First we learn there is such a thing as an “Instagram wine influencer.” Then we learn one of the Bay Area’s leading practitioners in this field was arrested for her alleged involvement in a pig's head vandalism incident related to the Derek Chauvin trial.
In the year 2021, one day you can be a leading “Instagram wine influencer,” and the next day the Santa Rosa police accuse you of throwing a pig’s head at the former home of an officer who testified at the Derek Chauvin trial.
I had maybe too much fun writing this piece. It's been very revealing to see how sexist some of the criticism of these Instagram wine influencers has been, but the real question is whether they can help sell wine.https://t.co/haPakEejat— Esther Mobley (@Esther_mobley) May 5, 2021
Let’s examine this unusual timeline, beginning with the above Chronicle article from May 5 entitled “Instagram's wine influencers started thriving during the pandemic. Their rise has prompted sexist backlash.” The arc of the story addresses a new form of influencer marketing wherein Instagrammers pose with wineries’ finest vintages, hoping to goose sales. Legacy wine writers complain such posts constitute a “thirst trap” featuring “carefully picked diaphanous clothing, ‘nipple poke’ a specialty,” while the Chron analyzes whether such marketing actually creates a return on investment for the wineries. Much of the story follows Amber Lucas, whose posts are not sexual, and the various technical aspects of her photo shoots. Lucas has also been published in KQED on the intersection (or lack thereof) of Black Lives Matter and the wine industry.
Three suspects have been arrested in connection with an early morning vandalism of the former Santa Rosa home of Barry Brodd, who testified as a defense witness in the Derek Chauvin murder trial, that left the residence smeared with animal blood and... https://t.co/ajjofwtfoJ— KPIX 5 (@KPIXtv) May 13, 2021
A mere week later, KPIX reported that Lucas was one of three suspects arrested following an April 17 incident wherein a pig’s head and animal blood were thrown on a home once owned by a former Santa Rosa cop, Barry Brodd, who testified in defense of Derek Chauvin’s use of force. (Brodd left the Santa Rosa PD in 2004 and has long since moved out of said home.)
The trio were also accused of throwing blood on a sculpture in Santa Rosa Plaza that same night. Multiple news sources connected Lucas as the Insta influencer, and the Chronicle mentioned this in the final sentence of their own coverage.
NEW:— Demian Bulwa (@demianbulwa) May 21, 2021
Instagram wine influencer Amber Lucas denies involvement in pig's blood vandalism at former Santa Rosa home of Derek Chauvin witness
By @ctuan https://t.co/ylLlbCRr7Z
Fast forward to Friday, and the Chron has an exclusive statement from Lucas on the matter. “I have been falsely accused of actions I would never do; that is not me, or what I stand for,” she said in the statement to the Chronicle. “As a community leader, what I am enduring are the very actions that I stand and speak against, and actively denounce: the targeting of women of color, the abuse of power from law enforcement, and the attempt to silence voices of advocacy and truth. I am aware that I am on trial in two courts — including the one of public opinion. I understand this is an attempt to silence, and discredit me within my community, and nationwide.”
One of the other accused women has retained attorney Tony Serra, who has famously represented Raymond “Shrimp Boy” Chow and Ghost Ship proprietor Derick Almena. Their defense is clearly becoming more coordinated, as the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports that about 60 people rallied for the defendants at the Santa Rosa Police Station on Saturday, and their GoFundMe is up and going.
And that defense is arguing that Lucas was conveniently picked as a suspect, because of her work in getting a police oversight measure passed last November. Should that defense produce any fruit, this “only in Wine Country” saga is going to get a lot juicier.
Related: Pelosi's House Vandalized With Graffiti, Blood-Like Paint — and Pig's Head [SFist]
Image: @AMusedBlog via Twitter