Interpreting Wine | A podcast created by Lawrence Francis which focuses on the latest trends in the wine industry. Lawrence got into wine when he was confined to bed one New Year’s Eve with food poisoning, and spent his time watching wine videos on YouTube. He cites Gary Vaynerchuck as an inspiration. He has also produced a podcast on Spanish wine called ‘Behind the Bodega Door’. He also started producing a show about the wine business both inside and outside Spain, called ‘The Wine Talking.’ The strapline on Lawrence’s website says ‘covering drinks & hospitality from London, producing podcasts for brands worldwide’. Each podcast starts with some lively music and a thorough and engaging introduction by Lawrence about what the broadcast will be about.
Lawrence got the idea for his podcast whilst living in Madrid (he largely self-taught himself Spanish). ‘I loved Spain. Its wine and food hooked me. Wine was a window, a way in to the culture for me.’ As so few locals spoke English it forced Lawrence to learn the language, a challenge he embraced. He started recording Spanish wine producers in Spain as a way of improving his Spanish language skills and to make meaningful connections with the culture. He was in Spain to be interviewed for a job with a Spanish tapas company. They wanted him to use his podcast as a means of promotion their product. He did not get the job. So he went back to London. He realised London provided a huge range of opportunities to podcast, with easier, cheaper logistics and no need for expensive, time-consuming translations. Now more flexible (he recently did a series on rum), anticipating what listeners want. Lawrence says he see what he does as ‘in some way disrupting the wine world. So much info is shared and communicated in relatively small rooms. A producer comes over to share and described his or her wine. With few people in the room. I am obsessed by getting it out of the room. Technology can capture and transmit that information which will help everybody. Otherwise it dies in the east of the people in the room. Get it out there. If I help one person who was not able to the in the I am ecstatic, it is a huge win.’
Spain was the impetus originally but now (2019) has a smaller share of overall output. And broadcasts have moved from being in Spanish to English.
His day job is working for Davies of London which is a wine importer. He had returned from Madrid in December 2017 and in January 2018 he started at Davies. ‘Literally no one in the world of wine knew me, and I didn’t know anybody else. That changed quickly, when you are playing a game [podcasting] which no one else is playing. But you have to work hard. The odd sporadic podcast is not enough. You have to have belief in what you are doing. I got some momentum, some good guests, brand building to summer 2018.’ He was initially working in the company’s wine shop in Greenwich. ‘It was a great foundation. I got confidence, ideas for wine tastings, it made me a better communicator. Most of the travel and accommodation costs I do now for podcasts is paid for.’ In July 2019 Lawrence did a series of podcasts in New York (Long Island, Manhattan, Upstate) for which he was flown over by Wines of New York. ‘The USA is the number one in the world for podcast production and audience figures. So much of what I do in terms of content is evergreen [in perpetuity, not going rapidly out of date].’ Also did a recent (2019) series with Styrian wineries, and a series on rum. ‘Top restaurants do not just have wine on them but cider, whisky and rum. It is not enough to know just about wine anymore. The podcast is useful for those studying to be sommeliers.’
Lawrence describes himself as a keen traveller. He goes to the gym to burn off the wine and rich wine-related cuisine he is offered when travelling. He once lived in Southampton in southern England whilst working in ‘my old world which was human resources and psychology. This was where I learnt Spanish as there is a strong Spanish community there. There would be Spanish guitar nights, or tortilla competitions and so on.’
Lawrence is a soccer fan and supports a team from north London called Arsenal FC.