Journalist interviews wine writer

The wine community gathered together to question a wine writer from the Oregonian. The tables were turned May 1 in T.J. Day 222.

Brick House Vineyard’s owner Doug Tunnell brought the opportunity to question Oregonian wine columnist, Katherine Cole, to Linfield. Opened to the community, the room was packed with many who are in the wine industry.

Tunnell is a former CBS newsman who switched to wine making in 1990. Today, he owns Brick House Vineyard in Newberg, Ore.

Cole is a mother of two and writes about wine for the Oregonian and MIX Magazine. Cole believes that wine is subjective.

“There is no gold standard,” Cole said. “One person could this is oxidized, I can’t drink it, but another could say, this is so old world, I love it.”

Tunnell then raised the question of “why have wine scoring?”

“There’s a scoring range from one to 100, and I just want a 96, how do I get a 96?” Tunnell said, earning laughter from the audience.

Cole responded with saying that she didn’t agree with scoring.

“Wine critiques, whether it comes from newspapers or the blogosphere, stems from wine appreciation,” Cole said.

When writing about wine, Cole said that she doesn’t always get it right.

“Sometimes I don’t get it right, and then I want to cry, Cole said.

“If you start to follow a certain wine publication, make sure they also get their facts straight.”

Tunnell also raised a question about Cole’s thoughts and practices surrounding free sample giveaways to critics and creating relationships with the wine makers.

“There are some distinct advantages that those who develop relationships [with the wine makers] have that I don’t, Cole said.

“There are two ways to think about it. There’s those of us who don’t engage in the industry, and we are imbeciles, we are morons. How could we possibly write about what [wine makers] are doing? Getting you’re hands dirty… There is no way we can understand what you guys are doing without being apart of it.”

Cole goes on to explain that there is the other side, which is the newspaper side, where journalists know not to cross the line.

After Tunnell finished his list of questions, the audience was allowed to ask Cole additional questions.

Cole also visited with students, faculty and administrators during lunch and dinner. She also talked in various mass communication classes.

Kaylyn Peterson

Copy chief

Kaylyn Peterson can be reached at