Natalie MacLean

The biggest change in wine in the past 20 years did not happen in vineyards or wineries. It happened on the internet, at least in my opinion and the opinion of Natalie MacLean, the award-winning wine writer who has Canada’s largest and most popular on-line wine website with some 270,000 subscribers.

MacLean is hard to miss in Canada: accredited sommelier, regular appearances on three television shows, named World’s Best Drink Writer by Le Cordon Blue, four-time winner of James Beard Foundation awards, five-time winner of Association of Food Journalists awards, the list goes on.

Visit her impressive, fascinating website: Natalie MacLean website to find out more.

Vivacious and funny, Natalie worked for a Silicon Valley high tech company in the 1990s, giving her the opportunity to dine and drink in Napa and fall in love with wine. She parlayed a six-week sabbatical with a maternity leave in the late 1990s to take sommelier courses, then got into wine journalism in magazines and online. New career.

Natalie MacLean

Online, she was in her high-tech element. Her website went up in 2000, mobile app in 2008. Game changers.

“Mobile apps give people the ability to research wine while in a store or restaurant,” Natalie told me in an interview. “The internet completely changed learning about and buying wine.”

Not only can you read Natalie’s wine reviews, she also offers daily emails, on-line courses in wine and food pairing, videos, and weekly webcams viewed by people all over the world.

“This de-stigmatizes wine and makes wine more accessible to more people than ever before.”

While Natalie helped change the wine world, changing the wine world also changed Natalie.

“Like many people, when I first got into wine I was into bold, fruit-forward, big alcohol wines. Not today. My tastes have turned to pinot noir, rosé, lower alcohol wines with acidity to work better with food. More often now I want to enjoy wine with my meal, not have the full-on sensory assault massive reds deliver.

“I also am into winemakers who let soil and grape express themselves, low-intervention efforts, small producers rather than wine factories—although wine factories have their place.”

Ironic twist: the son whose gestation and infancy allowed Natalie to launch a high tech wine writing gig now is 20 years old. “I gave him some wine at age three and he has not touched a drop since.” Cobbler’s son has no shoes.

Last round: Wine: Drink all you want. I promise they will make more.