Bay Vieux Briefs
Wine Writers R.I.P.?
Alder Yarrow had an interesting — and upsetting — post yesterday over at Vinography. It’s called “Tough Time to be a Wine Writer,” and to tell you the truth, Alder sounded a little down in the dumps. He wrote about how wine magazines and newspaper wine sections are folding as advertising dollars evaporate and the jobs dry up. As a wine writer myself, it’s worrisome to see the words “wine writing” and “panhandling” in the same article!
Unemployed wine writer
Alder may well be right. If the Ship of State is going down, then so will all the deck chairs sink with it, including wine writers. On the other hand, we have the inspiration of President Obama. But there may be nothing he can do in the short run, and the short run looks pretty bleak.
On the Cecchetti-Racke Merger
Yesterday I blogged on Greg La Follette selling his Tandem brand, and I quoted him as saying there could be “a bloodbath for small wineries” because they don’t have the time or money to travel the country to sell their wine.
This seems to be the rationale behind the Cecchetti-Racke joint venture announced yesterday. The key sentence is “Cecchetti Racke will be reviewing their current distribution network in all markets across the United States with an eye to maximizing the company’s portfolio of wines.” Roy Cecchetti is an industry veteran who’s built up many a brand in the past. With his brother-in-law, Don Sebastiani, he launched Pepperword Grove, and later he created two inexpensive brands, 39 Degrees and RedTree, whose price points are in the comfort zone of today’s value-oriented wine consumers. The man knows how to sell in a down market.
Chill with Obama’s chile
There’s been a lot of talk about what kind of wine Barack and Michelle will serve in the W.H. but here’s a recipe for the President’s own homemade chile. Personally, I’d drink beer with it, not wine, but that’s me.
The link also contains a video of Obama’s 2001 appearance on the Chicagoland version of Check, Please!, a PBS-aired television show hosted here in the Bay Area by Leslie Sbrocco. Maybe all of us unemployed wine writers can get new jobs as restaurant critics. No, wait, there won’t be any restaurants if this thing gets worse. Oh, well…
Be thankful I don’t take it all
Wine Institute Chairman Bobby Koch sent out an emergency email late yesterday to all W.I. members, as well as the media, urging “immediate action” in writing Gov. Schwarzenegger to oppose his proposed excise tax increase on wine. “lost jobs at our wineries” will be the result, Koch says. There’s a real note of desperation in his tone. It’s not just that a tax increase will hurt wineries, it’s that to do so during this perilous economic downturn might be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. I’d hate to see a tax increase on wine, but with California’s $40 billion budget deficit, it’s going to be hard for the Legislature not to scramble for every dime they can find.