Will Dedicated Wine Lovers Support Quality?
That's right, Appellation America recently and quietly announced it would be transitioning to a subscription format on that date. Though this move will significantly reduce its readership, it undoubtedly will have a much more active and dedicated readership and one that demonstrates real appreciation for outstanding content.
And yet the bottom line is that the work of Appellation America, including its features, tastings and database of wineries, will no longer be available to anyone and everyone.
The move by Appellation America introduces an important question: Will the most dedicated wine lovers and wine industry folks, those who have always devoured and craved and praised high quality wine reporting and prose, put their money where their mouth is?
The cost to subscribe to Appellation America, according to its announcement, will be $49.95 for an annual subscription—or, $4.16 per month.
But let's layout what we are talking about here. Appellation America is the most significant and serious vessel for wine journalism to emerge this decade. From its beginning it offered the somewhat unique argument that the wines of Texas, Missouri, New York and Michigan were equally important and deserving of attention as those of California. It made the positive case that "place" is more important to the consumer than brand, varietal or winemaker. And it backed all this up by going out and assembling one of the most impressive collections of wine writers ever placed under one masthead.
If there was ever an online wine publication that was worthy of $49.95 per year, I suspect it is this one.
Yet, I also suspect that 96% of those of you reading this won't break out your credit cards on July 6th.
Sure the economy is tough. But many people will happily walk into Starbucks and pay their $4.00 for a super duper coffee drink on a daily basis, even in the bad economy. The fact is, I think, that the availability of free content is more persuasive to people than is the quality of content. And this is so, I think, whether we are in a boom or bust economy. It's also an ugly truth.
I personally can't afford to not have access to the Appellation America content because my ability to do my job as a member of the wine industry and as a wine publicist and my need to continually educate myself and my need to have real intellectual stimulation depends on having access to great ideas and great coverage of my industry.