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Fellowship Opportunities

For 2019, The Symposium for Professional Wine Writers at Meadowood Napa Valley will offer thirty open fellowships and up to five Editor's Choice fellowships for professional editorial writers covering wine. Each fellowship covers the registration fee and up to four nights' lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley. Interested wine writers compete for the open fellowships by entering their writing samples for evaluation by a team of independent judges. 

Frank G. Prial Fellowship

Each year the writer who scores highest in the symposium writing competition receives the Frank G. Prial Fellowship.


2019: Julie H. Case
2018: Joseph Hernandez
2017: William Kelley
2016: Adam Lechmere
2015: Elaine Brown


Frank G. Prial was a news reporter for The New York Times and in 1972 became the paper's wine columnist. He brought to the job a high standard of journalistic integrity and great skills in story telling. Frank wrote the Wine Talk column from 1972 to 1979, and from 1984 until his retirement in 2004. Frank was a speaker at the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers multiple years.

When Frank died in 2012 author Karen MacNeil suggested we honor him with a fellowship in his name. Frank's wife Jeanne, and Frank's successor at the Times, Eric Asimov, enthusiastically approved of the idea.

Eligibility Criteria for Open Fellowships

Applicants for open fellowships through the writing competition must register and submit their published works no later than October 1, 2019, for the 2020 Symposium. Applicants are limited to professional editorial-oriented writers on wine, wine and food, and wine and travel who can demonstrate at least two paid, published byline articles on these subjects in the 12 months prior to applying.


To maintain the intimate peer-group environment of the Symposium, winery owners, professional winemakers, winery employees, winery communications, sales and marketing people, and full-time wine trade professionals are not eligible to attend.


2019 fellows are ineligible to apply for 2020.

Judging Criteria

A panel of experienced wine writers/editors evaluates the submitted writing samples blind. Judges score each applicant's work. Their scores for each person are combined to determine the fellowship winners.


Fellows will be selected based on the following criteria:

      Their professional editorial status (40 points)

      The quality and originality of their work (40 points each by two judges)

      The influence and reach of their work (20 points)


Judges look largely for writing quality, and for accurate wine knowledge. They are not necessarily looking for Masters of Wine treatises, but for writers who can inform, entertain and inspire readers on the subject of wine.


Judges adjust their evaluations somewhat based on the type of pieces submitted. If a writing sample is obviously a magazine piece, judges rate it by the standards of a magazine piece. If it is obviously from a blog, judges hold that piece to the standards of good blogging. If it's a video script then it doesn't have to read like a wine book. You get the picture.


Judges look for something more than the typical wine column of four paragraphs with a list of recommended wines, but if it turns out to be the best four paragraphs and list of recommended wines that they've ever read, then that submission deserves a high score. We want to find the writers with the most talent and/or potential, and help them take their work to a higher level by participating in the Symposium.


Applications for 2019 fellowships will be accepted beginning on August 15, 2018. The fellowships are open to any professional editorial wine writer, wine/food writer or wine/travel writer. Each fellowship covers the cost of Symposium registration as well as up to four nights' lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley. Travel and incidental costs are not covered. Fellowships will be awarded by a panel of independent professional wine writers/editors.


Fellowship applicants who write in languages other than English must submit their two writing samples in the original language and in English translation.


To apply for a 2019 open fellowship, you must have submitted your published works for review no later than October 1, 2018. 

Editor's Choice Fellowships

Up to seven Editor's Choice fellowships will be awarded for the 2020 Symposium. Editors in the wine, food and travel publishing business will be asked to nominate and sponsor qualified editorial staff. Nominees will be evaluated based on the same criteria as other fellowship applicants: professional editorial status, quality and originality of work, and the publication's influence and reach. Editor's Choice applicants must meet or exceed the lowest accepted Fellowship applicant score in order to fulfill eligibility requirements, and will be confirmed by the Symposium Board of Directors. The value of Editor's Choice sponsorship is $3,500, which includes all programming and coaching sessions, meals, special events, and up to four nights of lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley. 

Entry Basics:

1. Each fellowship covers the cost of Symposium registration as well as up to four nights' lodging at Meadowood Napa Valley. Travel and incidental costs are not included.


2. Applicants must submit the following:

   * Cover letter explaining why you are an ideal candidate for a fellowship, including the frequency of your published works, the circulation of the publications or copies sold of your books, the monthly page visits of the digital media/blogs for which you write, and the geographic and demographic reach of the publications or books.

   * Two references (for example, editors, publishers, or professional colleagues) who can affirm your active work as an editorial content writer, verify that your work was paid for, and attest to the influence your writing may have.

  * A list of relevant published work from the past 12 months, including information about the reach of the publications in which the work appeared.

* Two published writing samples, which will be judged for quality and originality, as noted above. The articles must have been published in the 12 months prior to your application. In case of a book, it must have been published within the last 24 months.

NOTE: writing samples must be submitted in .doc form, with the author's name and the publication source on the front page only.


3. Regarding a book entry, please send a copy of a single chapter, at most.


4. Please submit a maximum of 3,000 words per article submitted, including book chapter.


5. Completed applications must be received by October 1, 2019.


6. Judges' scores will be compiled and averaged, and the director will award fellowships based on the highest average scores.


7. All applicants will be notified by telephone and/or e-mail by early December 2019. The names of awardees will be posted on the Resources page of the Symposium website.


If you have questions on fellowship applications, kindly contact
Julia Allenby at