Kathy Kelly Bell
Turn the tables – Interviewer is a series of questions and answers that show the profile of Vinopisers. We hope you will learn more about the wine writers you know and many others. The aim of this project is to understand and develop a working relationship with journalists. Ultimately, they are the ones who help us tell our stories, evaluate our wines and ultimately provide the media. You can do this by researching their wine and writing experiences, their personal history and interests, their taste preferences, their writing, and their pets. This article is part of a series presented monthly by Wine Industry Network.
Katie has been researching stories about wine, food and travel for over 16 years. From the vineyards of New Zealand to the press rooms of Champagne, she has met a world of fascinating people who have a lot to say. You can find their work in national and international media such as USA Today, Forbes, Decanter and Departures. She is a proud recipient of the MAGS Magnolia Award for editorial and publishing excellence and is currently certified as an Intermediate Exemplary Wine and Spirits Education Trust. Visit her website at www.katiekellybell.com or read her Forbes column for more information,and follow her on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
How did you get into wine and writing about wine?
I was introduced to the local editor of a wine magazine in Atlanta, who gave me a chance – after I teased him incessantly. Back then, we used the phone and left messages for people. He finally answered my call and the rest is history. I just wanted to write about wine.
What are your main interests?
People. I consider myself primarily a storyteller (I’m a true Irishman, and we love our stories). The people who make the wine, the people who drink it, collect it, sell it – that’s what interests me most.
Is it possible to make a living as a wine writer today? If so, how did you do it? If not, why not? What are the biggest challenges and obstacles you face?
No, I really don’t think you can make a living writing about wine; it’s too specialized and competitive. You should be able to write on a wide range of topics.
What would surprise people if they found out about you?
I won the ALTA double tennis championship for the city of Atlanta and was a high school teacher for almost ten years; I loved that job.
What haven’t you done yet that you’d like to do?
Visit ancient wine regions – Israel, Georgia, Turkey.
If you weren’t writing about debt, what would you do?
Whether I’m teaching kids or working for an airline, I love everything about aviation.
Can you describe how you go about writing about wine and/or writing wine reviews?
I try to find a human interest in each story, because that’s what readers like best.
Do you work to an editorial plan and/or develop story ideas as they arise?
Stories always come out. I try to plan – you really have to plan, but every time an intriguing clue comes up, I have to grab it and write it down. Now I prepare myself for the unexpected.
What are your recommendations to wineries in their dealings with journalists?
It can be frustrating when people send wine and immediately check to see if I’ve tasted it. I try to let the wines rest for at least two weeks before tasting them, but I’m single and can only taste a certain number of wines a day; it’s obviously a high quality problem, but I try. There are just wines that I work on for weeks.
What are the benefits of working directly with wine publicists?
They have pictures and respond immediately – always a good thing for a journalist.
If you take a weekend off, how do you spend it?
Outdoor tennis, walking the dog, hiking.
What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting experience?
Tasting with Aubert de Villaine at Domaine de la Romanee Conti.
Do you have a favorite combination of food and wine? Favorite recipe/link?
Champagne and chips.
Read more articles from Reversing the Odds – Interviews with researchers.
by Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting
CARL GIAVANTI is a wine publicist with experience in DTC marketing. This is his tenth year as a consultant at the winery. Carl has been involved in corporate marketing and public relations for over 25 years; originally in technology, digital marketing and project management, but now working as a media relations consultant for the winery. Clients are or have been located in the Napa Valley, Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge. (www.CarlGiavantiConsulting.com/Media).