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Epic Wine blogger by Night: Alder Yarrow’s Perspective

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Alder Yarrow embodies the cross pollination mindset of Harvest Summit, a tech executive by day at Cibo where he is CXO and a prominent wine blogger by night and weekends at Vinography.  Alder was an early adopter of using tech to share his wine passion and become one of the first wine blogs with a prominent following, starting Vinography in 2004.  Today Alder has achieved success in both realms, in 2013 he was nominated for a James Beard Award and has a monthly column for acclaimed wine journalist and Master of Wine Jancis Robinson. At Cibo, Alder has helped grow the business founded in 2010, bringing deep capabilities in traditional marketing and advertising together with cutting edge expertise in digital experience design, emerging marketing technologies and cross-platform brand storytelling.  We sat down with Alder to talk tech and wine, and what he’s learned from his passion for both.  Follow Alder’s wine journey at Vinography and see what he sips by following him on Twitter, Instagram and Delectable.

You were a pioneer in wine blogging. What inspired you to start Vinography?

First I was a wine geek, and eventually became that guy in my circle of friends that always got handed the wine list when we went out to dinner. It even got to the point that I became the wine lifeline for some people. I’d get calls from them in the wine aisle at the supermarket asking me which of the 12 Merlots they were staring at was the best.  At the same time, I had clients for my day job beginning to ask about “these blog things” and whether they should have them, and I realized I needed to learn about them. The idea of a wine blog that could kill two birds with one stone, so to speak, was the genesis of Vinography. I thought I could create a site where I would store all my wine notes and they’d be searchable (as opposed to the moleskine notebooks on my shelves), and I could send all my friends there for wine tips, and at the same time I’d learn what this nascent blogging phenomena was all about.

What’s the best and worst part of technology in your own life?

Well the worst part of tech in my life is no different than most consumers — it’s tough to get away from it these days, and it’s a seductive distraction from connecting with friends, family, and society at large. The best part of technology, of course, is the way it has dramatically made so many things easier, less time consuming, or less stressful. One great example is the service I use called Doorman.  As a wine critic, I get three or more deliveries of unsolicited wine samples per week by FedEx, UPS, or GSO. Because it’s alcohol they can’t just leave it at the door. So usually I get home to one or more “we missed you” stickers all the time.  Then a dance of phone calls, and time windows ensues that is maddening. Doorman solves all that. I now have all samples shipped to them, and then via a mobile app, I decide when I want my packages delivered in a one-hour window between 6 PM and Midnight, 7 days a week. It is nearly a miracle.

That’s just one of the innumerable ways my life is better because of technology. And as an avid reader, don’t get me started about how much I love my kindle. You’ll pry it from my cold, dead hands…


What’s your most epic food and wine adventure?

I’m unbelievably lucky to have had more food and wine adventures already than some people have in a lifetime. My most recent adventure was spending almost a week in the tiny little hill town of Somlo in Western Hungary, where the wine tastes like water. I know, that sounds crazy, but it’s true, you can read about it here.

What’s your best advice for someone who wants to go wine tasting in Sonoma County?

Don’t drive yourself, get someone else to drive you, and pick one region of Sonoma County to focus on — it’s a big place. My recommendation, head out to the Western Sonoma Coast and go visit a bunch of small producers who are making some of the most exciting Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Syrah in California. Visit Baker Lane, Red Car, Wind Gap, Cobb, and if you can get an appointment, Ceritas. Then go have dinner at the Farmhouse Inn to cap off your day.

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