I missed the CompuServe/Prodigy/usenet days. I started the day my new issue of Wine Spectator arrived and, unlike the previous issue, it said “www.winespectator.com
” on the cover, right under the name of the magazine. “Must be one of those newfangled ‘website’ things everyone’s talking about,” I thought to myself. So I checked it out (at work after hours, as my 286 home computer didn’t have a modem) and found the forum, and it was off to the races. WCWN started separately somewhere in there as well, but I found them when I followed the herd when we migrated from WS to WCWN because of some moderator or tech issue that WS had.
WS was a land of usernames. I was Vindicator. I remember Cabmandu, MM’s Oenophile, VinPaysDoc, Bored Doughnut, JFO, JamieB, Florida Jim, GeoT, Saaz, Moe Vedre, and so many others, some of whom are still around here.
Pesto was one - he was just a wino at the time, but started a little business selling obscure wines by monthly e-mail lists. A/k/a Jon Rimmerman of Garagiste.
I keep reading “Pobega” here as a verb. In those days, we called it “Ellis/Ames disease” after Greg Ellis (a/k/a VinPaysDoc, because he’s an M.D.) and Jeff Ames, who was just a wino back then but is just one of many who quit their day jobs and started earning a living making wine. Nether could take a newly arrived case of wine from the front door down to the cellar without popping a bottle first and posting on it, within minutes of arrival.
Other future winemakers included Mike Officer, Adam Lee, Brian Loring, Russell Bevan (“TRex”), Vincent Fritszche, and I’m sure many others were around either on WS or WCWN before they were ITB. Joe Cz, now of the WA, was a frequent poster (and offline attendee).
What else? GeoT of course, in addition to being a frequent poster, had his “Gang of Pour” website with Kim, Bree, Kerr, and others.
We had our own set of satiric posters - The Slimer, The Rhymer, and one or two others, always good for some sharp humor.
I remember that people would post notes after offlines and for a few years an extraordinarily high percentage of those included comments like “this was my first offline” and “I didn’t know what to expect,” along with the obligatory comments about how our spouses couldn’t understand how we were going to dinner with a bunch of people we’ve never met, any of whom could be “internet axe murderers.”
There were some legendary large offlines like Aris’s birthday party just across the Hudson from Manhattan (which I was able to make) and the Toledo gathering(s) of mostly Ohio and Michigan folks (which I was not able to make).
I hosted an annual “celebrity guest” offline at my house for a couple of years, where the midwestern locals would drive in from KC, Chicago, Indy, etc., and of course St. Louis, timed to accommodate a celebrity special guest from further away. Brian Loring was the special guest one year, and the Florida Jim/Colonel Bob tour was the special guest another year.
I remember that the WS forums had separate forums by wine type, and the “Italian” forum was so vibrant (“led” perhaps by Dave Cuneo who posted exhaustively) that when we all migrated to WCWN, Brad agreed to set up a separate “Italian Wine” forum page even though his forum list looked more like the list here (Tasting Notes, General Wine talk, Food and Wine, Wine Travel, Beer and Spirits, etc., no special pages for Bordeaux or Burgundy or California, etc.). And it worked - our little ‘famiglia’ stayed active and strong for years.
We started what I believe to be the first wine-board-originated fantasy sports league, the WCWN Fantasy Baseball League, in 2001 and it is still going strong (other than waiting to see if our 20th season actually gets played this year).
I didn’t go back through all 5 pages of this thread from 8 years ago, so much of this could be repetitive, but those are some “put it in the Wikipedia article” type tidbits that jump immediately to mind tonight.
All of the above (I think) predate subsequent migrations to Squires which became eBob, some who also went into WLDG and/or Wine Therapy, and other pre-Berserkers site. And now here we are!