Dear Mr. Heimoff,
First, I would like to thank you for your kind words regarding the judging panel. I am one of the judges for the competition and I chose to accept that role because I strongly believe in the value of a competition like this. I disagree with much of what you wrote and I’d like to address a few of the points you made in your post today.
You wrote: “I mean, if there’s a Millennial wine competition, why not an Octagenarian wine competition? …” If the Octogenarian market was the fastest growing demographic in US wine consumption (as millennials are), there SHOULD be an Octogenarian wine competition. If US persons age 80-89 were considered “the largest consumer group in the history of the United States in terms of their buying power” (as millennials are), I would be in full support of this competition. And if Octogenarians were able to have such a huge impact on the global wine industry with ONLY THREE-QUARTERS of them legally allowed to consume wine at the moment (millennials again), I would set that competition up myself.
In regards to the futility of the competition, you wrote: “There are 70 million Millennials in this country. Surely, not all of them want the same thing.” There are millions of wine drinkers in this country, and surely not all of them want or like what Steve Heimoff or Robert Parker like – and yet, you do not find the occupation of wine critic useless. You summarized: “So it might sound a little self-serving, but I think the public’s interest is best served, if they want critical reviews, by sticking with trusted reviewers — regardless of their age or gender — who review everything in their regions.” I find it difficult to understand how a panel of 20 millennial wine pros tasting and grading wines is useless while at the same time your own occupation as a wine critic is valid.
I don’t think this competition is an exercise in sales forecasting. I don’t think that what the judges say about these diverse wines will be reflected in national sales – how can it with the inequality of distribution, the 3-tier system, and state by state shipping laws?
I believe and hope that this competition will be very useful for the wine industry in recognizing patterns in taste among the panel of 20 or so judges within this valuable demographic. Through this experience, we may discover that the millennial judges all share certain likes or dislikes which can then be tested in the larger market, providing valuable data.
I accepted the role as a member of the judging panel because my hope is that the results will be very important to the wine industry and I am taking it very seriously.
Thank you for you time and I look forward to meeting you and continuing our conversation at the Wine Bloggers Conference this summer.
Thank you to reader and Massachusetts winemaker @IsaaksofSalem for the heads up.