I sent this out to my subscribers last week. And now, for those of you who want some of the back story on what happened, I’m sharing it with you too.
Life is complicated. In my view there is rarely a black and white without nuance. I promise you the real story behind this, including real life villains, is worthy of Tolstoy. Maybe one day, I will tell it from my point of view.
On November 1, the New York Times published a story about sexual harassment in the wine world. It focused on Anthony Cailan, a sommelier whom I have written about in these pages. A subscriber to the TFL, whom I didn’t know, wrote to me last June. She told me that Cailan had assaulted her. She did not elaborate on the details of the assault, rather she asked me to assume. I assumed a completely different scenario than she later recounted in the Times. She then got to her point, “I guess my question to you is what is your opinion on call out culture?” I told her my feelings that it should be reserved for the most egregious of crimes. And of course, it depends on what we want to accomplish. She wrote me back to tell me that she agreed and thanked me. I had no idea I had been so off-track until I read of the details of the assault in last Saturday’s paper.
That private correspondence landed on a Times reporter’s desk, and parts of it were printed, completely out of context. Of course, it wasn’t Raquel Makler’s fault. Of course, I wasn’t blaming her. I wish I’d paid closer attention to what she left unsaid and have been able to provide more on point advice and comfort. However, wishing doesn’t make it so. I can only try to learn from it and do better from here on.
There’s so, so much more back story here. Now is not the time to go into it. Maybe it doesn’t really even matter. But there is at least one rumor floating out there, that for now, I must set straight.
To be very clear: I would never advise a woman to be silenced, as social media seemed to think. That would be entirely contrary to my track record. By advising her to not to go “public,” I meant not every situation belongs in the paper or social media. As someone who has been through everything from criminal sexual assault to serious harassment, and had mostly been silent (another generation, right?) I want women to shout the truth out, and powerfully so.
Right now, though, the important thing is to put the focus back on the central issues of Julia Moskin’s piece. We need to move forward to keep those with less power safe in the wine world. From wine writer, to worker, to salesperson, to vineyard worker, to sommelier to retail, to every corner of the business, we need solutions to stay safe in the murky land of wine and sexuality. We need to make progress in maneuvering the workplace and curbing the abuse of power. We must make change. You can be sure that my voice and effort will be part of the picture.
In light of all this, I’m pushing the next piece of the newsletter until next Friday. It just didn’t seem right to send it out in this terribly fraught week. So, see you then.
I'm hunting the Leon Trotskys, the Philip Roths, the Chaucers and the Edith Whartons of the wine world. I want them natural and most of all, I want them to speak the truth even if we argue. With this messiah thing going on, I'm trying to swell the ranks of those who crave the differences in each vintage, celebrate nuance and desire wines that make them think, laugh, and feel. Welcome.