Parker sells “a substantial interest” in The Wine Advocate and steps down as editor10th December, 2012 by Lucy Shaw
US critic Robert Parker has stepped down as editor-in-chief of his wine publication The Wine Advocate after selling “a substantial interest” of the company to a group of Singapore-based investors.
According to the Wall Street Journal, Parker has appointed Singapore-based correspondent Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW as the new editor-in-chief of the publication, with the trio of investors taking over the financial operations.
Parker told the WSJ he had “taken on some investors” after being presented with “a plan he couldn’t refuse”, though refused to name them.
On his bulletin board, he refers to the new investors as: “three 30-early 40ish highly qualified business and technology people and enthusiastic wine lovers.”
In an announcement to his subscribers yesterday, Parker revealed significant structural changes were to take place at TWA following the move.
He intends to phase out the print version of his bi-monthly newsletter, which has grown to be one of the world’s most influential wine publications.
Instead, it will be made into a printable pdf version for his 50,000 subscribers.
The print version of The Wine Advocate could be phased out as early as the end of next year, with a Kindle version of the newsletter in the offing.
Another surprising step for the fiercely independent publication is that it is to start accepting advertising, though spaces will be limited to luxury lifestyle rather than wine-related companies.
The new investors plan to release an abbreviated Southeast Asian edition of The Wine Advocate aimed at corporate clients such as luxury hotels and airlines, while a new Singapore office is to be opened for Perrotti-Brown MW to operate out of as editor-in-chief.
Guildford-based Wine Advocate correspondent Neal Martin, who looks after the wines of Spain, South America and South Africa for the publication, welcomed the news.
“I’m very happy about the move, it’s exciting both for myself and The Wine Advocate,” Martin told the drinks business.
“It means we can upgrade the website, conduct more tasting events and expand the readership in the Far East,” he added.
Perrotti-Brown plans to appoint a Singapore-based Asian correspondent to reflect the publication’s increased interest in Asian wine.
The correspondent will cover wines produced in China, Thailand and other Asian countries.
Wine tasting events are also planned in China and Thailand, signaling a shift away from TWA’s previously staunchly independent stance.
In his address to subscribers, Parker was keen to dispel rumours of his retirement.
“While rumors about me retiring have circulated for years, nothing could be further from the truth.
“I am still in this profession for the long-term as I remain the CEO and chairman of the TWA board, and an owner,” Parker said.
With Perrotti-Brown in place as editor-in-chief, Parker will continue to review the wines of Bordeaux and the Rhône, his key areas of interest.
He is also planning a series of wine education conferences in key cities around the world.
The majority of the publication’s wine correspondents will become full-time employees of The Wine Advocate, rather than independent contractors, a move Perrotti-Brown MW hopes will give her more control over wine reviews.