Matt Kramer Out as Oregonian Wine Critic
As another step in their “change of focus”, Matt Kramer is out at The Oregonian newspaper.
Matt Kramer is an American wine critic since 1976, who is a columnist for The Oregonian, (and was a columnist for The New York Sun before its demise in 2008), and previously for the Los Angeles Times, and since 1985 a regular contributor to the Wine Spectator. He has been described as “perhaps the most un-American of all America’s wine writers”, by Mike Steinberger as “one of the more insightful and entertaining wine writers around”, and by Hugh Johnson as “an intellectual guerrilla among wine writers”.”
Like any critic, Mr. Kramer has friends and foes, but he is one of the best-known wine writers around. Though I don’t always agree with his selections, one of the reasons I like him, is that he tends to focus on lesser-known wines that are available for prices lower than their brethren. When he writes a positive review about a locally available wine, it often sells out.
Many people will miss his column. I know I’m sorry to see it go.
Bob Liner says
Unfortunately not a rumor. Matt Kramer’s last Oregonian column ran Tuesday December 28, 2010.
Food Dude says
Thanks Bob. I’m putting it as confirmed.
jesus. what is the Oregonian going to axe next? their
unbiased and insightful political coverage?
Today’s O said something about folding the Opinion section into Metro and focusing on local and regional issues. Which would seem to mean buh-bye to commentary on national and international news. Sounds to me like they’re eliminating their NY Times, etc. syndicated content to save a few more bucks.
Color me mystified.
It ought to be obvious that the way for a newspaper to grow its readership is to provide its readers with original, high-quality content — and in particular, that staff columnists with high “name value” are one of the few unique assets local newspapers have in the current mediasphere.
So it makes no sense whatever for the O to systematically drop virtually all of its premier columnists as it has in the last year or two — among them Jonathan Nicholas, Margie Boulé, Roger Porter, and now Matt Kramer. It’s almost as if they’ve been deliberately trying to kill themselves….
Just another step in the dumbing down of the Oregonian’s
food coverage. I expect reviews of Bud Light at different dive bars
around town to replace his column.
Who’s next? Steve Duin? Gaaaaaaaaaaah.
Duin is about the only “name value” columnist they’ve got left. Unless one counts John Canzano, I suppose, but sports seems to be at least partially immune to the purges.
Oh my god, please?
How not surprising they would do that. Now along with no credible food criticism in our “major” daily, we have no credible wine criticism either. Being in the retail side of the wine biz, while I didn’t always agree with his picks, I appreciated that he turned so many people on to wines they otherwise would never have tried. Also respected the fact that he wasn’t a price snob. His insight will be missed.
Bye Bye, Matt. He turned me on to many wonderful wines that are still favorites. I will miss him. Now what? Does he have a blog?
Food Dude says
He has a column at WineSpectator.com, but I think you have to pay a subscription.
The “O” seems to be on a mission to lose all food/wine
readership and credibility. Kramer was one of the last reasons I
bothered to read any such columns in the paper. Kramer offered
genuine commentary and tasting notes on wines that were actually
available locally, and usually at reasonable tariffs. His Spectator
writing does not include that sort of local focus, and I can’t see
our local fishwrap finding someone to fill this gap. Well, at least
we can hope for a great new “O” column about not-so-snooty wines
that “real” Oregonians love to drink – good ol’ Yellow Tail, jug
wine, and maybe KJ Chard for the special occasions. I can’t
It worked with Roger Porter, so why not hire Matt Kramer for a monthly wine column?
Food Dude says
I wish! That would be the combination, wouldn’t it? Unfortunately,
I’m barely paying Roger, which leaves nothing much for anyone
Food Dude, you could be the Gastronomic shot caller in PDX. I heartily endorse this idea.
Ditto to that, Joisey.
Food Dude says
If there was a way I could make it work, I would. It should be said that he hasn’t approached me.
Ditto that……..no face recognition, no special perks. The facts and just the facts.
I’ve been at a few restaurants when ( won’t mention attention seeking names) the VIP treatment was given. It’s noticeable, not whining, just sayin’………..
Indeed, quite a loss. Like him or not, Matt did, as others aptly put it above, provide credibility. I think it a giant mistake on the part of the O, given that the wine is a major industry, tourism draw and enjoyed by such a large constituency here in Oregon.
What a shame.
I agree it’s sad that Roger, Matt and others are no longer employees of the Oregonian Publishing Company, but this action doesn’t necessarily mean that the paper will no longer have columns on wine, food, etc. Just like in the manufacturing/high tech world, companies are learning how outsourcing is really a way to reduce costs/increase profits in this economy. Example: Mr mczlaw is writing major pieces for the Oregonian now as a “special contributor”. It will be much less expensive for the Oregonian to buy pieces from these writers (and others) without having to pay their salary or insurance. So, the question on the table now is: “Will the Oregonian buy work from knowledgeable writers who know the Portland food and wine scene or will they buy some generic text about restaurants in some other part of the PNW?” It will be interesting to see what their next step is.
Almost none of the other columnists let go over the past several years — Nicholas, Boulé, Chelsea Cain, etc. — have been replaced with anything like equivalent content, freelance/syndicated or otherwise. Note too that instead of an actual locally produced Sunday TV section, we now have the option to pay more for an astoundingly bad entertainment magazine (a subscription to either TV Guide or Entertainment Weekly costs very little more and delivers far more and better original editorial content).
A few tiny restaurant reviews, about evenly divided between freelancer submissions and reader-supplied items, have been running in the O’s zoned Saturday neighborhood news sections. (Essentially, this seems to be where the “Cheap Eats” feature formerly seen in A&E has landed, although these items aren’t labeled explicitly as such.)
kramer’s column was one of the only sections i looked forward to.
“outsourcing is really a way to reduce costs/increase profits in this economy”
perhaps they could mark food day a “special advertising section” and have restaurant owners write the articles.
steve wino says
Here’s a toast to Matt, though I know him only by his writings. If, indeed, you are gone from the “0”. we will miss our regular visit with you over the Sunday paper. And local wine shops will miss quickly selling out of whatever wines you discovered and shared with us. Cheers,in this case with a 2008 Poet’s Leap Riesling from Long Shadows Winery, a wine I am sure you would enjoy.
Free online content replacing printed media? Food carts replacing brick and mortar?
You get what you pay for, and if you don’t, then you lose it. Just a thought.
Speaking of which, when is your “Haggis To Go” cart opening?
Not that I want to come out in the Big O’s defense, but does anyone actually know that it was the one to sever the relationship? Kramer stopped his column once before — I think it was to live in Italy full-time. He could be working on a new book or leaving the PNW for good, perhaps? All the same it’s a shame since his reviews are the only ones that have ever sold wine. She’s a good writer, but when Heidi Yorkshire was published in his place years ago her recommendations just didn’t sell.
Matt will be sorely missed. The O continues to shoot itself in the foot. The guys at Liner and Elsen have a good selection variable prices and a great newsletter. Zupans on Burnside also will steer you right ( although pricier at times).
Hmm. Why was there a Matt Kramer article today on Oregon Live?
Just sayin’ . . .
Food Dude says
There are some in the queue. His last article has been written
The downward slide of the Oregonian continues. Another great loss to their food/wine reporting.
Jonathan Nicholas wasn’t “let go” — he took a voluntary buyout, as did his wife, Vivian. No one ever asked them to leave. Matt was never on staff — he’s always been “outsourced” — freelance. Roger was never on staff. Neither was Chelsea, who stopped writing her column on her own accord — really, honest, truly.
I will miss Matt’s columns, too.
It seems The O has forgotten Portland is a food and wine destination. We love our Ducks ( oh so sad) but we love our food and wine.
Maybe they can split their budget on sports……..just sayin….
Does anyone else see disturbing similarities between the Oregonian and Brett Favre’s career? Can they just kill the whole thing now and get it over with?
Natasha Stanley says
As a stalwart Oregonian subscriber and foodie, I’m pretty annoyed about this. I put a Post on The Oregonian FB page – let’s see if they leave it up. Please add comments of support.
Natasha Stanley says
Oh and here was their reply: Hi there. Thanks for the comment. Unfortunately, because we previously had two wine columnists, we had to cut one as a cost-saving measure. You can read Katherine Cole’s wine column and wine picks in the FOODday section every Tuesday.
Not exactly a satisfying answer.
Kim Brater says
Matt Kramer’s column ran in the Oregonian’s FoodDay on Tuesday, January 11th.
Food Dude says
See the comments
Hey, some of us are still catching up on last weeks Oregonian!
and most us are saving ziggy for tomorrow,
so no spoilers!
The thing I don’t understand about Matt Kramer is that he’s a great wine writer, but he’s inaccessible. Honestly, who would really care if the Oregonian evaporated tomorrow, if Matt Kramer had a web presence and some way to access his brilliance. Instead you have to hunt around madly to find anything he’s written.
I miss his column, but on the other hand it would be nice if he’d start a blog.
Plenty of his Spectator writing is readily accessible, although much is behind the paywall.
Matt’s wine columns were an Oregonian highlight for me, providing a great selection of commentaries and his personal views on a wine that you could take or leave, but for the most part were very informative. Due to his column I am more discriminating as a wine drinker, I buy and share much more wine than before, as do my friends, many of whom live not just in the Willamette Valley but in Washington and in the midwest who regularly googled Matt or the Oregonian for his column. I believe he single-handedly has turned more people on to this region’s wines than you can imagine, a great economic boon for the wine industry. Nearly any wine, especially the moderately priced ones, would sell out because of his stamp of approval and wine stewards often pinned his review near those wines they carried. His departure from the newspaper is a sad loss for Oregonians.