Years ago, becoming a wine writer required a journalism degree and some background in the wine or restaurant industry. Today, with blogging and web-based information and discoveries, it is far easier to broach the subject. I know wine professionals who taste and review wines and have developed a substantial online following. And now, with the Covid pandemic still raging and remote interviews of virtually anyone in the world possible, many wine writers are morphing into online interviewers. Wanda Mann, David Eckert and Monique Soltani are a few who have all developed a remote interview style and following in the food and beverage industry and will bring worthy subjects and personalities into your home or car whenever you have time to tune in.
Melanie Young and David Ransom have been in the wine industry forever. Melanie’s dad, Mel Young, was a CPA with a wine passion and developed a respectable wine cellar and a following in the early 1970s. He created a wine course he taught for decades and was affectionately known as the “wine professor.” Melanie learned wine from her dad and eventually took a job in the hospitality public relations field, which then morphed into wine PR and wine, food, health and travel writing. David’s father worked for IBM. In 1987. The family bought the Rivendell Winery in New Paltz, which would become New York’s top, award-winning winery.
As Melanie’s wine PR business took off, the two of them met and Melanie coaxed David into wine writing and helping her organize wine tasting and educational wine events. Romantic things began to happen, too, with David proposing to Melanie live in front of 2,000 wine and food professionals at the James Beard Awards. (Fortunately, she said, “Yes.”) Today, David is president of the Wine Media Guild, a consortium of wine promoting professionals based in New York.
They both write for different wine magazines, are active in social media and have developed a radio show interviewing wine and food principals. Their show can be found on W4CY, an internet-based radio station at 2 p.m. Wednesdays. They are also available on Spotify and IHeart and all major podcasting platforms. Now in their sixth year, the two have interviewed more than 500 dynamic personalities, including thought-provoking leaders in the food, wine, spirits, travel and hospitality industries around the world. They conduct in-depth interviews face-to-face and sometimes remotely via Skype, Zoom or some other e-manner.
“We try to expose the personalities and welcome the listener, if only for a short while, into the interviewee’s life,” Melanie told me. “It’s more than a slice-of-life interview. We want to deliver, in living color, who they are, what makes them unique, how they got there and maybe where they are going.”
Winemaker Nicholas Joly from the Loire Valley, a biodynamic winemaking pioneer, commanded their show with his passion for healthy, living vineyards. David and Melanie were invited to Sting’s winery in Il Palagio in Tuscany just south of Florence and got a vineyard tour and tasting in Sting and Trudy Styler’s living room, surrounded by framed family pictures. Chef Jacques Pepin told of his first bed being an open drawer in a bureau in his parent’s bedroom. Winemaker and wine consultant Michel Rolland grew up on a winery in Bordeaux but today his happy place is horseback riding in Argentina near the vineyard, Clos de la Siete, where he has a financial stake and significant ownership status.
“Robert Parker was a fantastic interview,” David adds. “He was so pleasant and nice with a world of knowledge. He was very solid and down-to-earth and very gracious and considerate. After years of hearing of Parker in reverential or denigrating term, we didn’t know what to expect from him”.
All of David and Melanie’s interviews are discoverable on theconnectedtable.com. There is a ton of content and information. If you want to learn about food and wine in an entertaining setting while driving, exercising or cooking dinner, this is the place.
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