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Wine,Wine Business,Wine Magazine,Wine Writer

Quarterly Review of Wines ~ RIP

Another important glossy wine magazine is biting the dust.

Sayonara, Quarterly Review of Wines. Thanks for all of your help over the years. You’re going to be sorely missed!

I was so saddened when The Wine News, for which I had written Cat O’Wine Tales in the 1990s, closed its doors. Publishers Tom and Elizabeth Smith just seemed to slip away. The magazine had the most gorgeous of all images. Their dedication to their magazine out of Coral Gables, Florida, was admirable. The content was impeccable, and one day it just didn’t make sense for them to go forward anymore, I guess.

I was also deeply saddened when the Colorado Wine News was sold, taking with it the years of integrity that it had built, to now only be a shell of the name. The site is now a mishmash of things… anything but wine, curiously. How about this being offered for sale?

Cheetah Mounts 32 65 LCD TV Wall Mount Bracket with Full Motion Swing Out Tilt Swivel Articulating Arm for Flat Screen Flat Panel LCD LED Plasma TV, or COW Spots Table Cover Plastic Party Decor Supplies Theme Farm Barnyard…

You get my point. The only thing I can figure out is that you’re supposed to be watching TV, while decorating my living room with a barnyard theme and sipping wine. That would bring it all back together again, right? It’s still called Colorado Wine News, with Online Shopping Mall above ColoradoWineNews.com. I guess the site is trying to catch anyone who would be searching on Colorado Wine News. I wonder what the likelihood is that while searching to see things written about wine I might segue into buying a plasma TV and barnyard stuff. Ah…. I’m thinking, not me….

Now, Richard Elia… It’s good that Richard is not wanting to sell the Quarterly Review of Wine to anyone else. No one could possibly pull it off better than Richard and his small staff did. Some things just need to fade away, rather then become a shell of nothingness, supposedly representing what was the past with a weird twist of nonsensical evolution.

The title of the story reads: Wine magazine will cease publication after 35 years. Author Jerry Kronenberg reports for the Boston Herald:

The Winchester-based Quarterly Review of Wines is putting a cork in its 145,000-circulation magazine after more than three decades.

“No one really wanted to go, but we all knew it was time,” said publisher/owner Richard Elia, who’s winding down the publication this month.

A 100-page glossy written by and for fans of the grape, the QRW has been checking out vintages and profiling winery owners since 1977.

Elia cites an aging staff, declining ads, and readership. He also said that it’s not much fun to cover the wine industry anymore.

In Jerry Kronenberg’s story, “’Wine has become such a commodity now that the romance is over,’ he said. ‘We’re losing the civilizing nature of wine drinking. It’s supposed to be a social event.’”

I find this to be innocent enough. For Richard, the fun was the civility he enjoyed with wine, while also enjoying his family, friends, and associates. With a new, younger generation of wine lovers, some of them (not all) are this side of “out of control.” The last time I worked at the Boston Wine Festival, I decided that I never wanted to do that again, as I spied a really drunk “20 something” pick up a water pitcher and put it under her coat before heading out the door. The, “I’ll have something red,” while tilting a glass toward me, head and body turned 90 degrees away from me while chatting with his group, told me all I needed to know about wanting, or not wanting, to be there. However, I do remember the days of my youth, too, and I wasn’t much brighter, nor was I any more sophisticated. When I finally worshiped the porcelain God, I knew it was time to grow up. (Haven’t we all been there?)

It just happens with that age demographic. Learning to enjoy wine in our culture takes time, because most parents – and this is slowly changing – haven’t taught their children how to enjoy wine. Prohibition and today’s neoprohibitionists (cleverly disguised as people who care about my welfare), still have an agenda to eliminate wine and spirits… thinking the world will be a more perfect place. To them I say, “Bill of Rights.”

To Richard I say, I’m going to miss picking up my issue of your magazine. It was the exemplary content, the detailed stories, the quirkiness of each writer, and the styles that went with the authors. I knew, for instance, that I’d find Richard Paul Hinkle being sassy somewhere in his writing, and I love how Rich finds that pearl within each of his stories.

Richard is also quoted as saying, “…the industry’s ‘purple-hand gang’ — small vineyard owners with hands stained purple from grapes — has given way to corporate ownership over the decades.” Living and working in Sonoma County, traveling all over the state and up into Oregon, I know all of these guys still exist. Hiring a few of the new generation to ferret them out would bring back writing about some really interesting people. It takes fresh blood to want to drive out to the farms, spend the day with these people, and write their stories. Just last week, I was with my Oak Knoll winery guys, president Greg Lint and winemaker Jeff Herinckx. We visited with Dick Handal of Handal Denier, Miro Tcholakov of Trentadue Winery and Miro Cellars, David Mounts of Mounts Family Winery, Joy Sterling of Iron Horse Vineyards. Each visit qualifies for what Quarterly Review of Wines would have as a feature story and the people behind the brands.

I will also say this in Richard’s defense… I made calls to a couple of the big guys and a smaller, downsized one, to set up appointments for last week. I became so frustrated, because their PR people were simply lost in space. I spent a lot of my time trying to connect with these people, then came away with a title, “Too big to fail, and too small to care.” So, I get the frustration of writers and publishers just trying to be helpful, wanting to create publicity for others, and having their job being hindered by PR put into place that haven’t read the Wine Institute’s PR How To guide for PR. I’ve had more than one writer say to me, “Why don’t people return phone calls?” This will dishearten writers, believe me, and have them become tired of the process, getting back to their publishers with, “It ain’t like it usta be.”

The story finishes,

“So, Elia plans to keep the QRW’s free Web site and occasional email updates going as a hobby…”

Richard Elia is retiring his magazine, but keeping his online presence.

Ironically, isn’t this so much like blogging, and how it all began for QRW, with the modern and online twist?

 

 

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9 Responses to “Quarterly Review of Wines ~ RIP”

  1. Michael Wine says:

    What a shame for this independent publication with great writers to cease publication. I’ve always enjoyed reading the assemblage of free lance articles that covered such a broad spectrum of the industry.

    I am in the industry and as mentioned above it ain’t the same as it was… But, it is still the best place to be in the entire working world!

  2. Jo Diaz says:

    So true, Michael, in all regards that you’ve mentioned. it will sorely missed for its quality, style, and content.

  3. I am saddened to hear that QRW is folding the tent. Richard Elia produced a very fine wine journal for many of my wine making years and will be sorely missed . I wish him well in his retirement and will check out his on-line posts as often as possible. All of us @ Amapola Creek Winery wish Richard success in any of his new “life’s paths” to come. Thank you Richard for the privilege of friendship these past years.

  4. Very sad, I am sorry to see it go to.

  5. Mick Cameron says:

    A great publication that will truly be missed! It is indeed a new chapter in the industry. Let’s hope that a host of independent, on-line wine voices will cumulatively fill the void.

    Adieu QRW

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    I’m with you on the one, Mick.

  7. Yes, very sorry to see this terrific asset go the way of Gourmet. However, I’m also very sorry to read Richard Elia’s obituary of wine. His bitterness is understandable, but what he can’t see from his cloud of grief is that with closing of every door, a new one opens.

    I wrote about it here: http://www.winethropology.com/2012/01/wines-obituary.html

    (Please forgive the shamless link.)

  8. Jo Diaz says:

    I agree with your assessments, Steve.

    If Richard Elia (or Randy Sheahan) would bring in a younger demographic to write for the magazine (and there are many eager candidates who will work with joy and need a lot less of a salary – which is how evolution in writing happens) the magazine could survive that challenge. After doing the same thing for 35 years, though, if you’re not going to hand it down, you tend to let it go… also the evolution of a business.

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