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Wine,Wine Writer

In the Northwest, Paul Gregutt Rules ~ Wine Writer #27

I have to start this blog by first remember wine writer Tom Stockley, who covered the Northwest for years… Then, he was on that fatal airplane crash…

Tom Stockley, wine columnist for the Seattle Times and the Wines & Vines Wine Writer of the Year in 1990, was among some 88 persons aboard a January 31 [2000] flight from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, to Seattle. His wife, Margaret, also was among the passengers.

I had easily come to depend on Tom for all things “wine” headed to the Northwest. We all felt the huge loss left by Tom- the PR community, his readers, all of the wine brands that he covered, and I’m sure his family and friends.  The loss included his solid integrity, and the personal connection we all had with him.

The Times just couldn’t, in their heart-of-hearts, replace Tom for quite a while. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, however, Paul Gregutt emerged. And, to his credit, he’s very ably filled those very big shoes left by Tom…. Everyone, including those in the Northwest who enjoyed having their own “wine guy,” feel we’re all back on track. Paul’s now the “go to guy” in the great Northwest.

Starting this story about Paul, with a lead-in about Tom Stockley, is such a somber beginning, I realize. It’s written this way, though, to demonstrate the history of the Northwest’s wine influences, and to acknowledge how life moves us all forward to new heights, as we meet new people who are equally talented and passionate… Paul’s not only replaced Tom Stockley at the Seattle Times, but he’s gone on to also become Wine Enthusiast magazine’s Northwest Editor.

Like all wine magazines, Wine Enthusiast has compartmentalized regions, with specialized editors. The magazine has such a talented team of writers… luminaries… who have wonderful experiences, opinions, and presence.  I wish I could put this team together, like I do with all my PS I Love You winemakers, and take them on a road show. I’d call it, the Enthusiastic Wine Panel. It’s an obvious pun, however, it says a lot about what it would be like to be in a room with all of these experienced wine stars at one time. Most wine events now hold seminars as part of what they offer in their packages, and leaders of that topic (wine makers, proprietors, etc.). At Wine Enthusiast’s Toast of the Town event in San Francisco this past March, Steve Heimoff led a couple of panels. Perhaps that’s in the future for wine enthusiasts at the events held by the magazine? [It’s an additional profit center for the magazine, but more importantly, it’s great interaction between the writers and their audiences.]

Like our writing/blogging friend Steve Heimoff, both of these gentlemen from WE offer wine education as something they’re available to do. I’ve hired many wine writers to be the guest presenters at my events. People love having them there, and an honorarium for their presentations help to support their efforts. It’s such a great use of talent and knowledge. Today, wine writers are expanding themselves as they grow with the times. Most of these writers, like Paul, have a serious following that continues to develop… Paul’s Website says it all:

book me

I am available for private seminars, guided tastings and speaking engagements for groups of all sizes. Whether you are looking for a themed tasting, a lively lecture/discussion, a wine class or an exploration of a specific topic, producer or vintage, I will work with you to create a uniquely memorable event.

Fees will be dependent upon the size of your group and the type of tasting you would like me to create. Examples: Varietal tastings, regional tastings, competitive (WA vs. CA) tastings, old vs. young wines, library wines – the possibilities are limitless.

Contact me by e-mail and we will work out a custom program for you. References available on request.

Here’s is a Q&A with Paul. His website gets into much greater detail.  Please click here, for the “long” of it.

Writer Profile questions:

[Q]  Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[A]  I worked for 25 years in print, broadcast radio and television, corporate media, and internet development. Ten years ago I began writing about wine full time.

[Q]  Tell me about that.

[A]  My first articles appeared in print in 1984. I began freelancing for Wine Spectator in 1985, and wrote for them for 3 or 4 years. I have had a weekly wine column in one or another Seattle publication almost continuously since 1986, in the Seattle Times since 2002. I joined the Wine Enthusiast Tasting Panel in 1998 and have written for them ever since. I have also written for Decanter and numerous other publications, and currently write for Vineyard & Winery Management.

[Q]  What prompted you to start writing about wine?

[A]  I was a working journalist with a background in reviewing (restaurants, films, music, theater) and an interest in wine. I saw a new wine industry emerging in Washington, and I felt I could cover it well.

[Q]  What aspect(s) of wine do you most enjoy covering?

[A]  Unquestionably walking the vineyards with growers and winemakers.

[Q]  How has your job changed since you’ve started?

[A]  There were about 20 wineries in Washington when I started, maybe another 20 in Oregon. There are now over 1000 between the two states.

[Q]  What’s the most memorable wine you’ve ever tasted

[A]  Out of maybe 100,000 wines? I have no clue!

[Q]  What’s your favorite variety?

[A]  It depends entirely on the region and producer.

[Q]  Do you believe that there are better quality, lower priced wines today, than in past vintages?

[A]  In many respects, yes I do.

[Q]  What’s your favorite innovation in the wine industry over the past few years?

[A]  Packaging – glass closures, different options such as bag in box, etc.

[Q]  What’s your favorite food and wine pairing?

[A]  Sancerre and chevre.

[Q]  What are your interests outside of the wine business?

[A]  Playing guitar, songwriting, performing and recording.

[Q]  Who inspires you (wine business or outside of it, doesn’t matter)?

[A] Bob Dylan. Pablo Picasso. Robert Mondavi.

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4 Responses to “In the Northwest, Paul Gregutt Rules ~ Wine Writer #27”

  1. PaulG says:

    Thanks, Jo, for the kind words. Tom Stockley was a good friend and mentor, and I have honored him as such in my book on Washington Wines & Wineries. When I first agreed to write the wine column in the Seattle Times, I made it a point to focus on Tom and his irreplaceable contribution to the development of the industry.

    I apologize for the brevity of my answers to your excellent questions. You caught me on an especially stressful (as in too many deadlines, too little time) day!

  2. Jo says:

    Paul, you’ve done a great job as a natural segue. As I mentioned on my blog, people can find the “long of it” on your website, and it’s a good idea to drive traffic there, too.

    A blog over 1,000 words is tough for people to stick with, as there’s so much info being delivered these days… As we all know.

    This one just went over 1,000 (1,035), so we’ve done our jobs!

    Thanks for helping, and I was delighted to learn that you’re a musician. That was my greatest take-away.

  3. Rusty Eddy says:

    Paul has filled Tom’s shoes admirably. Both great guys and tireless supporters of all things Northwest. Except, I don’t recall Tom ever having written about Waitsburg…!

  4. Jo says:

    All things get better as we go along, with the pre-building blocks setting down a solid base for others… I don’t ever remember Tom having an image of him with a guitar, either. Ever expanding…

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