Well folks, I’m happy to be back after a brief staycation to clear the mind, focus on some other endeavors, and plan for the year ahead. As is my custom, I want to start 2012 by discussing some things to expect on these virtual pages this year, including several significant changes. Planned changes for 2012 include:

1. A rating system revision
2. Coverage of Oregon wines
3. Addition of other writers to this space
4. A revised site design
5. Improved access to the Tasting Note Database
6. Faster turnaround on wine reviews
7. Subscription charges for wine reviews

Each of these changes is explained below.

1. Rating System Revision

As long-time readers will recall, the unconventional rating system I have used for many years is homegrown. However, as I have pointed out previously, it is really nothing but a five-star/five letter system.

To make my rating system more uniform with others out there, I will be changing the display to a traditional five star system effective immediately. Please note this does indicate any change in the way that I am rating wine. Rather it is a change in annotation.

The changes look as follows. Rating definitions are in bold. The subsequent text, as before, is intended to be irreverent.

New System

Old System

Definition (unchanged)

Rough Equivalence in a 100 Point System



An exceptional wine. Buy it now and either tell all your friends about it or keep it very, very secret, depending on your personality and availability.




An excellent wine. Convince a friend to buy some and share it with you.




A good wine. Worth drinking. If it represents a particular value I will list it as Recommended.




A decent wine. Drink it if you must.



Not recommended or a flawed wine. Refuse this wine if served.

< 80

Note, this is essentially identical to the table previously shown for the rating system here.

I will also, as I have in the past, occasionally use half increments. These will replace old ratings as follows:

New System

Old System


**** ½



*** ½



** ½



I will, of course, continue to use parenthetical annotations that show what each of these ratings means.

I considered this year, as I have in the past, changing to a 100-point system. I have used this scale elsewhere, such as for the Seattle Metropolitan magazine Top 100 lists, and I may still do so at some point (I currently rate all wines using both my system and a 100-point scale). However, at present, my intention is to continue using a 5-point system.

Note that I have posted this same information, minus the information below, in a separate post in order to link it to the ‘Rating System’ listing on the banner. This post also includes some additional information, previous posted, about how I rate wine and can be read here.

2. Coverage of Oregon

In 2012, I will begin slowly expanding my coverage into Oregon. I expect this to be a gradual process, pointillistic at first and hopefully becoming more impressionistic over time.

I am doing this partly out of personal interest, but also because I believe Washington and Oregon have very synergistic wine offerings. At present there seems to be an invisible barrier between the two states, with each area focusing largely on its own wines. Personally, I believe considering the wines of the Pacific Northwest more broadly will better serve both Washington and Oregon.

Fear not. I do not intend this to detract or distract from my coverage of Washington.

3. Addition of other writers to this space

Since 2007, almost all of the writing here has been my own. I have had occasional guest posts, such as those from Carrie Simon at Washington Wine 9. In 2012, I intend to use additional writers for topics I don’t have the time, inclination, or expertise to cover. I will, of course, remain the sole wine reviewer.

4. Revised site design

I intend to do a major overhaul of the look and feel of this site at some point later this year with the intention of making content easier to find and improving the overall design.

5. Improved access to the Tasting Note Database

One of my key goals for this year is to improve access to my Tasting Note Database. The intent will be to make it easy for people to search for wine reviews from the web and from mobile devices. If you have suggestions or things you would like to see, feel free to email me at [email protected].

6. Faster turnaround on wine reviews

For the past year and a half I have carried a huge backlog of reviews, which has meant that, at times, there has been interminably long delay to get reviews published. At worst, I have been unable to publish some reviews of winery visits due to time constraints. This obviously doesn’t serve anybody well.

After spending a significant amount of time in 2011 reducing the backlog, I intend to have a faster turnaround in 2012. This should make it less likely that certain wines are unavailable by the time I get my notes up as well as provide more timely information for all concerned.

7. Subscription charges for wine reviews

I have long considered charging a subscription fee to access certain parts of the site. Personally, I have wanted to avoid this by making enough money to sustain myself through other endeavors related to wine writing but not specific to this space. While I’ve made progress in this regard, I can only continue to be partially self-funded for so long.

I therefore expect to add subscription charges later this year. The most likely form that this will take is requiring a subscription to access wine reviews on the site. All other information will most likely remain freely available.


Personally, I am extremely excited for 2012 and hope that you are as well. I look forward to having each of you continue to join me as we explore all that this area has to offer.

Please contact me at [email protected] if you have any questions about any of these changes.