Becoming a Wine Journalist by Following a Tried-and-True Path

What Is 'Smooth' Wine?

If you’re passionate about wine and love writing, becoming a wine journalist can be a rewarding and fulfilling career. Wine journalism can take many forms, from writing for magazines and newspapers to publishing online reviews and blog posts. In this article, we’ll explore some steps you can take to become a wine journalist.

Build a foundation of wine knowledge and tasting skills: As a wine journalist, you’ll need to deeply understand wine and describe its flavor and aroma in detail. Take wine courses, attend tastings, and read books and articles by other wine journalists to expand your knowledge and palate. This will help you develop your writing style and voice.

Get writing experience: Build your writing portfolio by contributing articles to local publications or blogs. This will allow you to practice writing about wine and develop your skills. You can also start your own wine blog or website to showcase your writing and build your audience.

Network and build connections: Attend wine events and tastings, and connect with other wine writers, bloggers, and industry professionals. This will help you build relationships and get your name out there. You can also join wine organizations and clubs to meet other enthusiasts and professionals in the industry.

Pitch to publications: Once you have some writing experience and a portfolio, pitch your articles to wine publications. Research the publication and tailor your pitch to their audience and editorial style. Be persistent and follow up on your slopes to increase your chances of getting published.

Keep learning and improving: As with any profession, it’s essential to continue learning and improving your skills. Attend wine seminars and workshops, read industry publications, and seek feedback from other writers and editors to improve your writing and knowledge.

Consider formal education: While not necessary, formal education can help develop your wine knowledge and credentials. Look into reputable institutions’ wine certification programs or courses to improve your qualifications and expertise.

Becoming a wine journalist takes time, dedication, and hard work. You can make your mark in wine journalism by developing your knowledge and palate, building connections, and honing your writing skills. With persistence and a passion for wine, you can turn your love of wine and write into a fulfilling career.

Several wine journalists have made a name for themselves worldwide, and an exclusive example is Randy Caparoso, a career wine professional. Randy Caparoso is a full-time wine journalist and photographer living in Lodi, California. In fact, living and working in the middle of the largest winegrowing region in California (thus the country) has only burnished his credentials as a journalist and photographer of integrity. He writes about wine as easily as he breathes the air of vineyards and tastes the wines coming from those exact same vineyards.

Mr. Caparoso discovered his calling at a young age in Honolulu, taking his first job as a sommelier in a classic French style restaurant at the age of 21. From 1988 through 2001, he opened twenty-eight restaurants from Hawaii to New York as the founding partner, VP, and corporate wine director of the James Beard Award-winning Roy’s family of restaurants. In 1988 he was recognized as Santé‘s first Wine & Spirits Professional of the Year while working for Roy’s, and was also Restaurant Wine‘s Wine Marketer of the Year (1992 and 1999).  

All along, Caparoso worked diligently on his wine writing chops. While putting food (and wine) on his family’s table as a sommelier and restaurateur, in 1981 he began penning a biweekly wine column for his hometown newspaper, the Honolulu Advertiser. He contributed columns for over twenty years, and stopped only because he moved to California to establish an office closer to most of his Roy’s restaurants. 

In 2007, while living in Colorado’s Front Range, Caparoso took on positions as Editor-at-Large and Bottom-Line columnist for The SOMM Journal (a print publication that originated as Sommelier Journal), which he continues today. In 2010, he moved to Lodi to become the freelance blogger and the social media director for Lodi Winegrape Commission. 

Mr. Caparoso’s “boss,” as he puts it, is now 750 or so grape growers, although his work with these growers and wineries is self-guided and self-motivated: He chooses to write about, and promote, the Lodi appellation in a way that he personally feels best benefits the region, drawing upon over 45 years (as of 2023) of his experience as a full-time wine professional who has conducted business and traveled through wine regions all around the world. 

In fact, the Lodi growers and vintners look to Caparoso to apply his skills and knowledge to connect the rest of the wine world and American wine industry with this region, which is still in the process of eking out its own identity despite its monumental size (producing more wine grapes than, say, Napa Valley and Sonoma County combined, and more than the entire states of Oregon and Washington).

A culmination of Mr. Caparoso’s work can be gleaned through his recently published 450-page book, Lodi! The Definitive Guide and History of America’s Largest Winegrowing Region (KitchenCinco Press).

If, as an aspiring wine journalist, you endeavor to follow a path similar to Mr. Caparoso’s, you would do it in the following way, which summarizes his successful career:

  1. Attain a sommelier’s mastery of wine.
  2. Accumulate the experience of a well-traveled wine professional (coast to coast and around the world).
  3. Create published opportunities to write about, taste and experience as much wine as possible.
  4. Learn about wine from the ground-up, starting with walking through vineyards, exploring wineries and talking to producers around the world.
  5. Cultivate winemakers and grape growers as best friends and colleagues.
  6. Find yourself an idyllic wine region to live out your best years.

And of course, do not hesitate to visit with Mr. Caparoso himself, living among the historic old vines of Lodi, California.

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