Two Critical Tools For Wine Writers and Bloggers
Wine writers and wine bloggers who aspire to both understand and report on the business of wine can’t ignore the politics of wine. Few other businesses are so significantly defined by and impacted by regulations, lobbying and politics.
Will consumers have legal access to the products they want? That depends on politics.
Will wineries be able to make use of new technologies to distribute their wines more widely? That depends on politics.
Will independent and specialty wine retailers have the tools to survive the online juggernaut of Amazon/Whole Foods, big box stores like Total Wine and Costco and other new entries into the market? That depends on politics.
Will the Three Tier System continue to define winners and losers in the wine business? That depends on politics.
But in order to cover these and other issues, wine writers and bloggers need the tools to monitor and understand the political environment and machinations that take flight from state capitals every year. The good news is these tools exist and are free to use.
TRACKING LEGISLATION: Bill Track 50 is an online service that allows one to carefully define issues of interest with keywords then retrieves legislation and bills at the state and federal level that match the keyword searches. The results are presented in an easy-to-understand way and alerts are delivered via email when movement on the bills take place. It is a remarkable service that is now being offered to writers and bloggers for free with the caveat that the service is linked to in articles on occasion. I use BillTrack 50 religiously in my work for the National Association of Wine Retailers. I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.
TRACKING CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTIONS: FollowTheMoney.org, maintained by the National Institute on Money and Politics, is a remarkable source of sunshine. By using this service, which is free, one can instantly observe who is giving cash to politicians and who politicians have taken money from. Their database is relatively easy to use and holds data going back to the 1990s. Again, I HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT.
Covering the business of wine is a relatively small niche for writers and bloggers that, surprisingly, is rarely explored. Yet, those writers who understand wine, who understand better than others the zeitgeist of the consumer wine market and who understand that access to wines consumers want is becoming more complicated, are best positioned to cover the business of wine. Politics is part and parcel of that business.
With BillTrack 50 and FollowTheMoney.org are two key tools necessary for understanding and reporting on the business of wine.