F.Paul Pecault is a wine and spirits veteran, who began his career as the PR person for Rodney Strong Vineyards. That’s no stretch for understanding, because if someone is working as a PR agent, it stands to reason that the person is a writer.
Most PR people don’t segue from that career into writing about their industry of choice, though.
A few brave souls do it, however… and I say brave, because it’s not something I’d ever completely dare do. Why? Because writing, like all of the arts, is an underpaid job. An editor counts your words, and pays you accordingly ~ especially in the newspaper world. Newspapers are notorious for letting someone start out, the person gets used to a word count ceiling, readers go to that spot each day/week, etc., then the paper decides to turn over half of that space to advertising… Let’s see, that space just became a revenue stream for the paper, versus the paper having to pay for the same content of a writer’s body of work.
What happens to the writer? He or she just lost half of that guaranteed income each month.
Meanwhile, there are some brave souls, like Paul Pecault, who have figured out how to diversify themselves over time, so when one rug is pulled out from under them, it’s only a scatter rug and not the entire carpet.
As you read what Paul is doing, you’ll see how he’s structured his life to support him in several ways, and is an inspiration for anyone thinking of flying solo.
One really important aspect of his career right now is that he’s begun a couple of competitions, both found at Ultimate-Beverage.com:
- Ultimate Spirits Challenge
- Ultimate Wine Challenge
Judges all have top notch credentials, and as a PR pro, I highly recommend these competitions to my clients. The recognition for any awards given still helps to hand sell wines and spirits to wholesalers, retailers, and restaurateurs in the world of wine. Consumers are now enjoying hearing what their peers have to say, so it makes perfect sense, right, that pros trust other pros?
- F. Paul Pacult, journalist/consultant/UWC Judging Chairman
- Sean Ludford, consultant/writer/critic/UWC Asst Judging Chairman
- Jennifer Simonetti-Bryan MW, consultant/UWC Advisor
- Mary Ewing Mulligan MW, author/educator
- Laura Meniac MS, educator
- John McClement, wine & spirits buyer, Keens Steakhouse
- Nick Passmore, journalist
- Steve Olson, educator/consultant
- Patricia Savoie, journalist/Co-Chair Wine Media Guild
- Michael Apstein, wine journalist
- Eoin McDonnell, F&B Director, Hilton Chicago Indian Lakes Resort, IL
- Tara Q Thomas, senior editor Wine & Spirits
F.Paul Pecault is also the author of five books:
- Kindred Spirits 2: 2,400 Reviews of Whiskey, Gin, Tequila, Vodka, Brandy and Liqueurs (Spirit Journal, Inc, 2008)
- A Double Scotch: How Chivas Regal and The Glenlivet Became Global Icons (Wiley, 2005),
- The best-selling American Still Life: The Jim Beam Story and the Making of the World’s #1 Bourbon (Wiley, 2003)
- Kindred Spirits (Hyperion, 1997)
- The Beer Essentials (Hyperion, 1997)
Writer Profile questions:
Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?
[PAUL] I am Managing partner of three companies: Spirit Journal, Inc, co-owned by Sue Woodley, my wife, and myself: Beverage Alcohol Resource LLC, co-owned with Steve Olson, Doug Frost, David Wondrich, Dale DeGroff, Andy Seymour; and Ultimate Beverage Challenge LLC, with Sue Woodley and David Talbot.
When did you start writing about wine?
[PAUL] 1980 when I lived in N CA and worked for Rodney Strong. My first article was published in Wine Country Magazine.
What prompted you to start writing about wine?
[PAUL] I always knew that I’d be a writer and being surrounded by wine and working with it with Rod at then Sonoma Vineyards compelled me to write about it. In 1982, at Rod’s urging, I moved to New York to aggressively pursue a full-time career in beverage alcohol writing. I’ve never looked back.
What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?
[PAUL] All aspects, from reviewing wine to visiting wineries to meeting winemakers to delving deeply into production and maturation to wine and food being paired to history.
How has your job changed since you’ve started?
[PAUL] Because I’ve always been entrepreneurial in nature, I’ve branched out from writing to consultation and to the creation of companies whose credos revolve around education and competitions.
What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted?
[PAUL] While I like to say 1947 Cheval Blanc which I have experienced, funnily I ends up being a Finger Lakes Rosé that I shared with Sue on the floor of a motel room in the Finger Lakes, accompanied by cheese, bread, and salami. The attraction of wine, for me, isn’t the wine itself, it’s the beauty of the wine in concert with someone you love and the situation. The problem with insufferable wine snobs is that they rarely comprehend wine within the moment.
[PAUL] What’s your favorite variety?
Hands down, pinot noir.
Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?
[PAUL] No question, yes. Technology and the sharing of data and experience have brought us to a new Golden Age of winemaking at all levels.
What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?
[PAUL] Easy. Screwcaps, which are environmentally responsible and are a completely suitable closure.
What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?
[PAUL] Pasta and Brunello di Montalcino.
What are your interests outside of the wine business?
[PAUL] My supreme enjoyment that has no peer is Sue and me being together and doing nothing in particular.
Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?
[PAUL] The late Rod Strong. Frank Prial, for the honesty of his wine writing with the NY Times for so many years. My friend, New York wine retailer Peter Morrell. Cynthia Gillick and Ralph Pagan, old and trusted friends. Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, for generously showing me the power of silence. The late John Ford, the director of many of my favorite movies. The Beatles, for creating music that is timeless. My partners in BAR LLC, from whom I learn from all the time. Most of all, Sue Woodley, my wife and lifelong mate.
For what would you like to be remembered?
[PAUL] As someone who rendered honest opinions and played the game straight and true.