alder notes that many of the plugins he used in the previous version are now built into the core platform. “I experienced significant performance enhancements when I upgraded to Movable Type Pro,” he says.
In September, Alder took a trip to South Africa, where he was invited on behalf of an industry group called Wines of South Africa to investigate the growing wine community there. Which raises the issue: now that Alder has become so influential in the wine community, how does he deal with the bevy of wineries who want to curry his favor?
“I maintain a strict ethics policy,” he reports. “I don’t go to events sponsored by one specific winemaker. I don’t go to lunch with people representing an individual winery or wine company. I only attend events where a large number of wineries are represented. I get hundreds of bottles of wine every month, and I taste every single one of them, but I only write about the ones that really excite me. Period.” Vinography generates more than enough revenue to pay for itself, and Alder plans to continue running his consulting business and keep Vinography as a rewarding hobby.
One question remains: with a hugely popular blog, a thriving internet consultancy, a wife and brand new baby daughter, how does Alder Yarrow do it all? “I don’t watch TV,” he laughs. “Seriously, look at the statistics - not watching TV gives me several hours more a day than most people. I’m very efficient with my time, and my wife is very understanding.”
On behalf of all of us who count on Vinography to help us navigate the world of wine, we offer our sincere gratitude to Alder’s wonderful wife
- and hope he never develops a TV habit.