Wine Lovers Need A New Jerry Mead
My last entry, about what kind of coverage the wine industry needs, as well as the comments that have come in, got me thinking about the type of wine writing that has been lost. The greatest loss to the American wine writing genre came in 2000 when the industry’s greatest advocate and greatest critique died.
Through his syndicated column, one of the longest ever such writings, his "Wine Trader Magazine", and with his New World International Wine Competition, Mead was one of the greatest consumer advocates this industry has ever known. His 100 point rating systems was one of the first to take into account not only quality, but value also.
But when Jerry passed away he took with him a style of writing that has not been replaced. Jerry was relentless in battling the government’s and social advocacy groups’ desire to regulate wine and intervene in its distribution. He was a pit bull with a pen and sharp wit. He had "informers" everywhere. He never pulled punches in pointing out the ludicrous nature of some regulations and "neo-prohibitions”" attempt to portray wine as a detriment to society and regulate it out of existence.
Jerry’s best columns were written under the "Wine Curmudgeon" sign-off in his "Wine Trader" magazine. It didn’t matter if the villain was the state or federal governments, the anti-alcohol groups or vintners. When Jerry saw the wine affected by a curtailment of the free market, when he saw wine portrayed as an evil, or when he saw a vintner of any size not take the righteous position, you could be guaranteed the deed would show up in The Wine Curmudeon’s column.
Since Jerry’s death in 2000 no one has stepped up to take over this unique niche. No single voice has emerged as the righteous defender of the wine industry. That might in part be because it’s not an easy niche to fill. In addition, the spread of the Internet has allowed easier full airings of the kind of issues Jerry took on. Nevertheless, it’s clear this industry would benefit from a new "Jerry Mead".
If you’ve never read Mead’s work, there is still a place on the net where you can find some of his old columns. I recommend you take a look. See what we are missing. See what kind of advocate wine consumers and the wine industry needs.
I could not agree more with needing a new Jerry Mead. In fact, I have been trying to track down his widow, his attorney, his anything, to see about resurecting this man’s wonderful magazine. No one will ever replace Jerry, but we try to keep the public aware of some of our ludicrous laws about wine and shipping. Mayybe the Supreme Court will add some horse-sense to it all, but don’t get your hopes up.
Bob Meyer, aks CV