Dear Wine Spectator

After four years of being a loyal customer, I regrettably inform you that the February issue will be my last. We’ve spent a lot of time together, from plane rides to bedside, I’ve relied on the Spectator to learn the essentials of wine. I still remember the excitement when opening my mailbox to find the latest issue covering the cult Cabs from Napa Valley or a classic vintage of Bordeaux to the up and coming wine regions in New Zealand, Greece, and Hungary. We’ve covered the Four Corners of the World together.

As the years passed and the magazines filled up shelf space, I noticed a change in my wine education. I began to develop a palate for local wines and a great appreciation for the individuals supporting the local movement and pioneering efforts to produce world class wines. Certainly the Spectator would pick up on this trend and include a spotlight on these exciting industries on a regular basis. But issue after issue, the other 46 states went unnoticed. Maybe that last statement isn’t fair; how could I forget to mention the 90 words in the February ’09 issue (read more here).

And so I Bid Adieu and close this chapter on my wine education and in typical fashion, give the Wine Spectator 1 star (out of 5) for lack of clarity and depth.

Click here to vote as your favorite wine blog and help support local wine!

20 thoughts on “Dear Wine Spectator

  1. Hopefully mags like WS will start listening to what they people want!

    Until then, score one for blogs that anxiously pick up the slack and take over viewing time from wine loving eyeballs!

    Great post!


  2. I’m with you on this one Brian. It seems like the Spectator and other magazines like them are determined to ignore wines being produced in a large percentage of the country. I think I’ve purchased my last copy of the Spectator myself.

  3. Brian,
    I can’t tell you how much that means to hear that other people in the biz think the same thing about the world of wine magazines. It is a real challenge to survive as a small winery when you can’t even get an honest review from them, and when you do it goes to die in the “web only” section of their world. Ut us good to hear that we are not the only frustrated party out there. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  4. Well done Brian. As a wine blogger who focuses on Michigan wine, I am appalled and disappointed in Wine Spectator’s lack of coverage outside the big 3 or 4 wine regions.

  5. I support our neighbors who are also the local wineries and growers on both the Front Range and Western Slope. With over 80 wineries in our state, there is plenty to cover in terms of what is going on in our industry. I too have been frustrated in the lack of vision on the part of the wine and food magazines. There is a whole world of the wine industry out there other than the usual suspects that are producing award winning wines. Not to mention Colorado’s beer and spirits industry as well.

    Also, the wine magazines like to point out how ” Green” it is to buy local wines and goods but are unwilling to educate readers about who, what and where to find local wines. It is left to those of us in the biz to educate local consumers on our own.

    Keep up the blogging.


  6. Randy,
    Amen to the blogs! Always appreciate the feedback and your readership!

    Big thank you for your recent article and your support for local wines. With blogs like yours and many others, I strongly believe great progress can be made!

    As always, really, really appreciate your feedback and support. It’s only a matter of time before the major wine publications have no choice but to cover these emerging wine industries, then we can sit back and say “we told you so”. Until then, keep producing great wines and I’ll continue to spread the word!

    First, love your blog and can’t wait to cover Michigan later this year. Websites like yours are helping to fill a void created by the major wine publications. Keep up the great work!

    Welcome and thank you for your support! Baby steps, right! Hopefully we look back at 2010 and say this is the year we helped put “local wine” on the map!

    Thanks again to everyone for stopping by and commenting. In case you’re curious, I went back and did the math on the latest numbers published in Wine Spectator. They reviewed 17,500 wines in total during 2009, of which 84 were from the other 46 states (or .48%)…

  7. Thanks, as always, Brian, for your support. I like that .48 percent bit — in fact, about 10 percent of wine made in the U.S. comes from places other than California.

  8. Nice story! Wine Spectator isn’t changing anytime soon. Nor are any of the other big publications or even the average blogger. There is a silver lining to that: A whole world (or is it state?) of wine to explore without the big boys breathing down our necks.

  9. Great post, and well written. Like many I also cut my teeth on WS, but as with you quickly out grew it when I realized it was the cheap romance novel equivalent of great literature.

    WS won’t change anytime soon, but eventually disruptive technologies like blogs and other forms of new media will supplant their outdated model of pay for play.

    The world is no longer flat.


  10. I’m not even sure you can say the other 46 and have that really be accurate. The WS California map typically stops around Santa Barbara, not that there is a lot of quality wines being made in SoCal, but to cut off the map, really?

    I think the WS has yet to adjust to the new economic realities, people aren’t going to pay $100+ for average wine from Napa any more. Yes, the great wines will always sell, but we luckily get more and more choices each and every year.

  11. Gary,
    Long overdue:)

    Agreed! We’ll keep shining the light on local wines and spreading the word!

    I’m a stat guy and immediately crunched the numbers after reading the latest issue.

    Thank you for the kind words and readership. Well said and definitely my story. Like Randy (aka The Wine Whore) said in the first comment, “score one for blogs that anxiously pick up the slack and take over viewing time from wine loving eyeballs”).

  12. Brian,

    I applaud your sentiments and your courage to stick it out there regarding Spectator. In this day and age of buy fresh/buy local, I find it inexcusable to ignore what’s around you. Especially the when what’s near is perhaps more exciting than the tried-and-true–who needs another Napa Cab anyway?

    As a winery that used to receive high-80s from Parker twenty years ago, I feel that most of the major critics have missed the boat. Progress is progress, and they’re missteps allows folks like you to rise to the top.

    Keep up the great blog!


  13. The Wine Spectator could earn some brownie points by repeating an issue they did some years ago: “Wine in America”. There is so much focus on locavores and slow food, it’s long overdue. It would be interesting to see their subscription demographic; are they capturing any younger wine drinkers?

  14. Hi Nancy,
    I’d LOVE to see that data! I may be going out on a limb, but I guarantee they’re missing the mark with younger wine drinkers (in my opinion, a very, very valuable demographic). A recent magazine I just began reading and one that focuses on local wine is Mutineer magazine. Although not exclusively wine, the fine beverage publication is filling a void in the market. Cheers!

  15. Well Put. The Spectator can be quite boaring sometimes. I sometimes wonder if it owns land or vineyards in California because of its coverage. How about those virginia wines? Really getting good!

  16. Everytime I go to my parent’s house and there’s a copy of WS on their coffee table I shake a finger at them. As big drinkers of VA wine I don’t know how they can read it personally.

  17. We all hate Spectator. They love their cougar juice and slutty reds, and I’m pretty sure Caymus is on Spectator payola. However hating on Spectator because they don’t cover the 3.825% of American wine production in all the other 46 states is mind-numbingly idiotic.

    It’s like cancelling your Rolling Stone subscription because they aren’t covering the emerging Glam Rock scene in Fargo. More over, wines from the other 46 are wildly inconsistent and distributed in only a handful of states.

    Oh, and New Zealand isn’t emerging, it produces 54 million gallons of wine, over double what the other 46 states produce combined. More importantly New Zealand is making consistently world class wine, something the other 46 aren’t.

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