My favorite adage is a simple one with unending applications in life — “Never say never.”
I would never have thought about starting and owning a printed wine publication with my wife, Traci, as long as Wine Press Northwest was around. In 1998, Andy Perdue launched that magazine for the Tri-City Herald, and I helped him run it until 2012 when he recruited me to create GreatNorthwestWine.com.
This past summer, the Tri-City Herald and its owner — The McClatchy Co. — stopped publishing Wine Press Northwest with its Fall 2021 issue, ending a remarkable 23-year run. Even though I served as its primary freelance writer, I didn’t learn of the magazine’s demise until days after I turned in my final article.
If this were six years earlier, I’d not only be closer to 50 than 60, but I also would have Andy, his expertise and his levity to help steer this new ship. Alas, that’s not the case, and Andy addresses that in his first column for Great Northwest Wine magazine.
Fortunately for me, Jerry Hug became available to serve as the Publisher of Great Northwest Wine magazine when McClatchy decided to go in a different direction. Jerry’s involvement is one of many reasons why our longtime readers will see some continuity and familiar bylines — including Ken Robertson, my editor and the only columnist, aside from Andy, who has been with us since 1998.
The late Gregg McConnell made a few changes to the magazine template we developed for Wine Press Northwest when he ran it until his departure from McClatchy in 2017. At that point, Jerry took over and I began to work closely with Jerry.
It became obvious that if I were ever to consider launching a print publication, then I would want to work with Jerry. He spent his career managing the finances at a number of newspapers, including more than a decade at the Tri-City Herald, and served as its Publisher during the final few issues of Wine Press Northwest — which I believe were some of its best of the past decade. Jerry’s business acumen and interest in the Pacific Northwest wine industry make him an ideal fit, and his role will allow me to focus on editorial content. His wine collection is much larger than mine will ever be, and I don’t hold it against him that he still holds a mild interest in bottles from California.
Because photojournalist Richard Duval and all the writers have agreed to join us, there will be a familiar look and feel to our coverage. The staff box — which includes Andy and Ken — features experts who have been drinking Northwest wine and writing about it for decades. They will continue to share their insights, help us identify trends and provide vibrant coverage in print and online.
With their contributions, GreatNorthwestWine.com also will become more robust. The number of stories worth sharing about our industry on a daily basis is overwhelming, and there have never been more delicious Pacific Northwest wines to write about.
In each issue, we will continue to use the peer-judgings and recent releases to help us learn about new producers with wines worthy of attention as well as chart the programs of historic talents. Some of the best will be spotlighted early next year as we select wineries of the year and wineries to watch.
We chose one of Richard’s images of Red Mountain for this first cover because so many wines from that region went beyond gold during this fall’s Platinum Awards. Each year’s coverage will conclude with the Platinum, but in between our stories will include travel pieces highlighting wine country destinations throughout the Pacific Northwest — which we believe includes British Columbia.
All content from Great Northwest Wine magazine will ultimately be published on GreatNorthwestWine.com, though much of it won’t appear online until a week or so after our print subscribers receive their hard copy. And yes, it would help us immensely if anyone reading this became an annual subscriber through our website.
Thanks to Derek Nelson’s Focal Point Marketing in Kennewick, Wash., we are retooling GreatNorthwestWine.com to better serve our readers and our advertisers on a daily basis. Derek pulled our pomace out of the dot.com fire more than once in the past decade.
Next year, I plan to resume the Match Maker series that I’d written almost without fail since Volume 1, No. 1 in 1998, when the late John Sarich, culinary director for Chateau Ste. Michelle, helped me with its debut. One of my biggest regrets in the past year is the final restaurant profile I wrote for Wine Press Northwest — Josh and Lisa Lawrence’s Gärd Public House in Royal City, Wash. — did not get published online.
Many say that print is dead, but our team of writers, judging panels and friends hopes to defy that with four to six issues in 2022. After all, the history of the Pacific Northwest wine industry has been about proving people wrong and doing so deliciously.
We’re still figuring out our subscription model and how to get the printed magazine in the hands and homes of Pacific Northwest wine lovers. Traci and I have no outside investors or silent partners in Great Northwest Wine LLC, and Great Northwest Wine magazine likely won’t have a 23-year run with me at the helm. However, with the support of the wine community and its devoted consumers, perhaps this stick in the ground will grow some roots.
And I will always be open to suggestions, questions and comments.
- Eric Degerman is the president, CEO and co-founder of Great Northwest Wine LLC. He can be reached at eric@GreatNorthwestWine.com.