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Robert Parker steps down as Wine Advocate editor-in-chief

Significant changes are underway at the Wine Advocate as Robert Parker has announced he has taken on three new Asian investors and is opening up a new office in Singapore, from where the magazine will be run.

Parker: remains ‘an owner’

The Wine Advocate will also increase coverage of wines produced in Asia, and – according to some sources – will take advertising for the first time.

The wine world has been awash with rumour for some months about Parker’s plans for his 35-year-old journal, as reported in October by Decanter.com columnist Andrew Jefford. The announcement – informally posted on the bulletin board of erobertparker.com – comes as no surprise.

What is surprising is that the Wine Advocate, which has frequently accused journals such as Decanter of compromising their independence by taking advertising, will now run ads, albeit only from non-wine companies, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Robert Parker has simply said that the new investors are three ‘highly qualified business and technology people and enthusiastic wine lovers as well as long time subscribers’.

Decanter.com understands that agents acting for the critic have been approaching high-net-worth individuals in Asia since the early part of the year.

All those contacted have denied any involvement and refused to speak on record, although one told Decanter.com he was approached by ‘current and former employees of Goldman Sachs’ with a business prospectus for ‘commercialisation of the Parker brand.’

Parker sets out seven ‘changes we are considering for 2013’ under the new investors.

These include ‘further expansion of our coverage in all of the world’s wine producing regions’; new features including an electronic (pdf) version of the Wine Advocate for subscribers; and wine education conferences – another major innovation.

In what is certainly a shift in the centre of power, ‘we intend to open another office in Singapore where the investors reside and from where we can more easily serve Asian countries’.

This office will be run by veteran Parker contributor Lisa Perrotti-Brown MW, who becomes editor-in-chief of the Wine Advocate.

Perrotti-Brown told WSJ she would be hiring a new correspondent who will ‘cover wines produced in China, Thailand and other Asian countries.’

Parker insists his Maryland office remains the headquarters, but the fact that ‘all responsibilities for coordinating TWA content, editing and proof-reading’ will be done by Perotti-Brown in Singapore, means that the magazine will be effectively run from there.

Robert Parker himself remains CEO and chairman of TWA board, and an owner of the brand.

He will continue to cover ‘Bordeaux, the Rhone, retrospectives on California vintages, and profiles of under $25 wine bargains from our finest importers’.

Written by Adam Lechmere

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