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Thursday throwaway: Eberle, Kermit Lynch, Jon Bonné, Starbucks and dissing Oakland

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I was stoked to read yesterday that Gary Eberle has regained control of his eponymous winery.

Gary lost that control some years ago. He was obviously, and understandably, upset about that. How would you feel to start a winery you named after yourself (and your ancestors), only to lose that ownership through circumstances you had no control over? I’d feel pretty lousy.

So congratulations are in order, Gary. He’s one of the pioneers of Paso Robles, which has turned into such a successful wine region. Gary also is a gentleman, a standup guy and a mentor to many winemakers.

* * *

I got the latest Kermit Lynch newsletter in the mail yesterday, and as usual, read through the whole thing. For all the griping I do about the state of wine writing, I always like Kermit’s newsletter. He (and his staff) have mastered the art of making short (100 words or so) wine descriptions interesting and compelling. When and if I start reviewing wines on this blog this summer (my mind isn’t yet made up but I’m inclined towards doing it), I will change my style from the way I wrote up my Wine Enthusiast reviews. They were what they were—and I obediently followed the magazine’s guidelines—but I always wished I could experiment with lengthier, more interesting text. Kermit’s newsletter is an inspiration.

* * *

My blog post from the other day, “Winemaker’s choice: When marketing and the perception of exclusivity collide,” has gotten a lot of comments, 40 and counting, which is pretty good for a wine blog. I guess it’s because the things I’m interested in– marketing, imaging, perceptions and communication–are also interesting for a lot of people.

* * *

There’s a certain tourist publication that you often find for free in wine country. I don’t want to identify it by name, because frankly I don’t want to get sued. But it’s glossy and fancy and claims to write about restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have sections on San Francisco, Marin, Wine Country and Peninsula-Silicon Valley. Notice what’s missing? OAKLAND. Well, I sent a private email to the publisher. Look, Oakland is one of the hottest restaurant places in Northern California. It can only be prejudice that keeps a publisher, who purports to be an expert advisor, from acknowledging this. When I realized that, I threw the publication away.

* * *

It’s sad and amazing how much the San Francisco Chronicle has cut down on its wine coverage with the departure of Jon Bonné. I can’t understand, except that maybe wine advertising just doesn’t bring in the dollars, and advertising drives newspapers’ editorial policies these days.

* * *

I’ve been following Starbucks’ rollout of wine in some of its stores for some time now. Apparently they’re doubling down, region by region, depending on where they think serving wine will help them. The latest is in Sacramento. I think it’s a fabulous development. If we can get these Millennials who hover around Starbucks to enjoy a glass  or two of wine with their lunch or dinner, so much the better.

  1. Bob Henry says:

    “There’s a certain tourist publication that you often find for free in wine country. I don’t want to identify it by name, because frankly I don’t want to get sued. But it’s glossy and fancy and claims to write about restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area. They have sections on San Francisco, Marin, Wine Country and Peninsula-Silicon Valley. Notice what’s missing? OAKLAND. Well, I sent a private email to the publisher. Look, Oakland is one of the hottest restaurant places in Northern California. It can only be prejudice that keeps a publisher, who purports to be an expert advisor, from acknowledging this. When I realized that, I threw the publication away.”

    Add these THREE LITTLE WORDS to your sentence, and I can’t see how you could get sued:

    “IN MY OPINION, it can only be prejudice that keeps a publisher, who purports to be an expert advisor, from acknowledging this.”

    Political speech is free.

    Commercial speech (such as the above) has limitations. Thread on the side of caution by characterizing your statements as opinions.

  2. Bob Henry says:

    ERRATUM.

    TREAD on the side of caution by characterizing your statements as opinions.

  3. Bob Henry says:

    “When and if I start reviewing wines on this blog this summer (my mind isn’t yet made up but I’m inclined towards doing it), I will change my style from the way I wrote up my Wine Enthusiast reviews.”

    If you introduce wine reviews to your blog, will you revisit your use of the 100 point scale?

    Embrace Parker’s call for more 100 point scores being handed out?

    Link: http://www.thedrinksbusiness.com/2015/05/parker-not-awarding-100-points-irresponsible/

    Or adopt a different scale?

  4. Lisa Mattson says:

    I heard other general interest sections of Chronicle are cutting back columns too. Sad.

    The Chronicle could easily bloster its wine advertising. All it needs to do is cover wine country travel and interesting winery news that its readers want–not just incredibly well-written articles about producers and wines that most readers can’t find or get access to. My understanding is there was also this territorial “wall” before where the travel section and food writers couldn’t cover wine news because wine country was under Jon’s umbrella. I think that led to a lot of viable straight news pieces about new food pairing experiences at wineries or new winery events never being covered. I hope see the Chronicle’s wine cover expand in diversity along these lines; hopefully it’s not too late. They should jump on 7×7’s promoted post ad model, which works and makes money.

  5. CAWinediva says:

    As a wine lover and seller of great wine I’m thrilled that Starbucks is going to introduce wine and beer to perhaps a different market. I’m most interested in what and who’s wine it will be. Hopefully ones as interesting as their various coffees. The on premise license is in the window of the Napa store.
    And as a stockholder I’m giddy!

  6. Bob Henry says:

    Dear Diva:

    “Curb Your Enthusiasm” over Starbucks selling wine.

    It will be single serving size containers.

    In cans or 187 ML bottles.

    Who bottles wine in those formats?

    Not anyone you or I or Steve or his readers wish to drink.

    Bob

  7. Bob Henry says:

    “Correction.”

    Intuition suggests Starbucks will be serving wine by the self-contained, single serving size bottle or can (reminiscent of airline offerings).

    Not from open 750 ML bottles.

    Well . . . apparently not so.

    For a list of the wines initially served in Chicago, Seattle and Atlanta, see my next link-laden comment (awaiting “moderation”).

  8. Bob Henry says:

    Excerpt from Bloomberg BusinessWeek Magazine
    (March 20, 2014):

    “What to Expect From Starbucks’s New Booze Menu”

    Link: http://www.bloomberg.com/bw/articles/2014-03-20/what-to-expect-from-starbucks-new-booze-menu

    By Venessa Wong
    Associate Editor

    “The wine selection is fairly diverse for a coffee-focused cafe. The menu in Chicago, for example, features nine wines: prosecco, pinot grigio, sauvignon blanc, chardonnay, brachetto (a sparkling rosé), pinot noir, malbec, chianti, and cabernet sauvignon. The Seattle menu has 10 options, including a syrah and a riesling. Atlanta’s has two red blends.”

    Link to Chicago menu:

    http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/dfa33e4315af4bf9a4cf3c6474f0ede8.pdf

    Link to Seattle menu:

    http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/3daaad60b0194e8b8bc84316d85d9e7d.pdf

    Link to Atlanta menu:

    http://globalassets.starbucks.com/assets/f6c106f2239740349be782d4ab65f80e.pdf

  9. Bob Henry says:

    “It’s sad and amazing how much the San Francisco Chronicle has cut down on its wine coverage with the departure of Jon Bonné. I can’t understand, except that maybe wine advertising just doesn’t bring in the dollars, and advertising drives newspapers’ editorial policies these days.”

    With the Internet siphoning off display advertising dollars from newspapers, combined with the onset of the Great Recession and lackluster recovery, employment opportunities for writers and editors and researchers and fact checkers and graphical artists — funded by subscriptions and ad revenue — cratered.

    Employment opportunities for ad industry professionals likewise nose-dived:

    “BNET’s Ad Agency Layoff Counter — CBS News”

    Link: http://www.cbsnews.com/news/bnets-ad-agency-layoff-counter-48832-jobs-lost/

    (The website stopped counting the job losses in 2010.)

    “At least 163,400 advertising jobs have been lost since the beginning of the recession. That total is based on a Bureau of Labor Statistics report as summarized by Ad Age [trade magazine]. The headline total in this article includes only layoffs at ad agencies and other ad-oriented employers. (It does not include magazines, for instance.)”

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