Wow, 2015 was a very busy year for Texas Wine Lover! To start this year in review, after almost six years of Gloria and me supporting the Texas Wine industry and spending I don’t even want to think how much money over the years, I decided to make Texas Wine Lover an LLC and start monetizing the website. Some wineries were surprised I had not done it before, so it was now time. Here’s what happened over the year for Texas Wine Lover:
- The first part in improving the website was to make it look better. I hired a company to redo the web design and I think they did a fantastic job. By the way, I like calling TXWineLover.com a website instead of blog because it is much more than a blog.
- We provided a Texas Wine Lover (TWL) store to allow people to show they are a true lover of Texas wine.
- Later in the year, we offered companies the opportunity to advertise on Texas Wine Lover and reach the ever-growing audience of readers. Shameless plug: we still have space for more advertisers if you are interested, so please get in touch with us.
- I transformed the one page vineyard list into a custom database and as a result, each vineyard got their own individual page describing the facts about the vineyard. With a front-end search, you can now search the vineyards and find out various things like who is growing a particular grape. The goal still is to get every vineyard in Texas, no matter how large or small, into the database so we can answer that age-old question of how many acres of vines there are in Texas.
- Most wineries got their own individual pages too, which are visible through the Texas Wineries Map, and that continued to prove very popular for people to find out what wineries to visit since it has the most up-to-date winery information available. By the end of the year, wineries should have their own search just like vineyards do.
- I say “should” because I need to take time away from writing new content to enter more winery information. Part of helping to do that since the beginning of the year was to get some of the greatest Texas wine writers and lovers on board to provide great content. Jeremy Wilson had already become an integral part of the Texas Wine Lover team last year. During the year, we proudly added five new contributing writers to do that: Krista Hartman, Robin English-Bircher, Christina Legrand, Jim Rector, and Alissa Leenher. The whole Texas Wine Lover team seems complete.
- Even with more writers, Gloria and I just cannot get away from our road trips to visit wineries around the state. Either together or separately, we took a total of 18 road trips this year. I swear we really do have day jobs! Those trips also made my total of Texas wineries and tasting rooms visited over the years to 260+.
- Over the year, we provided the most original Texas wine content of any other website along with news and information. We published 283 posts (currently) in 2015 with the majority being original content. That is getting to the point of averaging a new post almost every day!
- We continued our Texas Wine Lover podcast and published 13 episodes with another big one still coming this year. Our podcast has always been done remotely meaning we travel to places to talk with winemakers, growers, and other Texas wine people, so it is not like your common podcast that is done on a regular schedule recording from a house. You do not need any special equipment to listen to our podcast except for a pair of speakers or headphones, so don’t be afraid to press Play on the podcast posts.
- Video became more important as we did our first vlogs (video blogs) with Jeremy taking the lead and we plan on continuing to do those.
- And speaking of video, we even broke ground with using the Periscope app for what we believe are the first scopes when visiting wineries. This even included a dual scope with winery William Chris Vineyards. Dual scope meaning they were recording us while we recorded them! I’m claim another first on that one. 😉
- We are still the place to go to first for the results of Texas wineries in wine competitions and the number of medals has continued to rise for Texas wines.
- Texas Wine Lover wrote many wine and wine accessory reviews throughout the year.
- We enjoyed working with organizations like Texas Hill Country Wineries to write their winemaker profile each month, in addition to Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association by helping with various items like judging the Lone Star International Wine Competition.
- I attended conferences like Cat Spring Day, the TWGGA Conference, Neal Newsom’s Grape Day, TEXSOM, and TWGGA’s Grape Camp.
- We started a section called Beyond Texas to write about wines and spirits from outside Texas. After all, we love Texas wine, but everybody imbibes in a little non-Texas wines and spirits once in a while. Gloria and I even traveled to Peru and visited the primary pisco area of Ica and home to one of the most popular piscos in the United States, Pisco Porton.
- We have also started writing about beer because as we know, “It Takes a Lot of Good Beer to Make Great Wine”
How could I forget? Gloria and I partnered with David Skinner of Clear Creek Winery to put on the first successful wine festival in Houston in recent years called Discover Wine Festival. This was quite a feat since none of us had put on a wine festival before, and we were able to showcase Texas wines again back to Houston featuring 19 Texas wineries. Speaking of festivals, during the year we volunteered at some local wine festivals and was a sponsor at the Empty Glass Wine Festival with our very first Texas Wine Lover booth!
The Texas Wine Lover Facebook page has now reached over 4,000 organic Likes and our Twitter account has reached almost 2,800 organic followers. Readership has increased over the year and we have many loyal followers who have subscribed to the website.
As you can see, 2015 was an extremely busy year for Texas Wine Lover. But as they say, you ain’t seen nothing yet!