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Yesterday, ethics were represented by a big gray blob. Today I pry open the proverbial can of worms, replete with a Rockaway twist. Consider the following dilemmas:

Dilemma #1) In February I accepted a fellowship to attend the fifth Professional Wine Writers Symposium in Napa Valley, sponsored by Napa Valley Vintners and held over three days/nights at Meadowood (I am still using the soap I brought home). Moreover, the particular fellowship I won, through a “blind” (bylines removed) judging of three writing samples (not focused on Napa, in fact), was funded by a specific winery. I don’t believe they “chose” me, but somehow I wound up with theirs; and a dozen or so other writers earned other winery-specified awards covering the cost of the entire symposium, food, lodging and (naturally) swag. {Yes, my new favorite baseball hat has a NVV logo, cleverly designed to make people ask “What’s the ‘N’ for?”} We were told that our only obligation as recipients was that we had to sit with our designated winery’s representative at the closing dinner. Sounds kind of Sugar Daddyish, I know… but think about it—not a very tough deal, eh? Should I disclose my sponsoring winery here? Should I deliberately avoid writing about that label? How about other brands under the same ownership? And what about all my wine-scribe homies and their fellowships; should the public be wary of partisanship toward their begotten winery underwriters? Food for thought. Read the rest of this entry »

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