Our interviews to wine communicators from all over the world go back to USA, but this time with an absolute innovator like Levi Dalton. Cincinnato meets one of the characters who has been revamping and anticipating new digital information trends; in fact Mr. Dalton is the creator of the podcast called “I’ll drink to that”, as one of the most important podcast hosts about wine in the world. He was conceived as sommelier, and on his website besides all others podcasting platforms, he created an incredible journey through the territories of wine all over the world, because of conversations to wine producers. Not properly interviews, but rather tales about life and wine, a must-read!
Is the next interview with Switzerland, Australia, or England, maybe? Follow us, stay tuned!
Podcasts are the actual communication media tools while you had decided to use them when they weren’t trendy yet (almost unknown), what do you think companies should do to test it? How do you think should they move? Is it better being spontaneous or professional? What should people say on Wine Podcasts?
What has been shown over the last decade is that although anyone can start a podcast, not everyone can succeed with one. Often the stumbling block is audio quality or a lack of editing. This is no surprise, because those are skills that require time, and also money for software and equipment. I was lucky that I started a podcast during a period where you could be forgiven if you didn’t have everything perfect. There was a runway, so to speak, that was allowed and accepted by the audience before things really took off. And the reason for that is that back then, there were few podcasts. At the time you could start a podcast and just by keeping it up you could rank highly in the charts, relative to other shows. Now it is the opposite situation. There are millions of podcasts today. It is much harder for a show to stand out and to develop their own audience. Today you have to be good from the beginning to successfully launch. You don’t have that grace period to figure things out. I think the thing number one that holds most shows back is the audio quality (for instance, the audio is not loud enough), and the second is the time commitment of editing a show. You see people start a program, get a few episodes out, and then stop, for these reasons. It can be a lot of work. Especially if you are learning how to use the software at the same time that you are using it, that means even more time spent.
If wine companies want to experiment podcasts, to try it out, they both need someone who deal with the wine side and with good recording and good quality audio editing. And that means skills, equipment, and experience with audio.
Pandemic has been moving many activities from presence to online mode, which sort of participation and meetings do you think are going to stay on and which ones will be removed when we could live the wine events, such as wine tastings, winery visits, again?
We are all waiting to find this out, but in my opinion things will go back how they were in many ways. People will travel again, there will be in person attending again tasting events, wine dinners, wine events, etc. I think people want that and I think it is a necessary part of a business that is all about relationships and experiences. That being said, I believe that wineries and regional groups will continue to take their online engagement more seriously, as they have been doing during the pandemic. In particular to reach people who don’t live in the major cities. And to reach people at all times, not just during one time. Online offers that opportunity of always on, around the world communication. To be honest, the wine community has been slow to embrace the online opportunities, prior to the pandemic. For a long time, in-person was everything and online was an afterthought.
Now I think in-person activities will be the key driver again, but online events will be at least taken seriously. Particularly I think there will be more and more investments in online bottle sales, beyond the pandemic.
You have known Italy very well, and you took part to many important events years ago. According to you, which are the strengths that Italian wines should show up abroad?
The strength of Italian wine is in its diversity. Italian wine isn’t dominated by a handful of large companies controlling everything, determining both wine types and styles. In some countries that is the situation, but not in Italy. Instead, Italy has a very diverse landscape of wines. No matter who you are, at what level, Italy has a wine that will surprise you. And behind that wine is another one as well. Italy rewards people who just want the simple pleasure of drinking a good wine, but it also rewards people who are searching for something different. That is important in the market. It is more difficult, because so much communication is required to speak about all of these different types of wines. But it is also a strength. Because what we have seen in other countries is that if they are known for one thing only, one wine type and style specifically, and the market trend moves away from that style, that can be devastating for those wine producers. Italy’s wine diversity prevents that from happening.
We have been living an extremely hard year in many ways, how have you relaxed and what do you like to do than talk about wine?
I don’t think I was ever relaxed in this past year. It has been very tense, with a lot of sad outcomes for many, many people. To cope, I focused in on what is important to me. What specifically my motivations are. Not what I do to be cool or for show, but what I do that I feel has meaning. If you believe that your activity has meaning, then there is a purpose, and that is sustaining. You asked me about relaxation and I am talking about work, but I am also talking about peace. Peace of mind.
I found that by erasing superfluous things and focusing on what has really meaning to me, I fulfilled interior peace. And that has been important for survival.