By Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting
“Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” is a Q&A series profiling Wine Writers. We hope you’ll discover more about the wine writers you know, and learn about many others. The objective of this project is to understand and develop working relationships with journalists. They are after all, those that help tell our stories, review our wines and potentially provide media coverage. You can do this by learning their wine and writing backgrounds, story and personal interests, palate preferences, writing challenges and pet peeves. This is part of an ongoing series that will be featured monthly by Wine Industry Advisor.
Austin Beeman is an eighteen-year veteran of the wine business with extensive experience in Marketing and Sales (wholesale, retail, & DTC.) Currently Vice President of Marketing for Cutting Edge Selections, Austin has a deep knowledge of the global wine business with expertise in Direct-to-Consumer sales. While Director of Marketing for Bonny Doon Vineyard, he managed one of the most successful crowdfunding campaigns in the wine industry. His video podcast “Understanding Wine with Austin Beeman” has been praised in USA Today. Austin holds an MBA in Wine & Spirits Management from Kedge Business School in Bordeaux.
You can follow Austin at www.austinbeeman.com and on social media @austinbeeman
How did you come to wine, and to wine writing?
I came to wine, like so many others, with a trip to France. I spent most of 1999 and 2000 studying abroad in Pau, France. That rustic mountain town was an amazing place to explore wine and food. After returning back to the States, with a passionate interest in wine but an empty bank account, I started working in a local wine shop. It turned out that I was pretty good at communicating my passion to others in a way that made them excited to buy. Without knowing it, I’d become an advocate for quirky small wineries from the very beginning.
- In the last 18 years, I’ve been a commission salesperson, general manager of a boutique wine store, Director of Marketing for Bonny Doon Vineyard, Business consultant, and currently the Vice President of Marketing for an importer/distributor – Cutting Edge Selections.
- In 2015, I completed the Wine and Spirits MBA program from Kedge Business School in Bordeaux. The program was incredibly eye-opening and truly global with modules in France, California, Australia, and China.
What are your primary palate preferences?
My stock answer is that I like all wine that is interesting. Wine, for me, is an extension of my love of travel. Any bottle that speaks to the unique character of a place or way of life, speaks to me. The only wines that I hate are the boring and generic, but I’m saddened by the fact that these are the majority of wines that most people have access to.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
That I ran a professional film and video production company with clients that including Mister Roger’s Neighborhood. Search my name on IMDB to see my Mister Roger’s credit.
What is one thing you’d like your readers to learn from your writing about wine?
I want to introduce them to the interesting people and places of the wine world. Wine as the Liquid Geography of a place is incredibly inspiring for me.
What’s the best story you have written?
My presentation at the 2016 Wine Bloggers’ Conference, “Why Wineries Should Work with Wine Bloggers” is still one of my favorites. It encapsulates much of my feelings as well as my analysis of the state of the wine business.
How would you like the wine community to remember you?
An advocate for the little guys.
Do you post your articles on social media? Why is that important?
Yes. If you want readership, you have to go where the eyeballs are. Social Media – especially Facebook – is that channel. It will be very hard to build any kind of audience as an independent without embracing social media.
Do you consider yourself an Influencer? What’s the difference today between a writer and an influencer in your opinion?
I don’t have a huge audience in raw numbers, but I’m pretty extensively read by people in the trade. So, I like to believe that my opinions have some influence there. The real influencers in wine are the microinfluencers: the sommeliers and retail managers who hold a monopoly over the wines on their wine list or in their store. That is heavily fragmented but they wield great influence over a subset of people.
What are your recommendations to wineries when working with journalists?
I have two.
- Make sure you understand how to judge a journalists’ actual value in advance.
- Be very clear about expectations and don’t make assumptions.
Which wine personalities would you most like to meet and taste with (living or dead)?
I’d love to be at a dinner table with Robert Parker, Kermit Lynch, Terry Theise, and Gary Vaynerchuk. Sparks would fly!!!
What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting experience?
I have very blessed to have many amazing wine experiences, but tasting with Jean Louis Chave in his cellars at Mauves was incredible.
Pick one red and one white to drink for the next month with every dinner.
Wow. I don’t think I can do that. I love wine for its’ infinite diversity.
What’s your favorite wine region in the world?
Bordeaux and Southwest France
Do you have a favorite wine and food pairing? Favorite recipe/pairing?
Foie Gras with Jurançon. Or Confit de Canard with Madiran.
Read more stories in the series “Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers.”