By Jan Walsh
Photography by Beau Gustafson
Ten years ago I started my first website, BirminghamWine.com. The website launched March 1, 2006, the same month Twitter launched and six months before Facebook switched from a student network to an open network.
Having a monthly wine column and wine event calendar in a local print magazine, I recognized the need for an online wine calendar, where events could be added or edited well past my print calendar’s deadline. I also realized that many local restaurants did not have a website to post their menus, much less wine lists, at this time. Thus the wine website became the digital version of my wine column and calendar, as well as the place to find wine lists of Birmingham restaurants. I did not intend for it to be a business, but a service to the local wine community. Fortunately, local wine retailers, restaurants, and wine consultants were ahead of their time wanting to advertise on the website and its e-newsletter, Wine Weekly, in a time when many believed no one but Google could sell advertising on the Internet.
Ten years on the Internet is like light years in real life. A lot has changed on the ever-evolving Internet during this time, but not much has changed at BirminghamWine.com. The biggest change has actually been a separation of the restaurants and their wine lists with the launch of a partner website, BirminghamRestaurants.com, on March 1, 2007. At this time, Wine Weekly evolved into Wine and Dine Weekly to include restaurant news and events. Birmingham Wine also names its annual Wine of the Year and Restaurant Wine Awards to encourage local restaurants to enhance their wine lists. Restaurants display their award stickers on their websites, windows, and doors. And social media has given Birmingham Wine a new audience with its Facebook page and Instagram pictures (visit @BirminghamWine.)
Looking back over the 10 Wines of The Year brings back memories of sipping these lovely wines, staying on the properties of some of their wineries, and having some of their winemakers as guests to both Birmingham and my home. From 100 years of port to French Champagne, my glass and my life has been filled with beautiful wines for the past 10 years. Wines of the Year have included J. Davies 2010; J. Schram 2000; J. Pinot Noir 2006; Reynold’s Family Wiery’s Persistence 2005; Jordan Cabernet Sauvignon 2010; Champagne Delamotte; Cleto Chiarli Pruno Nero; Paul Newman Final Act; Viader Liquid Cashmere 2011; and most recently, Schramsberg Blanc de Blancs 2012 as it celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2015. I look forward to the next 10.