Tim Patterson ~ RIP ~ May 17, 2014 ~ Published May 10, 2009

A True Gentleman in the Wine Writing Community…

As a wine publicist, I’m working daily with other writers who are on projects. This group of artists is a very important segment of the wine world… They “deliver the goods,” and we are all pretty eager to read what they have to write.

As in the past with this wine blog, I enjoy turning the tables on wine writers; asking them the questions they normally ask others, in order to deliver their stories to the Web. This gives us all another snapshot of who the people behind the verbiage all are…

Tim Patterson is one of my favorite writers, because he writes with such depth, and I always find myself learning something from his writings. Tim Paterson has the stick-with-it-ness to get to the most minute of details, and yet not lose his audience with his technical, far reaching depth.

When Concannon: The First One Hundred and Twenty Five Years was being written, Tim was its author with Jim Concannon. During that process, we had many communications. Tim needed to understand the significance of Concannon’s Cabernet Sauvignon clones 7, 8, and 11. I had already studied these findings in great detail. I then needed to help Tim, so he could better understand that facet of Concannon’s historical significance to the wine world. As a working partner, Tim was delightful in every way, and the bond was solidly forged from mutual respect.

The book turned out to be a gorgeous coffee table book, which was self published by Concannon Vineyards through Andy Katz; and is filled with Andy’s images, as well as many historical images of the family. It’s just a beautiful read, in only a way that Tim could have penned it.

Tim’s own wine blog is called Blind Muscat.

Below are my wine writer profile questions with Tim’s fascinating answers:

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

[Tim] I manage to fill my days with some sort of wine writing or other – including some commercial writing (websites, press kits, etc). I know that in classical journalistic ethics, writers were never supposed to work both sides of the street, editorial and commercial; but since there are hardly any full-time wine writing jobs left, the rest of us cobble together a living however we can, and go to some trouble to avoid conflicts of interest – I never, for example, review wines made by my commercial clients. But this way, I make a living all based on wine.

[Q] When did you start writing about wine?

[Tim] About ten years ago. I had done many other kinds of writing before then – news writing, TV criticism, academic writing, tech writing – and decided I had enough juice to take one more fling at a writing career. (At the time, I was working in a systems department for a big bank.)

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

[Tim] I was already a bit of a fanatic about the stuff, simply as a consumer, and my wife was doing a lot of food writing, so it seemed like a natural complement. I was also following the advice of an old grad school faculty advisor, who told me to work on topics that have some relationship to one of your vices – it keeps you motivated.

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

[Tim] I love the technical stuff – how wine is actually made – which is often not quite the way the marketing department for the winery will describe it. (No actual wine, for example, is made in any vineyard – it’s all made in wineries.) As a writer, as well as a consumer, I love finding new grapes / new wine regions / new styles, expanding my own horizons and possibly those of my readers.

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

[Tim]I have developed more of a steady groove with the semi-technical stuff, especially at Wines & Vines. And launched a (somewhat erratic) blog, which lets me do anything I want. How I want it to change in the near future is to focus on some book topics I have in my head, to move to longer writing forms.

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

[Tim] A 1995 (?) Grange Hermitage from Australia, in a wine ed class I was taking through UC Berkeley Extension in about 2000; it was so many orders of magnitude more complex and deep than anything else I had tasted in any class, it made my head spin.

[Q] What’s your favorite variety?

[Tim] The ones I haven’t tasted yet. In the meantime, my favorite white is Riesling, by a mile; and for special occasion reds, probably Pinot Noir, for everyday drinking, Grenache.

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

[Tim] Compared to 20 years ago, even ten years ago, wine from all over the world is light years better. And excellent cheaper ones – from Spain, Argentina, New Zealand, southern Italy, southern France, etc., etc.

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

[Tim] The one I’m rooting for – it hasn’t realized its full potential yet, but it will – is premium-quality bag-in-box wine, a terrific way to deliver much better wine to much larger numbers of regular folks, with a much lower carbon footprint and no TCA. Along the same lines, the mushrooming growth of local wine industries all over the country – 50 states, not just the West Coast – is thrilling.

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

[Tim] Port and blue cheese.

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

[Tim] Cooking; listening to music, from jazz to bluegrass to Portuguese fado.

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

[Tim] There are a handful of contemporary writers – Joan Didion, John Leonard, Dom De Lillo, a few others – whose work never fails to amaze me, and who remind me that writing is an art.