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Monday Meanderings


I’ll be in New York as you read this, at our big, annual Wine Star Awards ceremony, held at the historic Public Library on 42nd Street in midtown Manhattan. Wine Enthusiast announced the winners late last Fall. I’ll be introducing the one nominee I argued for who won this year: Bob Cabral, for winemaker of the year. I doubt if I have to tell anyone who reads my blog who Bob is, or why he so deserves this honor. But just in case, Bob is now the veteran (I think we can call him that) winemaker at Williams Selyem. That alone puts him in pretty rarified company, but the fact that he makes so many great wines is what makes him special.

Each of the editors at Wine Enthusiast has her or his own special area of coverage, and we nominate these people and argue for them to be the winner. I don’t nominate in each category. For example, I don’t know a whole lot about cocktails, so I wouldn’t weigh in on Mixologist of the Year. Nor do I know much about importers, so I leave that category to my betters. It’s fun to learn about these people when they deliver their acceptance speeches and also when we show the videos they prepared in advance. It makes me realize how huge the world of wine, beer and spirits is.

* * *

I want to apologize to Rick Bakas. He had just been hired as St. Supery’s Social Media Director back in July, 2009, when I reported that his salary would be $90,000 a year. I can’t remember where I came across that number–whether it had been officially announced or somebody I trusted told me. At any rate, Rick commented on a post I wrote last week: “…you lost my trust in 2009 when you inaccurately publicly shared my salary at St. Supéry…”. It was the first time I learned that he’d been upset after all those years. If his salary was not public knowledge, I had no right to make it so; and if the number was incorrect, then I misrepresented a fact. Either or both ways, I’m sorry that I lost Rick’s trust, and I hope to earn it back.

* * *

Maybe I shouldn’t admit it, but I’m a fan of The Bachelor. I probably would never have even heard of it, but last year, I did a little story about Ben Flajnik, who is this year’s Bachelor, because he was then a contestant on ABC-TV’s “The Bachelorette.” Ben is a partner in a Sonoma County winery, Envolve, which made it a wine cum celebrity story, the kind that can be fun to write every once in a while for a hardcore wine guy like me. Anyway, I’m not much of a reality TV fan (with the exception of Project Runway), but once I got to know Ben, it was hard not to watch the shows. It was like, Hey, I know that guy! And once I started watching them, I quickly got addicted.

Who’s gonna “get” Ben? Monica seems to have the inside track, but you never know. And who knows how much of this reality show is “real” and how much is made up by the writers and producers? Anyway, if any of the ladies ends up marrying Ben, she’s lucky: she’s not only getting a great guy, she’ll be living in beautiful Sonoma County (or, possibly, San Francisco, which is where Ben hangs his hat for now), and living the wine life. Nothing wrong with that!

  1. $90K as Social Media Director?
    If that is correct….. Damn….
    Many people go to med school, get over 190K in debt and do a 3-4 year residency at 40K/year to end up making that kind of money…
    Nothing against Rick, but what has the world come to?….

  2. SUAMW- that’s why I brought it up to Steve. That was not the amount I was making. I wish it was for the same reason you pointed out…that would be a sick salary.

    Thank you for the message, Steve.

    Coming full circle, I left St. Supéry to start Bakas Media in Oct. 2010. One half of it is ‘media’ or developing software platforms, and the other is consulting with wineries. Much to Steve’s chagrin, social media does work. And the consulting I’m doing with Ben the Bachelor at Envolve wines is proving it works. Maybe any future Mrs. Flajnik’s will join the winery team as a personality.

  3. SUAMW — Agreed that $90K would be a lot for a social media director, but if you think docs commonly make $90K, I got news for you. In 2008, the median income for primary care physicians in the U.S. was $186,044, and physicians practicing in medical specialties had a median annual income of $339,738.

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