Change in responsibilities at Wine Enthusiast

I am thrilled to announce today an expansion of my responsibilities at Wine Enthusiast. As of the beginning of this year, I will be covering Oregon and Canada for the magazine, in addition to my current responsibilities of Washington and Idaho. I am truly excited for the opportunity to cover the Pacific Northwest and Canada in full.

Let me start by saying that I have a great admiration for Oregon wines and winemakers. I have tasted and enjoyed the state’s wines for many years. In fact, some of my earliest wine inspirations two decades ago came from Oregon. I also briefly reviewed Southern Oregon wines for Wine Enthusiast from 2013 to 2014, and I covered Oregon wine as part of my beat as Northwest correspondent for Vineyard & Winery Management magazine from 2013 to 2017. I have previously attended IPNC, ¡Salud!, and the Oregon Wine Symposium. I have spent a good deal of time in the state with winegrowers. I am excited to spend more time there in the coming years and to focus on the region, its producers, and its wines more intently. I firmly believe Oregon is making some of the highest quality wines in the world and that the region has accomplished as much as any American wine region. It will be an honor to cover all parts of the state the state, to review the wines, and to help tell the story.

Canadian wine meanwhile is, for many Americans, a gem that remains hidden. For a variety of reasons, few of the country’s wines are imported to the US. That is a shame, as there are wonderful wines being made in Canada. I have traveled to Canadian wine country previously and have tried many of the wines. I also reviewed Canada for Wine Enthusiast briefly from 2013 to 2014. I look forward to peeling back the curtain on the exciting wine being made there.

For people and producers in those regions who may not be familiar with me, I grew up on the east coast and moved to Seattle, Washington in 2000. It was at that time that I became interested in wine. I started Washington Wine Report as a friends and family email list in 2005, reviewing and writing about the state’s wines and wine regions. I launched Washington Wine Report as an on-line site in 2007 – fifteen years ago this year. I left the corporate world (biotech and software) at the end of 2009 to dedicate myself to writing about wine full-time. I began writing for Seattle Metropolitan magazine late the following year and started writing for Wine Enthusiast at the beginning of 2013. I continue to write for both magazines. During that time, I have reviewed almost 15,000 wines and have written over 400 articles. I have also written over 1,800 blog posts for my own site.

Prior to coming to the west coast, my background was in science and research. Both very much inform how I approach tasting and reviewing wine. They also inform how I think about the subject more generally. My goal in reviewing wine is to be objective as one can be, to provide consistency in approach, and to give every wine the exact same shot as every other wine. To accomplish this, all wines I review for Wine Enthusiast are sampled blind in varietal sets without exception. In these tastings, I do not sort by any other factor than variety, including price, appellation, or vintage (read more about how I taste wine here).

In writing about and reviewing wine, I also believe that it’s important to be regionally based and to spend time in wine country. It’s important to kick the dirt, to have one’s finger on the pulse, and to get to fully know the producers, their history, and their wines. I look forward to doing each of these things in my new coverage areas. I will try and represent these regions as fully and as passionately as I can. In addition to spending time in the regions I cover, I also always have an ‘open door’ policy. That is to say, I am always happy to meet with producers, talk with them on the phone, and, in today’s world, Zoom with them to get to know them and their wines more fully.

For those who are already familiar with my work and are wondering how this change might impact what I currently do, I do not anticipate making any changes in the approach I have had at Wine Enthusiast for the last nine years. In terms of reviewing, I have typically tasted approximately 1,400 wines per year for Wine Enthusiast, which is nowhere near my capacity. I will have some assistance in processing samples (specifically opening boxes and sorting wines), which will assist with throughput. Otherwise the way that I taste and review wines will remain unchanged. The effort that I have put into covering Washington and Idaho will remain unchanged. If anything, I expect that covering other regions will add to the perspective I bring, which will benefit all.

I have long said that this is the Golden Age for wine in the Pacific Northwest. I believe that with all of my heart. I look forward to continuing to cover this unique period of time in this area and to now cover the region in full.

Sean P. Sullivan

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