This month’s Turning the Tables interview features Stacy Louise Briscoe, who has been contributing to Wine Industry Advisor for the pasts 18 months and recently came on board as the publication’s managing editor.
Stacy Briscoe is the managing editor of Wine Industry Advisor. She is a Sonoma-based wine journalist and editor who, outside of the Advisor, also produces content for several publications including Wine Enthusiast, Sonoma Magazine, The Drop, SevenFifty Daily, among many others. Briscoe also speaks at wine industry conferences, judges wine competitions, and is a WSET Diploma candidate, studying through the Napa Valley Wine Academy. She has her Bachelor of Arts in English Literature from the University of California Santa Cruz and is often found with a book in hand (and a glass of wine in the other).
How did you come to wine, and to wine writing?
A weird (wine-filled) road. In my previous life I was a full-time personal fitness trainer. I loved what I did, but I still wanted to try my hand at becoming a writer and editor (what I thought I would be ‘when I grew up.’)
With no experience in professional writing, I started my personal blog, BriscoeBites.com, so named because I thought I’d write about food, recipes, restaurants, and maybe even pull in my fitness background and speak about nutrition.
But the one thing that really captured me when writing about food, was the wine. I swear I would spend just as much time, if not longer, researching the right wine pairing as I did researching the perfect recipe. And once I started writing my own wine reviews and tasting notes, I just became so connected to and interested in the whole winemaking process. I found the more I wrote, the more curious I was, the more I would research, and the more I would write.
I started writing for other (non-paying) wine blogs as well, tried my hand at a few small freelance gigs, and finally ended up at my role as an editor with the SF Chronicle. My managing editor there, as well as the travel editor, and even Esther, all encouraged me to write a few pieces for the paper and the website. So, when my contract was up, I had a good portfolio of potential work to show.
Esther was kind enough to write my letter of recommendation into the Wine Writers Symposium, where I made even more great contacts—peers and mentors alike. From there it seems like the opportunities, along with my career, just sky-rocketed. Since then, I’ve worked as the staff writer for Wines & Vines, assistant editor of Wine Business Monthly, and now I write for a whole host of reputable publications (Wine Enthusiast, Sonoma Magazine, Pix, among several others) and have most recently taken on the role of managing editor here at Wine Industry Network.
What are your primary story interests?
Writing for multiple publications like I do, I actually take on a wide variety of topics: wine industry/wine business-focused pieces, consumer-facing articles, wine tasting/critiques, wine travel, etc. And I love it because the wine world is so big, to limit myself to one sector would be very un-Stacy.
Is it possible to make a living as a wine writer or wine publication editor today? If so, how have you succeeded? If not, why not? What primary challenges and hurdles do you face?
It’s hard. I don’t want to say impossible, but it’s hard. The important thing is to find your unique voice and point of view and be persistent. And network—reach out to people you look up to and ask for advice, help, or even that first writing gig. If you love what you do (or want to do) then it’s worth working for.
You just have to have mad hustle and a dope soul.
Can you describe your approach to wine (industry) writing?
I really can’t. I don’t think of myself as someone that has a rigid ‘process.’ Each story, each interviewee, is always unique. I approach things with an open mind and write with fluidity first.
Then I let the OCD copyeditor in me takeover to create the clean, cohesive final copy that goes to print.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
I think a lot of people are surprised to know that I did not grow up in a wine drinking or wine appreciating family. I, actually, used to dislike wine.
What haven’t you done, that you’d like to do?
Travel more. I’ve been to a handful of places, but not nearly enough for my wanderlusty self.
If you weren’t writing about wine for a living, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I’d probably still be personal training and teaching fitness classes.
What are your recommendations to wineries when interacting with journalists?
Make sure there is an easy way for journalists to get in touch with you, preferably on your website. For smaller wineries, having an email and/or phone number listed that someone actually responds to or answers is invaluable to us. For larger companies, I love when they have a section dedicated to trade/media where they have links to high-res photos, recent press announcements, and a direct email and phone number for their marketing coordinator or publicist.
What advantages are there in working directly with winery publicists?
I know winemakers are sometimes busy actually making wine and can lose track of time and appointments. Especially during harvest. PR folks are great at “nagging” their clients so we don’t have to.
I also appreciate those that let me know about things their clients are working on or have going on that aren’t necessarily “press announcement worthy.” Sometimes it’s the little things that make great stories.
Which wine personalities would you most like to meet and taste with (living or dead)?
Jancis Robinson. She’s a legend and personal hero.
“Turning the Tables – Interviewing the Interviewers” is a Q&A series profiling Wine Writers. The objective is to understand and develop working relationships with journalists—those that help tell our stories, review our wines, and provide media coverage—by learning their wine and writing backgrounds, story and personal interests, palate preferences, writing challenges and pet peeves. This is an ongoing Wine Industry Advisor series.
Have suggestions for interviews? Contact [email protected]
CARL GIAVANTI is a Winery Publicist with a DTC Marketing background. He’s celebrating his 12th year of winery consulting. Carl has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25 years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now as a winery media relations consultant. Clients are or have been in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley, Walla Walla, Columbia Valley and the Columbia Gorge. Visit Carl Giavanti Consulting