Wine Blogger Interview: Madeline Puckette of Wine Folly
‘Musician and graphic designer gone wine geek’, Madeline Puckette is arguably the most famous wine blogger out there, as Wine Folly, a site she founded in 2011, is without a doubt one of the very most, if not THE most successful of all wine blogs.
To learn more about the person and the story behind the Wine Folly blog, I have asked Madeline to tell us more about her writing, her designing of popular wine infographics, her book, and more…
Can you summarize who you are and what your wine blog does?
Madeline Puckette: Hi, I’m Madeline Puckette. I’m a certified sommelier and co-founder of winefolly.com.
My site, Wine Folly, is an informational destination for those looking to improve their wine smarts. It’s made for wine beginners and quick learners who simply need foundational knowledge to drink better wine.
When did you start your wine blog and why?
MP: I started the blog in 2011 with my partner, Justin Hammack.
We originally started Wine Folly with the intention to be a wine club that explores a new wine region every month with valuable educational information.
To learn by drinking! The wine club had a slow start, but the visual communication style I developed for the educational materials (I have a background in design) took off. So, we pivoted to a media/information resource making money with our posters, wine maps, and eventually, books!
What topic(s) does your blog cover and how do you generally describe the angle to your writing/blogging?
MP: I cover a wide variety of topics on the blog, but they all start with what’s in our glasses.
Some are seemingly simple questions like “what makes wine red?” I conduct detailed research and create visual diagrams and graphics to tell the answer to the story.
And let me tell you, wine color is a very deep question! What’s fun about the blog is even though it’s geared towards consumers, we really try to connect people to the real answers and pragmatic information that’s immediately usable.
What’s the secret to your world-famous wine infographics? How are they so well designed, so approachable, and simply so loved? How much time would you generally spend on designing one?
MP: Well for one, I’ve been designing for years. I started using Adobe Photoshop when I was 14 (I’m 35 now) and I also worked professionally in the design field for about 10 years.
That said, it takes more than adept knowledge of design tools to make great diagrams and information design.
It all starts with 4 simple questions that define the groundwork for visual storytelling
- What is the problem I am trying to solve?
- Who cares about that problem and what is their perspective.
- What is the right communication design method to answer that question (diagram/illustration, graph/data vis, photo, map, or time-based)
- What are the constraints of display?
What are your favorite wine events? In other words: if fans would like to meet you in person someday, where are they sure to find you?
MP: I hope to spend more time doing regional tasting events around the world. Tastings that really champion a single region or wine style so that I can further advance my own tasting knowledge. For example, I went to the Garagiste Festival in Paso Robles. It was amazing.
What are your favorite social media channels, the ones you like most to exchange and engage around your content?
MP: So many social media channels are controlled and it’s hard to see “free communication” these days on places like Instagram, YouTube, and Facebook.
Things don’t go “viral” the way they used to. Each channel is a controlled sandbox.
There are many reasons for this, some of which I understand. So, with that in mind, I find the channel that feels the most “free” is twitter and reddit. Still, I really enjoy that Instagram and YouTube are changing the way information is digested.
Also, how have things changed for you since you published your book?
MP: I’ve observed enormous change in the wine world since the first book launch.
These days, consumers care more about where wines come from, how they’re made, and what they actually contain versus the love story and hedonism that defined the past. Of course, the wine world has been very slow to adapt to this new mindset.
So in the new book, we tried very hard to be information rich and answer the fundamental questions of wine that are often left out of the marketing story. In this way, the book helps consumers take a more pragmatic approach to exploring wine on their own.
It’s more about how to think about wine and where to hunt for it than what to think and buy.
Finally, what do you do to relax outside of wine?
MP: I love to cycle and I do hot yoga for exercise. I’m saving my pennies for the KTM 790 Duke (a naked motorcycle). I love driving cars and riding motorcycles. I don’t leave a lot of time for that though!
Learn and find Wine Folly Wine Book on Amazon
“The expanded wine guide from the creators of WineFolly.com, packed with new information for devotees and newbies alike.
Wine Folly became a sensation for its inventive, easy-to-digest approach to learning about wine. Now in a new, expanded hardcover edition, Wine Folly: Magnum Edition is the perfect guide for anyone looking to take his or her wine knowledge to the next level.”