Sunday, January 1, 2012

Making the Most with What You Have

The year 2011 is in the books (I am writing this on NYE so not quite yet) and looking back it was a great one for the Ancient Fire Wine Blog. I’m new to the wine blogging party in my current format and 2011 was the best of the nearly two years I've been seriously dishing my thoughts on beverages, eats, places to visit to get food & drink, my home brewing projects and odds & ends about the food & beverage industry at large. I’ve enjoyed sharing my experiences immensely and intend to keep on keeping on, but I doubt things will be the same in 2012 on my end and definitely not for readers.

In 2011 I confirmed much of my own suspicions about how my effort at expanding my knowledge and promoting my blog with social media could pay off. I’ve made lots of new connections, attended many events, have sampled fare from all over the world and more people actually read my blog. I cannot complain one bit. My expectations for fun continue to be exceeded. When I’m out an about I’ve come to realize that my blog is the least relevant part of my interest in the world of beverages and food, and since people aren’t running off to read it right when I meet them, it doesn’t matter. That means I can spend less time blogging and I lose nothing.

I started writing in 2008 as a means to share cellar updates from my home wine & beer making projects. I’ve made cider and mead many times as well since then and the projects keep coming. In 2011 I shifted my writing on the wine slice of those projects to Wine Maker Magazine where there is a natural audience for the tales. I’m still making lots of homemade beverages and jump behind the bar at home to mix up cocktails, punches and sample unique spirits from all over the place pretty much weekly. There are two aspects to these activities that are most important and will be the focus of my efforts in 2012.

( My wine cellar in 2009. Multiple by 3X currently. )

( Pressing grapes with friends. )

( The krausen on a batch of freshly brewed beer. Real geek stuff. That's me! )

First, the projects take lots of time. Research time, planning, trials, full batches, application in social settings and finally consideration of lessons learned and the “what nexts”. If I’m going to do some of these things I certainly want to use the time I have to make the most of them. If I don’t want to do them I’ll do something else like read, take a walk or play ball with my dog.

( Mack's Apples Pie Competition in 2011. )

( Survivors Rule! Volunteers, fundraisers, marathon walkers. We've raised almost $75K since 2003. 
Cancer Sucks so we Fight Back! )

Secondly, most importantly, and this is where I am most happy to be reflecting on, I get enjoy these activities with the people in my life that I want to spend time with. Margot and I are learning how to make better beer together. We rock! I am meeting new people in my local area that enjoy the same activities and want to hang out and learn from each other. I can’t pass this up. And all the in-real-life trips that I plan and take will reconnect me with birds of a feather from elsewhere. These are “my people” as Margot calls it.

( Grilled pizza party in the backyard. So much fun! )

( Beer tasting at The Drinkery in Londonderry, NH. )

( Bus 1, 1a and local wine drinkers from the Wine Bloggers Conference in Virginia. No sleep till Portland! )

( Cocktails with friends. Loved working the bar! )

( Wine tastings with friends at home are consistently the most fun events we host. )

So, what next? I am going to write when I’m inspired and tweet when there is a conversation to be had. I’m going to be out there doing all the things that I could write about, but without of the stress of “having” write about them or share them on Twitter. I’ll read about what others are up to when I can. The live story and the live event is where I’m going to be focused. Sorry to all if that means I’ll share less of what I am up to post by post, but on the flip side planning to meet up somewhere for a conference or to crash tasting rooms has us making memories together. See, that’s way better!

( I play a salsa judge on TV. International Chili Championship. )

( Getting out for walks in Vermont is one of the things I look forward to the most. )

( Crashing the beer tent or the tasting bar with friends is always a good laugh! )

( Dinner with WineMaker Conference friends. Cheers to Cheryl & Christina. See you in June! )

( Working local harvests is great way to meet other winemakers and wine lovers. )

( Get out! The beach or the mountains, it doesn't matter. Go! )

( The Boston Brunchers at the Harvard Common Press. )

No decision is made without consequences however, and this one comes with anxiety over spending less time interacting with so many people I’ve met through my blog and Twitter. Less time with the people who have been readers and friends along for this ride. Spending less time blogging and on Twitter means I can’t support the efforts of many others who I have been a reader of as well. It makes me sad, but I've got to deal with that. I've created solid ties locally and those will naturally continue in real life and online. Relationships take time and I have to focus on the immediate ones to focus my passion and enthusiasm optimally.  This is the unfortunate result. This is going to mean some disconnectedness’ for me, and keeping tabs on the buzz about events I attend is going to suffer. The rejiggering here is going to take some careful work.

A huge round of thank you’s and appreciative gestures are due to all my readers, friends, followers, likes, et. al. Sharing my adventures with you, interacting with you in comments and following you as well has been a blast. Cheers to meeting up in front of a glass of something exciting in places along our continued journey’s.


One other thought is worth closing with. Making personal choices is the right and privilege of everyone. I applaud any person who makes choices and lives with obvious happiness in the offing. Everyone’s circumstances, personal makeup and resources are different, so each of us has to do what we feel is best for us to make the most of what we’ve got. We also then just need to go do it. It’s the most positive way to live. That is my wish for good health for you in the New Year.

And with that I'm off! Gotta clean and prep for a house full of people on New Years Day.




Shannon said...

I think the main thing is to live your life and passions first. Then content will come easy. As you hinted, you are going for quality and that's a stellar idea. People will come back and it makes your points more important (at least to me) as opposed to just filling in content because you have to for some goal or price tag.

Happy New Year! I look forward to learning more about wine and spirits and fun thing happening in your life! Just don't fall off the face of the cliff, you have a lot of knowledge to share and there are people who actually want to know what you are thinking!

Jason Phelps said...


Thank you so much. I'm not going to completely disappear and I hope that anytime I'm inspired to share what's going on folks will come around to check it out.

Happy New Year!


Sippity Sup said...

Having been through a lot of these emotions myself, it's easy to see where you are coming from. On the flip side, all those pics remind me of the things that are possible and all the newness that exists out here in the www (wild wild web). Happy 12 2 U! GREG

Anonymous said...

I only started reading your blog this past Fall, but immensely enjoyed the reflections on your New England setting, since I grew up in RI. The reports from your San Fran experiences were great, and do post when you feel the urge from time to time. I'll keep checking back to see what you have learned and/or experienced: it not only enriches your life, but adds to all of us readers as well.

Best for 2012!!

Heather said...

Jason, I met you at the 2010 Winemaker's Conference in Stevenson, WA, and started reading your blog. I, too, have a blog. At first, I was writing daily for a year, but then I eased up. Funny, my readership increased while I slowly decreased. So first off, don't sweat it. Secondly, as a reader, sometimes it takes me two weeks before I get back around to reading the blogs I subscribe to. I don't even notice gaps in writing, and those who post daily actually get a little annoying when I am that far behind in my reading. So, don't worry - write when you can and are in the mood, but don't force it. I'll still be here to read what you write.

Pam @ Sticks Forks Fingers said...

Aaaah. Jason. Evolution is a glorious thing. Leaving a tail behind in order to walk upright, or some nonsense like that. I adore you, and support your personal journey.

You can, if you read between the lines, tell that I'm in a similar place. Real life calls. We've still got things to say, but it's best if that comes from a place of overflow than having to scrape up the words, right? And I doubt our many of our Twitter followers wil show up at our memorials, right?

Still following forever. And still hope to meet.