The American Wine Celebrity

Of late I’ve been working with another wine PR specialist to help a client bring to market a really interestng wine info product. In the course of brainstorming with them yesterday we came to a very interesting conclusion about wine that at first set me back:

There is no recognized American Wine Celebrity.

No Bob Villa of Wine. No Martha Stewart of Wine. No Emeril Lagasse of Wine.

Could there be an American Wine Celebrity that is both authoritative, entertaining and likable; someone who, despite wine’s unfortunate elitist reputation, could use the power of their personality and the power of the media to make wine engaging?

The main obstacle to the emergence of an American Wine Celebrity is that not nearly enough people drink wine or make wine a part of their lives such as they do home improvement, homemaking, or cooking. And again, you’ve got the reputation of wine and wine lovers to overcome.

The closest thing we have to this type of person is Andrea Immer-Robinson. The woman is engaging and smart and knowledgeable. But, she’s sequestered over there on the Fine Living Channel, a very small outpost from which to develop the kind of following necessary to break out of minor celebrity status.

So what would an American Wine Celebrity look like?

-I think they would have to be incredibly knowledgeable about wine, but not shove that knowledge on people except when called to. This kind of knowledge would be expected, but it is also off-putting all on its own.

-I think they would need to be engaging in an Emeril Lagasse kind of way. You know, the guy you want to have over at your backyard summer party because they are just plain fun

-I think they need to be excitable when it comes to wine, but not psycho excitable.

Of course the new American Wine Authority needs a media outlet and friends in high places, but this is secondary to their personality and approach to wine. If they are a compelling personality, no matter where they start they will be successful and greater things will follow (if of course they are "handled" appropriately). Perhaps their own show on a minor channel turns into guest appearances on Good Morning America, which turns into a guest appearance on The Apprentice, which leads to a book, which leads to more talk shows, which leads to a bigger show of their own on a more prominent channel, which leads to inclusion in the gossip rags and websites, which leads to their own wine, etc. etc.

I’m not suggesting that America needs a "Wine Celebrity" that can put a fresh, entertaining, attractive face on the juice. Rather, I think it’s interesting to note that the position is open.

7 Responses

  1. yountvillian - August 22, 2006

    He’s already out there..his name is B. Napa…

  2. mommysalame - August 22, 2006

    What about that guy from Sideways, Paul Giamatti. Its not that he REALLY knows alot about wine, but the general public sure thinks he does. Or are you trying to assign someone to the knowledgeable wine consumer who can sniff out a fake.

  3. tom - August 22, 2006

    Giamatti doesn’t have the knowledge or the desire to push wine. And I wonder if most americans might thinks he’s as much of a drunk as a wine authority based on the character.

  4. Benito - August 22, 2006

    You could hardly do worse than Orson Wells. Here’s some of his old commercials from the 80s:
    I really enjoy Andrea Immer-Robinson’s shows, particularly the “Pairings” one, though over time I find I’m watching it more for the recognition of having already tried what she’s pouring.
    For something online that could pretty easily segue to short TV/radio clips, how about Robin Garr at the 30 Second Wine Advisor? No idea about his actual personality, but I like his newsletter. The format is almost always the same: a topic is presented, the wine issues are spoken of in a general way, and then a specific example is given with more detailed information.

  5. MJ - August 22, 2006

    I agree with Andrea Immer, but another excellent choice might be Chantelle Grilhot, a 24 year old sommelier at the Ritz-Carlton Buckhead (Atlanta). She is the female Tiger Woods of wine (strikinlgy beautiful -half Filipino/half Eastern European) and projects a Rachel Ray enthusiasm about her job. She could certainly speak to a whole new generation of wine drinkers given the right spotlight.

  6. MJ - August 22, 2006

    Don’t know why my post above was assigned to Benito, but what the heck.

  7. jeff - August 22, 2006

    Get Alton Brown (“Good Eats”) interested in wine. This is the guy that went to culinary school so he could do a cooking program! Perhaps it is only a matter of time until he finds his way to the subject himself…

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