Shedding some light on your favorite wine writers.
Katie Kelly Bell
Katie Kelly Bell writes about what’s interesting in wine, travel, spirits, and food. She is a regular contributor to Forbes, USA Today, Sherman’s Travel, Departures, and Modern Luxury. Her work has also appeared in Decanter, Wine Enthusiast, Private Air, The Atlanta-Journal Constitution, and Delta SKY. She has made appearances on CNN’s Travel Channel as a travel expert and was awarded the MAGS Association Magnolia Award for excellence in writing and editing. She is WSET certified and a voting member for the Paris-based Prix Villegiature Hotel Awards. When she isn’t traveling, you’ll find her in Atlanta with her husband, three children, and devoted rescue dog.
1. What was your first job as a writer?
I started writing for The Wine Report, a local wine magazine based in Atlanta.
2. What led you to becoming a wine writer?
Writing has always been a source of pleasure for me—I write to clear my mind or solve a problem. Wine is an equal source of pleasure to me. I am passionately curious about wine, a sentiment I have had long before I was of legal age. When a neighbor mentioned that an editor for a local wine magazine was looking for writers, I wasted no time harassing that editor into giving me an assignment. To me, bringing together writing and wine was a chance at professional nirvana.
3. What kind of reader do you have in mind when you’re writing?
My audience varies depending on the publication, but in general, I try to think about the questions my friends, family, and neighbors have about wine. It’s very important to me that anyone who reads my work does not feel their time was wasted. I want to make my reader feel good about spending their time with my writing—and if I can make them laugh in the process, well, that’s even better.
4. Where is the most magical place your wine writing has brought you?
Central Otago, New Zealand is likely the most majestic, wild, and unspoiled destination I have ever been, and winemaking there is a perilous and backbreaking endeavor. I’d also give the nod to Switzerland’s breathtaking Lavaux region.
5. What was one of your favorite articles to write, and why?
I loved writing about French winemaker Pierre Seillan and his pursuit of perfection. I followed him and his team into the French forest as they sought ideal trees to harvest for future wine barrels. Pierre would wander off—enchanted by the oaks. His passion for every single teeny-tiny detail of the job was fascinating and delightful to me. I loved telling his story. (I even have an image of him hugging an oak tree during that trip).
Katie Kelly Bell
Freelance Wine Writer and Columnist
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6. What is the best advice someone has given you on your writing?
If you find yourself struggling to write the story, then you don’t have enough information. Go back, ask more questions, make more phone calls, do more research. Dig around and find what you need—or admit it wasn’t a story worth telling from the outset and let it go. Or, be willing to pivot completely and tell the story in a totally different way.
7. What would you be doing if you weren’t writing about wine?
Teaching middle schoolers. I have a Master’s degree in education and I really enjoy working with young adults. Yes, they get a bad rap as angst-ridden, acne-prone savages but they are really quite needy and precious. I enjoy the challenge of “getting through to them.” You could argue that teaching middle school was fabulous practice for selling my pitch (which I do all the time in freelance wine writing) and getting rejected (again, happens all the time in freelancing). I am still in touch with some of my students from ages ago.
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