The Tasting Panel magazine

June 2016

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Page 85 of 132

june 2016  /  the tasting panel  /  85 I understand that, but it seems to me that many people who have a passion for wine would enjoy this site as well. Even if they were not currently involved in the business side the information would be invaluable. We have members who join that just want the information and aspirational members as well. Anyone who has an interest is welcome. Is it expensive to join? It would seem that access to this level of information would be invaluable. Since day one, we have had an annual membership fee of $100. It's the same for all members. You can buy one or two books that are out of date by the time they are printed or get access to the most current information available. Let me get this right. For 100 bucks a year, you get this huge compendium of information, maps, study guides and lesson plans that is updated on a daily basis? We try to be ahead of the curve of all the wine region websites for current changes and additions. It seems that has become the clearing house for the entire world's wine trade organization information. I would say that is a fair statement. We have 12,000 members worldwide looking at the site and if something is incorrect, we are going to know very quickly. In addition, we produce videos of the world's wine regions, staff training modules, maps and podcasts with the wine industry leaders. I like it. Say, do you ever drink wine while you're working? How about sampling these two wines— the superb Domäne Wachau 2013 Riesling Federspiel and your own Lost and Found 2012 Russian River Pinot Noir with the famous pizza from our host Rosso Pizzeria in Petaluma? I learn better on a full stomach. Let's do it. Riesling is such a versatile wine and Domäne Wachau is always great. I have to say that your Pinot Noir has a propensity for food pairing. It has that great Russian River profile of Bing cherry, cranberry and full body. Great finish. I'm feeling better already. So how do you join up? It's almost too simple. You go to, click on the join icon and sign up. You then have access to our entire content for a year. We also provide some of our work to the public each year. Our podcasts get around 30,000 listeners every time we release them. The videos and fea- ture articles are also released to the public. Our study guides, expanded guides, staff training, discussion forums and job postings are exclusively for members. It would seem that you have a staff of hundreds but I know that isn't true. Where is it all coming from? We use writers, videographers, sommeliers, winemakers, scientists—anyone who can bring quality and interest to the site. We do a significant amount of fact-checking and have set a very high bar for veracity. So who's really reading all this? Mostly sommeliers and wine directors. About two-thirds of our membership is in the United States. It's then followed by Canada, Australia and Mexico. We are starting to gain traction in Asia and have a growing following in Europe. Sounds like it's also a great place to ask for restaurant or winery recommendations? Every day on the forums, we have those questions. It's an added benefit that we didn't originally plan for. What's on the horizon? We have great content and a vibrant membership. I'd really like to take advantage of new technologies that will allow the site to become more of a teacher. I would like to become an active participant in the education process. How do you work with Court of Master Sommeliers? We recognize them as the top examination organization for sommeliers. We work with other organizations that focus on other disciplines in the wine world as well. Finally, the site is available through any device that attaches to the internet? Phones, comput- ers and tablets? That is part of its immense value to the members. Information is available at any time and place where you have a connection. No waitstaff member or floor som- melier is safe! BEHIND THE SCENES WITH FRED DAME, MS

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