Parker sues Galloni

Yesterday, Robert Parker posted to his site that the Wine Advocate is suing their former critic Antonio Galloni. They charge him with misappropriation of confidential information, defamation and fraud among other things. Courthouse News has a summary and Jeff Leve has published the full text of the complait to his site.

At the crux of the complaint, the Wine Advocate alleges that Galloni went to Sonoma on their dime and as the critic. (Apparently there are other pending reviews involving Burgundy, Brunello and Barolo.) I posted a few weeks ago that I thought Galloni should turn over whatever he had at that point and to withhold notes was petty and unseemly. In something of a defense, some people said that because he was an independent contractor, he might have been paid only upon submission of the material. However, the complaint states that he was paid a salary of $25,000 a month (plus $5,840 a month for expenses) for his duties to deliver certain material. The complaint alleges that he had a “secret scheme” to visit wineries “throughout the world” while developing his own wine reviewing business. In that business, the complaint alleges he will be using their “proprietary 50-100 point grading scale” and was authorized only to do so for their publication.

Since Galloni’s own web site has still not launched, it seemed a hasty decision to jump ship. As I mentioned in the comments of my last post, when he went to the Times to announce his departure from the Wine Advocate in February, it read to me like a giant “will work for food or Barolo” notice of his availability on the job market rather than an announcement of his own project. It will be interesting to see how this all plays out. But one thing is for sure: Parker & Co. are making Galloni’s life difficult. Galloni has yet to reply to the complaint.

As to the Wine Advocate, the new editor-in-chief noted on eBob that they will be taking on “3 new very talented reviewers.” She cited “varying notice periods” the writers had to give their current publications as the reason for the delay in announcing their identities.

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11 Responses to “Parker sues Galloni”

  1. OMG.

  2. That has to one of the highest paying writing jobs in existence. And that thought that a blog might pay enough more to make him jump ship is hard to believe.
    It also seems less than bright to piss off a lawyer who was your boss, even if that lawyer hasn’t practiced for a long time.

  3. $360,000.00?
    Money for nothing and the points are free.

  4. RobinC – Yes, it’s really operatic proportions. Or maybe soap operatic?

    Quizicat – Indeed, journalism/writing is not exactly a career known for minting members of the one percent.

    Funny, Jack! As a former attorney, what’s your take on this legal action?

  5. When I read that annual payment I developed strong regret for never having given the point system any credence.

    Assuming there was no decimal error in the reporting, one has to also assume that others were paid rather handsomely. Those two assumptions make feel simultaneously sorry for and amused by the consumer sycophants that are a source of funding.

  6. Tyler. Much ado about nothing. Parker and his new bosses will try to compell AG to supply them with the Sonoma notes they have paid for. He likely will fold and submit the notes. He will claim that the notes were not completed when he left WA and they will be essentially useless for WA to publish. Several law firms will earn First Growth Quality Money and I will drink an 89 point Sonoma Wine in celebration of it all. No new Boss only the New Old Boss.

  7. Thomas – Yes, the salary and expenses were eye-popping! And Galloni also has his events business too.

    Jack – At face value, it does seem to be much ado about a few tasting notes. But other critics’ reports have been late for the WA in the past, so why go to all the trouble of hiring Cozen & O’Connor? To make Galloni’s life difficult? To stand up for principle? Or, given Lisa Perrotti-Brown’s “plethora” comment from December, to send a message to any other WA critics who might consider leaving to be nice about it? Hard to speculate, I guess.

  8. Tyler, I commented yesterday on EBOB that I believe the New Owners of WA felt compelled to take a stand with this Lawsuit so that any employee wine reporters in the future do not act like AG, ie. take the money and the tasting notes to their own web site. In that regard, it is a matter of principal. On the other hand, they have to feel certain that AG won’t contest the case since discovery could be very detrimental to the ongoing credibility and even the existence of the brand.

  9. People Seemed to Like AG, WA should of offered him a stake in the company as part of the Salary to keep a hold of him, now AG looks like well I dont know how this will benefit both now

  10. […] this might be an old news for many of you, but it is interesting to see that now Parker is suing Antonio Galloni for the breach of contract. The world of wine, as everything else under the sun, becomes anything […]

  11. […] decided to sue its former contributor for fraud and the deliberate withholding of tasting notes. As reported by Dr. Vino on his blog last week, TWA is alleging that Galloni had a plan to strike out on his own for a […]


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