Wine Wants You

If you've ever dreamed of working in the wine business, now is the time.

Wine is becoming an increasingly glamorous business. Other than sports, entertainment and fashion, few industries carry the panache of wine. This age-old business involving fermented grape juice has blossomed into a booming image industry, and the spotlight is squarely on its participants.

Admittedly you can make a fortune manufacturing tires or toiletries, but will your story be of interest to anyone at the next party or lunch you attend? Brash as it may sound, I know from first-hand experience that involvement in wine raises your personal stock. I have had a lifelong association with wine, first as a member of the industry and now as a wine magazine publisher and a direct marketer of wine-related products, and rarely have I not had the opportunity to expound upon my wine connection to a genuinely enraptured audience.

Yes, more and more people today are being turned on to the pleasures and the mystique of wine. Which leads me to wonder why the wine industry, which has been riding an incredible growth streak fueled by increased consumption, is desperately seeking talent. Just like Uncle Sam pointing his finger and exclaiming, "We Want You," nowadays the wine industry wants a few good men (and women) to join its team.

Recently I attended the Wine and Spirits Wholesalers of America convention in Boston, the largest annual gathering of wine industry executives in the United States. And you know what question I was asked most frequently? "Adam, can you suggest anyone for this position we have open?" I was astonished by how much demand is out there for good people. While it's true that many wine entities have lost key personnel to the Internet "dot-com" phenomenon and the stock-option-rich incentive plans that have been floated about as bait, it is also true that recent market fluctuation has made these dot-com arrivistes less attractive than they were just last year.

A perfect case in point: Kendall-Jackson, hardly a Johnny-come-lately dot-commer, earlier this year lured Hewlett-Packard chairman Lewis Platt away from the company he had worked at for more than 30 years. And according to an article that appeared in The New York Times, Platt couldn't be happier.

And now it could be your turn. If you've ever dreamed about a career in the wine world, now may be the perfect time to speak with your friendly headhunter or local wine distributor or winery about a job. Soon you may find yourself pouring and touting some wonderful California Cabernet, Bordeaux, or Shiraz to an enthusiastic crowd—and getting paid for your efforts! Like any other field, wine is still a business that requires hard work and innovation. But in this business one gets to combine personal passion with a profession, and that's what makes it so special.

I would like to hear from you about this. If you are interested in a career in the exciting wine business, please e-mail me at astrum@wineenthusiast.net and tell me about yourself and your wine enthusiasm.

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I would like to pay my respects to our good friend and colleague Jerry Mead, who recently passed away. Jerry was one of those unique individuals who spoke his mind about wine whether his opinions were popular or not. A former columnist for Wine Enthusiast, Jerry could always be counted on to get to the heart of a matter. Personally, I liked his take-no-prisoners approach, and I believe the world needs more journalists like Jerry Mead, people who hold the truth above all else (see page 15 for obituary).

· · ·

In this issue we take an in-depth look at some luxurious and down-home lodgings in California wine country. Whether it's cozy confines or active leisure you're after, and whether your locale of choice is Sonoma, Napa, Santa Barbara, or someplace in between, our individual profiles of no less than 16 stunning wine country inns should provide a vital tool in your future vacation planning (see page 24).

Shifting gears back to what's in the bottle, editor at large Roger Voss gives us the early word on the 1999 vintage in Bordeaux (page 40). On the surface it looks like an iffy year, but Voss does offer us some gems worth grabbing as futures. And just to show our versatility, we have an excellent story from renowned beer expert Stephen Beaumont on the refreshing world of summer beers (page 56).

Happy reading, and cheers!

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