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Live! From New York! It’s Steve


I’m in Wine Enthusiast’s world HQ just north of NYC on a cold day with a big snowstorm blowing in. We’re about to begin a tasting with the other editors, so I only have a few minutes, but wanted to report on our Wine Star Awards last night, held in the ballroom of the New York Public Library on 42nd St.

For a brief, shining moment, it was the center of the wine world, an assemblage of some of the wine industry’s most illustrious people. Among them (in no particular order) were Gina Gallo, Margrit Mondavi, Piero Antinori, Jean-Charles Boisset, Robert Sands (Constellation), Margo Van Staaveren (Chateau St. Jean), Mel Dick and Wayne Chaplin  (Southern Wines & Spirits), Ted Baseler (Ste. Michelle), Ray Chadwick (Diageo), Vernon Underwood (Young’s Market), Xavier Barlier (Maison Marques & Domaines), Chris Indelicato (Delicato), Constantine Boutari and others too numereous to mention — and if I’ve left anyone out, I’m sorry, and apologize in abject humiliation.

I sat with the Constellation people, and man, what a nice corporate culture they have! I might have thought (before I knew) that the world’s biggest wine company was hidebound and starchy, but these folks were wickedly funny, personable and smart. My neighbor to the left was Rebecca Hopkins, a VP of public relations and irreverent Aussie whose sense of humor pretty much matched my own. To my left was Nora Feeley, the young director of corporate communications. To dine in the company of companionable people is a delight under any circumstances, but especially when they’re so beautiful, savvy and amusing (and if that’s sexist, sue me!).

Incidentally, I pressed Rebecca on her opinion of blogs and social media.  She does feel they’re going to be increasingly important for producers to get their message out. The bad news is she doesn’t see a revenue stream , any more clearly than the rest of us. Maybe that will change.

I’m sure many of the 340 people in the ornate 1911 Beaux Arts-style ballroom were apprehensive about the economy. But for this one magical evening, people put their cares aside to eat, drink, laugh, celebrate, gossip and just have fun. As Robert Sands put it in accepting his Man of the Year award, we may have looked the same as a gathering of people from the computer chip industry, “but we have a lot more fun!” And, I would add, a lot better wine!

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