Today begins what we hope will be a new era in the life and times of Wine Review Online, which will celebrate its third birthday in little more than a month.
We have moved our wine reviews behind a subscription wall. Only subscribers will be allowed access to new reviews, posted each Wednesday, and the thousands of reviews residing in our archives. I realize some of you may think we're just being greedy bastards, but as Publisher it is my duty to ensure the financial well being of Wine Review Online.
This difficult decision is toward that end. The subscription fee is deliberately modest, priced well below comparable publications such as Burghound and Steve Tanzer's International Wine Cellar. Why so? It is our desire to be inclusive - attractive enough to capture the new wine enthusiast yet hefty enough to bring us the additional revenues (beyond advertising) that we need to grow our product.
Some of the growth we've already delivered on faith. First of all, we've beefed up the Reviews section. This week we offer commentary on more than 50 wines. I expect the number of wines reviewed each week to continue to grow.
In the meantime, we've worked with our webmaster to make navigating the site and searching for wines and articles by using 'keywords' much more user friendly. In a few days we plan to roll out our audio section, which will feature my own Whitley On Wine radio show as well as radio spots by Editor Michael Franz and Columnist Paul Lukacs for WAMU, a National Public Radio affiliate in Washington, D.C.
You will also find audio wine reviews that you can download (they are 45- to 60-second mp3 files) to your own computer or mobile device.
As we grow our subscription base, we plan to add other features to our inventory of columns and features, all with the goal of making Wine Review Online your first choice for wine information and buying advice.
We certainly hope you subscribe - and then renew - but we also know you have many other options available to you at the click of a mouse, and most of it is free. That's why we will continue to make our columns and audio free.
But we also sense wine consumers are seeking reliable information from established experts they can trust. That's what we do, providing a forum for a number of the most accomplished and celebrated wine journalists in the United States.
Good writers don't work for free. Nor would I want them to. Wine journalism is a profession, and we engage some of the best in the field.
I sincerely hope you agree. And with that I urge you to do three things: Subscribe; tell a friend to subscribe; and tell your friend to tell another friend to subscribe!
To comment, contact Robert at firstname.lastname@example.org.