From humble beginnings
I started this website as a humble blog on WordPress, back in 2009. I gradually built it up with the core feature of reports on wine regions which I had visited, personally. These were mostly in Italy and France, to which have been added in the last five years, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa. The website also became a repository for blind tasting events, reflections on wine study and much more. The content grew and grew. I have just checked and it turns out that I have written just over 625 posts and pages or 600,000 words in the last decade. That is six full-length books in normal publishing conventions.
However, I never had the time to attend to the website itself and so it began to be very dated. The most obvious issue was that it was not mobile-friendly. In the intervening decade, smartphones and tablets have become just as important as desktop computers as a way of accessing the web, for the young, much more important.
Equally importantly, I love the opportunity that a website gives you to combine words with your own photos. However, that means that the images should be properly minimised for the web, displayed consistently and tagged for search engines. From an aesthetic point of view, as I looked back, some of the early posts left a lot to be desired. But of course, as the years go by, updating the entire website became an ever-larger problem. Halfway through the Covid-19 lockdown of spring 2020, I decided that this was the moment to tackle this enormous task. I wasn’t commuting, travelling or studying, so a window of opportunity opened up.
Time to re-design
Finally, the timing was good. The current redesign has allowed me to re-focus the website on Piemonte, the subject of my current research for a book on The Wines of Piemonte to be published by the Classic Wine Library. That’s why the homepage now features the fantastic picture of La Morra in Barolo (well I think it is special). And it has prominent links to the feature Diary of a Wine Writer, which will chart the ups and the downs of the journey to publication date.
Here are the main features of the new website:
- a complete redesign and a fresh look. The new logo focuses on my work as a wine writer and the image of the paler and the deeper wines – let me let you into a secret here – is wines made from Nebbiolo and Barbera, two of Piemonte’s key grape varieties.
- a fully dynamic theme so that the pages look as good on a smartphone, a tablet or a good old fashioned desktop computer.
- a brand new homepage that sets out my current priorities: Piemonte; a lovely tiled navigation bar which takes you directly to the homepages for all the regions I cover; and tiles that showcase Selected articles. The new, more prominent, sitemap will also help with navigation.
- A proper focus on my other themes – Tuscan Harvest Watch which will be in its tenth year in a couple of weeks and Andover Wine Friends.
- And, of course, the website remains fully searchable. So, if you are looking for a particular wine, producer or region, use the search bar.
Can you help … by testing the site?
This website is in effect a beta version and so I need help to test it out before it is signed off. Could you spend a bit of time doing two things?
- search for a couple of regions that you are interested in using the navigation bar or the site map
- search for some wines (specific appellations or producers) that you love or would like to know more about using the search bar
It would be great to have your feedback on the new website. Please let me know if you come across any problems – pages that don’t work properly, photos that are not well-positioned, anything else that you think could do with some attention. Contact me, either by email or from the new contact form.
And now, I am really looking forward to focusing on my research into Piemonte and to writing some pieces on the remarkably diverse wines of this region on this new website. I hope you enjoy the new content as much as the refreshed design. I look forward to getting your feedback.