"Where did you go to journalism school? And what are your credentials as a 'wine critic'?"
That interesting little excerpt comes from and email I received a couple weeks week from the well-respected and well-regarded president of a New York wine organization. Someone who has done a great many great thing for New York wine over the years.
This was in an email telling me, more or less, that he didn't want to answer the questions I asked him.
It is his right, of course, to refuse my interview questions. He doesn't have to speak to or email with me.
But for him to attack my right to ask them, which is essentially what he's done, just shows that he is woefully behind the times and, frankly, ignorant to the way wine media works these days.
To be fair, he started in his current post while I was still in grade school. He is obviously most comfortable with traditional media and I'm sure that he's not alone. I'm sure that he's not alone, particularly in the New York wine world.
I make no claims to any formal wine education. I learn by popping corks (or cracking Stelvin closures), tasting, pondering, and tasting some more. I talk to winemakers. I talk to fellow wine lovers. I am a (I hope) respected member of a tremendous online wine-writing community. Do I need to have a Masters of Wine or several dozen wine judging gigs under my belt to write about wine and know what I'm talking about?
Clearly, the publications that I write for outside of LENNDEVOURS don't think so. No, I'm not writing for Parker or Shanken, but I have made a few extra bucks writing about wine for "real" newspapers and magazines too.
If the question this guy really wanted to ask was "Are you really a professional journalist?" I'd answer with an emphatic yes, and my credentials are as follows:
- I've written over 1,300 posts here on LENNDEVOURS, the vast majority about wine.
- I taste, I'd guess, at least 99% of the wine made on Long Island every year.
- I have an ever-growing and passionate group of readers.
- I get invited to events, shipped wine samples and sent press releases based solely upon this blog. Most don't even know that I write for "old media" too.
Perhaps the strangest thing about the email exchange that sparked this post is this ... why would this guy react this way to me in the first place?
Yes, I've questioned some of the things his organization has done over the years, but I've never attacked him personally. Maybe it's because the New York wine industry is used to getting good press or no press at all (more on this another time, maybe).
You'd think that I'd be seen by people in the New York wine industry as a positive. I write about them and their wines more than anyone else. Actually, most people in the wine industry do see me as a good thing.
It's just a handful people who have been in power for a long time who don't like when anyone questions their ideas or practices.
Guess what? You're not perfect. You're not above question. And in some ways, you're falling behind in a region that is moving forward...with or without you.