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Some wine writers are losing it

59 comments

I sometimes feel like some wine writers are losing their minds.

From about the time I started this blog, in May, 2008, there’s been this constant din about how “Print journalism is dying” and “Wine writers are dinosaurs” and “Social media is changing the world as we’ve known it” and so on and so forth.

To which I say: balderdash. Most of this is journalistic blather, the product of reporters who need to be seen as saying something important, even though it’s not true.

Look, human nature doesn’t change just because some fancy new technology comes along. In fact, human nature is pretty resistant to change. People are more or less the same, in their habits and predilections, as they were a thousand years ago, and we’ll remain so–despite Twitter and Google+!

The latest example of “Henny Penny the Sky is Falling” is courtesy of Jon Bonné, the wine writer for the San Francisco Chronicle. His article, Wine Criticism Faces a Shifting Future, has gotten quite a bit of play. After rehashing all the recent news about Parker, the Wine Advocate and Galloni [which actually no longer is news], Jon postulates a “broader set of questions about wine criticism” that sounds as if he’s about to say something pontifical. Among these contentions are rehashes of dreary points that have been repeated so often, by so many bloggers, that they’ve become clichés.

Let me deconstruct a few of Jon’s quotes by explaining that just because a writer says something is new and revolutionary doesn’t make it so.

1.   “the Millennial surge [is] compelled by a wine’s story, not its score.” The implication here, of course, is that the generation that preceded the Millennials, the Baby Boomers, wasn’t interested in stories, just scores. This is transparently incorrect and insulting. Every generation likes “stories” in its newspapers and magazines. My generation, no less than any other, wanted to read about people, personalities, personal histories. I can’t believe Jon is implying that the Milllennials want to read “stories” more than their parents did. If anything, the Millennials are reading less. Their attention span has been miniaturized by social media and twitter to 140-character tweets. Some story! And scores are not going away, not soon, probably not ever. If anything, scores and other graphic indications of quality (stars, puffs, letter grades) are on the increase.

2.   “This generation of new drinkers… want[s] wines that are relevant and forthright.” Again, is Jon implying that the Baby Boomers wanted wines that were irrelevant and–well, what is the opposite of “forthright” anyway? Whatever this statement means (and I don’t think it means much), this generation of wine drinkers wants the same thing its parents wanted: the feeling that the wines [and other beverages] they drink are interesting and cool. Whatever wine seems cool at the moment (Muscat, Bull’s Blood, Malbec, orange wine) is what they’ll drink–until something cooler comes along, and then they’ll drink that. That’s human nature, and it doesn’t change.

3.   The new generation, according to Jon, wants to know all about “a winemaker’s ethical and technical decisions – about farming, about intervention in the cellar,” about issues of “broader cultural commentary.” This sounds like solid reporting, but it’s built on sand. First of all, the Baby Boomers wanted to know everything, and I do mean everything, about every technical aspect of wine, from soil pH and irrigation systems to the type of fermenter and crusher to the source of the oak, its toast level and how long the wine remained in barrel. If anything, Boomers got too obsessed with technical issues, an obsession that thankfully began turning around some time ago. I don’t believe Millennials care about “intervention in the cellar.” Some writers are always telling consumers they should worry about reverse osmosis, or mega Purple, or whatever, but really, aside from some geeks, nobody cares about these things, and rightfully so. Concerning “a winemaker’s ethical decisions,” I assume Jon means being green. Who isn’t green, to some degree or another? Everybody says they are, and since there’s no way to prove it, we have to take them at their word. But when I go to a club or bar at night and the kids are lining up for their drinks, I don’t hear anyone asking about whether the grapes were grown biodynamically. They’re more interested in feeling good and getting laid. This implication that Millennials care more about “farming” than simply enjoying a delicious glass of wine is the kind of reporter’s BS that proves the old adage, just because it’s in a newspaper doesn’t make it true.

Since Jon bases all his premises on the Parker/Advocate thing, he has to return to it, in the form of a paeon of praise for Galloni’s new venture [and I wish Anthony all the luck in the world]. I’m not sure why Antonio Galloni quitting the Wine Advocate should stand as the symbol of The End of Wine Writing As We Know It, or of anything else, except, possibly, the continued weakening of the Parker brand. Along the way, Jon also references Wine Spectator–twice–although for what reason is unclear, except that Jon has always been bizarrely obsessed with the Wine Spectator. Perhaps he feels that an important article about the Future of Wine Criticism has to drop the S-word (Spectator) and P-word (Parker) in order to be taken seriously. Or to maximize search engine optimization. Whatever.

My point, folks, and I’ve been making it for going on five years now, is that the revolution is not at hand. We have new technology, in the form of smart phones, tablets, the Internet and social media, but humankind has always had new technology. Yet people remain the same. Consumers still want and need experts to guide them in purchasing decisions, whether it’s cars, DVDs, restaurants or wine. They still want to buy things that make them feel cool and plugged in. The Millennials are not so different from their parents. Journalists who wish to be serious need to get over their breathless embrace of social media and pseudo-intellectual analyses of how it’s changing the role of wine writing. It hasn’t, isn’t and won’t.

  1. It’s always hard to generalize a group when there are always outliers. As an older Millennial, I don’t drink wine simply to feel good and get laid, but I see where Steve is going with it.

    “Consumers still want and need experts to guide them in purchasing decisions, whether it’s cars, DVDs, restaurants or wine.”

    Even with all of the increasingly new technology available, there are just too many things in the world to know everything about. I simply don’t have the time to learn it all. Therefore, in an effort to save time and refine my wine buying searches, I turn to the people I consider the experts (people who have been in the business for 20-30+ years) to guide me in a safe, worth-my-time, most-bang-for-my-buck direction… Reading about a CA Pinot Noir scoring 92 pts for $22 with 90,000 cases out there for me to find would be a perfect example of why I subscribe to the experts.

    Cheers!

  2. Dear Keasling, thanks.

  3. Bill Geofferys says:

    Jon Bonné is a pompous tw@. A worthless remora feeding at the fins of Asimov and Parr, who are themselves carping ideologues.

  4. I’ll sidestep the urge to bash Bonne et al because I do too much of it on my own blog.

    Let’s talk Millenials. This stupidity that Millenials are somehow so different is just that. It is brought about by Bonne and his sycophants engaged in gazine at their own navels and thinking that they are looking at the world.

    Look at Bonne’s love affair with Ribolla Gialla and Grenache and producers that no one has ever heard of. We now have a slew of SF restaurants acting like the unknown, the bizarre, the “more acidity the better” is the true path. And that may well be so for a certain selection of young geeks. In that, I am enthusiastic as geekdom is the pathway to wine discovery. Rather than their path changing the world, I predict that they, like the rest of us, will eventually find their ways to the wines that have always been the most prized. Because there is a reason why they are the most prize. They taste good.

    So, not to worry. Millenials will not destroy anything. They will grow up. Have 2.2 kids who play soccer. Move to the suburbs. And those who collect wine, will collect wine that tastes good to them, not tastes good to Jon Bone.

  5. Thanks for weighing in, Charlie. I prefer to think of it, not as Bonné bashing, but standing up for authentic reporting.

  6. Dear Bill Geofferys: But how do you really feel?

  7. Sweet tat bro.

  8. You know what the distinguishing feature of the Millennial Generation is with regard to wine: They don’t have much money to buy it.

    That said, if you feel you need to understand how Millennials react to wine writing, ask yourself what a younger person, just beginning to explore a new subject, is want to do. The answer is build an educational foundation. Where wine is concerned, that foundation will be built on drinking wines (one’s they can afford) and boning up on the basics. So, now ask yourself, where does a young person get the basics about wine? The answer is the same place the young boomers did: in books and articles.

    I think Jon’s article, which I read and studied two or three times is somewhat courageous. Synthesis is not an easy thing to do, particularly in a Daily. And that’s what he tried to do. Though I tend to agree with most of your analysis of Jon’s conclusions, I wouldn’t take them with a grain of salt either. The wine writing industry is in flux, for the reasons you note: technology.

    The important questions is this: How will we consume the same old subjects in the future? Figure that out and you’ll make some dough.

  9. Re: Leif’s says

    I didn’t even notice that tattoo! That’s awesome! Is it flowers, I love flowers!

  10. Tom sez: “So, now ask yourself, where does a young person get the basics about wine? The answer is the same place the young boomers did: in books and articles.”

    Tom,
    Perhaps…perhaps not. I think they, much like you and I, get much of their information off the InterNet. The problem with that is there is a huge amount of information out there (some of it even correct!!) and not much of it well organized. If they want a good/basic education; they best way is to sit down in a chair and read such a book, where the information is well-organized and well-presented; rather than that enormous swirling cloud of factoids that make up the InterNet. Or, nowdays, I suppose, with your Kindle or your iPad. May not be actual “print”, but same thing.
    Tom

  11. Clint, the one on the left arm is flowers. I’m getting the right sleeve in one-color traditional Polynesian style.

  12. Wow! Did it hurt? I bet it did. I got a tattoo of a rose on my arm and that hurt a lot.

  13. It only hurts in certain places, like the elbow.

  14. doug wilder says:

    Steve,

    I think the most appropriate opposite of ‘forthright’ would be ‘forthwrong’. But please code it a ’20′ and don’t use it. :)

    I look forward to Galloni’s new project as it seems like it will include several different ways to interface with him and his content/experiences. Does this represent a Shifting Future? Absolutely. Who wouldn’t want to develop a brand using 21st century technology? I found an interesting article the other day that asked the question to publiishers of print magazines what they would do different if starting from scratch. http://www.digiday.com/publishers/publishers-from-scratch

  15. I always thought, Steve, that you got inked so you could relate to the Millenials.

  16. Charlie: It was so I could DATE the Milliennials!

  17. Steve – I am probably stating the obvious, but if I were a wine critic I would put together more tasting events. I would partner with one or two retailers in large metro areas and have events 4 to 6 times a year (Cabernet / Merlot Tasting, Rhone Tasting, Pinot Noir Tasting, Piedmont / Tuscany Tasting etc etc). You partner with a retailer to offset some of the costs so that you can charge $30 to $40 for a ticket. You would have 30 to 40 wineries (more the merrier) pouring and talking about their wines. Ideally the majority of the wines would range in price from $10 to $25 a bottle. The events would take place on the weekend during the day from 1PM to 4PM. If a customer buys a ticket then they also get a discount on the annual subscription fee charged by the wine critic / publication.

    Millenials (21 to 35) these days are having kids later, and they love these types of events. I know retailers have wine tastings in their stores, but I don’t see a lot of wine critics hosting events with a ticket price of < $50. Of course Wine Spectator has their Grand Tour events, but a ticket costs $200.

  18. I’m with Steve 100% here. To further Tom Wark’s point, there is a wine blog I’ve been following recently that is specifically targeted to millenials. It’s called Wine Folly (winefolly.com) and in it Madeline Puckette (a millenial) posts various articles about wine, mostly educational. She also throws in some irreverant stuff like showing a guy doing a face plant in a crush tank or blading Champagne with a butter knife. The point here is that her educational stuff is the same information us boomers learned from books and the fact that she is emphasizing it strongly indicates that millenials are not only interested in wine education but very interested.

    As for millenials having no interest in expert opinions, also rubbish. Another very popular blog on smart phones called Droid Life is proof of that. I began reading it for the beginning and it has in years since become huge. It is also geared toward “the young folks”. It’s wildly popular because, like all generations, they want to know what phones are cool, what apps are cool, and what mods are cool. This is done via reviews just like you would find in Consumer Reports or WE or WS…

    Lastly, us boomers do love good stories. Case in point. I read Steve’s article on inducting Merry Edwards into the VHOF and realized that I had never tried one of her wines. I went to her site and tried to figure out which one to try. I went with the Klopp Ranch based on the winemakers commentary that stated the vineyard was now experiencing a woman’s point of view. That struck me as worth trying. Steve gave the 09 vintage a 98 and his tasting notes made it sound right up my alley. Had my first bottle last night and it was simply fantastic!

    So.. thanks to Merry for the great wine and story, thanks to Steve for his recommendation and spot on review and a loud raspberry noise to Bonne for thinking us old boomers don’t like a good story.

  19. Balderdash? Is that the right adjective? Didn’t you really want to use poppycock to be more accurate.

  20. Marlene Rossman says:

    Maybe Jon Bonne is a millennial or Gen Xer, because as a boomer, I never could get with his program.

  21. Mike Mora: I was trying to control my language. I could have used more familiar 4 letter words.

  22. Bob: And thanks to you.

  23. Josh, thanks for the idea. It sounds easy but in reality the difficulties are enormous.

  24. Agree with your contention that people still need people to guide them in their wine buying. Ultimately, new technology just presents different ways to market. For obvious reasons, internet marketing probably makes it easier to build a wine brand than in the past. But, given the high price of shipping wine, the distributors still have a great impact.

    I think that the big difference going forward is that these Millenials will have less money to spend on wine than the previous post-Depression generations did. For example, over 50% of law school graduates currently cannot get a job in the legal field.

  25. The shift that’s happening is the movement from gatekeepers to those who bypass the gate to enter vinoworld. We are in the age of Trip Advisor, Yelp, etc. CellarTracker is the go to site for opinons on various wines, particularly as they age.

    Millenials, it appears, place much more emphasis on peer ‘reviews’ and tasting for themselves via the programs like Josh Moser describes.

    Some experts will always be valued–I think of Walt Mossberg who dissects Internet related gizmos, or the auto magazines. Wine criticism is notoriously badly written–with readers only wanting to know the numbers. My citation: NY Times wine reviewer Eric Asinov’s critique in his new book. He, however, is one critic who manages to rise above winespeak. As does, say, Jay McEnerny–though is snobbery is a bit off putting.

    Steve is an outstanding travel journalist.

  26. Being contrary is rarely my choice, but in this instance, I want to go on record as agreeing with Jon. I am speaking at a private international wine marketers conclave this summer and my intent is to show (and discuss not tell) the older academics who will comprise the audience how modern marketing programs and social media is a game changer for wine sales. From a marketing perspective, in 10-20 years, who will be our main customers? The people we are cultivating now. Learn to communicate in their language or perish. Also, in conversations with the academics, I shared with them that wine writers these days are flying by the seat of their pants, we are in the nascent stages of major change, in my opinion, wine writers should pay close attention to the research that marketing professors are doing.

  27. In a world in which millions of people pay for wine opinions, Mr. Merle’s comments are entirely misdirected and prejudicial towards his pet project, Cellar Tracker.

    As a matter of fact, Mr. Merle, Trip Advisor, which you have been citing for years now, has become increasingly irrelevant as has Zagat. Consumer collective reviews are inordiantely overblowen and uncritical.

  28. Hey Steve, I totally agree your premise that times haven’t changed, people haven’t changed, the methods have. What we as wine bloggers want is real and actual conversation. We are sharing our experiences with wine on these new mediums to hear about others experiences with wine. What are you drinking now? What do you like about Orange wine? There are enough opinions about wine out there but the conversations seem to be all one direction. What Steve likes, what Chris likes, with no real back and forth. I got into wine because drinking it under the right circumstances feels magical and that’s what I want to share. Coming up with the right approach to talk to Millennials or Baby Boomers is silly. It’s about talking about wine without pretense in my opinion, which as you said, hasn’t changed. Love the blog…

  29. Sorry Charlie, yours is a last gasp of an ageing Bay Boomer. You’d better supply some footnotes to your sweeping statements. Meanwhile the wine event alternative is thriving for Millennials. I held one last night and none of the attendees that I talked to had any interest in reading the wine mags as evidenced also by the article in the LA Times http://bit.ly/WwBD9k (thanks to Lew Purdue for bringing this to his readers)

  30. Sorry Charlie, yours is a last gasp of an ageing Bay Boomer. You’d better supply some footnotes to your sweeping statements. Meanwhile the wine event alternative is thriving for Millennials. I held one last night and none of the attendees that I talked to had any interest in reading the wine mags as evidenced also by the article in the LA Times http://bit.ly/WwBD9k (thanks to Lew Purdue for bringing this to his readers)

  31. carroll price says:

    I don’t know why so many people these days can’t enjoy wine without analyzing it to death.

  32. Charlie, Tom Merle has strong opinions and is not delicate about expressing them. I seldom agree with him, and I don’t in this case, because he is disrespectful and short-sighted. My readers can judge for themselves whether his opinions are worthwhile.

  33. Randy Caparoso says:

    Way to stir the pot, Steve. I, too, think that differences between Millennials and Boomers are easily overstated. However, I do know there are differences — differences in taste, differences in priorities, differences in a few other subtle things. However, a lot of that is also the natural difference between 20 and early 30-somethings and 40 and 50-somethings. My bet is that when Millennials get to be our age (those of us in our 50s), they’re going to be a lot more like us than they may suspect now. Smarter Millennials, of course, know they’re going to be like their parents — that’s what getting old and more settled in income levels is all about…

  34. Randy–

    I can sort of remember the gold old days, and something in my brain says that I and all my supereducated peers who thought we were the cat’s ass and would take over the world were drinking Lancer’s and Mateus.

    Age changes things a lot, and one of the things it changes is that some people become wine collectors and will subscribe to wine periodicals with tasting notes in some form or other.

  35. Carol C says:

    Love the spirited dialogue! While people may indeed be the same across generations, the wine industry and its current dizzying array of choices has mushroomed from the choices my parents had back in the 70s & 80s vs. the choices we have today.

    In 2002, there were 1750 wine brands in the US. Last year there were over 7500 brands and 126,000 labels from every state in the US and every corner of the globe. Surely just as I rely on technology significantly more than my dad did back in the 70s, wine consumers will need technology more to learn about and make wine selctions. Millenials’ attention spans may indeed be shorter than their Boomer parents, but the array of choices is probably 10X greater. And yes, that does well for critics and other curators and cool cats who are able to cull through the clutter and introduce styles and categories to thirsty friends.

    BTW, while I don’t believe that consumers are consulting TripAdvisor for what wines to drink, they most certainly are trolling those sites daily and with greater and greater frequency for which wineries to visit when they’re in wine country.

  36. john intardonato says:

    blah, blah, blah, blah, etc….

  37. Bill Haydon says:

    Thanks again for a nuanced and thoughtful article, Steve. While I don’t always agree with you, I do respect your ability to truly examine this issue rather than merely resort to polemics. I also appreciate that you forthrightly see that California (Napa-Sonoma in particular) do have a problem and that a good deal of–dare I say–just might be self-inflicted.

    Charlie, I don’t know what to make of you. You come off as the metaphorical guy standing on his porch in his underwear screaming at the “damned Europeans” to get off his lawn. The next moment you’re arrogantly taking the stance that once these young whippersnappers grow up, come to their senses and put down their silly Muscadet, they’ll come back into the fold where they belong.

    Sadly, from my dealings with high end California producers, I find Charlie’s attitude to the be most prevalent. And that is precisely why they will fail.

  38. Bill–

    They will fail? Why? Because Millenials will never like CA wine? What kind of analysis is that?

  39. Am with Alana and Tom W – I thought it was a great article by Jon, and sad to see the bashing by several writers here.

    Thank God someone writes about shit that doesn’t appear in WS, WA, Food & Wine’

    “Look at Bonne’s love affair with… Grenache and producers that no one has ever heard of. ”

    right – we call that WINE WRITING & JOURNALISM ;)

  40. While I understand why Steve finds my comments disrepectful, I mean only to emphasize the importance of consumer commentary in our times: to taste offline and share online. Just as travelers note their experiences on hotels and restaurants via Trip Advisor.

    While the references are somewhat out of date because it was written before Mr. Parker retired and other facts of WA changed, David White’s speech on ‘The Twilight of the Gatekeepers’ deserves rereading in this debate. http://www.terroirist.com/2011/09/twilight-of-the-gatekeepers/

  41. I want to share something with everyone here, as I think it’s relevant to the discussion.

    I’m just back from judging at the Argentina Wine Awards. Each international judge (all of us 40-ish or younger) also presented at a seminar after the competition in which we discussed a wine that we felt typified what Millennial wine consumers are looking for in their purchases of fine wine in our respective markets (US, UK, Italy, Spain, China, Korea, Mexico, Brazil, etc.).

    All of the judges were accomplished pros (excepting myself! :), and all had widely divergent backgrounds. And yet, without discussing it beforehand we all said nearly EXACTLY the same thing when it comes to Millennials; namely, that they want:

    - VALUE / QUALITY
    - STORIES
    - UNIQUENESS

    Is that so different than Boomers? Not really, but the difference is in the EXTENT to which they want those things vs. previous generations, and from where they look to identify them. From friends, from producers directly, from resources that the trust (primarily those online).

    To those who think print media isn’t on the decline: please watch the news, and see if you can go two weeks without a story about the print biz changing, selling off declining print properties and moving online. For what it’s worth, I am the only (!) international judge who specifically mentioned in my AWA seminar talk that print was still important. By the way, every other judge from that session who did NOT mention print makes far more direct buying wine decisions (for restaurants, clients, etc.) than I do.

    The point is not the Boomers or any gen should be insulted by a shift in focus, etc.; it’s just that subsequent gens always approach things a bit differently. Generations do not grow out of their different generational world views – those who ignore that history have a very steep uphill marketing climb ahead of them (I know many a Boomer who’d be insulted personally by the suggestion that they’d grow out of their own world views on topics like warfare, equal rights, etc.).

    Kudos to Jon for calling the scene correctly – and for doing it publicly.

  42. Whoops – forgot to add this:

    “We have new technology, in the form of smart phones, tablets, the Internet and social media, but humankind has always had new technology.”

    This is patently incorrect, Steve, when viewed through the prism of *what* and *how quickly* that mobile tech gives us access to information and opinions. The shift in this in only the last ten years in terms of how quickly we can move information from one point to another is mind-boggling.

    To suggest that this has no impact on how the information is processed and interpreted by end-users, or that technological advances in information flow do not impact behavior (including buying behavior), is to ignore nearly all of the history of the advancement in human quality of living since The Enlightenment.

  43. Joe–

    Steve can speak for himself. My view is not that print will live forever, although I see no evidence that WS or WE or Decaneter are suffering any loss of readership.

    Many of us, however, who are not in the advertising on the printed page (Berger, Tanzer, CGCW) have gone out of the print business and now offer our opinions for sale via digital media.

    I don’t know what a gatekeeper is. I do know that the higher one gets up the wine food chain, or any chain were high value decisions among thousands of choices exist, the more one looks for expert opinion.

    For sure, there is more free “expert opinion” than there used to be, but none of the free opinions are comprehensively grounded. Most Millenials, just like most Boomers, are not going to want or need expert opinion for which they are willing to pay. But, at the same time, it would suprise me greatly if the desire for expert opinion were replaced at the high-value end of the spectrum by info from friends, from producers (we call that advertising) and free internet sources.

    You are right that most Millenials will use the sources you cite–but that will not be so very different in tone and content from what most Boomers (go talk to my neighbors none of whom read a wine periodical despite being wine drinkers) do now. The details may change, but the demise of what are called the gatekeepers is less likely to change here anymore than it will for audio equipment or computer gear or automobiles.

    To believe so, one has to posit that high-value buyers will no longer seek expert opinion and instead listen only to non-experts and advertising and free internet sources run by people who will work hard for no financial return. That latter source, regardless of your success or Alder’s or anyone else’s has yet to emerge as a long-term, employed gatekeeper.

  44. “regardless of your success or Alder’s or anyone else’s has yet to emerge as a long-term, employed gatekeeper.”

    Charlie – that is the point. Joe and Alder are not going to be gatekeepers. The gates are open and they are just handing out glasses of water on the wine marathon path…

  45. Charlie – I agree with you for the most part there, and Kyle sums up why. There will still be influential voices, no doubt; the crowd will (and is) determining who those are, and they’re likely to be fragmented.

    Print subscriptions are declining, those who aren’t moving to digital will go extinct eventually. So the future – and to some extent the present – is for influencers to “live” primarily online. The influencers in those spheres are expected to produce two-way communication, and to do it regularly. That *is* a big difference, and they must build cred through that process (rather than being vetted by a periodical, etc. – also a big difference).

  46. Joe–What evidence do you have that WS or WE or Decanter are losing paid readership for print?

    I do agree that the number of influential voices has grown and will remain diverse. Whether anyone can save the Wine Advocate remains to be seen, but much of that is because it has shot itself in its own foot.

    And, of course, we do have to differentiate between types of readers and types of delivery vehicles. Parker did gain extraordinarily wide readership for a newsletter vehicle. That form may never be dominated again the way Parker dominated it. But, the paid-subscriber newsletter, which now mostly exists online, may now diversify. Certainly, the diminution of Parker’s power has aided my own rag because, even though I am West-Coast oriented, his broad readership meant that he was a fierce and formidable competitor.

    Not only will my rag benefit but I see the day when other paid-subscription newsletters will flourish. Some will review tens of thousands of wines from all over the world and other will focus on a particular segment (Germany or Spain or Washington are all logical candidates for a less extensive but also less expensive effort).

    It is harder to foresee the end of life for WS or WE. They are topical and tell stories in glorious color as well as offering tens of thousands of tasting notes. Do you really think that they will go away for the great middle ground of non-geeker, comfortably moneyed, middle-aged middle-class?

  47. Kyle–

    It is true that the traditional info sources have been around for a long time and that online sources have yet to emerge. Even those online efforts that make real money, the paid-for newsletters, are relatively small in comparison to WE or WS–or even to WS, which is the exception and may or may not drop back into the pack. Personally, I am not ready to dismiss Parker et al as an important influencer.

    Still, as I said to Joe, there has been and will continue to be more diversity in source. What I do not know is whether any of those new sources will ever achieve significantly wide standing. I am guessing that important voices, with market power, will continue to exist, and that diversity will not mean that everyone has a small place. But, your guess is as good as mine.

  48. Charlie- of course I don’t have those numbers. But why would wine pubs not follow eventually the same trends as every other print pubs? I.e., declining print subscriptions and then hopefully movement to digital do they can survive and thrive? To think that wine would be immune to that is to say the wine markets are special in some way, so special that they’ll buck that tend. I just cannot make a bet like that, I suspect strongly that it’s a losing one.

  49. LarrytheWineGuy says:

    If Millenials are so in need of relevant and forthright wines, why did Market Watch just award Gallo and Constellation for eschewing appellations in favor marketing brands. Look at the explosion of labels geared toward these in-need-of-something-more-meaningful 20 to 30 somethings…If You See Kay, Stark Raving, Educated Guess, Butterfly Kiss and on and on…

  50. LarrytheWineGuy: Point taken! There is certainly some pandering going on to Millennials who marketing managers believe just want stupid clever brand names.

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