There is little debate that Robert Parker has had the more influence on the California wine industry than any other wine writer. For the past couple of years, long before the news of him stepping away from reviewing California wines, people have been asking, "Who will be the next Robert Parker?" To which I would summarily answer, "Who will be the next Beatles?" There will not be.
These two events were a culmination of culture, time and place. There will be other great bands, but few if any will have the influence over an entire generation than did the Beatles. There are and will be publications with wine critics scoring wine, but few if any will have the influence that Robert Parker wielded.
It is my belief that this is the end of an era. The internet has changed the way we communicate; get our news, our music, sports etc. I believe that the best of the best bloggers will vie for space and that the cream will rise. I don't think any single blogger will be "the" go-to person, but that there will be a number of bloggers who will create their own following based on their style, their opinions and their fact checking.
After all, when Robert Parker began writing about wine he was sitting at a typewriter, sharing his opinion on wines that he had recently tasted. He was simply blogging, but didn't know the word existed. His following grew via word of mouth and his reputation grew based on his track record.
Already there are hundreds (if not more) serious wine bloggers on the internet. Some of them are already beginning to make a name for themselves. Frequently I see debates about a particular subject on a thread and after a day or so someone will pipe in "Where is ______? Straighten us out on this!!!" Serious bloggers are emerging, each with their own field of expertise.
The wines of California and in particular the Cabernet Sauvignon produced in the Napa Valley and Pinot Noir in Sonoma County have enjoyed much of their success based on reviews by Robert Parker. No question about it. With his help, Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and Sonoma County Pinot Noir have achieved world-class level.
The next Robert Parker? It will be a different time and place and medium. We do not know yet which of the many current bloggers and those on their coattails will rise to the top. Hang on, it is going to be a bumpy but very enjoyable ride for us all!