Wine writer with the Denver Magazine and Sommelier…

When I witness brilliant marketing, I immediately take notice. Great marketing efforts are not about anyone having an MBA in Marketing, because I’ve learned that that degree doesn’t take into account those who slept through class, or bought reports in order to get that important passing grade. Being in marketing, I’ve come across all types of development, and work really well with the best and the brightest. They’ve got good energy and gut instincts.

When brilliant marketing drops on my door step, I’m in awe; and this just happened. [B-T-W, I’ve been given permission to use this image by Ben, but my use is limited and should therefore not be copied by anyone, respecting Ben’s request. Thanks!]

I had read a story on Petite Sirah that Ben Weinberg had written in the Rocky Mountain News, and sent an email to him in response. (This is something I’ve been doing since PS I Love You began. It’s part of the mission statement, and I like to stay on message.)

Ben got right back to me, and it just opened up another relational door.

Next, I got an Email from him that had this for the subject line: Please check out my new wine column in the Rocky Mountain News

This was a “drop everything” Subject line. A writer actually marketing himself? Holy cow! He got my immediate attention.

I wrote: “This is brilliant marketing for not only your newspaper, but also for you as a brand. It’s impossible for those of us who work with a sea of national writers to keep up on our own… But to have it delivered right to my in-box! You’re just brilliant. I can’t say it enough.”

This prompted me to find out more about why I think Ben’s absolutely brilliant, so I sent him my Q & A.

Here are his responses, that I find insightful, refreshingly bright, and the makings of success as he develops further:

[Q] Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is it and for whom do you work?

[A] I used to work full-time in the financial planning field (I actually have a JD (law degree) and an MBA in marketing and finance). I still do some consulting in high-net-worth estate planning and business continuity planning.

[Q] When did you start writing about wine?

[A] About 18 months ago, when I was still the wine manager at a large store in southeast Denver. The owner of the store had taken out a weekly ad in the local neighborhood newspaper, and as part of my managerial duties I wrote a column that appeared above the ad on the page, but in a different typeface. Somehow, whatever I recommended always ended up going on sale that same week at the store! Amazing.

[Q] What prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A] I’ve always loved to write, and have won a few regional novel-length fiction contests, although I’ve never been published. Once I started to see people coming into the store with copies of my column clenched in their hands, I realized that perhaps I could meld a business out of two of my greatest loves: wine and words. A year later, I had my weekly column with the Rocky Mountain News, and now I’m starting to write for magazines, as well.

[Q] What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A] I love hanging out with the farmers (grape growers, wine makers and involved owners) who produce wine. One of the things I find most fascinating about wine is how down-to-earth real wine folks are. And of course, wine country itself is so beautiful, no matter where in the world it is.

[Q] How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A] Just started, so hard to say. Maybe it’s a bit less freewheeling and travel-based, but that could just be an artifact of the current economy.

[Q] What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?

[A] 1982 Lafite Rothschild. Still the best wine I’ve ever had.

[Q] What’s your favorite variety?

[A] Pinot Noir.

[Q] Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A] One of the great revolutions in wine over the past thirty years has been the modernization of equipment and procedures around the world. Clearly a higher percentage of wines are now produced using good wine making practices. With this maturation of this market, there has also been a proliferation of artisanal and cult wines at the high end of the marketplace, resulting in more choices at all price levels.

[Q] What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A] The increasing availability to both consumers and professionals of trips and organized tours to wine country. I’m a firm believer in the proposition that the only way to truly understand wine is to know its terroir, and the only way to do that is to visit the lands where it is produced.

[Q] What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A] Sauternes, TBA, or anything else with botrytis, paired with cheesecake, ice cream, or anything else made with eggs and cream.

[Q] What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A] In my free time I like to travel, especially to Europe with my wife. I’m a rabid fantasy football player, and I read a lot, particularly political history and murder mysteries. I also like to work with the Ronald McDonald House, a non-denominational charity that helps sick children.

[Q] Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A] My wife Yael, a 15-year veteran of the public school system (she teaches Advanced Placement English Literature for college credit, thus positively influencing hundreds of children each year).