Holy guacamole. Food & Wine magazine’s announced relocation to Birmingham, Ala., is tough to take, as the New York City-based publication has long been an identifier of U.S. trends in wine, food, chefs and restaurants. There is no better place to do that than the Big Apple. But F&W owner Time Inc. will move of its editorial efforts to Birmingham, where its Southern Living and Cooking Light magazines are produced, and where the company has 28 test kitchens, two demonstration kitchens and 15 photo/video studios. Some F&W staffers will lose their jobs, others will decline to move to Alabama, and Time will eventually save boatloads of money. It’s all about digital, after all: repurposing content across multiple platforms, reaching more eyeballs and selling ads to them. As a lifelong journalist, I find this F&W move sad, but not surprising. The good news is that executive wine editor Ray Isle will remain in his position and in NYC. He’s one of the good guys.
Clever marketing on the part of Chateau Ste. Michelle, Washington state’s largest wine producer. It’s celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and to mark the occasion, the Woodinville producer has released a 2015 Columbia Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, packaged with the original label from what, in 1967, was Ste. Michelle Vineyards. The smart part: Rather than put the throwback label on one of its high-end bottlings, CSM slapped it on a $15 wine, making it much easier for consumers to find and afford, and in the process extending the brand’s reach.
Kudos to Lisa Mattson and her equally forward-thinking boss, Jordan Vineyards and Winery president John Jordan. The once-secretive (and kind of snooty when I arrived in Healdsburg in 1990) Alexander Valley winery, which had no roadside signage and was one of the first Sonoma County producers to require visitors to make appointments, is a kinder, more gracious destination, and a recent proof comes from a new online magazine Mattson has launched, winecountrytable.com. In it, she gives food, wine and travel trips, but the coolest part is she credits other Sonoma and Napa wineries along the way. The first two posts – “Top 20 Wineries in Sonoma County for Wine & Cheese Pairing,” and “Sonoma Napa Low-Alcohol Wine Tasting Map” — include Jordan, of course, and gives free advertising to others.