Just like that, this website is now fifteen.
Happy fifteenth birthday Australian Wine and Drinks Review!
For 15 years, this website has been a constant in my life, serving as the vehicle that first got me published, the creative outlet that kept me sane during years of day job boredom, and ultimately part of my personality.
I love ozwinereview.com, even though it eats up hundreds of hours a year with little to show other than a large pile of empty samples and a worn-out keyboard.
Love is like that sometimes – thankless.
On that tangent, this week is an opportunity for me to say thanks. Thanks to you for reading. Thanks also for commenting, emailing, and stopping me at tastings to say you read my words – I even like the odd grumpy DMs. All that support makes the long hours late at night (it’s nearly always late at night) rewarding.
It’s not just the responses, either.
Thanks to the cadre of great people who pull up my late-night grammatical brain farts…
Thanks to the winemakers, marketing managers, PR gurus, cellar door heroes etc., who all help with a flow of samples (even if I can be slow to open them) and invite me to tastings/trips etc. It’s the fuel that this website runs on.
Thanks to the good people at my semi-local post office, who will sign for every parcel and have a dedicated part of the shop just for my parcels.
Thanks to my long-suffering family, who still put up with wine around the house, in cupboards, shelves, sitting in boxes, stuffed in crevices. Stir in a mountain of recycling, plus red wine perpetually in the sink, and my loving fam has dealt with plenty over the years.
Actually, do you know what else I like to do this week every year? Cast my mind backwards to 2008, when this site was first born.
Long-time readers will have already heard the story, but I first created ozwinereview.com as a place to store my tasting notes beyond notepads. I’d already spent eight years in the wine industry at that stage, so had piles of these cheap minipads, all heavy with notes scrawled in my (basically illegible) handwriting.
A free Blogger site seemed not only practical but cool (blogging was cool in 2008).
At the point, I was working at an old-school wine club (there were fax offers. FAX! OFFERS!) and got to try oceans of commercial vino (though I slogged through whole months trying to find the joy of wines under $10), so had the content too.
The other two things I had in droves were enthusiasm and time. I’d happily drive around to multiple local bottle shops every weekend just to taste something notable. More content, more enthusiasm, more posts, more people commenting, more enthusiasm to write more. It’s a classic feedback loop! It wasn’t long before things snowballed – within a year, I was first published (in Gourmet Traveller Wine. What a vexed legacy) and went back to uni for a postgrad Master of Wine Technology & Viticulture.
I was feeling more like a grown-up wine writer every day!
Fast forward to 2023, and not only do I not have the time, but I can’t be fucked driving around just to try the latest vintage of Bin 128 (incidentally, I don’t get invited to Penfolds tastings either after getting blacklisted for low scores a long time ago).
Yet what inspires me now goes beyond tasting notes. Beyond wine. In my day job(s), I juggle lots of different projects across the industry, covering everything from winery export projects to craft beer brand storytelling. It keeps me fresh, even if it’s a process just to keep the different balls in the air (and actually get paid – the omnipresent freelancer challenge).
What does that mean for the future of Australian Wine and Drinks Review? Well, I’m feeling the enthusiasm again after a few patches where it just felt like unpaid work, so this year should just get better. All I need is more time tbh.
Speaking of time, I’m out of it for today, so I’ll just finish this off with cheers. Cheers, and a massive thanks to you for joining me on this ride.
Bring on another fifteen years!