Social Vignerons is the winner of the 2015 Best New Wine Blog Awards. The site was founded in December 2014 by Julien Miquel, a French and New Zealand-based winemaker.
We caught up with Julien to find out more about the fast growing site and about the person behind this success story.
Hi Julien, thanks for taking the time to answer some of our questions…
Tell us a bit about Social Vignerons?
Social Vignerons is a website/blog that aims at being a platform for talents of all forms in the wine and alcoholic beverages community. A web-based “The world of wine’s got Talent”.
We produce content highlighting and explaining the wonders in the world of wine: infographics, interviews, wine & food pairings, general wine knowledge topics, and I review wines.
But we also allow passionate people to showcase and explain what they do, or talk about their expert field via guest posts from many actors: from wine producers or region bodies, to wine tourism people or accessory manufacturers.
Anyone featuring on Social Vignerons gets showcased on the international stage, through a big worldwide social media follower base in particular. If the talent is there, it will get noticed…
When and why did you start?
I started working on the backend of the blog mid-2014 and launched it in December that year. Six months later it was voted 2015 Best New Wine Blog by the Wine Blogs Awards
Why did I start? After leading the content development for the world’s most visited wine website for quite a few years, I needed a new challenge with more emphasis on sharing, exchanging knowledge and interacting with the wine community and the wine industry. Profit-focused corporate environment can be quite suffocative, restrain creativity and generosity. I needed more focus on social media which is where things are happening right now, and more freedom for creating valuable content which is what authentically serves the community.
I founded Social Vignerons to be part of what I couldn’t find anywhere else in a genuine and sincere form: a worldwide community of passionate wine lovers and wine professionals generously sharing their passion, their knowledge, their time, and a good laughter.
A “normal” day in my life is…
A lot of writing for Social Vignerons and a few other publications, as well as interacting with the worldwide wine community on social media, and industry actors.
That’s followed by a lot of care and love for my family counting with 3 young daughters!
I would often review a few wines for the blog, and enjoy a glass or two if any of them is good before a deserved rest.
Number of years in the wine industry
I started studying specifically wine in 2000. So if you count wine University as part of the industry, that’d be 15 years now.
2002 vintage in Sonoma County, California at Chateau St Jean.
If you were a wine, what wine would you be?
I spent a few years making wines in Toro, Spain (toro being Spanish for bull obviously, but also a village in Castilla y Leon). I suppose some of the wine’s characters have got to match aspects of my personality there. They’re powerful wines made of a variant of Tempranillo: Tinta de Toro.
They can be a bit rustic and exuberant, but some winemaking education and refinement can turn them in world class wonders of concentration and complexity at the same time. I can be a bit craggy, but with work it actually proves to be a powerful strength and driving force.
What would you do if you wouldn’t be a social media expert, winemaker and blogger?
Hard for me to think I would not work around wine, really.
Perhaps a biologist which is the base of my academic education. I would have liked to be a naturalist operating in various fields of science: geology, palaeontology, ethology, and else. But general naturalists like Charles Darwin was for example don’t exist anymore. A scientist has to be much specialised nowadays, more than winemakers or bloggers.
Why did you decide to work in the wine industry in the first place?
A love for science, the outdoors, and how human knowledge and skills can sublimate nature.
Fine wine is the only product that showcases these aspects of the world at such a level of complexity.
What’s so special about New Zealand wine?
Well scientists haven’t answered that question completely quite yet, have they?
UV light, harvesting Sauvignon Blanc with machines rather than by hand, day/night temperature variations, talented growers and winemakers, a combination of all of that and more of course… Pin-pointing a single aspect is close to impossible.
From a simple tasting perspective of course, the sheer concentration of aromas and the unique cool-climate expression are, as we know, absolutely outstanding in the world.
What’s your go-to wine at the moment?
I got to review 2013 Squealing Pig Pinot Noir recently: a great affordable Central Otago Pinot Noir with some character and complexity.
As a white, was recently impressed with a soon-to-come release of Stoneleigh Wild Ferment Sauv Blanc, 2015 Wild Valley I much enjoyed. Very well crafted by human hands and wild yeasts!
Wine & dine, what’s your favourite match?
A mature tannic red wine (like 10 year-old Bordeaux blend or Rhone blend) with foie gras. One always thinks sweet wine or sparkling with that French deli, but fine reds actually work wonders with foie gras.
Things you still want to do:
Quite a few wine regions still to visit! Haven’t been to Central Otago yet! And a few regions around the world to go to as well.
Last book read
Blinders by debut novelist Michael Amon. Book review coming soon on Social Vignerons.
Advice on buying wine:
Read a few online tasting notes before buying, to know what you’re getting. There’s many wine critics and bloggers out there giving them for free.
Dead or alive, who would you like to share a glass of vino with?
They’re both alive luckily!
Internationally: California winemaker Randall Grahm is the man I’d like to do that with at the moment.
In New Zealand: Sam Neil.
Thanks for your time Julien. I hope our paths keep crossing and all the best for Social Vignerons.