Marketing,Wine,Wine Business

Wine Veteran Michael Kinney Reinvents Himself in another useful way

The wine business is a very interesting one. First of all, there are a ton of us working in this business, because how many wineries are there in the world? At least 12 to 15,000, and growing every day? Now, magnify that with all the positions which someone can fill. Then add to that all the supporting role positions (nurseries, bottle, barrel, label, etc. makers), and the adjunct positions, like wholesalers, retailers, restaurants, and those publishing information about the wine industry (like books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, wine sites and wine blogs). It’s just massive, and I try to keep up with who’s who.

My database is now filled with over 8,000 contacts that have been gathered over the last 19 years (and this is a small list, really). It looks like I’ve interfaced with about 2,000 new people each year, and met some amazing people along the way.  One of those amazing people is Michael Kinney. He’s smart, witty, and a good conversationalist. We worked together for years when I was either directly buying advertising for a client or helping others make their smart ad buying decisions.

Bottom line… One of the greatest contacts I had during that time was Michael Kinney, when he was working with Wine & Spirits magazine.

Recently, Michael reached out to me, to tell me about his reinvent. I knew he was leaving W&S magazine, but hadn’t heard from him since.

He just sent an email to tell me what he’s now up to, and that’s providing a different service for the industry than selling advertising. This just proves to me, and hopefully you, too, how we can all so easily (and I use the word “easily” very loosely here) move around within this business.

First of all, Michael didn’t know that I was blogging, so he never imagined that I could give him publicity for his new endeavor. This was a fun twist. I’ve encouraged him to start a blog on his own site, too ~ www.wordwrightsf.com.

Michael left Wine & Spirits magazine last summer, after 27 years of great service to his company.

[Q]  Michael, what was that like? That’s a huge switch.

[MICHAEL]  The change took some getting used to. The friendships, the lunches, the tastings, the gossip; it was a great privilege to work there.

 [Q]  So, what are  you now up to?

[MICHAEL]  Now I’ve taken up what I loved best at the old job, which is writing; Copywriting, to be exact, for wine industry clients. And that’s been going really well. I’m producing everything from back labels to press releases, spec sheets, media kits, media alerts, and website copy. I’m cleaning up poorly translated sales materials, copyediting, writing from scratch, organizing – whatever’s needed to present a wine or producer in the most compelling manner possible.

[Q]  What’s your current skill set, so people know what you’re offering?

[MICHAEL]  I’d like to let PR companies know that their agencies are hired to do most of the work that’s needed of them, and probably take care of most of these things themselves. But should they ever find themselves with more work than their offices can handle, or if a special project comes up, or they need something done in a hurry, I can help. After all those years at the magazine, I bring a valuable media perspective to the work, and I’ve had tons of experience writing to sell. I worked five years as a cellar rat, so I know how wine is made; I’ve been tasting professionally the past 32 years; and before all this I was an editor at Doubleday in New York.

Interesting sidebar from his site, which also speaks to his copyrighting and editing skills:

Michael’s first serious job after the Navy was in New York, at publishing legend Doubleday, where he struggled to master the 2-martini lunch and eventually became an editor. While there he initiated the “Foxfire” series, whose twelve volumes on Southern mountain crafts and folklore have sold more than 5 million copies.

 [Q]  There are so many new writers coming into the market every day, especially through the blogging community. The playing field just expanded by a quantum leap… You realize that, don’t you, not to discourage you but to find a way to promote you in the most important light possible for your core competencies?

[A]  It’s ironic that at a time when smart marketing requires a company to generate more copy than ever, fewer people can really communicate clearly on paper (or in the ether). But I can – as I hope you recognized in the correspondence that passed between us for your former advertising client. So please do keep me in mind. I’m fast and I’m affordable – useful qualities in a copywriter, if not in a boyfriend….

Well, I do remember how well we communicated back in those advertising days, and know that Michael Kinney is a valuable resource. I don’t  mind promoting wine copywriters, even though we’re in competition (of sorts), because… as I noted above… there’s plenty of work for all of us. Had it not been for others who have helped me along the way, like Cyril Penn of Wine Business, or Corinne Reichel, Katrina Walker Commesso, and Lavonne Holmes of my Belvedere Days, and Paul Wagner of Balzac Communications, for instance, I don’t know where I’d be today.

For Michael, if he can provide any further information, samples, rates – whatever, by all means shoot him a message. His website is www.wordwrightsf.com. His Email is Michael@WordWrightSF.com.

And, we can now all wait for his blog to happen. He just told me, “I just checked out your blog. It’s quite beautifully laid out, and filled with really helpful references. I am filled with awe and respect!”

To which I replied, “Thanks, Michael. After six years of blogging, you too will shock and awe your friends. I appreciate your thoughts. I’ve been working like some kind of idiot for a while  now (six years). As I’ve recently written on my blog, in some circles, that would be called a book, in others, an anthology. I’ve worked it out.

I know he will, too. Best wishes, my friend!


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9 Responses to “Wine Veteran Michael Kinney Reinvents Himself in another useful way”

  1. Jo-
    You honor your friend with some wonderfully written words and great interview. It was nice to read what Michael’s up to. I always enjoyed our conversations while he was with W&S. Great things happen to great people.

    Cheers Michael!


  2. Jo Diaz says:


    Thanks. That’s so kind of you. I do enjoy honoring my friends. I am where I am, because they helped me to get here, seriously.

    I have to credit Michael with all of the great content. It is he who is the “great interview” with this one. I simply know how to put it all together. And, yes, great things are in store for Michael… We both know it.

  3. Having been fortunate enough to receive many interesting and amusing messages from Mr. Kinney over the years I suspect his upcoming blog will be more “aw shucks” than “shock and awe” but in any case, well worth reading.

    So Michael, the blog is in your court now….

  4. Rich Schimpf says:

    Michael’s one of the best writers I know in *any* industry. Good to see him getting the press he deserves.

  5. Jo Diaz says:

    Excellent, Rich.

  6. Jo Diaz says:

    He is incredibly witty, isn’t he, Barry?

  7. […] Tony Lombardi wrote this in a blog comment, after reading about my colleague/friend Michael Kinney. I had just written about Micheal, who’s recently segued from wine magazine advertising into […]

  8. Bill Brown says:

    So happy to see Michael is up new things. I was his UPS man for over a decade back in the 90’s. So witty, intelligent and a great guy. He was always willing to lend a helping hand. But mostly, his humor and story telling were unsurpassed. He certainly has a gift. 7

  9. Jo Diaz says:

    Bill, Who doesn’t love their UPS man?

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