What Is Going on at Wine Advocate?

Legal troubles abound for the publication Robert M. Parker Jr. sold off, plus editorial changes

Robert M. Parker Jr. with Robert Galloni.

If you had no idea what was going on behind the scenes at Wine Advocate, you'd think that all was rosy, from an email update sent to subscribers. Three new reviewers joining the team, several apps exclusively for eRobertParker.com subscribers, plus an updated editorial calendar — sounds good, right? Except that Wine Advocate recently filed a lawsuit against a former critic for allegedly withholding notes before leaving the publication. 

Inside Scoop SF reports that Wine Advocate (TWA) sued former critic Antonio Galloni for allegedly holding onto notes from his last Sonoma wine-tasting trip, for a story that was supposed to be published on Feb. 28; but the lawsuit also throws in Galloni's notes from Brunello, Barolo, and Burgundy. Galloni, on his website, defended his actions and send that he offered to post the Sonoma reviews for TWA readers "for free, on my new platform, once the article had been written and posted. TWA declined." TWA, the plaintiff in the lawsuit, alleges that Galloni went on these trips "secretly attending the wineries on [his] own benefit and to the detriment of Plaintiff." And then, Robert M. Parker Jr. (who stepped down from full time duties at TWA back in December but is still a part-owner and writes some wine reviews), posted on eRobertParker.com in response: "... At the time of these tastings, Antonio was a reviewer for The Wine Advocate, so it stands to reason the report he was paid to provide should be submitted."


It's clear that it's devolved into a "he said, she said" situation, and it's only going to get juicier. Inside Scoop SF points out some key facts in the suit, including charges of defamation (presumably from comments he made to The New York Times about TWA's "quality and independence"). And let's all let our jaws drop when we learn just how much Galloni made at TWA: $300,000. (And his starting salary was $12,500, which jumped to $100,000, which then jumped to the $300,000 total.) This is one lawsuit that we'll keep our eyes on, but at least TWA seems to be back on schedule with its editorial content. Although TWA noted in its subscriber email that it wouldn't be able to share the Barolo 2009 and Brunello 2008 (presumably from Galloni), the next issue is a 2012 Bordeaux report.