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Going Pro | 1 Wine Dude - Page 24

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The 2011 Professional Wine Writers Symposium In 10 Easily Digestible Morsels

Vinted on March 2, 2011 binned in going pro, wine industry events

1) It is the darkest of times for wine writing. The general decline in the consumption of real journalistic reporting has resulted in immensely talented people being out of regular wine-writing-work.  The black cloud enveloping the wine writing sphere is actually the dark cloak of the grim reaper; that silver lining you see is his scythe, gleaming against the available light, raised to the apex of its arc in his cold, bony hands, beginning its inexorable path to cut wine writing down at its haunches.

2) It is the brightest of times for wine writing, for those who are comfortable with ambiguity and have an entrepreneurial bent.  Since information about wine is now being consumed in almost an infinite array of forms on-line (with no-to-low-cost barriers to entry to almost all of them), those with passion, drive, talent and business sense can earn a comfortable living – if they’re able to market themselves and build their own personal brands.  Success stories include new and traditional media types (and those like Dominique Browning who have successfully leveraged both).

3) Apparently, I have fooled a good number of people into thinking that I know what I am talking about. I think there might be a good book idea in there somewhere, but I won’t bother to pitch it because the traditional publishing industry has 14 billion levels of checks and bureaucracy and is (almost) hopelessly broken.

4) Everything positive that you’ve ever heard about the legendary Gerald Asher is probably true. His keynote speech seamlessly wove together wine writing history, wine sales, insight into the human condition, and prostitution – and that was just in the first three minutes.

5) Please stop telling me that Napa wines are never Bretty, or that their ripe fruits will outshine any Bretty stank even after years in the bottle.  Because I sampled some older vintages at the post-prandial (does anyone not love that word?) tastings at the Symposium, and while most were NOT Bretty, those that were displayed way more fruit-of-the-barnyard than fruit-of-the-vine, if you catch my drift.

(more after the jump…)

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What The 2011 Class of the Vintners Hall of Fame Tells Us About the California Wine Industry

Vinted on February 23, 2011 binned in California wine, going pro, wine industry events

As most regular 1WD readers know, I’m not much for classic reporting-style articles.

In fact, to me the choice between writing a “such-and-such took place on Monday and so-and-so was honored with a whozy-whatsit for their work on the whatcha-ma-jigger” piece or a “let me tell you what I think about X…” piece – namely, between writing a USA Today style event report ,or interpreting an event through the prism of my unique but twisted perception – is sort of like having to choose between being brutally murdered or having amazing sex.  In other words, there’s really no choice at all, is there?

So, you’ll hopefully understand why I’m having trouble trying to decide how best to bring you news of the Fifth Annual Vintners Hall of Fame event held earlier this week at the Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena (I was invited as part of the 2011 Pro Wine Writers Symposium, which in turn I’m attending as a speaker but more so as a learner as I gear up my efforts trying to make a living in the wine world).  To further complicate the matter, I promised my friend W. Blake Gray (who chairs the VHF Electoral College) that I’d consider writing something about the event, and he’s really a very talented and nice guy so I’m gonna feel really bad about myself if I don’t at least give this the old college try.

See, even that tiny bit of exposition was painful to write.  F*ck me, I need a drink already.

Anyway, rather than give you a litany of facts about this year’s thoroughly deserving inductees (you can read all about them at http://www.ciaprochef.com/winestudies/events/vhf_inductees.html), I want to share with you what those inductees – or, rather, the what the speeches that introduced those inductees – tells us about how California wine came of age.  And it can be summed up in two words…

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Going Pro: Talking Millennial Wine Marketing in Napa

Vinted on February 16, 2011 binned in going pro, wine industry events

On April 6, I’ll be part of a roundtable wine industry panel discussing “strategies for building wine brand loyalty” among what has to be one of the most fickle (and largest) group of wine consumers ever to swipe credit cards in exchange for vinous experiences: the oft-discussed (and more often misunderstood) Millennials.

The panel is part of a larger symposium for wine industry types being held at the gorgeous Culinary Institute of America in St. Helena. My panel-mates (now there’s a word that has limited contextual usage!) will include moderator Brad Todd of the Richards Group, and Adam Strum (founder of Wine Enthusiast). Gary V is the keynote (for those who’ve yet to experience a Gary V keynote – it alone is worth the trip).

It’s going to be an interesting discussion, because I’m not sure that capturing the loyalty of Millennials can actually be done (at least, not in the way that wine-related business are used to doing it when it comes to Baby Boomers).  Still, there is hope, provided that you can continuously entertain those buyers with transparency, compelling stories that relate experiences connected with a brand, and above all continuing to up the quality of your products.  And void social-irresponsibility that could result in a brand boycott.

You know, really easy stuff, right?  I recommend investing in some Tylenol, because there will definitely be headaches encountered in marketing departments before the dust settles. For more on how the Millennial set views wine, I recommend checking out Millennier.com (because it’s authored by an actual Millennial and not a late-30s guy with Millennial leanings – like me – just talking about Millennials).

I’m calling attention to this gig because it’s a paying gig (WOOT!), and therefore deserves some mention in the Going Pro vein of articles here

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Going Pro: Workin’ For The Man (In Portugal)

Vinted on February 9, 2011 binned in going pro

There are worse places to be than where I’m camped out this week – Portugal (again, and I feel blessed to be back), where this time I’ll get to spend some time in Reguengos de Monsaraz, Lisbon, as well as getting back to the insanely gorgeous Douro and the lovely city of Porto.

The reason I’m back in this diverse winemaking region is that I’m being hired by a (rather large) Portuguese wine producer – well, technically I’m being hired by their PR agency – to pen posts for their U.S. blog. That blog (of course) will have no affiliation with 1WineDude.com apart from the guy writing the articles (me) and is going to be hosted separately. I actually don’t even have a log-in for the site yet, but the Portuguese approach things in a manner that is… well… let’s just a bit more laid back than what we Type-A, anal-retentive, uptight East Coasters are used to seeing.

Since I’ve been totally transparent since day one on this blog, and within the Going Pro series of articles in particular, I wanted to give you all the skinny on this gig of mine.

Let’s start by telling you that for the duration of my contract with said producer, there are two aspects of the contract that I hold as supremely important in governing how this deal is gonna go down:

  1. I’m not allowed to enter into any similar contracts with any other Portuguese wine producers (makes sense, but let’s just say there isn’t exactly a long line of Portuguese-speaking PR types knocking down my door), and
  2. The producer has agreed not to be mentioned in any context whatsoever (name, reference to wines, etc.) on 1WineDude.com (or my facebook and twitter accounts) for the duration of the contract.

That last condition was mine, and it serves as the “firewall” between what I’ll be doing specifically for their blog and the independent coverage of wine that I provide here…

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