I cannot write well enough to convey how floored I am after realising that, man… It has been three years since we had the insane idea to start a blog.
I say that initial statement with conviction (albeit with a touch of self-deprecation) because that is the honest to goodness truth, which I feel I can expound on by talking about how the blog started.
See, I never planned to do this. My life goal was to put up a wine school in Manila (either a WSET accreditation school or a lifestyle-esque venue for people who just want to know how to appreciate wine), or work as a freelance consultant for food service and wines (which I’m currently doing).
I was fine, contributing to that goal by teaching in a university and doing personal research to enhance my knowledge (whether by meeting people, going to events, traveling to wine destinations, or going online).
As I went about my business, I discovered a lot of things while going online for wine research: First, the materials available were erroneous, outdated, too complicated for my students, impossible to relate to by a lot of Pinoys, or just plain boring (mostly those written by people who take themselves and wine too seriously). Don’t get me wrong, there are awesome ones out there (I’m totally team Oz Clarke, Natalie Maclean, and Jancis Robinson), but they tend to cater to hardcore wine enthusiasts and can get a bit intimidating for novice wine drinkers.
That being said (and here comes my confession), during one of these online researches, I kinda picked a fight with a higher-ranking guy overseas in a thread after he failed to see the humor on certain statements I made. Not my finest hour, I admit, but I came from a perspective that while the alcohol industry is indeed serious business, the people who are only beginning to learn about them get too scared with such seriousness.
Fine. I may have said really stupid things to defend my point, but hey… I was young. I just (passionately) knew that beginner winos get overwhelmed by technical talk (and the insistence on certain preferences over others’) that they never get encouraged to explore, or give up wine altogether (sidenote: that being said, there is a MASSIVE untapped market out there).
Anyway, I ranted about the argument to my poor, hapless husband who, using that beautiful marketing-trained brain of his, suggested that I stop complaining about the lack of accessible (and friendly) resources and make some.
Seriously, make my own? This was during the time in my life when I was starting to slowly navigate through my introversion and fear of rejection… I thought, wouldn’t putting myself out there (at the mercy of cyber bullies and grammar fiends) be counterproductive?
So, I decided to take a deep breath and just post. I totally refused to take it seriously (after all, I had a day job), and had each article edited by a friend (who I would also like to credit for helping me come up with a name for the blog over coffee and booze).
This is why, if someone tries to look at the archives, I only wrote sporadically when we started. I just did not want to emotionally invest in it… So much so that I didn’t even bother to fix the layout (hah!).
All of this changed about a year later. I suddenly met like-minded people (read: anti wine snobs), legit people who believed in what I did (and prompted me to edit the living daylights out of the blog from April 2013 to about June 2014, then told me to at least write once a week but twice would be better), supporters, and partners who encouraged me to actually launch this thing.
So here I am, three years later… A non-writer of an educated alcoholic who chucks out about 1.5 articles a week… A crazy, barely creative, self-effacing freak with a bizarre sense of humour that actually had an article published… Someone that normally shies away from social media but actually put up a Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest account for the blog (kicking and screaming)… A neurotic, chaotic geek who wound up halfway around the world and got to meet (and befriend) some of the best winemakers in the world… A disbelieving wine professional that constantly pinches herself just to realise that working with fabulous people is a reality and not just a dream.
I’ve harped so much about the people around me because I really don’t think I could have made it through the years without them.
Chad, my husband, is a given (and I’ll save everyone the cheese by not gushing about him online). Mark was awesome for getting me started along with Gerry’s breathtaking graphics. CJ was marvellous for solving the banner issue (because I cannot code to save or end my life). Tin was splendid for constantly sharing my work and guiding me around the inner workings of Philippine media. Paul is incredible for letting me use him as some sort of a grammar sounding board (and bearing the brunt of one of the blog’s first haters).
I’m so grateful for supportive partners as well: The Embassy of Chile in Manila (especially Ms. Fernanda Vila) for taking a lowly, startup, non-writer like myself and sending me on one of the most amazing adventures in my life. I’m thankful for the team of One Mega Group for legitimizing my work and actually publishing it. Urbangeppetto is super cool (especially Garp and Lois) for patiently working on gorgeous designs for us (despite my head and my schedule being all over the place… Which is why it’s taking time for the new layout to materialise).
I’m stoked about working with equally cool friends (that I sometimes consider family) as well: Poco Deli has been wonderful for hosting wine dinners with us, with the same intent of getting wine neophytes to start on their own road to great wine adventures.
Le Jardin Manila (led by the phenomenal celebrity chef Jonas Ng*) has been a great partner with their desire to introduce high quality French food and wine in an accessible yet intelligent manner. We’ll be working with each other again for a Provence dinner event on May, showcasing breathtaking, unusual wines from Provence with delectable food to match.
Lastly, I’m happy that we get to reach out to people in different parts of the world (I mean, seriously. Our stats tell us we have readers from Russia, constant readership from Brazil and Austria… I’d love to visit those places one day, and I’m glad the blog has had a head start).
So, here’s to three years (and beyond). Cheers!
*Catch his show Chef Next Door on the Lifestyle Channel… Reruns are playing constantly but new episodes will start June. That, or see him around Le Jardin. 😉