The evolution of the Italian Wine Podcast

Friday, 15. March 2019 - 14:45

Broadcaster Monty Waldin on the job

The Italian Wine Podcast, launched in March 2017, is celebrating its second anniversary—and contemplating how to take advantage of the ongoing growth of podcasts.

Launched with a pilot series of 13 Italian producer interviews, the show now has 181 episodes available for download. Hosted by British wine writer and television star Monty Waldin, the show focuses not just on Italian producers, but also speaks with critics, educators and other professionals to give a complete overview of the Italian wine world.

The brain child of Stevie Kim, CEO of Vinitaly, the podcast is part of an overall strategy to promote Italian wine internationally. “In devising the project two years ago, our intention was to give voice to Italian wine producers, and also to wine professionals who promote Italian wine worldwide,” said Ms Kim in a statement.

She said she chose to invest personally in the podcast project because she believes “audio is immediate and frictionless. This immediacy and ability to reach wine lovers while they are commuting to work, jogging or working is a very effective way of bridging the gap between the Italian wine community and the rest of the world.”

Podcasts – broadcasts over the internet – have exploded in popularity over the past decade and there is no sign of listener fatigue. According to Forbes, podcasts reached approximately 67 million American listeners in 2017, and they’re particularly popular with younger audiences. Wine podcasting is, as yet, a relatively uncluttered field compared to other topics, with just a handful of wine hits, such as Levi Dalton’s I’ll Drink to That!

Yet despite the enthusiasm for podcasts, breaking out is not easy. The Italian Wine Podcast has had 130,000 downloads and Ms Kim says, “As it stands, the project is not entirely self-sustainable.” Yet Ms Kim feels so strongly about its potential that, “I have given myself five years to significantly improve ratings and engagement.”

Co-creator Monty Waldin says working on the podcast has reinforced his view that nothing beats broadcasting for communicating authenticity. “Live communication has that frisson, that risk and hope of the unexpected, which you do not usually get when one’s interlocutor can answer via keyboard or Bic biro. I think this gives you more leeway as an interviewer to push boundaries.”

Waldin, who is also a noted biodynamic consultant, says the podcast has introduced him to situations that have changed his mind on some aspects of wine, such as when he got the chance to interview people from Italian co-operatives. “I was dreading it,” he says, yet says he became so enthralled, “they had to kick me out in the end as the caretakers were arriving to clear the venue.” Waldin says the personal stories he uncovered “should be the subject of a book or documentary. It’s not just about wine for them, meaning the grape growers. Their name never ends up on the label.”

The show has a new episode each Tuesday and Wednesday, which goes live on multiple channels to which listeners can subscribe for free: SoundCloud, iTunes, the Chinese podcasting platform XimalayaFM that makes it available in China, and the official website www.italianwinepodcast.com. In addition, the Italian Wine Podcast is also available on several podcast apps.
Felicity Carter