James Beard award winning wine writer Cole Danehower died on Sunday after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
Cole was well known for his coverage and promotion of Northwest food and wines. He founded the Oregon Wine Report in 1999, for which he was received the James Beard Journalism Award for Most Outstanding Food and Wine Newsletter in North America. In 2006 he merged it with NW Palate Magazine, taking over as editor-in-chief. In 2010 he earned further acclaim for his book, Essential Wines and Wineries of the Pacific Northwest, which not only covered Oregon and Washington, but also British Columbia and Idaho. After NW Palate ceased publication in 2012, he moved on, starting the Essential Northwest Wines blog, and a consulting firm called Pour the Passion. In between all of these projects, he was a wine judge and a prolific writer for magazines and websites.
In 2010, he wrote an editorial for NW Palate which has stayed in my mind ever since. In it, Cole talked about the dissociation many of us have with our food.
I do advocate that we all make an effort to learn more about where our food comes from. The anonymous packages of meat and the unreal perfection of produce at our supermarkets give us a warped idea of what food is all about.
So I have a New Year’s resolution: I intend to get closer to my food and drink.
I will visit farms to better understand how they raise their products. I will join more than one Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) consortium. I will visit more winery tasting rooms, and buy direct from the winery. I will order more meat from the rancher. I will frequent farmers markets more often, and when I can’t do that, I will shop at markets that source organically and locally. And I will also educate myself on issues of local food economies, organic and biodynamic farming, food processing, and heritage breeds of everything from beans to beef.
Something tells me he did exactly that.
Cole was an early advertiser on this site, and as we corresponded, his infectious passion for the Northwest and our local food and wine scene was unmistakable. He will be missed by many.