Wow, what a journey. When we started this caper we had no idea that it would actually go anywhere at all. To be honest, this whole thing was never planned; it just came to be, we jumped aboard, and we’ve been riding the wave ever since. Even to this day we just let it take us wherever it is going. It’s the essence of The Wine Wankers.
How did it all start? My brother-in-law Stu and I have had wine in common for a long time. Whenever we had family gatherings the two of us would bring our best wines to share with our rather wine indifferent family and by the end of it only Stu and I would be talking about the wines. We saw it as having something in common, our family saw it as an opportunity to give us stick in the most Aussie way… they called us The Wine Wankers!
So four years ago Stu and I were chatting about wines, as we did, when Stu said “Hey, we should start a wine blog”. Stu is an ex-Olympian and had just started a fitness blog. He was in that initial excitement zone that all bloggers experience and thought a wine blog on top of his fitness blog would just add to the fun. Anyway, with the positive spirit of wine in my blood my response was “Sounds unreal, we’ll have to call it The Wine Wankers”.
I woke up the next day and remembered the blogging idea. I chuckled and thought it would just be one of those things you say in the moment and nothing would come of it. To be honest, I didn’t know much about blogging but I did say to myself “Errr, I hope he forgets, I can’t really be stuffed writing a blog”. But that day, the day after our chat, I received an email and a text to say the blog was up and running and to kick off a blog post. “No way!” The rest is history.
Shortly after the blog kicked off I was chatting about it to a good mate of mine, Neal, at a restaurant gathering. The only social media page we created when we started the blog was Facebook and back in those days your friends on Facebook would actually see pages like ours when they were created. At dinner everyone was having a laugh about the name we chose. Neal was right into his wine too so after a few glasses I asked him if he was keen to join us. He was right up for it. So now there were three.
We didn’t do social media for months. All there was were the shares of our blog posts to Facebook. We didn’t even check to see how they were going on Facebook. Our blog took off on it’s own and within months we had 1000’s of people following along enjoying simple but fun wine stories. We never wrote about the latest big topic in wine, or the greatness of a wine region; we just talked shit and people seemed to enjoy that. It may not have appealed to the serious wine snobs but normal every day wine drinkers, and other WordPress bloggers, seemed to love it. We were just normal wine drinkers ourselves too.
Over time our readers kept encouraging us to “get out more” into the world of social media, and in particular, Twitter, which really was the pinnacle of social media for wine at the time (and, to be honest, still is for those wine lovers who love to interact and chat with each other). I created a Twitter account and we got cracking. It was tough, and damn frustrating at times to be honest, but we soon learned who to interact with and to follow. The pay off from the determination we showed in those days has helped get us a following on Twitter of 360,000 people, the largest and most engaged following for wine in the world.
Shortly after we started on Twitter, Neal gave birth to our existence on Instagram. He is a keen photographer so he saw the potential in us going down that path. He was right on the mark as our Instagram presence too has grown to be one of the most active in the world with over 160,000 followers.
All this blogging and social media activity comes at a cost and that is time. Even with us dividing up responsibility across our social networks it’s extremely time consuming and after 6 months Stu sadly decided to leave The Wine Wankers to concentrate on his job, studies, and fitness blog. We had another mate Ben join us for a while but once he saw how much work goes into it he decided he would rather just drink wine than talk about it.
Neal and I continued with our love of drinking wine and talking shit about it. The samples started trickling in and the occasional invitation to wine lunches and small trips started to come our way. Free wine, food and travel… it felt like we’d made it. The funny thing was we never planned to make anything to be honest, it was all just for a laugh, but this was great! Living the dream…
After a year and a bit the biggest and most dramatic change to The Wine Wankers was about to happen, and that was Drew. I first met Drew about a decade ago and Neal had been good mates with him for some time. Drew has been a wine writer for 20 or so years, you could call him a proper wine wanker. The thing is, Drew has always had a casual approach to his wine writing style, and he’s a fun lover of life, so when it was suggested that he join us I was all for it. It was great to have him aboard and his presence has helped shape The Wine Wankers ever since. We actually have a serious following on Facebook now, the toughest of all the social media, thanks to Drew’s efforts.
Neal left the group a couple of years ago, again, to focus on drinking wine rather than talking shit about it, but Drew and I have charged on ever since. We do sometimes say that we’ll expand the group again one day… one day. It’s still a lot of work, and even recently I had a little break and have pulled back a bit, but we love wine and we love talking shit about it. That’s why we are here. Yes, we still get a few bottles of wine here and there, and the odd trip to an exotic wine region, but we do it for the love of wine… who am I kidding, we do it for the free wine and travel! 😉
Thanks for joining us all on this ride!