I am no longer going to be writing wine articles.
You might be blissfully unaware that before I was an astrologer, I was a wine writer. If you start digging further back in this blog’s archives, you’ll find some old posts about wine. You’ll also find stuff about local Edmonton theatre and some other random things.
Before I became an astrologer, I was a wine writer. (And a theatre review, local news reporter, and multi-purpose freelance writer. I still freelance on non-astrology topics, though these days, this blog is pretty much all astrology, all the time.)
I published my first wine story on December 6, 2007 in SEE Magazine. That was the start of what became a freelance writing career of 15 years. (And counting!) I wrote a weekly, then a monthly, wine column for SEE, then Vue, then Avenue (which became Edify in 2020).
Along the way, I started writing about all sorts of other things, but wine writing was always a constant. No matter what else was going on, the wine column (wherever it was being published at the time) was always something I could rely upon.
And it was a lot of fun, for a long time. I am eternally grateful that I had the opportunity to write all of these articles over the years. There are very few of these opportunities for young writers – whether they want to write about wine or something else – because alt-weeklies are basically extinct. Certainly the ones in Edmonton are.
Side note: if you’re interested in hearing about Edmonton’s once-vaunted alt-weeklies and their infamous rivalry, check out this excellent podcast series, A Tale of Two Weeklies, that my two former editors, Paul Blinov and Fawnda Mithrush, produced back in 2019. They interviewed me for this series; you can hear me talking about my time at the weeklies (mainly from my perspective as a theatre reviewer) in episode 4: Dramatown.
I wouldn’t be who I am today, writing posts about astrology on this site, if I hadn’t started out as a wine writer all those years ago. I mean that sincerely and wholeheartedly.
Life moves on. Over the last few years, writing wine articles started to feel like a real slog. I began to dread every time I had to come up with a new story idea, because I just didn’t care about wine the same way that I did when I was a fresh-faced, sharp-tongued amateur writer and wine drinker. Now that my pen and my palate have aged nicely (like a fine wine, obviously), I find myself drawn to write about other things.
I had kept up the wine writing for Edify because I felt like I shouldn’t let that opportunity go. But a few weeks ago, I was struggling to come up with yet another holiday-themed wine article. (How many of those have I written now? Well over a dozen, at least.) I realized I just didn’t want to do it anymore. I had nothing left to say about it. I was done.
I felt immediate, palpable relief as soon as I emailed the editor letting him know that this would be my last wine story. That’s how I knew it was the right decision. That was reinforced when the editor responded quickly and mentioned that their regular beer writer is also pausing his beer stories, and that maybe we were pushing too hard to get these wine and beer stories out every month.
I still intend to write stories for Edify, and some of them might even be about wine. But I won’t be doing any regular wine-related content anymore, either for Edify or any other platform.
I was inspired to write this post by a piece I read on Tad Hargrave’s Substack: “Endings as the Midwives of Culture.” Side note: Tad is a fellow Edmontonian and worked in the local theatre scene for many years. As far as I can recall, our paths never crossed when I was doing all that theatre reviewing a few years ago, though I definitely knew his name and we had many spheres of overlapping people. (Which is not surprising, given how small Edmonton’s art scene is.)
Tad’s essay is a lovely and heartbreaking exploration of farewells, how death feeds life, and how it’s such a problem that our culture often completely fails to give proper endings to things – just like we often fail to give proper beginnings to them, too. (Like initiation into adulthood, for one.)
Tad gives a few personal examples of farewells that never happened, including his own departure from a local Edmonton theatre group after 25 years serving as the artistic director and general manager. This particular example hit me on a very personal level, for obvious reasons. I stopped writing about theatre because of the pandemic and by the time the shows started happening again, things had changed significantly, both for myself and for the theatre community/world. I realized I was done with theatre reviewing, but I never really acknowledged that I was going to officially stop writing about theatre, save for a very brief note on my blog and in my email newsletter.
I was struck by what Tad said about these death moments and how they should and could be properly “tended to and come to as occasions for culture to appear again.” He writes:
When you see something ending, pause, see who you can gather around to mark that ending (you might be surprised as to how small those numbers may at first be). Say some words though they might not be worth much. Invite others to do the same. And then be willing to be troubled afterwards at how unworthy your words and efforts were at the moment. Do better next time and ask it of others, too.
Even as I copied and pasted Tad’s lovely words, I stated to feel guilty about how I was maybe making this into a much bigger deal than it is. After all, I’m just saying goodbye to wine writing – nobody died. Is this really the type of ending that would qualify for the reflection that he writes about?
Well, actually, yes.
As I said at the start of this post, I truly would not be who I am today if it were not for wine writing. I might never have developed the healthy freelancing side hustle that I currently enjoy. Hell, I might not even be an astrologer, who knows.
I may yet do a small private ritual to mark the end of this chapter of my life, but I also felt it was appropriate to do a public post here. One final post about wine, acknowledging all that wine writing has meant to me over the years and how it has been an integral part of my identity throughout the formative years of my early adulthood.
May this stand as an epitaph to my wine writing career: a reminder of all that I once was and the long winding path that led me here.
I extend my deepest, heartfelt gratitude to the following people who helped me along this path:
Thank you, Fawnda, for hiring me on as the regular SEE wine columnist, when I had basically no experience other than that I cared way too much about wine and had a shiny new English degree under my belt.
Thank you, Bryan, for bringing me on board to do wine stories for Vue, after you noticed that I was no longer writing for SEE.
Thank you, Ed, for hiring me at cristall’s and then deVine, the two places where I learned more about wine in a few years than many people learn their whole life.
Thank you, Hayley, for being my hilarious and knowledgeable wine study buddy and going with me to California to do our sommelier training.
Thank you, Faye, for hiring me to write a book about wine even though I was very young and just at the start of my career.
Thank you to all the others with whom I worked over the years, in wine and in writing.
Thank you to all the readers of my wine writing, in print and online. I hope you enjoyed what I had to say, even when I wasn’t at my most eloquent, and that you learned something along the way.
And thank you, Mel, for being that brazen, snarky little punk who had the courage/naivete to write about wine with irreverence and fun. Thank you for continuing to write, and to write about things other than wine.
I raise my glass to all of you: to this ending and the new beginning that it opens up – in my life and in culture. May something fresh and fulfilling step in to fill the time that I used to spend wine writing. May the next generation of wine writers step forward to fill the gap left by my departure.