From the editor, Sean P. Sullivan: As a critic, I aim to conduct myself with the highest level of integrity and independence in all professional matters. I attempt to avoid any and all conflicts of interest. Reputation is everything for a critic, hard won and easily lost. I protect mine fiercely.

For this reason:

  • I taste all wines blind without knowledge of producer, vintage, or appellation.
  • I do not accept gifts from wineries, including free stays at winery accommodations.
  • I do not perform work for wineries nor do I have any financial relationship with wineries.
  • I do not accept any type of advertising from wineries or other businesses.
  • I do not participate in media trips sponsored by individual wineries or informal groups of wineries.
  • I do not conduct for-profit wine events related to this space where wineries are asked to pour or contribute wine.
  • I do not participate in dining or other such experiences with winery owners or staff where pleasure is sole focus.
  • I do not believe in reviewing wine from an ivory tower. My ‘door’ is always open, and I am always happy to talk with and meet producers in person, on the phone, or virtually. If you have questions, please ask. I am always open to dialogue and discussion.
  • I might, on occasion, have a regional association assist with defraying travel and accommodation costs. I never allow individual wineries or informal groups of wineries to do the same.
  • I might, on occasion, participate in media trips in the areas that I cover that are sponsored by regional associations. I have found these trips to be invaluable in gaining a wider appreciation for an area. I never participate in similar trips that are winery-sponsored.
  • I may have a meal with a winery staff member for the sake of information sharing and expedience. I have paid for those meals in some instances. In others, the winery staff member has. If this happens, I work to ensure the meal is modest and the focus is on information exchange. Such occasions are exceedingly rare.
  • In the interest of full disclosure, I have been an educational consultant for the Washington Wine Commission since 2013. The Wine Commission works on behalf of the state and its wineries and growers to raise awareness and demand for Washington wine.


Published September 2022.