Regional group charges wineries fees for Wine Advocate tasting

How do wineries prepare for a visiting critic? In Murcia, a region in the southeast of Spain, the answer this month is: they pay.

Correspondence has surfaced from a regional association to the wineries entitled “Urgent: winery participation in Jay Miller’s visit.” Jay Miller reviews Spanish wines for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate. The secretary of the association lays out the following fees:
* €200-300 fee for each wine sent to taste
* €500 per wine selected for a tasting “masterclass”
* €1,000 euros for a winery to receive a visit from Jay Miller

The total sum sought from wineries was €29,000 ($40,000).

I spoke with the sender of the email, the secretary of the Murcia winery association ASEVIN, to confirm its authenticity. He said that Miller is visiting the region at the end of this month. I asked how the response was from the wineries and he said it was “positive,” with about a dozen wineries participating in the “masterclass.” I asked why they were raising the funds and he said it was to cover the costs of organizing the events, including a “colloquium” where wineries present could ask Jay Miller questions. I asked if The Wine Academy of Spain and its director Pancho Campo were involved in organizing the events and he said yes.

An email to Pancho Campo seeking comment generated a reply signed “The Media Department” at the Wine Academy, saying “The Wine Academy was approached by ASEVIN for organizing a seminar but nothing has been confirmed. Our management team has been fully involved with Winefuture for the last months and most of us moved to Hong Kong weeks ago.” Winefuture is a consumer event in Hong Kong taking place this weekend that includes 55 speakers and tastings. Tickets to all events cost $2,600 per attendee.

I asked Campo for comment and to clarify his relationship with Jay Miller but there was no reply to two email requests. An events promoter for twenty years who has organized concerts and tennis events among other things, Campo has appeared at Miller’s side in helicopter tours of Priorat, the San Fermin festival in Pamplona, and elsewhere in Spain.

Jay Miller received a $15,000 speaker’s fee for speaking to a group in Navarra, which according to this account, was for the wine trade and media. In August, Robert Parker defended the actions on his bulletin board:

Jay was paid $15,000 to give a lecture and presentation by the Spanish Wine Academy(an independent entity by the way) in Navarra…where is there any conflict? He, as all of us do, are paid to give lectures. I did the same thing last November in Rioja for the Spanish Wine Academy’s Wine Future,and am doing it again this November in Hong Kong….as did many other wine personalities from Gary Vanderchuk[sic],Jancis Robinson and Steven Spurrier to name some of the best known.

After the imbroglio of 2009, Parker modified his ethics statement to read:

I expect the writers to learn about the regions they cover from first-hand observation, but I demand they have access to all wines, not just one particular sub-segment category or region. Moreover, I require full disclosure of such hospitality they receive in the articles that emanate from these trips. With respect to historic wine regions, The Wine Advocate and will continue to cover all of the independent writers’ reasonable travel expenses related to their reviews.

Jay Miller said via email that he has never (and will never) charge wineries a fee for tasting their wines. He then forwarded a document from ASEVIN that included the following passage:

The Wine Academy made it clear at all times that if Jay Miller would visit some wineries he would choose the wineries at his sole discretion. In any case, the wineries visited would have to pay for such visit. The amount discussed with the staff of The Wine Academy was to cover the cost of organizing this seminar and master tasting, such as: fees of Miller, Pancho and The Wine Academy staff that would put together the event, as well as transfers, car rental, hotel, planes and food.
The Wine Academy representatives insisted at all times that wineries should not pay for having Jay Miller visit them or for sending their wines to the tasting.

Queried again about his fee, he said, “Regarding Jumilla, I have not been involved with that but whatever we wind up doing (which could be nothing) will be totally transparent.”

Related Posts with Thumbnails

69 Responses to “Regional group charges wineries fees for Wine Advocate tasting”

  1. Why not? Pay to play..entrenched in all industries, especially wine. If our Commission could put something together like that we’d be in…

  2. Thank you for your research and posting, Tyler. This posting is as troubling for the consumer as it is for the wineries. With this posting in mind, I will bypass the Wine Advocate/ Jay Miller, etc. suggestions.

  3. The beat goes on for the Wine Advocate and Jay Miller.

    Nothing has changed.

    It would appear, pay for play is alive and well in Monkton.

  4. The bottom line is that Miller trips to Spain are being subsidized (paid) by the DO’s.

    That is against the “moving goalpost” ethics statement from the WA.

    I wonder if Sierra Carche is one of the wineries Miller will be visiting in Murcia…

  5. I have no problem with a local organization raising funds to roll out the red carpet for an important critic. Many times the local organization is the best source for guidance on who is making exciting or popular wines that may be completely unknown by the critic.

    I do have a problem with paying a fee to the critic. Entertainment and a structured, focused tasting is one thing, bribery is another.

  6. There can be no justification for the kinds of fees being charged. The consmners, the readers of the WA, the folks who actually pay the bills that allow said rag to be in business, are entitled to a comprehenisve, fair, far-reaching assessment of the wines of an area.

    If paying large sums of money in order to be included becomes the order of the day, then the conumers are no longer being served. Rather they are being ripped off because they are not getting what they are paying for.

    The late Robert Finigan, a friend of mine by the way, killed the goose that laid the golden eggs by losing his focus on his first objective–serving his readers. Is the Wine Advocate going to go the same way as its supporter peel off in disgust? Beware, Mr. Parker. You and your minions would do well to remember who is paying the bills.

  7. Jay Miller was paid a whopping $15,000 for doing a similar “master class” tasting of 14 wines in Navarra this July. That’s the amount that Parker quoted, not hearsay. That’s an incredible chunk of change for a wine journalist to be paid, much less someone who admitted that he’d never even been to the region before.

  8. Charlie

    Isn’t it obvious who is paying the bill here? It ain’t the subscribers. It is the wineries.

    Pay to play. Maybe he took lessons from the Wine Enthusiast?

  9. What is the master class going to cover? If you don’t know anything about a region, how do you discuss it? I would pay to hear an expert opine about something in which the expert has some knowledge, but I don’t get that here. Same with Navarra BTW. And several HUNDRED euros to have your wine tasted??? How is that in any way an advocate for the consumer? Wineries will happily provide the wines gratis, so why charge them for it?

  10. There are aspects to this which trouble me greatly but, on a lighter note, I am very interested to find people willing to pay me similar sums of money to talk about wine! I am currently financially strapped, have over 20 years experience in the wine trade, am an internationally known “!expert” (Tyler knows me LOL and he’s American so that counts!) and, truth be told, I know as much about most regions as any of the people mentioned above.
    I will be presenting in Austria next year on the Rhone Valley for an audience of interested amateurs and will be paid something closer to 30 times less than Mr Miller, apparently. Woe is me.

  11. There is no evidence that I have seen from emails that any marketing seminar covering the American and Chinese as claimed in the letter from Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez was planned for 24th-26th November when Jay Miller is due in Murcia.

    The draft programme (17.10.2011) shows them visiting seven wineries and concluding with a conference and master class with 12 wines led by Miller.

    The emails I have seen are headed visit by Jay Miller with no mention of a marketing seminar.

    Criteria for the selection of samples sent by The Wine Academy to the organisers say that Jay will be ‘rating’ wines/ vintages that have a US importer and have not been rated by the Wine Advocate already.

    Clearly Jay Miller’s proposed visit to Murcia was to be in his capacity as Team Parker’s man in Spain and not as claimed a guest of honour at a marketing seminar.

  12. I’m confused. It says here:

    I asked why they were raising the funds and he said it was to cover the costs of organizing the events, including a “colloquium” where wineries present could ask Jay Miller questions.

    If I’m parsing this correctly, the wineries are paying Miller to advise them on…what? How to get 90+ scores from the Advocate? Isn’t that Michel Rolland’s job? 🙂

  13. This latest episode is very disturbing. I know my colleagues don’t take Miller’s reviews seriously at all, but what about the poor WA subscribers just trying to get pointed towards good Spanish wine? Parker needs to tie this wound off before the WA hemorrhages even more integrity. With as much good as the WA has done for the world wine culture in general over the past 30 years, silliness like this is unbearable. It’s like watching a car crash in slow motion.

  14. Thanks for the comments.

    Jose: It’s worth nothing that in this case, the regional authority was not the DO (or, consejo regulador) but another producers’ association. I asked Sr. Ruiz of ASEVIN about this and he said it wasn’t the consejo.

    Ah yes, the saga of Sierra Carche. But don’t you recall that they didn’t have an actual winery? “We are searching for a different winery for this brand.

    Jim- Thanks for stopping by and adding those details.

    Dave- Sr. Ruiz of Asevin only told me that it was an opportunity for the participating bodegas to have a Q&A with Miller at the “colloquium,” not the content of their queries. But, yes, it would be interested to know what was to be / will be asked. Maybe there will be a video livestream?

  15. The meeting (13.10.11) called at local ministry level to discuss Jay’s visit included representatives from the 3DOs – Yecla, Bullas and Jumilla – along with Asevin.

  16. It is true that Jay Miller and Parker have the right to get paid to give conferences and seminars. They know about wine and I would pay to listen to both of them. The problem is when they let someone like Pancho Campo to organize Jay Miller visits. How this could happen? Does Parker know with whom he is dealing with? Because nothing against Parker, who we doubt he knows what is going on in Spain.


    I can confirm that Pancho Campos´s sales director, Adela Richer send a proposal requesting 20.000 € for Jay Miller visit to DO Madrid to give a Master Class and seminar. And he would also taste and visit some wineries. But they did not have the money (it is rather small region), so no Master class and no visit/tasting of their wines. I feel sorry for them because they are doing great things, like the Grenache from Gredos, but small, too small. A visit by TWA will help this place in the wine world.

    It is clear that to pay for the seminar is the key to get The Wine Advocate to you up-and-coming wine region.

    A journalist should call DO Madrid, but they will not say much. I know how these people work, they are government workers, so they will avoid any issues. And as long as Pancho is the door to Jay Miller in Spain people will have their mouths close.

    It is the same for Campo de Borja. This region has been paying Pancho Campo for promoting their great wines with events and tastings in Spain and abroad. You pay Pancho Campo? Ok Jay Miller visit your region. Why not Calatayud, very close to Campo de Borja? Or Somontano?

    There are a lot more examples, but just go to Pancho´s sponsors and then the list of wineries and wine regions that Jay Miller visit. Focus on the small and less unknown wine brands…easy!

    Please, serious wine journalist dont believe a single word of what I say. Please do some phone calls and do your own research. No one will say a word until Pancho is the person who influences where and when Jay Miller will be tasting, but we need you help to uncover what is going here.

    And nothing against Mr Parker, but I hope he moves fast and investigates a little bit. All that is going on in Spain will damage seriously his reputation unless he takes seriously all the messages that he is receiving from Spain.


  17. Why are we always giving Robert Parker a free pass on this stuff?

    He is well aware of what is going on here.

    Wines of Argentina, Wines of Australia, Wines of Chile all did the very same thing. Except the payments did not go to any middle man like Pancho Campo. They went directly to the costs of Jay Miller, on his trips. Flights were booked through these trade organizations.

    Parker thinks that he has found a loophole by funneling those very same funds, in Spain, through Pancho Campo and the Wine Academy. What does Parker do, in return? Well, he speaks at Wine Future on Rioja and Hong Kong, for starters.

    Really, the whole thing is a big joke. The ethics at the Wine Advocate are a joke. Let’s stop blaming middle men like Pancho Campo. He is a businessman trying to monetize his brand.

    The Wine Advocate, according to Parker, is not a brand, and not trying to monetize anything. They are just ttrying to fatten up, on sucker’s dimes…your’s and mine!

  18. Greg comments are 100% right.

    This whole setup of “master classes” is just a thinned veil attempt to cover this pay to play scheme developed by Campo. Miller does not have the knowledge or credibility to conduct any kind of class on Spanish wine.

    The wineries are already paying their DO’s and regional groups to represent them so paying again to Campo and company does not make any sense except to Campo’s bank account.

    As Dan stated above, why Parker keeps getting free passes on these issues after so many similar incidents with Miller?

  19. What the f&*! is a master class, anyways?

    How can anyone defend this nonsense?

  20. Q1 A termed coined by the Spanish master of BS.

    Q2 No. That is the beauty of it.

  21. Here….we…go… AGAIN!!! 🙂

    OK, so this is about the same thing as taking a junket (which I’ve no issue with, btw) except that it’s actually NOT as above-board.

    On a junket, the organizers arrange the visits, with the occasional change done at the request of the journalist/media-figure visiting because they want to see client X instead of Y, etc. (I’ve done that on several trips and even was successful in getting some independent vintners on the itinerary in some cases that otherwise wouldn’t have been included). Otherwise, the visitor has no knowledge of who is paying what to ‘play’ – in this instance, that separation isn’t as clear. And bear in mind, there’s theoretically NOTHING except funding stopping a media person from visiting lesser-known producers / areas on the same trip.

    ***So they might as well just take junkets at TWA*** and be done with it; more people would likely forgive them for that change and move on, they probably won’t loose many subscribers either because many would take them on their word/reputation that the junkets won’t influence their ratings. Instead, they publish standards that are impossible to meet and we get pieces like this that uncover any possible transgression against the impossible standard, then they don’t respond which makes the whole thing a bit of a publicity nightmare instead.


    Ok, off the mini-soapbox now…

  22. Dude

    I agree with just about everything.

    The big issue is the stubbornness of Parker.

    He cabashed Squires from taking junkets, but allows Miller to do this pay for play thing. And Galloni is allowed to conduct for profit wine events with wineries (Barolo, Masseto events in the spring), where he took in some decent cash.

    The policies should be black and white. This is worse than grey.

  23. Why does Jay Miller need an escort in the first place? Do any of the other WA writers get shuttled around a region or entire country by somebody in the business? Much less somebody who is being paid by a specific region to drag the writer there? “Duhhh, I dunno Pancho, where should I go now?” “Let me handle it Jay, I’ll take care of everything. More pata negra?”

  24. As escort for an important writer is very different from paying that writer 15K to talk about a region where he never visited and would not know the hot south of Navarra from the cool northwest corner that is well-suited to varieties that do not want dry heat all summer.

    Navarra is a very interesting region, and it deserves more attention than it gets, but the way this is being done is nothing more than giant payola.

    I am beginning to wonder if the Parker et al are not laughing up their sleeves at the rubes who believe their “holier than thou” rhetoric, and then once their sleeves are full, they laugh all the way to the bank. They will destroy their franchise, but they may not care because they will be rich.

    Maybe we need an OCCUPY PARKER movement.

  25. […] to pursue export markets more. From this perspective, it’s partially understandable why Spanish wineries might want to pay a fee to invite Wine Advocate critic Jay Miller to their regions. They want to crack into the US market and they figure the best way to do so is to get a score from […]

  26. […] during his stay. The story broke on a Spanish blog, and was subsequently picked up by Jim Budd and Dr. Vino. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that this looks like a case of pay-to-play. […]

  27. Well I have worked in the fashion industry, the music industry and now I work in the wine industry.
    This happens all the time in the first two, why should people be upset that it happens in the last?

  28. Matt

    Have the folks in the music and fashion industry (critics) declared their independence?

    Have they put themselves on a pedestal, while bashing their competition, as inferior?

    Have they said that they are the “Ralph Nader of Fashion” or the “Advocate of the Music Consumer?”

    No. That is why this is different.

    It is about who is on the “take.” Not what is on the take.

  29. Errr ok hahaha

  30. i had one exp.with the esteemed mark squires when i first got into computers and was, and still am a complete moron when it comes to opperating one.
    as you may have noticed ,i have an unusual email address, this is because it was borrowed from my daughter because of my ineptness on the computer [from what i understand, the name has something to do with the band,the goo goo dolls].
    when i subscribed to ebob shortly after it was offered,[im still a paper subscriber for over 10 years]i signed in and went to the boards,something i had never participated in on any web site.
    after bouncing around for a while i posted a few comments,nothing serious, something about what i had recently tasted or eaten somewhere,nothing controversial.
    the next day i was informed by his majesty that i would not be allowed back on because i was a male masquerading as a female based on my email address,yet when i informed him that my profile was marked that i was indeed a male,he was neither appologetic or the least bit concerned. when for the next week i was denied access,i called the offices and explained to a very nice lady that i had been treated very poorly in the cyber world of parker.
    i asked for a refund after explaining too her what had happened,which she furnished,she also offered me free membership in ebob,which i politely refused.
    the lapses in integrity as maqpped out by you and others remind me of the arrogance of professional athletes and team owners when they try to justify their need for more money.i was recently at dodger stadium and was charged 17.50 for a 20 oz bud light,where does it end? it seems that the one place in wine journalism that i have always felt assured was beyond reproach,is in fact twisting in the wind to the highest bidder,lobbyist,agent or importer.
    say it aint so bob
    rick dayan

  31. Wine critics run a delicate line, I don’t think anyone disputes legitimate expenses and even wages. However by stating this holier than thou ethics which establish a reputation to be an “advocate for the people” and then creating complex multi level cagey deals to go around these “ethics” is deplorable. Like a Ponzi scheme, eventually it collapses into itself, as it cannot keep the momentum required to keep it going. Unfortunately all the spanish producers who receive scores in Jays review will have no substance and sadly it’s going to affect their sales. Even though it’s not their fault they’ll be seen as guilty by association & it really pisses me off for those those swindled.

  32. I agree with José. Jay Miller isn’t qualified to give a Masterclass about Jumilla.

  33. Hmmm!Yet again the Miller strikes, although my guess is after the last brouhaha, he made sure that he was abiding to Wine Advocate policy. The questions remain, what is Parker’s policy, and is it the same or has it changed to accomodate Miller’s cosier relationships with producers?

    And given these new allegations, why has Parker not come out and launched one of his vigorous defences of his hapless colleague, or at least some kind of denial. There is a conspicious silence coming out of Monkton. Parker founded the Advocate on independence and transparency, both are notably absent here.

  34. Mark:

    Parker’s policies change according to the circumstances.

    Parker has not come out probably because he is too busy enjoying the benefits of his cozy relationship with Campo at the Wine Future Hong Kong event.

  35. God bless Charlie Olken. These guys are going to sink by their own weight, which is considerable, especially if you count the baggage they are carrying. Some day, someone who works for one of these band of bandits “favored importers” is going to blow the whistle on what are probably even shadier dealings than this. And, WA is not the only one to have sold their asses and integrity. The very large amounts these people are cashing in on are generally unheard of amongst wine writers and wine educators. Many of these payments are larger than any book advance that a publisher would give these days. Pardon me if I look at them as thinly veiled bribes. Spain’s bullfight critics were notorious for taking the “sobre,” the cash-stuffed envelope under the table. Looks like they are applying the same technique to wine with the envelope being shown in a bright light as it changes hands.

  36. There are plenty of highly qualified and well known wine writers who would kill to get $15,000 for writing 15 full-length articles for national publications. And a clown like Jay Miller gets $15,000 for a 90 minute tasting of wines he basically knows nothing about? Gee, I wonder why people are suspicious.

  37. Here’s a statement just distributed via email from ASEVIN:

    Dear Sirs,
    The Association ASEVIN, in name of the totality of the 21 wineries it represents, issues the following statement to confirm and reiterate the following points in relation to the case of the visit of Jay Miller to Jumilla (Murcia), published in the blog and others:
    1.      On the 2nd of November 2011, ASEVIN sent a communication to web-blogs, which published (in JPG format) an email containing confidential information from ASEVIN directed to its recipients, in which the web-blogs were informed that the maintenance of this JPG image on their sites could result in legal action being undertaken.
    -The blog proceeded to remove said image from their site.
    – The blog continued to publish entries on the 2nd and 4th of November.
    The seminar/conference and the visit by Jay Miller was never confirmed by us and the corresponding contract was to be signed after the 10th of November, since the entire The Wine Academy team was not in Spain at the time.
    The Wine Academy of Spain has temporarily cancelled the visit of Jay Miller to the region of Murcia.
    Neither ASEVIN nor The Wine Academy nor The Wine Advocate will be able to charge any economic quantity to the wineries for the visit of Jay Miller to wineries in the region of Murcia nor for the tasting of their wines.
    ASEVIN assumes full responsibility for the charge which was to be made to the wineries – which the mail refers to – and confirms that the request for payment was made by ASEVIN, not The Wine Academy or Jay Miller. “We, ASEVIN, assume the responsibility for ‘requesting the wineries’ to pay economic quantities to cover the costs derived from the possible seminar and tasting (the visit to Jumilla was not included in the official programme of The Wine Advocate, which will take place at the end of November. Therefore, ASEVIN asked TWA to make it possible for Jay Miller to visit Jumilla (Murcia) to offer his opinion on this region’s wines). We sincerely apologise for any misunderstanding which may have ensued and for any damage which may have been caused to Jay Miller, The Wine Academy, Pancho Campo, Robert Parker and The Wine Advocate.
    ASEVIN, in the case that Jay Miller’s visit to Jumilla actually pulls through, commits to directly paying The Wine Academy of Spain the amount agreed upon to cover all costs for the organisation of said seminar-conference, as well as the tasting of Monastrell and the fees of Jay Miller and Pancho Campo. This amount will also cover the costs of travel, fees and accommodation for three persons from The Wine Academy who will assist ASEVIN in setting up, providing the logistics for, and promoting, the event.
    ASEVIN’S proposal to TWA to visit Murcia arises from the interest of wineries in the area, which form part of our association, in receiving Jay Miller’s opinion about Jumilla, and in gleaning better insight into the US and Asian markets.
    Bearing the conditions stated above, in the case that The Wine Academy and Jay Miller would reconsider their visit to Jumilla, the programme of events would be as indicated below:
    24th November: Arrival of Jay Miller and The Wine Academy team. Visit to a wine maker of Jay Miller’s choosing
    25th November: Visit to two wine makers of Jay Miller’s choosing
    25th November (afternoon): Visit to two wine makers of Jay Miller’s choosing
    26th November: Visit to wine makers of Jay Miller’s choosing
    26th November (times to be confirmed):
    ·         6pm to 7pm: Conference by Pancho Campo and Jay Miller about US and Chinese markets for the media and professionals in the wine sector from the region of Murcia
    ·         7:30pm to 9pm: Tasting and seminar about the Monastrell grape and the wines of Murcia. 12 Murcian wines will be tasted (those which have obtained the highest Parker points).
    ·         Venue: Salones Pio XII
    Adjunto archivo.
    Un saludo.
    Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez
          Secretario ASEVIN

  38. Babelfish only confuses things as a rule so what’s up? What are Jay Miller’s and Pancho Campo’s “fees”? Miller got a “fee” of $15,000 in Navarra so what’s his “fee” in this case? All pretty evasive.

  39. Sounds like Pancho’s “attorneys” got to ASEVIN.

    I am very confused, though. What could they possibly sue a blog for?

    There is no misinformation. There is just “confidential” documents, whatever that means in cyberspace.

  40. I think there is another dimension to this debate that has not been touched upon and that is the real necessity of the regional / country / DO organizations today to organise this kind of junkets. It may be an uncomfortable truth for all parties concerned– not just for Jay, but any and all critics / judges / celebrities who accept hospitality under the flag of neutrality [ a neutrality that only the trade organization can offer?]. That truth is that these junkets are the lifeblood of what these organizations have to offer their constituent wineries. And these junkets organized by regional organizations are the only means of getting critics out to places that are not Bordeaux / Napa / Burgundy, so that perhaps a few wineries doing interesting things on a more modest scale might also participate. And here in lies the rub.

    The rub I speak of is the temptation for these organisations to milk these junkets (the only time these high profile critics will visit the region) to help pay for much more than the associated costs of said visit, ie overhead and or operating expenses of the organisation in general. That for me is the dimension no one has touched upon and something that gets my blood up.

    Put yourself in my shoes, small, new world producer of old-vine hand made wines, in a country known for value driven wines.

    I, (we better stated so as to include the band of misfits with whom we have organised a small but feisty new trade organization of our own) have dealt with the “reality” of wine critic travel you all criticize above in two different ways.

    1 – Firstly, we have decided on some occasions to all put 150 bucks in a hat and send an emissary to Balitmore or London or wherever to present our groups’ wines. It takes various e-mails and some serious persuasion, but critics do accept our invitations. (Most don’t.) To his credit Mr. Jay Miller accepted and I can attest to this as I personally took said hat full of money (to pay my expenses!) and the samples and I tasted with him in Baltimore last year. For the record he paid for his own lunch and a decent chunk of the tip. (Trust me it was not my intention nor my style to stand up for the Parker empire but I am just recounting the facts of my experience.) My beef is related but lies elsewhere. Many other critics, both English & American, have received numerous persuasive mails and offers to taste in their hometown and have refused– always politely and with terrific excuses. Many of these have since returned to our region only to taste again what they already know on a junket with a trade organization. What to do?

    Are junkets not a necessary part of the wine business? Yes junkets are suspect and in many cases perhaps spoiled, feigning objectivity and not delivering, but the problem is not just one of fees charged, but rather a wider more general problem. If you can;t shell out for business and the Ritz / Savoy you just can’t taste with the powers that be.

    2 – Secondly we have, as a group, paid as we played, the country trade organization their fees for bringing us the experts just like the folks in Spain would have done, I am sure, if they had been given the opportunity. Our visits have been very successful. Note that our receiving of said critics has been somewhat more homey than their digs at the Ritz the day before and after our time with them. Were we wrong for having done this? The visits were certainly successful.

    Is it wrong for a winery to pay? I think not, but my issue, and the other dimension of this discussion that I began with in this diatribe, is that I see the costs of winery contributions are excessive and clearly designed to help pay for other less popular expenses of the trade organization. And this needs to be made transparent just as much as the need for any “fees” billed by critics need be clarified.

  41. “The questions remain, what is Parker’s policy?”


    Mr. Parker’s policy appears to be that he considers himself an honest, ethical man, and thus everything he does is perforce ethical.

    During the one short conversation I had with him on the subject he seem nonplussed that anyone could doubt him or find fault with his choices.

  42. Is no one else troubled by the fact that author makes no mention of making any attempt to contact Miller or the Wine Advocate? Doesn’t proper jouranlistic technique require some attempt to get an explanation from the people involved, first hand? If the attempt was made by the author, and he received no reply, fair enough, the article stands on relatively firm ground. But the author gives us readers no indication that any such attempt was made. The author includes at the end of the article reference to an email from Jay Miller stating that he never charges fees to wineries for tasting their wines. (No date, nor if it was in response to a direct question by the author on this issue.) The author should have then asked the question of the association charging the fees, who gets the money? Does Jay Miller know you are charging these fees to these wineries? Are you remitting any of those fees to Dr Miller?

    There is more than a casual hint here that Miller and or the Wine Advocate have or are accepting payments from wineries to evaluate their wines. Charging an appearance fee for making a speach is worlds apart from charging someone a large sum of money to taste their wine. Strong accusation without the journalistic rigour to make sure you have all of the neccessary facts to make your allegation. I don’t know if the author is wrong in his conclusion; I do know that he has not reported to his readers that he has taken all of the neccessary steps to properly arrive at that conclusion.

  43. Chris W

    I cannot speak for Dr Vino, but the initial reporter of this brouhahaha (Jim Budd) contacted those folks on a few occasions, without getting a response.

    Not surprising, as Parker never responds to any journalistic questions regarding his ethics, including the Wall Street Journal a couple of years back.

  44. Hi Chris W –

    There are three people involved in this story, Sr. Ruiz from ASEVIN, Miller, and Pancho Campo. I contacted each of them more than once.

    Here’s what I wrote above: “I spoke with the sender of the email… [Sr. Ruiz]”

    “Jay Miller said via email…” and “Queried again…”

    “I asked Campo for comment and to clarify his relationship with Jay Miller but there was no reply to two email requests.”

    As to who gets the money, two statements from ASEVIN (including one excerpted in the original post and the other copied here in the comments) have included mention of “fees of Miller.”

    Nowhere did I say that Miller was getting a fee to taste the wines. He even stated to me has never and will never take a fee to taste wines and I reported that.

    All clear?

  45. Similarly I have contacted Robert Parker, Jay Miller, Adela Richer Moreno-Luque (The Wine Academy of Spain) and Juan Antonio Ruiz Jiménez but have received no response to my questions.

    In my questions to Parker I made it clear that I wasn’t accusing Jay Miller of accepting money for tasting wines. I suspect that Pancho and The Wine Academy notifies the DOs of the cost of a visit by Miller and Campo leaving the DOs to work out how to cover the cost.

    Although Miller does not charge to taste the wines, there appears to be a cosy arrangement that the visit includes a master class by Miller with a fee.

  46. I have always felt that Parker, Squires et al was a case study in how to damage your image, piss of your customers and bring your ethics/credibility into questiion. However, Jay’s continuous presence at the WA ensures that that case study will always have new twists and turns.

    This may well have been done without Jay’s knowledge, but he does seem to be awfully accident prone, and pretty naive. Somehow when there is sh^t around, he always seems to be covered in it.

  47. Pancho Campo and Jay Miller are charging the D.O. in Spain. Every visit so far they have charged and also had all costs paid for including very expensive lunches and dinners paid by wineries. There has also been talk of visits to ladies of leisure and the bills being paid by the wineries.
    I think we are seeing through Mr.Millers points who is paying and not. In the long run all the hard work prestige that Mr. Parker has achieved will be lost to 2 gentlemen who can only think of money and that way giving wines crazy scores and the public losing confidence in the Parker Points.
    The part of the problem as well is that the samples that are tasted by Mr. Miller have been improved and are not what the public buys. This is common practice.
    This is a rip off that the general public is paying for. Mr.Parker is guilty for let his name of getting tarnished and turning a blind eye.
    A shame that corruption and bribes have entered the wine world and that we can’t rely on honest tasters and honest wine publications.

  48. Dr Vino and Jim Budd,

    Thank you for your comments on mine and clarifying that attempts were made to reach Miller and Parker prior to the publication of your article and that they chose not to reply. Having included that fact in the original article would have done much to add emphasis. That said, the article certainly does leave your readers with the “impression” (though never explicitly stated) that more than the wine influences the scores. As demonstrated by a number of the comments here. Personally, I would have gone further before publishing, and found out exactly where the fees being charged ended up and included that as one of the stories “facts”, not left your readers to attempt to connect dots.

  49. On November 7th, 2011 at 9:22 am ,EI wrote:

    “Every visit so far they have charged and also had all costs paid for including very expensive lunches and dinners paid by wineries. There has also been talk of visits to ladies of leisure and the bills being paid by the wineries…

    A shame that corruption and bribes have entered the wine world and that we can’t rely on honest tasters and honest wine publications.”

    I have not seen anything to support these allegations; has this been documented in any way? If not, I would withdraw it, as this is clearly actionable.

    Miller may be a bumbling idiot, but I have not heard that he has been anything other than a patsy.

  50. Mark

    There have been numerous signs that Miller has taken advantage of free stuff all over.

    He even spoke of Vega Sicilia opening up DRC Montrachet for him at a meal.

  51. Chris W

    ‘Personally, I would have gone further before publishing, and found out exactly where the fees being charged ended up and included that as one of the stories “facts”, not left your readers to attempt to connect dots.’

    Much as though I might like to have them I do not have police powers in Spain, so am not able to demand access to bank accounts etc.

    However, in my post of last Monday there was an Asevin account number given. Wineries had been asked by Jiménez to pay stated sums into this account asap. My guess is as I indicated earlier is that the tariff set out by Asevin was their means of getting sufficient cash together to pay the global fee that would then be paid to The Wine Academy of Spain.

    If you are able to access various bank accounts then please feel free to run with this story.

  52. Mark Golodetz wrote: “Miller may be a bumbling idiot, but I have not heard that he has been anything other than a patsy.”

    Let’s see, grown man, Doctor, wine writer for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate, employee of Robert Parker, bumbling idiot, patsy. Patsy is being generous, Mark, in your assessment of the situation. And, if he indeed is a “bumbling idiot” and “a patsy,” why is his boss allowing this to go on?

    Oh, I forgot, Mr. Parker and others involved in these shenanigans are raking in big bucks from Jay Miller’s personal guide to Spain, Pancho Campo, who was appointed as such by Mr. Parker, no less. At least, it appears, Mr. Campo is no longer being sought by Interpol.

  53. Can anyone tell me how much Pancho Campo is paying Robert Parker to speak (sleep) at Wine Future in Hong Kong? and how much he got in Rioja?

    Was it significantly more than all of the other speakers?

  54. Ladies of leisure and Interpol.

    Looks like this thread has officially jumped the shark.

  55. “In late 2011, 60 Minutes and Vanity Fair reported that 83% of poll respondents didn’t know what the phrase meant, and 9% felt the phrase itself had ‘jumped the shark.'” Perhaps, the question should be asked is “How did ‘ladies of leisure and Interpol'” find their way onto a thread about the ethics of wine writing?

  56. Seve,

    Is that you? From the other side?

  57. Payments and lady of leisure. Nobody in Spain will open there mouths out of fear at the moment. I am included as i live from the the wine world that i so dearly enjoy and having Mr.J or Mr.P talkin badly about you is not a good thing. But wineries will soon relizes that 90 points or more these days does not mean that there vintage will not be a sell out. At the end of the day I comes down to money. Time will tell with these experts.

  58. “…ASEVIN’S proposal to TWA to visit Murcia arises from the interest of wineries in the area, which form part of our association, in receiving Jay Miller’s opinion about Jumilla, and in gleaning better insight into the US and Asian markets.”

    So, when did critics that profess to be consumer advocates start offering wineries insight into marketing?

    After merely 28 years in the business, I’m seem to be confused concerning roles…

  59. reported last month that Miller was to go to Valencia to offer a “master class” in a few weeks.

    I contacted Miller via email for reaction last week. No reply was forthcoming.

  60. […] month. An email to Miller last week requesting comment did not garner a reply. It appears that his visit to neighboring Murcia has been canceled or […]

  61. I would like to share my own experience with you. Pancho and Miller came to visit my winery last July, here in Spain. We did not paid an euro, nothing at all. We did not pay Pancho, Miller and not even our DO Consejo Regulador. There was a Masterclass about the US Wine Market. That was maybe paid by the DO, but not by the wineries. We did not even pay for attending the masterclass. So, can we beleive all the info published? I have my doubts. In our case, everything was for free. Not 1 Euro was paid!

  62. Irene. There was a payment done to Pancho Campo’s company and the Murcia community paid for it and that was around 30,000€. You paid one way or another hopefully you get good points and the payment makes it worth while for your winery and the regions investment.

  63. […] “Campogate: No pay, no Jay” [Jim's Loire] “Regional group charges wineries fees for Wine Advocate tasting“ window.fbAsyncInit = function() { FB.init({appId: "", status: true, cookie: true, xfbml: […]

  64. All this sounds like a personal vendetta against Campo and his associates. The vain in which comments are made have no journalistic standing and seems opaque at best. Journos who have met Miller and have written about him, seem intent on being very personal and implying he has plagiarised or is not worthy of expressing opinions. In all this messy affair, it is clear that a particular English journalist has something personal against Campo. Let’s see clear evidence first before we all jump to spurious and unfounded conclusions.
    The Interpol case against Campo was dropped yet we continually see this constantly mentioned in an attempt to bring him down. Does anyone have any idea what that particular case was about? I doubt it. Next we’ll be hearing interpol were bribed too. Be very careful people. What ever happened to innocent until PROVEN guilty.
    Furthermore, it seems it has escaped everyones attention that Miller had actually announced his resignation in January; yet it is made out that he has resigned because of this so called “campogate” affair.
    Let’s wait and see people before we all get holier than though. Some of the writing I have seen is extremely personal and venomous and tinged with a deliberate attempt to discredit individuals. This is in reference to Antonio Casados rather pathetic attempt at getting personal on Miller and any writings by Jim Budd who has it is known long been out for Campos blood.
    I am a fan of what the wine academy is doing in bringing Spanish wines to the fore.

  65. Perhaps, Michael, you should conview your views to Meininger’s Wine Business International, who appear to have no personal axes to grind and I am sure, reluctant to engage in vendettas.–en-Up_to_date-news-news_detail.html

  66. Not “conview,” but “convey.”

  67. Jay Miller answers the contentions made about him in the Antonio Casado article on the website. For those who read Spanish or who want to run the article through Google translator to get a rough translation, Miller defends himself pretty well concerning the Casado piece, but doesn’t answer the allegations about his association with Pancho Campo in Spain.

  68. […] Spanish wineries looooove critics, so much so that they would pay extravagant fees for a “master class” by a point-wielding critic on “a […]

  69. […] esa borrosa línea entre lo lícito defendido por la revista de Parker y lo ilícito del llamado “pay to play” (si no pagas, no juegas) pareciera inexistente porque Miller permitió a Campo tener más […]


Wine Maps

Recent Comments

Recent Posts

See my op-eds in the NYT
"Drink Outside the Box"
"Red, White, and Green"


Monthly Archives


Blog posts via email



Wine industry jobs


One of the “fresh voices taking wine journalism in new and important directions.” -World of Fine Wine

“His reporting over the past six months has had seismic consequences, which is a hell of an accomplishment for a blog.”

"News of such activities, reported last month on a wine blog called Dr. Vino, have captivated wine enthusiasts and triggered a fierce online debate…" The Wall Street Journal

"...well-written, well-researched, calm and, dare we use the word, sober." -Dorothy Gaiter & John Brecher, WSJ

jbf07James Beard Foundation awards

Saveur, best drinks blog, finalist 2012.

Winner, Best Wine Blog

One of the "seven best wine blogs." Food & Wine,

One of the three best wine blogs, Fast Company

See more media...


Wine books on Amazon: