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wine in the news

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interviews of wine industry figures

a mutineer to revere

A Mutineer to Revere

An Interview with the Editor & Publisher of Mutineer Magazine

Consumer interest is shifting.  The current global economic state of affairs notwithstanding, industry stalwarts — companies like Motorola, Sony, and even Microsoft — are gradually losing their grip on the very products with which they've became dominant in the command for consumer currency and attention.  Why?  Because they've obstinately and tenaciously clenched onto the market paradigms they spawned, but which are showing prominent signs of age.   And so it is with the mainstream of print media (the bankruptcy of Tribune Co. being but one prominent tip of the iceberg) and the niche of wine media, in particular.  An increasingly prominent reality is that these periodicals are steadily their losing their relevance on the landscape of wine journalism to emerging alternatives — media with more contemporary voices, versatile platforms, and compelling content.  Traditional media's flippant disregard and arrogant disdain towards these newer players only accelerates their arguably imminent demise.  While they allow the band to play on, fresher alternatives are taking root and growing strong.  Could there be a bit of a mutiny underfoot?

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finesse in the finger lakes

Finesse in the Finger Lakes

An Interview with Finger Lakes Region Wine Writer & Publicist, remedy Melissa Dobson

With over 9,000 acres of vineyards and more than 100 wineries, the Finger Lakes in upstate New York is one of America’s greatest emerging wine regions.  Home to the largest concentration of wineries east of California, it has lately garnered a great deal of attention for some of the best domestically produced Rieslings.  It was with this reputation in mind that I reached out to Melissa Dobson, a wine industry publicist I first met while she was visiting from her native New York state, during the Wine Bloggers Conference held in Sonoma, California earlier in the fall.  Seeing a ripe opportunity to learn more about this burgeoning wine region, I spoke with the writer and publisher of wine blog Family, Love, Wine to get her perspective on the present state of the Finger Lakes wine industry, as well as a hint of its direction in the future.

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tomorrow's texas tea

Tomorrow's Texas Tea

Wine Writer Extols the Virtues of a Burgeoning Industry in the Lone Star State
— An Interview with Russell Kane, PhD, Publisher of Vintage Texas

I first met Russ Kane during last year's North American Wine Bloggers Conference, held in California's Napa and Sonoma counties.  Being part of a gathering of wine-enthusiastic writers, it was par for the course to have met a number of people with unique perspectives on the wine industry, hailing from different areas of the country.  Immediately, however, Russ struck me as different from much of the pack of attendees in that he was visiting from an unlikely wine-producing region: Texas.  In and of itself, it might have not elicited much more than a raised eyebrow and a mild, though fleeting, sense of curiosity on my part.  But because of his avid involvement with its local industry, coupled with a deep sense of pride for his home state, Russ readily demonstrated a great deal of knowledge about the wines of Texas, which immediately caught and held my interest.  I spoke with the writer and publisher of the wine blog Vintage Texas to get a deeper sense of his perspective on how the Texas wine industry has progressed in the last few years, where he sees it going, and what it all means for the wine consumer.

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angels & thieves

Angels & Thieves

Writer Pens Anthology of Poems on Wine
An Interview with Angels, Thieves & Winemakers Author Joseph Mills

As an avid city dweller who was born and raised in the urban jungle, I'm not fond of the outdoors.  I don't take much of an interest in nature, barely noticing the myriad of greenery prevalent here in Northern California.  But my passion for wine has compelled me, a number of times, to hike the sometimes steep slopes of dusty vineyards, peering closely at vine shoots and leaf canopies, and examine with fascination and reverence the clusters of curiously small berries hanging from them.  With that same enthusiasm, I was recently drawn to another area of otherwise complete disinterest for me: poetry.  I never was a fan of it, frankly hated it in school, and honestly can't remember the last time I voluntarily read any as an adult.  But because the subject of Joseph Mills' recently published Angels, Thieves, and Winemakers involves the subject so near and dear to my heart, once again out of sheer curiosity, I felt compelled to suspend my aversion and begin reading some of his work.  What I found was an experience that tickled, touched, and in some cases, totally transported me.  In writing about wine, Joe's sensitivity, humility, creativity, and imagery are perhaps the closest I've come to experiencing wine, without actually drinking it.  I spoke with the author from his home in North Carolina, where he's a full-time professor of English, about his book of poems and his own unique perspective on wine.

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tiers for fears

Tiers for Fears

The Future of U.S. Wine Distribution and its Three-Tier System
A Provocative Viewpoint by an Online Wine Retailer

The climate is altering.  The landscape is shifting.  Momentous change is unfolding in the wine world around us.  And it's being induced by something subtle yet powerful in its capacity to affect the way we think about wine in the marketplace: the internet.  Traditional distribution under the three-tier model, which has long held a stranglehold on the availability of wine we consume in this country, would do well to take heed.  Otherwise, those who have long enjoyed the privileges afforded them by the current model risk being toppled from their lofty heights of power and influence in wine sales by the strengthening quake of e-commerce.  An audacious pronouncement?  Perhaps.  But it's an opinion shared by an increasing number of internet-based retailers who are witnessing significant growth in consumer purchasing of wine on the web.  During a recent interview focusing on her online wine retail business,  the founder and CEO of Bottlenotes.com, Alyssa Rapp, shared some of her strong and well-informed views with me on the current state of wine distribution and retail in the U.S., as well as some provocative assertions about its direction in the future.

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commerce meets community

upright_bottles_small

Online Retailer Empowers Consumers with Wine Information & Social Connection
An Interview with the CEO of Bottlenotes.com

Imagine a single place where you could easily buy wines, talk about them with friends old and new, discover ones that perfectly suit your taste, and then share your discoveries in the form of gifts to others.  Welcome to Bottlenotes.  Not your run-of-the mill online wine retailer, it's one that provides customers with an entire suite of services devoted to making the buying of wine not only versatile, but entertaining, engaging, and essentially effortless.  Having first learned of Bottlenotes during the 2009 Wine 2.0 Expo in San Francisco, I was instantly struck with the innovation of its unique business model and soon thereafter charmed with the appeal of its slick website.  Intrigued, I decided to find out more — straight from the source.  I contacted Bottlenotes founder and CEO Alyssa Rapp, who spoke to me from her office in Palo Alto, California, where she shared a brief history of what led up to her company's inception, along with a discussion of some of its exciting and truly distinct features, and finally some insights into how a younger generation of consumers is buying wine and socializing in its context.  Ever more interestingly, she presented some of her broader views on the state of the wine industry and how the evolution of e-commerce will markedly influence the future direction of wine sales and marketing.

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two d'état

Event Display Bottles

An Interview with the CEO of Wine 2.0

Wine.  Technology.  They're industries that aren't normally associated with one another in casual conversation.  After all, they do tend to attract people with respectively different mindsets and values: one with its artisanal passion for craftsmanship, the other with its methodical drive for development.  But with their common tendency towards creativity, the two unlikeliest of bedfellows have come together to engender some of the most compelling changes in the areas of wine sales, marketing, and media.  Concurrently, a new generation of consumers is utilizing hardware tools and web-driven services in innovative ways to learn and communicate about their common passion for wine.  Arising from these phenomena was the coining of the term 'wine 2.0' to refer to companies and organizations oriented around the intersection of the two.  One such company, boldly adopting the term as its own name, is Wine 2.0.  It's a venture that has taken the idea of combining the two industries one step further by coordinating events that bring them together in a social context with the goal of "blending the line between wine and technology."  The result is a synergy from which the wine trade and its consumers are increasingly benefitting.  Speaking on behalf of his partners Chairman J. Smoke Wallin and Director Jeffrey Playter, I met with Wine 2.0's CEO Cornelius Geary to discuss their collective vision for this venture as well as his own thoughts on the future of the wine industry in the context of technology.

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grape enabled

An Interview with the Creator of Wine Search Engine Able Grape

purple_keyboard_smallA wine snob.  A tech geek.  An unlikely pair, perhaps.  But in engineer-cum-wine-enthusiast Doug Cook, they're actually one and the same.  Fueled by his talents and background in web search technology, and steered by his knowledge and passion for wine, Cook has succeeded in his ambition to create the internet's first search engine dedicated to the world of wine: Able Grape.  Though I'd first met the technologist at the 2008 Wine Bloggers Conference in Sonoma, California, it wasn't until some time later later that I sat down with him in the streamlined and hip interior of San Francisco's CAV Wine Bar to learn more about the workings, usage, and significance of this new online tool.  What I learned was not only how powerful, concise, and robust Able Grape is, but how feature-rich and easy it is to use for enophiles and neophytes alike.

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cruvee's groovy

An Interview with the CEO of Social Wine Media Platform Cruvee

wine_computer_flippedThe wine industry is changing.  One area in which we see this happening most rapidly, sovaldi sale not surprisingly, find is in media.  The dynamic and interactive nature of the internet is allowing a new generation of wine consumers and trade professionals to share information in ways and to a degree that the industry has never before seen, stomach but is poised to revolutionize the buying and selling of even the most artisan-driven, limited-production wines on the market.  Yet with all its power and versatility, using the web as an effective source of wine information does has its limitations.  One of the issues holding back the real explosion of online wine media is the lack of a tool or technology to actively organize wine information from the otherwise loose collection of wine blogs and forums, winery websites, and wine-oriented social media sites, so as to render it all truly useful and immediately accessible.  Cruvee, however, is one system and service that attempts to do exactly that.  Intrigued with the implications, I reached out to its CEO, Evan Cover, to learn more.

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double-o sippin'

A Top Secret Interview with The Wine Spies

wine_darkness_sharpThey call themselves The Wine Spies.  And they're a geographically diffuse collective of top secret operatives whose sole mission is to expose and purvey to otherwise unwitting civilians "undercover deals on exceptional wines" — at the rate of only one wine per 24-hour period.  A unique strategy, to be sure, and one that has resulted in a burgeoning customer base that seems to be growing exponentially.  On learning of the organization and its modus operandi, I became deeply intrigued and set out on my own clandestine operation to gather more intelligence.  Under the condition of anonymity, and on a secure, encrypted line of communication, I spoke with the organization's lead operative and tactical mastermind, Agent Red.

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sideways glance

An unconventional perspective on the Wine Class
An Interview with the Proprietor of Sideways Wine Club

multiple_pours"This is your big joke-teller, your hit at the party, the guy that everybody wants to be around — at least for five or ten minutes until they find out that all the jokes are the same."  It was a backhanded compliment, to say the least.  But no offense was taken, because Dave Chambers wasn't talking about a wine industry colleague or a wine class attendee.  He wasn't referring to anybody at all.  Instead, he was personifying the grape Grenache as a way to describe its role in France's Southern Rhône-style blends, in contrast to the often "spicy and complex" Syrah or the "deep and brooding" Mourvedre.  I couldn't help but smile at what was but one of many analogies he used to demystify the subject of his wine class that evening: The Blender's Art.

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focus on flavor

Chef Cynthia Bloebaum's culinary spin on the Wine Class

licorice root"That's dried licorice root in anise oil." Cynthia Bloebaum was referring to one of the several edible tasting aids she had provided as a reference tool to each of the students in her wine class on Big, Spicy Reds. I was fascinated, first of all because I'd never actually tasted the real thing — it was certainly a far cry from a box of Good & Plenty — but more importantly, because her approach of providing fresh fruits and herbs to help identify the flavors in the wines she presented was, I felt, part of what made her teaching style so engaging. The exercise of thoughtfully tasting and analyzing wine, something I've grown quite familiar with, was suddenly fresh and new, now that I experienced it from this chef's culinary perspective.

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