Steve Heimoff’s blog is one I read everyday. As the West Coast editor and critic for Wine Enthusiast magazine, his industry insider experience brings an important point of view and legitimacy to the wine blogosphere. I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Heimoff, and even sharing some wine at the first WIne Bloggers Conference, but I don’t think he will remember this encounter since his expression was somewhere between deer in headlights and, “my brain will explode.” Yes, it was after the speed tasting and humbling blind tasting events.
So I was pleased to see an incoming link from his blog just a week after I restarted here. Following the link I found a somewhat humorous post taking me to task over my review of my past years’ predictions. This post was just a, “clear the desks and start fresh,” sort of thing and I never expected anyone to comment, let alone inspire a post. Since Mr. Heimoff took the time to dissect my predictions, I thought it only proper to answer in kind.
On my first prediction, Mr. Heimoff casts doubt to whether the “luxury wine” segment has really come back in any meaningful way. Apparently he thinks I was referring to $100 plus cult bottlings and not the, “$35 and up” range noted in my original post (in fact, I mentioned $60-80 Cali Cabs specifically). I agree with him that the market for such heavily allocated wines has not returned and will most likely never return to levels we saw just a few years back. The consumer has changed and the “new normal” does not have space for such novelties. I’m not sure where he got his point about China but perhaps that will make a good subject for a future post.
My second prediction post-mortem fared a bit better but it is clear Mr. Heimoff looks at social media with a very skeptical eye. He poses a fair question about what I mean by “integrated.” No, the random Facebook wall post, YouTube video or tweet does not make for an integrated marketing strategy. And yes, there are very few examples of best practices in wine social media marketing. But it is clear this is the way wine will be marketed now and into the future.
The knives are being sharpened on my third prediction about wineries using mobile to reach customers. It is clear Mr. Heimoff is unaware of innovative uses for the iPad being pioneered by wineries like Jordan or of apps such as CONVERGE. I’ll give him a pass here as he’s clearly looking for someone to inform him of these sorts of mobile applications.
I knew my next two predictions would meet with some pointed commentary and Mr. Heimoff did not disappoint. On my aspirational prediction of wine bloggers figuring out a business model, he agrees with my assessment of being wrong but seriously doubts anyone will figure this out ever. My only response is if someone can figure out a business model for blogging to professional bloggers, then a wine blogger will figure this out, as well. It’s just a matter of time.
But it’s on my final prediction that, “A Major Wine Print Publication Will Fold,” where his true colors are revealed (in fact if this prediction was not made, I doubt he would have written his post at all). Clearly Mr. Heimoff has a horse in this race and firmly believes wine print magazines will continue on as they have in the past, while slowly shifting their focus to more online distribution. My point of view is the consumer of the future will not be paying for many magazines, and if they do, it will be $1.99 an issue and they will read them on their iPad or similar device. The entire print business model will change very quickly and only those publications with a solid base in the wine trade will have the resources to make the transition. For others, it will not end well. But that is in the future, as Mr. Heimoff agrees, not in 2011.
This exchange reminds me of what attracted me to blogging six years ago. I hope to have many more of these discussions with Mr. Heimoff and other wine bloggers in the future. Perhaps over an old bottle of Ridge Monte Bello Cab or BV George Latour Private Reserve.
Tom Wark says
With regard to a Major American Wine magazine folding, I doubt you are wrong also. Which will it be? Spectator? Enthusiast? Wine & Spirits? Quarterly Review of Wine? I don’t think either.
Consider your thought that folks will read them on iPad type devises and pay only $1.99 for them. Currently a 13 issue subscription to the Wine Enthusiast is $30….for a paper issue. If we by them for $1.99 per issue, that’s $26. BUT, the WE doesn’t have to print as much.
The few major wine mags are safe.
I agree that the pubs you call out here are safe for the time being but the handwriting is on the wall. Those who are able to move to the digital model will be able to make it longterm. Those who cling to the print model will not. I think Wine Enthusiast is well positioned to make this move since they also have a significant revenue stream from their accessories business.
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