Critical Consolidation in Wine

Antonio Galloni announced today the acquisition of Stephen Tanzer’s International Wine Cellar, as reported on Forbes.Com. The acquisition will involve a merger of the IWC, it’s staff and content with Galloni’s own Vinous platform.

This move represents a new dynamic in the wine criticism landscape. Up until this point Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate was the only outlet for wine criticism that had grown through acquisition. By bringing on writers, many of whom had their own smaller niche publications such as Galloni’s Piedmont Report, Parker significantly increased both his breadth and depth of coverage around the world.

I think it a very healthy thing that we’re now seeing some additional consolidations, if only on the principle that more competition in the mainstream wine criticism game is a good thing for everyone.

Looking at this from a purely business perspective, it makes a lot of sense for Galloni to have done this. A one man band can’t compete against the behemoths that the Spectator and the Advocate have become, at least in terms of market share, and I’m sure he’s realized that in the last 18 months of going it alone.

Tanzer, for his part, has been at this game for a long while, and I would imagine this represents an opportunity to monetize some of what he has built, as well as take a leap forward from a brand and technology perspective, which he has needed to do for some time. Reading between the lines of the press release he issued this morning, the sale also sounds like a good way for him to retire sometime in the next five years.

We’ve been in an era for a while now comprised of niche players such as Burghound and Jeb Dunnuck’s Rhone Report springing up as outgrowths of one individual’s passion and a opportunity for deep focus on pieces of the wine world. We’re probably not out of that era yet, as the wine world is a big place and there’s plenty of room for some additional specialty publications on certain pieces of it, but I’d expect some additional consolidation to take place in the coming years as well.

In short, this seems like a pretty smart move for Galloni and Tanzer, and I look forward to seeing how it plays out.

Read the full story.