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The Booze Bin

Massive Shift in Wine Industry’s Most Powerful Voice


By Pia Mara Finkell (@piamara)

Robert Parker_The Atlantic

The blogosphere has been abuzz with chatter and predictions since the most powerful voice (and palate) in the wine industry, Robert Parker, announced this week that he intends to step down as editor-in-chief of The Wine Advocate (TWA) – the powerful wine publication he founded over 34 years ago – and sell “a substantial interest” in it to Singapore-based investors. The story broke in the Wall Street Journal, but has since been reported in dozens of news sources, including the The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, London’s Financial Times, as well as an army of blogs.

lisa_perrotti-brown_mwWhile Parker stated he will maintain a role as CEO of the publication and continue to “cover Bordeaux, the Rhône, retrospectives on California vintages and profiles of under-$25 wine bargains,” he announced his intension to step down as its editor-in-chief, turning this role over to TWA’s Singapore-based correspondent and Master of Wine, Lisa Perrotti-Brown. This news came as a shock not only because of Parker’s prominence in the wine world, but also because the new iteration of TWA will now accept luxury advertisers outside of wine. Well-known for his staunch independence, Parker had previously refused advertising of any kind as part of the publication’s official “Ethics and Standards.”

The changes also demonstrate a shift in focus for the publication – and the world of 100-point-scale-dominated wine publications – to the booming yet adolescent Asian market. Much like the then-immature U.S. market when Parker launched his publication over thirty years ago, Asian markets are hungry for rigorous and focused information and status symbol wines. As Eric Asimov of The New York Times points out, “the new wine markets of Asia will Robert-Parker_the nosebenefit from any guidance and influence The Wine Advocate can offer, until, for them, too, it’s time to separate and go off on their own.”

Now 65 years old, it is understandable that Robert Parker chose to lessen his role at his signature publication and bring in investors. What remains to be seen is whether TWA can continue on without Parker’s influential leadership, face, and “million-dollar nose.”


Photos courtesy of The Atlantic, The Institute of Masters of Wine and Bordeaux Traders.

About Pia Mara Finkell:

With over a decade of experience in communications, Pia has a strong background in wine, beer and food public relations, marketing and promotional strategy. A vice president in PadillaCRT's Food & Beverage Practice, Pia oversees public relations, traditional and social media programs, strategic partnerships and program development for various beverage alcohol and food accounts, including the Wines of Rioja, Les Vins Georges Duboeuf and the Federation of Quebec Maple Syrup Producers. Her agency work has helped win various industry awards, including two Bronze Anvils, Silver Anvil, Bulldog Digital/Social (Gold and Silver), PR News Platinum, two PR News Digitals, Clarion, Big Apple, Commonwealth and a Telly. In 2010, Pia created the weekly BuzzBin column called 'The Booze Bin,' offering up interesting musings on the beverage alcohol industry and all things booze. Depending on the season, what she's cooking, and whether or not the Yankees are winning, Pia can be found toasting a glass or pint of something awesome.

3 Comments on “Massive Shift in Wine Industry’s Most Powerful Voice

  1.  by  Jamie Smith

    It will be very interesting to see how this plays. It may indirectly benefit its biggest competitor – wine spectator as well.

  2.  by  Pia Mara Finkell

    Thanks for your comment, Jamie. It will be interesting to see not only how it affects its other print competitors, but how it allows even more room for other kinds of voices, from bloggers to tweeters to younger wine voices.

  3. Pingback: Robert Parker and Digging a Wine Critics Grave - Fermentation

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