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Wine Spectator: Straight Talk With Carlton McCoy

August 12, 2020

Carlton McCoy helms one of Napa’s most historic wineries, as president and CEO of Heitz Cellar. He joined the winery in 2018, after overseeing the Little Nell’s Wine Spectator Grand Award–winning wine list for several years in Aspen, Colo. In a recent episode of Straight Talk with Wine Spectator, McCoy spoke with executive editor Thomas Matthews about becoming a Master Sommelier, breaking new ground in California and how to make the wine industry more inclusive for minorities.

During his prestigious tenure at the Little Nell, McCoy began to feel the lure of California, and two years ago accepted the position of CEO at Napa’s iconic Heitz Cellar. Now, he spends half his days crunching numbers and the other half walking the vineyards. “I’ve learned a lot more about the reality of how difficult it is to consistently make great wine, how difficult it is to farm, and naturally at a high level,” he said.

McCoy sees his next challenge in making his industry more inclusive for minorities. When it comes to consumers, he believes there is power in marketing. McCoy says that Napa Valley is a popular destination for Black people, but that ad campaigns fail to reflect that. “Something as simple as having brown people in your marketing campaigns makes a massive impact,” McCoy said. “From a brand it says, ‘These are the people I value as consumers of my product.’”

Tomorrow night at 7pm Eastern, Straight Talk with Wine Spectator will feature Will Blackmon. Nicknamed “The NFL Wine Guy,” Blackmon is a former Super Bowl champion who founded client-based service The Wine MVP, which covers personal wine buying, educational opportunities, private events and a monthly subscription wine box.—Shawn Zylberberg

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