As reflected in our Jan. 31 - Feb. 28 issue and on WineSpectator.com, I recently realigned our tasting staff in order to position our editors with appropriate wine region assignments for the coming years. This was partially in response to longtime friend and senior editor Kim Marcus advising me earlier that after 33 years with Wine Spectator, he was ready to retire at the end of 2021.
Kim’s decision came as a surprise to me as he was only 62 years old, yet I recognized that he had devoted half his life to being part of the Wine Spectator family. I told him that while we would miss having him on hand, I was fully supportive of him beginning his next chapter. He was looking forward to traveling with his wife, Wendy, and pursuing his personal hobbies, which he had been tabling for a number of years.
In recent months, I spent more time than usual talking with Kim. When I asked him if he wanted to continue to write for us, he told me he would love to, and we agreed that he would do several cover stories a year, along with occasional features and dispatches from his upcoming trips. He was very excited to continue his association with us.
However, I was knocked off my feet when I learned of his sudden death on January 11th. I have owned Wine Spectator for 44 years, and I realized that Kim is the first member of our family to pass on. All of his colleagues are in shock and devastated at the loss of our dear friend.
Kim was a quiet, dedicated, intelligent and hard-working member of the senior staff. He was an editor at the St. Helena Star prior to our hiring him in 1988. When I shifted Wine Spectator’s headquarters from California to New York City, I asked him to move east as well. He did, and became managing editor of the publication in 1999. Then, in 2017, I relocated him back to his native Northern California as senior editor and bureau chief of our Napa office. There, he managed the operations, led our seasoned West Coast staff and also began covering California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in addition to his other wine regions.
Until recently, I organized a retreat each year for all the senior editors somewhere in the world; locations included the Caribbean, France and Switzerland, as well as many places across the United States. At these meetings, Kim always came forward with valuable insights and ideas on how to better serve our readers.
As any small sampling of his stories demonstrates, Kim’s writing at Wine Spectator was as varied as you can imagine. He was at the forefront of important news such as the appearance of phylloxera in California. His wine coverage spanned the familiar—including California Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, for which he was our lead taster—as well as the unexpected, such as his pioneering coverage of Argentina, Chile and Israel. His captivating profiles included luminary winemakers Bill Harlan, Jess Jackson and Mark Aubert.
Kim’s death is a great loss for his friends and family, for Wine Spectator readers, and for the world of wine he loved so much.