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A Letter To Steve Heimoff


Alan Kropf's Unposted Comment on Steve Heimoff's Blog

Because Mr. Heimoff has chosen to not post my comment on his blog which attacked us today, this is my response to him.

Dear Mr. Heimoff,

Today I received several e-mails about a blog you posted titled, “If you knock ratings, then don’t rate wines!”, which basically attacks the integrity of Mutineer Magazine and myself directly.

I have invested everything I have into Mutineer Magazine, and while I welcome constructive criticism, I will not stand by and have you make false accusations about me or my magazine.

My first issue is that only one comment has been posted in regards to this blog. I’ve posted a comment, as has my roommate, as have other people that have e-mailed me out of anger that this was published, but none of these have been posted. You are a well-known writer with a well-known blog, and there is no excuse for publishing a negative and controversial blog without allowing people to comment. If you were planning on being away from a computer for an extended amount of time, you should have waited to post this blog until you have returned. Clearly you are not serious about your blog.

I question your own journalistic credibility, as you say that the research you did for this blog story consisted of: “I did a little Googling on Alan Kropf…” Transparency is extremely important to Mutineer Magazine, and as such we have all of our contact information on our website, and I would have happily talked to you about the magazine’s vision and any questions you had about my activities or ideas. If Mutineer Magazine had the same standard for research that you did, my job would become a lot easier.

Instead of doing actual research, you chose to irresponsibly post this story, oblivious or unwavered by the consequences it could have for Mutineer Magazine. Thankfully there are enough people out there who have taken the time to understand Mutineer Magazine that I doubt people will take this seriously. And based on e-mails and Twitters I’ve received about this, your credibility is the one that has taken a hit.

The one comment that did make it up is 489 words, which is an enormous comment, and includes statements like:

“you have assembled a nice “gotcha!” point, but you are aiming at the wrong target.”

“I do not know Alan Kropf, but I do know that if I want to pass a judgment on him, I will base it as much as possible on things in his control, namely the Sante article itself (spot-on!) and Mutineer magazine (will check out soon).”

“And Judging by Alan Kropf’s article in Sante, he is a sane, honest wine expert who is trying to make a difference. I think we should pay attention to the message he controls, not the superimposed numbers that he can not.”

The best part of this comment is where the commenter gives you advice on how to do your research, “Perhaps if you contact the SOMM editor directly, you can get a better platform to discuss ratings anew. But as of now, all you succeeded in doing is tarring a colleague based on a policy set by an employer.”

This is my favorite part of the blog:
“Let me get this straight. The editor-in-chief of Mutineer says ratings are irrelevant and must be transcended. Then he reviews wines (for profit?) for a magazine that uses the 100-point system.


Just once, I’d like to meet someone who bashes wine magazines and doesn’t seem to have an ulterior motive — making money. Hasn’t happened yet.”

Did I use to write for Vintrust? Yes. They are a wonderful company that I was proud to be a part of, though I haven’t written wine reviews since I launched Mutineer Magazine. So, unlike you say in your blog, I do not rate wines using the 100 point system. Vintrust was my first writing gig in my transition from being a Sommelier to a writer, and it is my experience that you must first learn the rules before you can change them, so writing about wine per Vintrust’s guidelines was something that was a part of my development as a writer. You should also consider that Vintrust’s SOMMSelections is not a traditional consumer beverage publication, but rather a trade publication with an emphasis on higher end wine and collectors.

I feel my claims about my vision are substantiated by the fact that I walked away from my sommelier career and started a print magazine to support my ideas. This project is my career and my passion, and you have taken ignorant pot shots at it. It is irresponsible journalism that misinforms the people that read it, and I would expect more from such a well-known and respected wine writer. Shame on you.

Your colleague,

Alan Kropf
Editor in Chief, Mutineer Magazine


  1. WineDiverGirl | Thursday, November 6, 2008

    I’m going with any press is good press on this one…especially based on the response you excerpted from Heimoff’s blog. Perhaps you should have thanked Mr. Heimoff for the attention/post, as the controversy, I believe, will only serve to reinforce a noted position for you in the industry. Time will tell everyone that you are a (business) man of integrity, passion, and commitment to the community. Fascinating on so many points

  2. Alan Kropf | Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Thanks for your perspective, I certainly hope you’re right!

  3. Patrick Llerena | Thursday, November 6, 2008

    Good on you for your follow up on this attack. Steve should know better than to try and shred another journalist for no particular reason other that because he can. He really seems to have sunk to a low in doing anything to slur bloggers and attempt to justify his existence. Funny that he now is also going after you whose print creds are pretty darn strong. Keep up the great work. Hopefully, Mutineer will benefit from all this buzz.

  4. Katie | Friday, November 7, 2008

    I’m one of those people that posted a comment that is “awaiting moderation” so I think, instead, I’ll post my reply here, where I know it will actually be heard:

    “I have to begin calling bullshit on the following statement: “Just once, I’d like to meet someone who bashes wine magazines and doesn’t seem to have an ulterior motive — making money. Hasn’t happened yet.” Passing off your opinion as fact is irresponsible. As a blogger, I bash wine magazines now and again for very specific, pointed reasons, and NONE of them include making money. I don’t get a dime for the blog I run. In fact it costs me money. So please don’t tell me it hasn’t happened yet, because I’m living proof that it has. I have nothing to gain but readership…readership that nods its head contently in agreement with my rants about the shortcomings of ratings.

    I also readily agree with Tish in that the rating system is unfortunately being force fed to the industry. If anything, THAT is what they do if they want to make money—use the point system, not disparage it—because it’s what many consumers flock to like sheep. It all seems a bit schoolyard-bullyish to me.”

  5. kevin keith | Friday, November 7, 2008

    I’m another one of those commentors “awaiting moderation.” Now I am really intrigued by all this madness. Nver been a fan of the 100-point score, but have HAD to use them because of the way the market has been conducted here in Cincinnati. Wine stores have been dependant on scores for too long, and in effect, having become lazy and uninformed.

    Keep at ’em!

  6. Tish | Friday, November 7, 2008

    Alan, it was my post that Steve posted, and I am very surprised that he has apparently censored others. I have never known him to shy away from thoughtful criticism, and at least hope he will do a followup post that acknowledges the unallowed responses. It is his blog, so he can do what he wants, but it is also your reputation, so you are entirely right to raise a flag here and elsewhere.

    Keep up the good work.

  7. Chicago Pinot | Friday, November 7, 2008

    The question shouldn’t be “To 100 point or not to 100 point.” I am a fairly new blogger, and my goal is to develop my palate and my writing style to a point where, if I choose to, describe a wine without forcing a number on it. But I also work in retail wine part time, so I know that the numbers are a necessary crutch (or necessary evil) for my customers.

    While clinging to this lower rung on the Wine Food Chain, I also know that bashing others in the Wine World without knowing all the facts is very uncool and will result in bad Karma visiting me.

    (Yes, I know that I often refer to the print wine mags as Wine Porn, but I say it with a tounge-in-cheek smile. Just want to make that clear.)

    Alan, for what it’s worth, I give this post a solid one hundred!

  8. Mutineer Magazine | Friday, November 7, 2008

    Thanks for all of the support on this. I’m still waiting for a response from Team Heimoff, will keep you posted

  9. Voltron | Friday, November 7, 2008

    I too am a member of the Awaiting Moderation Death Squad

    Eff Steve.. He has the journalistic ability of every elementary school student with internet access.

  10. Alan Kropf | Friday, November 7, 2008

    Thanks for the insightful comment Voltron, I was wondering when you were going to make your bombastic presence known…

  11. Alan Kropf | Friday, November 7, 2008

    Though keep in mind we have nothing personal against Mr. Heimoff, we just want him to correct the false information he posted about us on his site.

  12. Steve Heimoff | Sunday, November 9, 2008

    Hey Alan, when I made my post last week I explained that I’d be in Monterey Thursday-Sunday and would be back at my blog next week (Monday). So I didn’t “choose not to post your comment.” As soon as I got home I posted all comments, including yours. This is my general practice, as (believe it or not) my laptop has no Internet access (and it’s something of a relief to get away from checking the Internet every 5 minutes). I never censor comments and I’m sorry that you got the impression I was afraid to post yours. I welcome comments and am happy to defend my positions as ardently as readers occasionally attack them.

  13. 1WineDude | Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    All – I’ve never known Steve to not post a comment unless there’s a technical error (which happened to me once and was corrected).

    I agree that Steve misread the situation but I don’t think he’d shy away from it, either.

    Alan – Kudos from me on defending your position on the magazine, by the way.

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  16. jbinthesun | Saturday, January 3, 2009

    People I know, including yours truly, know Alan as a straight forward high road voyager employing integrity and responsibility in journalism by assiduous application of accurate knowledge.

    Ratings – superfluous to most.

    I am sorry some things occur uninvited and wishfully unintended, and any comment or judgement in this matter against Alan and/or Mutineer Magazine, in my opinion, is twaddle and rubbish.

    Happy New Year to all!

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