Thanks for the interest and comments in our survey results posted last week. I was on a family vacation so having those preloaded provided me a brief respite–especially when I discovered I inadvertently left my laptop at home!
Channeling my inner Nate Silver, the results of the survey were pretty interesting, so I thought I’d provide a bit more detail. The 29 participants were asked to name the top five most influential people in the NYC wine world today as they see it from their perch (the email stated that the top five could include people living or dead or who resided outside of NYC as long as their influence today was strong). Measuring influence is an amorphous thing so I asked them to define it as they saw fit from their perch, whether that was moving cases or shaping minds, or a bit of both. The reason I asked for the top five was to make respondents focus on submitting five names of people who really matter. Here were the top five, again:
Eric Asimov, NYT
Paul Grieco, Hearth and Terroir wine bars
Michael Skurnik, Michael Skurnik Wines
Daniel Johnnes, Dinex Group, Daniel Johnnes Imports, and La Paulée
Joe Dressner, Louis/Dressner – LDM Selections
There was a tie for sixth place that included Marvin Shanken (publisher of Wine Spectator), Robert Parker (CEO and Chairman of The Wine Advocate Inc.), and David Lillie, a partner in Chambers Street Wines (although some votes came in for CSW generally or also named Jamie Wolff, his business partner).
The next tier saw a tie as well that included: Levi Dalton (Eater.com contributor); Alice Feiring (writer); Pascaline Lepeltier (sommelier, Rouge Tomate); and Kermit Lynch (importer).
The next grouping of people that tied included: Joe Bastianich (restaurateur); Robert Bohr (once and future sommelier); Antonio Galloni (wine critic); Michael Madrigale (sommelier, Bar Boulud & Boulud Sud); and Kevin Zraly (author and educator).
The final group to receive more than one vote was: Andrew Cuomo (Governor); Roger Dagorn (sommelier); Bill Deutsch (importer); John Kapon (Acker, Merrall); Jay McInerney (WSJ); Doug Polaner (importer and distributor); Dennis Rosen (State Liquor Authority).
In all, 145 votes were cast. I coded all vote-getters into industry subgroups. As a group, media came out on top with 35% of all votes. Sommeliers (and restaurateurs) came in next with 31% of all votes. Distributors and importers received 22% of the votes while retailers received a scant 7.5% collectively.
Slicing the numbers a bit more, each sommelier mentioned at least one other sommelier. Similarly, each woman respondent mentioned at least one woman. Only one retailer, however, mentioned another retailer.
The findings indicate that media still have a lot of sway, though critics and journalists don’t run the show the way they may have in the past. Also, 13 members of the media received mentions so media influencers are not as concentrated as they once may have been. Respondents view sommeliers as having lots influence in NYC today, which I think is an accurate observation as wine producers may taut a wine list placement more than a critical score. The results show that distributors and importers, particularly mid-sized and boutique, also have a bigger influence than consumers may realize. The fragmented nature of wine retail in NY–licensees are only permitted one location–may have hurt retail as a whole. But it’s clear that Chambers Street Wines has an outsized influence in the category.
The absence of anyone from Southern Wine & Spirits and Empire, the two biggest distributors, is somewhat surprising. But perhaps the nature of the query that focused on people, rather than companies, skewed the replies to smaller players where the name of the name of the person is also the name of the company.
In all, it was a fun exercise and I am grateful to those who took the time to respond. What do you make of the fuller results? I look forward to your thoughts in the comments.