Author of four books. Winner of three James Beard Awards. Educator. Chef. Television personality. Stemware designer.
Oh, and one of only 147 people in the world to currently hold the Master Sommelier credential!
These are a few of Andrea Robinson’s professional credentials.
Andrea will deliver the keynote at the 9th annual annual Wine Bloggers Conference in Lodi, California next week.
As part of preparing for WBC 2016, I recently caught up with Andrea; following is our Q&A…
From your perspective as a Master Sommelier and leading wine educator, what are the most notable positive and negative impacts ‘wine blogging’ has had on the wine industry?
I think wine blogging is embraced by the connected/millennial generation and thus it broadens the conversation to more diverse opinions/experts and diminishes the dominance of a few palates giving 100-point scale scores, which is great because there has been a palate propensity with the big 2/3 reviewers toward high alcohol and new oak, marginalizing more elegant styles. I think blogging is validating and opening consumers’ eyes to a greater diversity of styles, price points, and so on. A negative (which is also a positive) is there is no gatekeeper on who starts to blog about wine. There should be no limitation on who can weigh in, but those who do have a responsibility, because it is alcohol, to model moderate and responsible drinking in their writing and their behavior — at least that is my opinion. Most do this, which is great.
As one of the leading educators in the wine world and ‘go to’ expert for all things wine, how do you stay current on the infinite world of wine to continue to learn and expand your knowledge to provide more value to your customers (wine consumers, other Sommeliers, industry)?
I follow the writings of 2 of the hardest-working wine pros in the world – Jancis Robinson and Karen MacNeil. I constantly attend trade tastings, media tastings, and conduct my own blind and category tastings on a regular basis. I visit wine country when I can, and am lucky to live in a place (Napa) where a lot of top somms, vintners from around the world, etc., come to visit, so I make sure a stop by our place is on their radar screen.
How has the ubiquity of wine information online and social media changed your approach to the business side of wine as a Master Sommelier and wine educator?
There still is a dearth of quality, watchable video content and that is an area where I am technically and practically geared and capable, so my focus has been there. It is complicated because I know people still like to read and I think in cooking and wine books there still is a market for print, but with the increasingly digital/mobile consumption of content, it is challenging to figure out where to concentrate your efforts – print, social, blog, video. Historically presentations were live (not video and the skill set and approach is different), and text was delivered via print not digital/mobile. None of us can afford to ignore that reality.
Some (perhaps many) of the wine bloggers attending WBC 2016 in Lodi would like to expand their writing from their blogs to other digital or print publications. Talk about one or two important improvement areas bloggers can focus on to expand their writing to larger publications and audiences?
I think it is valuable for folks to specialize into areas that publications are likely to cover — for example, wine country travel, or Italy, or great wine values, and choose something that is “ownable” by you if possible. If the topic is not own-able, your take needs to be – i.e., not just values, but values that super market chains carry, or unsung heros, or whatever. Then you can pitch (mostly short) pieces that are seasonally relevant like values at tax time or off-season travel to Sonoma, or whatever.
What is one area of the wine and/or food world that is underserved in terms of attention/coverage?
To me, wine country travel including the ‘local’ wine regions in many of the 50 states. That won’t get you tasting classic Bordeaux all the time but supporting local is on-trend and it’s a growth/innovation area in wine in a lot of places.
WBC 2016 will be held in Lodi, CA, arguably one of the most underrated wine regions in the U.S. What are some other underrated wine regions in the world that you’re excited about and where consumers should be looking to for great wine?
Dry wines of Portugal, especially Douro reds and Vinho Verde whites. I think we talk Argentina Malbec but their Cabs are better, and we talk Chilean Carmenere but their Cabs and Syrahs are better.
Are there any specific Lodi wines that you are excited about?
I just tasted several varietal Albarinos from Lodi that I loved.
What would WBC attendees be surprised to learn about you?
(If you say you’re a Pittsburg Steelers fan, we’re going to be good friends.)
I am a huge Warriors and SF Giants fan. I worked as a singing telegram messenger (strictly tasteful ones) in high school
What would you like to know about WBC attendees/wine blogging community?
How can we all help each other?
What bottles are open in your kitchen now?
At present I am at Delta choosing the international premium wines for next year so while my kitchen in Napa is barren at the moment, about 200 or so bottles of wine are open in a large conference room in Atlanta, and I am strategizing how to make the best possible lineup of fascinating and classy wines available for next year’s cycles
What book(s) are you reading now (wine or otherwise)?
I started reading Jancis’ Oxford Companion, small chunks at a time, into the voice memo app of my phone, which then my husband John and I listen to on long drives. He just passed his WSET 3 in the top 5% (of the world) so it’s been fun and very interesting to update and go deep on regions I haven’t really focused on in awhile.
Thank you Andrea for your time — very much appreciated!
Photo Credit: Andrea Robinson, AndreaWine.com