Wine Advocate’s Robert Parker Stepping Down as Editor

The Wine Advocate founder Robert Parker, whose 100-point rating system has served as an industry benchmark for decades, will step down as editor-in-chief of the newsletter after taking on three investors from Singapore.

Parker, 65, will remain chief executive officer and chairman of the Wine Advocate’s board, he said in a note to subscribers yesterday. Lisa Perrotti-Brown, who lives in Singapore, will take over as editor and a new office will be opened in the country, Parker said.

The Monkton, Maryland-based company also is looking at the possibility of selling advertising that’s not related to wines, Parker said in an e-mail. The ads would only appear on a bulletin board on the company’s website, not within the publication itself, said Parker, who declined to discuss the financial terms of the deal.

The investment, which came from three “highly qualified business and technology people” who also were longtime subscribers, will let the Wine Advocate take advantage of newer technology and applications, Parker said. The company also plans to offer wine-education conferences around the world. The move follows a partnership in 2001 with Wine Technologies, which helped the company expand online.

‘Welcome Catalyst’

“Back in 1978, when the publication was a simple 8-10 page rough-hewn document, my vision and goal was to create a body of wine knowledge that exceeded anything the world had ever seen,” Parker said. “I never dreamed that the Internet and the technology revolution would be such a welcome catalyst to expedite achieving my goals.”

Even as the publication expands online, there’s no plan to become an Internet-only newsletter, Parker said in his e-mail message. That contradicted a Wall Street Journal story, which said the Wine Advocate may phase out its print version by the end of 2013.

“There is no plan to phase out the Wine Advocate print edition,” Parker said. “We will make available a PDF version of the print edition for those who wish to view it electronically.”

Parker started the Wine Advocate, billed as a “consumer’s guide” to wine, because he saw a lack of reliable information on quality. The publication now has more than 50,000 subscribers, and Parker’s ratings are widely used by wine retailers to promote their wares. Over the years, he has taken on additional reviewers, including Perrotti-Brown, who previously worked as a wine buyer for a Japanese importer.

In his note to subscribers, Parker said he plans to keep reviewing wines for the publication.

“I will continue to comprehensively cover Bordeaux, the Rhone, retrospectives on California vintages, and profiles of under $25 wine bargains from our finest importers,” he said.

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