Cyril Penn, Wine Business Monthly editor ##Photo provided

Q&A: Cyril Penn

Wine Business Monthly Editor

Cyril Penn is the chief editor for Wine Business Monthly, the leading wine trade publication in North America. Penn has more than thirty years of wire service, magazine and broadcast experience, much of it covering the energy, high technology and biotechnology sectors. Penn holds a bachelor’s degree in media studies from Fordham University in New York.

How did you first become interested in wine?

CP: I first became interested in wine when I was working for catering companies during college, but it wasn’t until years later that I came to really appreciate how interesting and cool wine can be. My interest in wine became more of an obsession when I joined the team at Wine Business Communications 20 years ago. It’s been quite the journey.

What are the latest wine consumer trends? Any surprises?

CP: Wine is facing stiff competition from other alcoholic beverages that have been very innovative. Spirits are taking market share from wine, and spirits-based ready-to-drink (RTD) beverages are the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage segment. Within wine, there are little trends and growing niches, with so-called natural wines and orange wines getting more attention. People are spending more on wine, and sparkling wines are doing well. At the same time, consumers who are still buying wine at lower prices seem to be gravitating toward high-quality bag-in-box wines. People also seem to be more open than ever to trying wines made from unusual grape varieties and wines made in different styles.

How is drought changing the business of wine?

CP: Climate change, in general, seems to be here now; the recent wildfires in Napa and Sonoma are cases in point, as is the drought in Oregon. The drought is causing yields to drop in some regions. Grapes adapt quite well to drought, but a lack of water ultimately means a smaller harvest. That was very much the case with the 2021 wine grape harvest, particularly along California’s North Coast.

What’s the most challenging part of your job as editor?

CP: The challenge involves juggling multiple deadlines (daily, weekly and monthly) while consistently giving readers relevant information that helps them grow better grapes and make better wine.

On a personal note, what is the latest wine that really wowed your palate?

CP: I was wowed by a recent retrospective tasting of Lang & Reed Wines because it showed how well Cabernet Franc does in Napa Valley. Napa isn’t only about Cabernet Sauvignon. I was also wowed by a Sonoma Valley Sauvignon Blanc I recently tasted because it was well-crafted and was made by high school students at a bonded winery and sold by a retailer. Only in Sonoma would one come across that.

What would people be surprised to know about you?

CP: They might be surprised to learn that I grew up in New York City and play jazz drums.

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