David White burst onto the scene last year to win the WBC Best New Wine Blog. He has an uncanny talent for not only writing but earning mainstream press and the respect of some of the most respected professional critics in the world. He has just started the arc of his career and he’s already a star.
Since its launch, Terroirist has been mentioned by the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Washington Post, Santa Rosa Press-Democrat, Reason Magazine, and many other highly regarded publications. The blog has also been highlighted by a number of leading wine writers, including Eric Asimov of the New York Times, Jon Bonné of the San Francisco Chronicle, Ray Isle of Food & Wine, Bruce Schoenfeld of Travel + Leisure, Alder Yarrow of Vinography, Tom Wark of Fermentation, and many others.
Terroirist currently reaches nearly 10,000 readers per month.
WINE INNOVATION QUESTIONNAIRE
WSP: You were recently included as one of the 9 most important wine bloggers in the United States. To what do you credit your success?
David: I think it’s quantity and quality. When I launched Terroirist, I noticed some holes in the wine blogosphere, especially when it came to the generalists.
For instance, there wasn’t a single blog offering a daily roundup of wine news. Since my launch in November 2010, I’ve never missed a day.
There also wasn’t a blog offering regular winemaker interviews or profiles of sommeliers or wine shop owners. Wine geeks love getting to know the people behind the wines.
And I didn’t see many group wine blogs. By assembling a team of contributors, my site has been able to cover just about everything in the wine world — from politics and trend stories to tasting notes and basic wine education.
WSP: How did your love for wine develop?
David: I had one of those “a ha” moments — and it quickly became an obsession.
Until four years ago, I knew nothing about wine. But when I visited Napa Valley in October 2007, I put my nose in a glass of Syrah from Failla and something clicked.
I soon found myself planning more trips to California, visiting Oregon and Argentina just to taste wine, taking classes (I have my advanced certification from Wine and Spirit Education Trust), reading books, you name it.
WSP: What are your 2 favorite wine pairings?
David: While Eric Asimov loves pizza and Champagne, I love pairing Champagne with a good hamburger. If it’s been a long day, there’s no better combo than a giant, gluttonous burger (ideally with Swiss cheese and bacon) and a glass of really good Champagne.
That’d likely be followed by Pizza — the simpler, the better — and Pinot. It’s just one of those perfect meals.
WSP: How has technology been changing the wine world?
David: The biggest change, without question, is the advent of social media. It’s revolutionizing consumer interaction.
Why do you feel it’s important for wineries to contact consumers through channels in Social Media?
For the long answer to this question, check out my keynote address to the 37th Nederburg Auction in South Africa.
More simply, though, consider one point I made during my speech: Today, a wine company can hire a full-time employee, for an entire year, to engage with customers on twitter, facebook, message boards, blogs, you name it — for the same price it would cost to purchase a single full-page advertisement in Wine Spectator.
And for social media skeptics, you can prove a return on investment with tactics like this. If you take out an ad, there’s no way to prove how many people actually looked at it. If you engage online, you can point to a specific number of existing and potential consumers you identified and interacted with.
This matters because of the huge changes that are happening thanks to social media platforms. As VinTank’s Paul Mabray wrote last August, “Whereas in the past producers pretty much entrusted retailers with the task of managing consumer relationships on an ongoing basis, they can now connect directly with friends, fans, and followers.”
WSP: Most overrated region?
David: Wow — that’s a tough one! It pains me to say this, but the answer is probably Napa Valley. The reason is price. I love a good Napa Cabernet Sauvignon — nearly 20 percent of my cellar is comprised of it. Plus, Napa is one of my favorite places in the world to visit. But the wine has become overvalued. It’s nearly impossible to find a good Napa Cab for less than $30 — and it generally costs more than $60 to find a Napa Cab that’s truly compelling. Name any other region, and you’re probably going to get more bang for your buck.
WSP: Favorite winemakers?
David: Again, another tough one! I’d like to stay out of trouble, so rather than name my “favorite” winemakers, I’ll name three that are doing some really exciting things. In no particular order:
First, Morgan Twain-Peterson of Bedrock Wine Company. There’s no one doing more to protect America’s ancient vineyards, so we should all be grateful for that.
What’s cool about his wines is just how American they are. Rather than stick to the standard, single-variety wines, Morgan makes a boatload of field blends from some of California’s oldest vineyards. His winery’s namesake — the Bedrock Vineyard — was planted nearly 125-years ago, and it’s about half Zinfandel and a quarter Carignane, with varieties like Mourvedre, Syrah, Alicante Bouschet, Petite Sirah comprising the rest.
Even cooler? He created a nonprofit, the Historic Vineyard Society, to catalog, validate, protect and promote California’s historic vineyards.
Second, Dan Petroski of Massican Winery. Although he pays his bills as the associate winemaker at Larkmead — one of my favorite producers in Napa — he makes small batches of Friulian-style white wines in his spare time. One of his wines is a delightful blend of Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, and Chardonnay, and he also makes a 100% Chardonnay and a 100% Sauvignon Blanc that are unlike anything you’d expect from California. Without question, these are some of the best white wines in the country.
And he has more tricks up his sleeve. Next year, Petroski is making a dry, white Vermouth made from Tocai Friulano.
Third, Steve and Jill Matthiasson. Over the past few months, I’ve become obsessed with the wines from this husband-and-wife team. By day, Steve is the vineyard consultant to all star producers like Araujo, Spottswoode, Chappellet, Hall, and others. At night, him and his wife make some of Napa Valley’s most elegant wines.
Their “White Wine” is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillion, Tocai Friuliano, and Ribolla Gialla, and it’s out of this world. Their “Red Wine” incorporates all five Bordeaux grapes — and unlike most Napa reds, it’s fresh and lively rather than rich and heavy.
If you’re in the Matthiasson wine club (it’s the only “club” I’m a member of) you also get all sorts of other treats. They recently made a Refrosco, and I’m really not sure if anyone else in the United States is making one.
WSP: Who are your 3 “must-follow” wine innovators in Social Media?
David: Paul Mabray and his team at VinTank are at the top of the list. Alder Yarrow of Vinography recently spent some time exploring Vintank Social Connect, and his takeaway bears repeating: “Any winery in the world that does not have a free account on this service, and does not spend at least an hour or two every week using it, is dumber than a bag of hammers.” No one in the wine industry knows more about social media than Paul, so he’s worth paying attention to.
Next would be Gary Vaynerchuk, who doesn’t need an introduction. Since the end of WineLibraryTV, Gary’s presence in the wine industry has declined, of course. But when he speaks, people listen.
For the number three slot, it has to be Joe Roberts, aka 1WineDude. The reason? He’s reinventing what it means to be a wine blogger. He recently gave up his day job to focus full time on blogging and writing — and he’s already landed a gig at Playboy.com. In the coming months, I wouldn’t be surprised if we see Joe land some other exciting gigs.
Thanks for answering David! WSP team thanks you for your kindness and collaboration. We wish you all the best!