Greg Walter was working as a clerk in a San Diego wine shop in 1980 when the owner saw a help-wanted ad for a fledgling newspaper called The Wine Spectator and suggested Walter apply. He did, launching a career that spanned 14 years at the publication, where he rose to the position of president, and another 22 years in wine and publishing, including his own newsletter, The PinotReport. Walter died at his home last night in Yountville after a long battle with cancer. He was 58.
Walter's wine-writing career tracked that of Wine Spectator as it grew from a small twice-monthly newspaper in San Diego into the benchmark consumer magazine for American wine lovers. He was a keen student of wine, a good writer and better editor, taking pleasure in overseeing the magazine's production and printing operations when it moved to San Francisco in 1983.
"Greg was one of the very first employees of Wine Spectator back when it was launched in San Diego," recalled Marvin R. Shanken, editor and publisher of Wine Spectator. "For many, many years he was a key contributor, rising to president of the magazine. Greg was a dear friend, a very popular person and one of the leaders of our team, a solid rock and a pioneer in wine journalism. He helped the magazine grow into what it is today."
Walter was studying journalism at San Diego State University in the late 1970s and working a part-time job as assistant manager at Crest Liquor when his boss showed him the help-wanted ad for an editorial assistant. The newspaper's founder and editor, Bob Morrissey, hired him.
After leaving Wine Spectator in 1994, Walter worked as a freelance wine and food writer and a publishing and content consultant for several organizations through his firm, the Carneros Group. He co-authored, edited and published Chalone: A Journey on the Wine Frontier, as well as several other books under his own imprint, Carneros Press.
He was also involved in the publication of several books by Wine Spectator Press, working with me on four books, California’s Great Cabernets, California’s Great Chardonnays and two editions of Wine Spectator’s California Wine.
For the past 15 years, he published the newsletter PinotReport, traveling and tasting through regions to taste his favorite grape, Pinot Noir; it won the James Beard Award for Newsletter Writing on Food, Beverage, Restaurants and Nutrition in 2005.
"Greg has been the very best advocate for Pinot Noir in our time," said California winemaker Greg La Follette."I am personally indebted to his efforts to bring the stories of Pinot to the wine-drinking public."
A native of Redwood City, Calif, Walter was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2015.
He is survived by his mother, Arloa Walter, two brothers, his former wife Lisa Adams Walter and his daughter Grace Walter. Donations may be sent to his family at YouCaring.com.