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a letter to readers from Clark Smith

America (Country Appellation)

A Letter to Readers from Clark Smith

The Appellation America adventure continues.

by Clark Smith
July 13, 2009

Dear Readers,

DropCap There is much discussion on the net concerning APPELLATION AMERICA’s decision (really their only option) to go to a $4.95 a month ( or $49.95 per year) subscription for the many services it has provided for free for the last six years - free to the public but extremely costly to its long-suffering investors.

This amazing site, which contains many hundreds of articles and videos exploring the 300+ AVA's in North America and the grapes they grow, is as complete a reference as one could wish to the continent's 5,000 wineries and the wines they offer. Failing to find an alternative method to stay alive (advertising rates are hopeless in such a specialized area), the site is gambling that 10 percent of its monthly traffic will think enough of the site to help support it.

The creation of 30,000 pages of content on American wines was motivated much more by a sense of service and a passion for a story needing telling than by a great business model. Maybe we were nuts. Probably. But nobody asked American wine lovers to believe in a pipe dream. It was made real. Now it’s time to acknowledge the courage and faith which went into its creation. Faith in readers to recognize a good thing when they see it.

We have one reason for hope: Our readers are smart. Many are Boomers, and are not as demanding that coverage conform to the short and shallow style of current vogue, nor did they grow up with an expectation of something for nothing. Adding to their numbers daily are passionate young Millennials who also appreciate our unique approach. We have always respected our readers’ interest in thorough, well researched, in-depth journalism. Now we hope they will be thoughtful enough themselves to consider modestly supporting our survival.

It is a great privilege for me to investigate the wines of our diverse appellations, to chronicle the achievements of the Santa Cruz Mountains, Iowa, and the Finger Lakes. I am on schedule in my three year quest to tell the stories of our entire 300+ AVA’s, with your support. But a spotlight tasting, article and notes on a region - assembling the wines, researching the terroir, evaluating the wines, writing up wine reviews and Blue Book entries, and finally pulling it all together in a story – takes about eight days.

That effort alone ought to be worth one dollar. And I’m just one member of a large and professional staff.

Many readers have already pledged their support, but also expressed their skepticism that the world at large will follow suit. “I’m an exception,” they suppose. But I think our whole readership is exceptional. Please take this message personally. I invite you to join us in underwriting this extraordinary exploration of American wines.

Clark Smith

If you are not a subscriber now when you click a link to an article on the site you will see the first few paragraphs followed by the notice below. Once you sign up this notice will no longer appear and you will access to the entire site.

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