Economy and Internet hit US wine columnists

The San Francisco Chronicle and several other long-established US print publications known for their wine coverage are in imminent danger of folding.

As in the UK and Europe, the printed wine word is fast disappearing in the US as free internet sites, sharp plunges in ads and the eroding economy take their toll.

The San Francisco Chronicle, whose wine coverage has been considered the best on the West Coast, will be sold or closed if drastic cost savings cannot be wrested from its unions in the near future.

The 145-year-old daily is owned by the Hearst Corporation. If the paper folds, wine editor Jon Bonné’s byline could disappear unless the content was shifted to a website.

Hearst said in January that if a buyer for its Seattle Post-Intelligencer could not be located by March it would shut that money-draining daily, too. The paper’s wine columnist, Richard Kinssies, is well known in the Pacific Northwest.

New York City’s wine world was jolted by lay-off of Lettie Teague, executive wine editor of Food & Wine – the national monthly published by American Express. Teague is to continue her column, titled Wine Matters, but not as a full-time staff member.

Gourmet magazine, Condé Nast’s national monthly, has experienced a steep decline in ad pages and its future is reportedly uncertain. Its website, however, attracts sizable interest. Gourmet’s wine content is written by drinks editor James Rodewald and contributing editor Gerald Asher.

Written by Howard G Goldberg in New York