This is a great question that’s could be more hyperbole, than fact, from where I’m sitting in my marketing chair. I’ve placed images of magazines with this blog entry, to give you a bird’s eye view of what magazines I have to track, as soon as they’ve been released. If any one of them mentions one of my clients, I need to know and inform the client. This also doesn’t even take into account newspaper critics or wine reviewers who print their own newsletters in hard copy, for which there’s an even much larger number.

I’ve been a proponent since I entered this business (15 years ago) that everyone has a palate… Some are more prominent than others, but we all know how to taste, and know – better than anyone else – what tastes good to us personally. I’m also showing you all of these magazines, because each one is very important in my day; and like my clients, they’re all on equal footing…

I just read Wine Enthusiast’s Steve Heimoff’s blog, in a story he calls, “Parker, Laube and me.” It was in reaction to another blog by Jim Preston, where it was written, The old wine media is shattering! And, this magazine is gone…

I had to comment on this, because Jim Preston admits he’s only been in the wine business a year, and he’s offering a service with his Website for people who want to plan wine road trips. His former background is working in Silicon Valley.

What he’s written is based on a year in the business, and from conversations he’s had with winery proprietors who are frustrated with wine magazines.  Jim’s a vendor, so he’s not had experience with wine marketing teams who are engaged in strategic planning. His perspectives are coming from owners who haven’t yet been featured in a wine magazine; otherwise, they’d not feel that kind of frustration. I feel confident saying this, because I’ve worked with so many who have had their features, and still anxiously wait for the next one.

People love to pick up a magazine and read his or her own story. And, for writers, there’s nothing – okay, almost nothing – more pleasurable than holding a magazine which has one of your published stories inside of it. My day came when The Wine News went way out on a limb and broke away from just writing about Wine News, and published my story, Cat O’Wine Tales. It was worked into bigger picture – integrated pest management – but I had two pages of text and photos, and began my credentials for being able to tell wine stories. Instead of being about Cab, it was about Cats… Off the track, as I now am, here.

BACK ON MESSAGE: As a wine professional who sits in constant wine marketing meetings, no one’s ready within the business to give up their interest in wine magazines and the people who write for them.

Also, the real proof would be to look at magazine printing production numbers.
Shattering on the vine? The magazine images on this page are the ones that I have to keep up with for wine reviews.

Wine magazines haven’t reached market maturity segueing into market decline. They are, however, segueing into also having an on-line presence. This metamorphosis shouldn’t give us the logical inference that magazines are shattering. It just means that we’re undergoing changes of growth and development. Some things are changing, though… I don’t have to print tons of press kits anymore, because all of that info’s now on winery Web sites, but not all things are changing…. I still have to create the original press and/or trade kit and PDF it, so it can be uploaded to the Web.

Go visit the newsstands at Barnes & Noble. There are hoards of magazines that are being printed, and still more in the conceptual stages. Search on line for a magazine, and pages upon pages are listed for where you can buy subscriptions on line.

I also know that the need for them won’t be drying up any time soon for wine marketing departments, who thrive on stories and endorsements from not only Wine Enthusiast, Parker, and Wine Spectator, but also from newspaper people of major consequence (e.g., New York Times, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Chicago Tribune, LA Times… the list goes ever on). Then, there’s also Food & Wine, The Tasting Panel, EveryDay with Rachael Ray… the list is huge.

In wine sales, it’s imperative to be able to talk about what so-and-so said about such-and-such. This is also besides talking about the winery’s story, who the proprietor is, the winemaker, wine making styles and principles.

We live on third party endorsements; otherwise, Tom Wark would never have invented his wine blogging awards. If you care about your popularity, you’ll covet this award, just as wineries covet a great score from Steve Heimoff, and everyone else.

Another thought… My experience – because I also work with winery proprietors every day… Winery owners are more frustrated, because their own story hasn’t been printed in the magazines, yet, versus anything else. We all operate on ego… Imagine knowing that you’re all that, but no-one’s written about you yet.

Unfortunately, they’re behind a long line of wanna-bes, so that won’t happen soon.  Someone once fired me, because he didn’t like his score in a magazine.

Marketing a “winery” is a completely different animal than marketing “wine”… Completely different. Step outside of a tasting world, and the inner workings of a wine company has a complex infrastructure.

The berries are still plump on the vine over here, and by the time we’re paperless, I’ll be in a rocking chair watching wine bloggers become the new shooting stars of the wine media; and I’m thinking that they, too, will have published stories in print, as well as on-line.