A Change at the Heart of the Wine Trade 100 Years in the Making
A bit of bittersweet news came through the email machine yesterday that has a historical context. The announcement via press release was that Wine Business Monthly and Wines & Vines Magazine will be merging, with Wines & Vines Magazines being folded into Wine Business Monthly. The two most important American wine trade publications have been owned by the same company since 2004. So it’s surprising they had not merged before today. But it’s worth noting that this merger of two important wine trade magazines comes during the 100th Anniversary of the founding of Wines & Vines Magazine.
Founded in 1919, Wines & Vines Magazine‘s archives contain the majority of the history of the American wine industry. I’ve never seen a collection of all issues of Wines & Vines in one place. But I imagine if it exists it would be an overwhelming experience for anyone with an interest in the history of American wine. It’s notable that Wines & Vines Magazine came into existence during the first year of Prohibition. Those first 14 years of the Magazine’s existence, during which the country was under the sway of national prohibition of alcohol, would be fascinating to look at.
The Wines & Vines brand is not entirely disappearing into the basement of Wine Business Monthly. A new division of Wine Business Monthly’s parent company, Wine Communications Group, will be created called Wines & Vines Analytics. From this new division will emerge, The Wine Analytics Report. The Report, to be edited by Andrew Adams, will produce data-driven analytics that is poised to be the benchmark for the industry. In 2016 Wine Communications Group purchased Gomberg-Fredrikson Report, the industry’s longtime leader in pricing data. Wines & Vines has long published its Wine Industry Metrics, which covered topics such as direct to consumer sales, industry hiring analytics, off-premise wine sales as well as winery, distributor and associated businesses databases.
What should be clear by now is that the Wine Communications Group has been busy over the years acquiring a collection of assets that positions it as the dominant wine trade communications organization in America. When I entered the wine industry in 1990 there was a variety of wine trade-oriented media including Wines & Vines Magazine, Practical Winery & Vineyard, Wine East, Gomberg & Fredrikson. At that time there was no Wine Business Monthly. It was founded in 1991 by Lewis Perdue, who currently operates Wine Industry Insight. Today, All the publications noted above are owned by the Wine Communications Group. In addition, the Wine Communications group also owns and operates the leading wine jobs site, winejobs.com, as well as the comprehensive directory of wine-related business, the Wines & Vines Directory.
Finally, Wine Communications group owns and operates a number of wine trade events including Innovation + Quality, WiVi Central Coast, the Wine Industry Financial Symposium, the Wine Industry Technology Symposium, WineJobs SUMMIT, Vineyard Economics Symposium, Central Coast Insights and the Lodi Vineyard & Wines Economic Symposium.
Despite its size and dominance, Wine Communications Group does have its competitors including Wine Industry Network and the above-mentioned Wine industry Insight. However, to date, none of these competitors match the scope and depth of the Wine Communications group.
At the helm of Wine Communications Group are Hugh Teitjen (Chairman) and Eric Jorgensen (President). Together they guide the company. However, Cyril Penn is the company’s most visible personnel asset. Cyril Joined the company in 1998 as editor of Wine Business Insider, its executive newsletter. Two years later he was named editor of Wine Business Monthly, the primary repository of industry news and the publication into which Wines & Vines will be folded. If there is a more fair and thoughtful editor in the wine industry, I don’t know them. The new Wines & Vines-infused Wine Business Monthly is in very good hands.
As I noted above, the combining of Wines & Vines and Wine Business Monthly is bittersweet for the formal folding of a wine trade publication that has helped guide and define the American wine industry for a century.
The December 2018 publication of Wines & Vines will be the last.