Photo: Final issue of Wine Access
For those interested in wine, Friday’s Wine
Access announcement was shocking.
RedPoint Media Group of Calgary announced that Wine Access magazine
was being shut down immediately. The announcement likely also kills the
Canadian Wine Awards and the International Wine Value Awards.
Wine Access magazine was established in Toronto in the 1990s by David Lawrason. Somewhere in its early history, it
was taken over by Warwick Publishing of Toronto.
From firsthand experience, I know that Warwick was one of Canada’s most inept publishers
because they published my 2001 book, Icewine:
The Complete Story. The agent who steered me to Warwick said I would benefit from the synergy
of being published by a firm who owned a national wine magazine.
As if. Wine Access never published a single
house ad for my book. Now did Warwick do much
else to sell the book, finally sending part of the print run to a U.S.
distributor where the books actually disappeared.
In 2004 RedPoint bought Wine Access and
brought considerably more resources and editorial expertise to the magazine, as
well as adding complementary publications and services. That included the
Canadian Wine Awards, one of the most credible and ably judged of Canadian wine
competitions. If no one picks it up, it will be a major loss to the Canadian
In 2006, Wine Access also began publishing
The Canadian Wine Annual. David
Lawrason, then the editor, wrote that “we were inspired … by a similar
publication in New Zealand.”
There were about 250 wineries in the 2006 CWA. Last year’s issue included about
As dynamic as the Canadian wine industry
had been, it appears the CWA, which was available on newsstands
and in wineries, was not being purchased as briskly as one would have expected.
And when a version for the Ipad was also published last year, Wine Access sold
only 34 copies.
The 2013 CWA was going to appear as
Canadian Wine Traveller. Wine Access thought that by adding travel articles but
reducing text on wines, the product would sell better. We will never know (I
doubt it) because this has also been scrubbed.
Why did Wine Access fail? RedPoint is no Warwick. It has other
successful publications, including Westjet’s inflight magazine. What Wine
Access needed, apart from perhaps a sharper editorial focus, was far better
distribution, such as a partnership with a national newspaper.
We are left with two national wine
magazines. Vines Magazine is part of Sun Media. Tidings was launched about 25 years
ago by the Opimian Society, which now has 20,000 members, a healthy readership
base. A subscription comes with membership.
There also are regional magazines covering
wine and food, such as Savour in Kelowna, Eat Magazine
in Victoria, Northwest Palate in Portland and Wine Press Northwest in Washington State.
The challenge that Wine Access was always
going to have was to appeal with a national magazine to wine and foodies who
eat and drink regionally. I have found that with my books. The two dealing with
all the Canadian wineries have flopped while those dealing with just British Columbia have
succeeded. Readers in one region could care less about the wines from other
regions that they cannot get anyway.
Wine Access’s coverage of the food and wine
scene probably was too broad. The final edition now on the newsstand had a cover article on New York chef Daniel Boulud. There are also
articles on California vintner Mario Andretti,
Canadian wine sales to China
and Japan, a profile of an Arizona winemaker, and a big advertising feature for the
wines of California,
the theme at this month’s Vancouver International Wine Festival.
The focus may have been a bit fuzzy. I have
not seen an Andretti wine in this market in a decade (and I follow Formula One
racing) and I have never seen an Arizona
wine. Why would I want to read about them? Well, I might from professional
interest but why would you?
I would love to see the books, however. The
magazine has always had a lot of advertising. Unless production and
distribution costs were excessive, I have trouble understanding
why there was not the revenue to sustain the magazine.
This news release from the All Canadian Wine Championships has some relevance to the above blog post.
All Canadian Wine Championships
Yesterday Red Point Media announced their decision to drop
Wine Access magazine and its wine competition,
the Canadian Wine Awards , from their portfolio. While this is a definite setback for Wine
Access and the Canadian Wine Awards and indeed a great disappointment for all
Canadian winemakers and wine consumers alike, we are confident this acclaimed
publication will find a new publishing partner soon.
Since there has always been confusion between their competition and the All
Canadian Wine Championships, we want assure all Canadian wineries that the two
are indeed separate entities and that the All Canadian Wine Championships is definitely still in operation. Indeed it
oldest and largest competition for Canadian wines and we are are currently
ramping up for our 33rd annual judging in May, 2013.
To all Canadian wineries who have participated in the All
Canadian Wine Championships in the past and especially to the growing ranks of
fledgling operations eager to compete against Canada’s best wines, we extend our
invitation to enter the 2013 All Canadian Wine Championships. Entries have been
mailed recently and inquiries may be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org or by visiting
the website at www.canadianwinetrail.com
All Canadian Wine Championships, Director