Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting. Flipcharts – Interviewer The interview is a series of questions and answers to create a profile of vinocritics. We hope you will learn more about the wine writers you know and many others. This project aims to understand and develop working relationships with journalists. After all, they are the ones who help us tell our stories, control our wines and ultimately get media attention. This can be done by studying their experience with wine and writing, their personal history and interests, taste preferences, writing assignments and pets. This document is part of an ongoing series presented monthly by the network of the wine industry.

James Melendez is based in San Francisco, California. He holds a BA in Political Science with a specialization in International Relations and Group Politics from the University of New Mexico and a postgraduate degree in Philanthropy and Development from the University of St. Mary’s, Minnesota.

James has a lot of experience in wine growing. He worked as Marketing Director for Food and Wine at Cost Plus World Market, focusing on the network’s international program and learning about wine through digital and traditional media.  For 13 years he has been writing, editing, teaching, judging and talking about wine.  He has been making videos for more than 10 years and has made more than 2,940 videos on his YouTube channel on the theme of wine under the name James the Wine Guy.  His interest in
is about food, wine, travel, social networks and how these can be interwoven to create and strengthen a strong public interest in wine. James has an enormous influence on wine, food and social networks on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram and YouTube.

You can follow James on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Vocational training

How did you come to write about wine?

I used to process wine in a liquor store in different states.

What are your main interests?

I write wine reviews, I fill out video reviews and I have a podcast.  My goal is to tell deeper stories about the place and the wine; I also like the history of the wine, but also stories that make the wine clear.

What are your main taste preferences?

It’s an interesting question; when it comes to food, it’s much easier; it’s easy to know what you’re getting and how the human palate appreciates it at any given time. When it comes to wine, the answer can be much more complex and simple.  The wine shows this variation not only on the basis of the vintage, but also on the basis of the producer, the region, the style and the variety.

Is it possible today to earn a living as a wine writer? If so, how did you do it? If not, why not? What are the main problems and obstacles you face?

It is seldom possible to live on nothing but writing wine from antiquity to the present day.  There are many coveted jobs that you can earn a living as a wine writer for the media, and everyone wants those few jobs, which are only a few dozen, if any.  Nowadays, I think that a journalist specializing in wine should extend his activities to different media.  I was a fan of video, and I think there’s room for podcasting, too.

Personal experience

That people would be surprised to hear from you?

I love complexity and how it almost always affects our lives in unexpected ways.  I use the lens to try to understand the complexity of historical periods, for example.  By understanding some of the fundamentals of complexity, it can help to develop increasingly intelligent actions and mitigate unintended consequences.

What haven’t you done? What do you want to do?

  • Skiing in the Alps, including Alta Badia, Val Garden, Hungary, Kitzbühel, Sölden, Schladming, Chamonix and Zermatt.
  • Own piano – Bösendorfer Imperial 290 – very high quality!
  • Living in Europe – Italy, Austria, Germany, Sweden or Switzerland.

Writing process

Can you describe your approach to writing wine and/or wine reviews?

I love the good old days when I could develop a story about a subject that interests me.  It’s often the stories that find me, not the other way around.  I like to make discoveries in themes.  I’ve created some things that I’ve enjoyed, like vintage champagne and global climate change. I’ve seen a video that says we’re drinking more and more champagne because of climate change.  My story was to complete the analysis and see if it was true or not.  Turns out the guy who said there were more vintages was wrong.  The trend line for the percentage of older champagne is high, but there is no upward trend.

Do you consider yourself influential? What do you think is the difference between a writer and a powerful man today?

I think it’s the same thing.  I’m not sure there’s a reason to call a writer apart from an influential person.  Does an effective writer influence what people think?  Yes, of course.  I think an influential person is probably regarded as someone who almost exclusively touches social networks.  There are always vague boundaries.  I’m a writer, videographer and podcaster.  And sometimes, the industry (about 90%) only appreciates the written word, and if you make a video or podcast, it’s not appreciated or even appreciated: It’s not taken as seriously as the written work.

Industrial relations

What are the advantages of working directly with wine advertisers?

There are many – I think it is important to have that connection in order to get answers, but also to be able to try in a way that would not otherwise be possible.  Special wines, parade, library wines, etc.  The sensitivity of the publicists makes my life easier and I appreciate the connection.

Which winemakers do you want to meet and taste (alive or dead)?

    1. Madame Clicquot – she was ahead of her time because she knew the market and created fundamental innovations in production and a sense of direction in champagne.
    2. Robert Mondavi. I’m sure a lot of people want to meet him.  Much later he became successful and it seems that from the beginning he had his own position where he could move his business.  He felt that Napa could still be before the Napa Valley. There is only one Mondavi, and there will never be another person like Mondavi in Napa.


If you’re taking the weekend, how do you spend it?

I work 7 days a week – if I have a day off, I write one of the many books I’ve tried to finish in recent days.  I have an ordinary book that challenges me to be both extremely organized and creative with this great type of book.  Completing an ordinary book is difficult and at the same time immediately useful.

What is your most memorable wine or wine tasting?

Sicily / Calabria / Barbaresco / Champagne

Read other articles in the series Flip the Tables – Interviews with Interviewers.

Carl Giavanti Editorial office
Carl Giavanti, Carl Giavanti Consulting

CARL GIAVANTI is a wine publisher with experience in DTC marketing. In his tenth year, he works as an advisor at the winery. Carl has been involved in business marketing and public relations for over 25 years. He first worked in technology, digital marketing and project management, and now works as a media consultant for the winery. Customers are or were in Napa Valley, Willamette Valley and Columbia Gorge. (


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