Parker, Laube and me
[Cue: theme from Jaws]
Just when I thought it was safe to be a wine writer with some, ahem, experience under my belt, it’s happened again. Another “You’re old, get out of the way” attack from — gasp! — a blogger.
After last summer’s dustups over the Rockaway thing and the Wine Spectator restaurant hoax, both of which sent the blogosphere into gales of chatter over old vs. new media, here it comes back again, nipping at the heels like a pesky chihuahua.
This time it‘s via a blog I was unfamiliar with, Wine Questers, which describes itself as “focused on wine tasting road trips and the winery experience.” These are good and useful things to blog about, so I’m not quite sure why the owners, Jim and Katya Preston, decided to go off-topic and post this rant provocatively headlined “The old wine media is shattering!“ (And, yes, the exclamation point is in the original.)
The Prestons cite three examples of what they call “the old media gang of Wine Spectator, Wine Enthusiast [and] Parker.” They also say that “Many California vintners definitely want their influence to end.”
I’m honored for my magazine to be included on the short list of old media elites (although I don’t really think of Parker, Jim Laube and me as being members of the same gang), but the Prestons’ citation entitles me, I believe, to respond.
1. Can we please get over this old versus new thing? It’s tired.
2. Print media is not “shattering.” Well, admittedly, the economy is making everyone tremble a little bit, but it has nothing to do with age, or whether you’re print or digital.
3. Re: “California vintners want [our] influence to end,” there’s actually some truth to this, but not for the reason the Prestons imply. To the extent California vintners desire good reviews in order to promote their wines, it stands to reason that they welcome more critical voices. That way, if “x” gives someone a bad review but “y” gives them a good review, they can use y’s review in their PR. It has nothing to do with some silly old versus new preference.
Here’s the Prestons at the end of their rant: “So let the old wine media shrivel up and die on the vine.” Snarky, no? I’ll rise above the temptation to out-snark them to observe simply that there may be some ulterior motives going on in Prestonville. Their website is very ambitious. It aims to be (in its own words) the “critical interface between tasters and tasting rooms and winery Web sites.” It would be convenient for Wine Questers, I suppose, for the likes of Parker, Laube and me to shrivel up and die on the vine. But I don’t think we’re going to.