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Nikitas Magel manages and owns wine web site

By Kat Murti

Wine culture can be intimidating, especially for those in their twenties and thirties who are just starting to develop an interest in wine. At least, that was the idea behind, an online wine magazine that offers reviews, essays, suggestions and the like to the web savvy wine connoisseur.

“This generation, my generation and even people younger than me, are very internet oriented,” said Nikitas Magel, who started as a personal blog about wine before deciding that the site needed to branch out.

Magel has been exposed to wine since his youth; his father became interested in wine when Magel was a pre-teen and encouraged him to try various types at Sunday dinners. However, Magel did not develop a serious interest in wine until graduate school at the California School of Professional Psychology.

Upon graduation in 2002, Magel found he was no longer interested in working in the field and, at the suggestion of a friend, applied to a winery in Napa.

Magel worked at the winery for a year in the tasting room and doing tours until the commute began to wear him down. He left the winery to work as a buyer at Friendly Spirits, a now-defunct wine shop in the Castro, where he remained for two and a half years.

While working at Friendly Spirits, Magel started doing a part-time job in the technology field, which eventually turned into a full-time career.

“After about...four years of that, I started realizing that it really wasn’t where my heart is or was and so I decided I was going to venture out into wine full-time, but do something on my own,” said Magel.

While Magel was working, he had earned his Wine and Spirits Education Trust degree from Copia in Napa, which he was able to put to use as he established

“I enjoy writing,” said Magel. “I’ve had a sense for quite some time that there’s a lot of young people – people in my age group and even younger – who are curious about wine, who want to learn about wine, who want to enjoy wine, but that didn’t necessarily know how to go about it.”

With this demographic in mind, Magel started a blog that he maintained for about a year while working in technology.

“I hadn’t invested a lot of time and energy into it until the point where I decided I was going to pursue this full time,” said Magel.

“Along with that decision came the realization that, well, I need to do something more than just a blog. It needs to be something with a lot more depth, a little bit more complexity, something a little bit more varied, not just sort of well, these are my thoughts and personal musing on wine, but something more than that.”

In addition to reviews, suggestions, and essays, Magel covers wine-related events and has recently begun interview people working in wine. Magel is also considering incorporating the work of guest writers.

Although at present is largely funded by Magel himself, he has some advertising clients and hopes to bring more on board as the publication grows in popularity.

According to Jerry Cooper, owner of Swirl on Castro, a local wine bar which has its own web site at, wine web sites such as Magel’s play a vital role in the wine community and often have huge followings amongst hobbyists.

“They’re full of information and education and it gives people a little more confidence that they’re able to have a dialogue about wine,” said Cooper. “It helps them in a way define their palate and what they like.”