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Oct 30

Wine Tech: AbleGrape.com

cross-posted from bub.blicio.us

Over the next few weeks, I’m going to be writing about some cool
technology sites that focus on wine. Having just come back from the
first ever Wine Bloggers Conference, it’s all fresh in my mind. My first big find was AbleGrape.

AbleGrape
is a niche search engine, focusing on wine. It’s the brainchild of Doug
Cook. Now, at the conference, I called Doug a wine superhero,
considering he’s running a wine-related startup, he won the blind
tasting challenge, and he showed up Saturday night with cases of some
amazing (and older vintage) wine that was either donated by a San
Francisco wine bar or straight out of his own cellar. Talking to him,
and others, I learned more about the search engine.

Doug was once the VP of Search Engineering at Inktomi (bought by
Yahoo!) before running off to make wine his focus in life. But as he
was studying for his WSET, he discovered how hard it is to find
up-to-date, authoritative information about wine on the Internet. I
agree – you can find a lot of great academic information in books, but
the Internet is lacking, or rather, the information is hidden. It’s why
I often end up at the library when I’m writing an article, and I forego
the Web.

Doug set out to change all that with AbleGrape.com, which indexes
over 15 million pages from over 38,000 sites that focus on wine. The
search engine lauched a soft beta in January, and has been indexing and
improving ever since. AbleGrape thinks like a wine geek, which is nice.
If you type in cab, you don’t get taxi. You get cabernet sauvignon.

According to their site, AbleGrape has some lofty goals, including
indexing every trade, consumer, and scientific publication, as well as
every organization, producer and academic research. Additionally,
AbleGrape indexes "the best blogs in the world of wine, in any
language." (Full disclosure – my wine blog is indexed. Hooray!)
AbleGrape offers filters you can use, including different types of
press, commerce, and events, as well as regions, to narrow your search
results. It also digs up those hidden search results, whether from
academic wine associations to Wine Enthusiast magazine.

If you want to know more about a particular wine (as opposed to
where to buy it), I highly recommend checking out AbleGrape. For wine
writers and bloggers out there, AbleGrape also offers a widget to add
wine search to your site. I haven’t done it yet, but it’s on my to-do
list for this weekend. There is also a search plug-in for your browser.

One of the key points of the Wine Bloggers Conference is that to be
successful, everyone should find their niche, even within the niche of
wine blogging. I think AbleGrape has done that quite well with search.
Someone at the conference asked Doug, "Why don’t you take on Google?"
Doug had a great answer, and one I admire. "I can’t," he said. "I focus
on doing one thing, and doing that one thing well."

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Posted by Michelle at 3:34 pm in Wine Tech | Permalink | Comments ()

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