So many people are blogging about wine today: from pros, to connoisseurs, to hobbyists…

  • Pros, it’s another platform.
  • Connoisseurs, because it’s fun to share their thoughts, and maybe… just maybe… it will turn into later creds… like Robert Parker did for himself.
  • Hobbyists are writing about their experience, simply because they enjoy the beverage, want to share with family and friends, and are at ground zero for understanding how a wine company actually operates.

I have one friend who has said over-and-over again, and I can’t argue with him, “With many of the people wine blogging, what they lack is the history.” This history allows for a depth of experiences that enriches their stories… personal anecdotes that only they’ve personally experienced. Those traditional writers have a real edge, in some regards… Not all, but definitely as regards pulling from their souls, from their history, from their connections. And so, it’s easy to get beyond, “I tasted this wine and it was so pure yummy… like a day in the forest primeval.”

There’s something for everyone in writing about wine… from a beginner to someone with experiences like I’ve had, who’s been in the wine business well over 20 years now.

I believe that the flow chart below can enrich the experience, for those with less history, but with a similar passion to mine.

When I wanted to segue from PR in radio to PR in the wine industry, I had a pretty decent resume and interviewed with some of the big dogs. In interviews, though, I couldn’t hold up. Not because I hadn’t already achieved PR credentials for working with media, but my radio media didn’t interface with wine media… and never the twain shall meet. Neither side has thought hard enough about it. My former radio station, when queried about having a wine segment, didn’t even see the benefits of having a wine reviewer; and, the wine industry doesn’t even think hard about radio as an option for publicity. (I don’t have the time to become a single-minded crusader, because billable hours currently rule my days.)

I was laughed out of some pretty great wine companies. I was essentially told, “You weren’t born into it, you haven’t married into it. Heck, you don’t even have any friends in the wine business, and what’s worse is that you know very little about wine!” I did get my foot in the door, though, and now the rest is history.

The same will be true for those who have just decided that they’d like to write abut wine. Every day there’s something new to learn. You’ll learn that there’s more to that bottle of wine than the liquid inside, and you might want to go off in more uncharted waters. Anyone in this flow chart, when you want a one-on-one quote (if and when you evolve to that depth) will help enrich your stories.

When I was transferred to a marketing department, the flood gates opened for me personally. This is where I really began to understand how the entire operation works for a small to mid size company. I’ve held positions in direct sales, marketing, district sales (Northern CA, Northern NV, OR, WA, ID, MN, IA, ME, MA, Puerto Rico), public relations management, graphic arts development; and not only founding, but also directing a wine grape advocacy group.

This flow chart will help anyone wanting to understand how a small wine company works. Larger ones break down even further. The marketing department has now become a massive operation, because of social media. People who used to have a cut and dry PR position have turned into also having to deal with the Internet in ways I never had to, early on in my wine career. Thankfully, keeping up – i.e., being mutable – is my middle name. Many of my colleagues just farm it out, not even understand half of the implications yet.

You’ll notice HR and CFO are missing here (generally under the CEO), because for anyone writing about wine, a winemaker, or a vineyard manager, these people are nonessential (but are still very necessary within the company).

I believe this chart will help you guys understand how this all works and who reports to whom. If you’re wanting to write about and understand a wine company, this info allows you to understand the big picture.

Besides proprietors and winemakers, there’s a plethora of people within any company that have their own stories and will be willing to help to make up yours.