Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Michael Lonsford Says Farewell to the Houston Chronicle

An email from Michael...this blog is read by hundreds of industry folks each day, so here ya go...

"After 28 years of writing my wine column, and dealing with some terrific people such as yourself (but let's call a spade a spade here - I had to deal with many assholes, too, like Justin Meyer, I don't care if he
is dead), my wine column at the Houston Chronicle is history. So I need to say that dealing with many of the wine people I have come to know and like - the pleasure
has been mine, and I'm grateful.

So, a few words of farewell, and
please do me this favor and pass this on to others in the wine business - suppliers, wholesalers, retailers, public-relations people. I only managed to retain a few e-mail addresses from my work computer before I left the confines of the office, and anyone who knows me knows I am completely computer-illitirit (I may has mispeled that).

For a long time I fought the good fight, but I never,
ever kidded myself. I always knew I was local and never pretended that I wielded a big stick like wine critic Robert Parker (and some of you liked to point that out to me - just business, you said, and I understood, although ...). My one satisfaction: I'd like to think I was a better writer. You may disagree, but at least allow me this one self-delusion.

Believe me when I say I have been the luckiest wine writer in the country. I'm not sure, but my tenure may have been the longest - if not, certainly one of the longest - uninterrupted wine columns in U.S. newspaper history. Which means you have been kind enough to overlook all my mistakes (and I know that was a lot of overlooking!) and that you understood that you - the Chronicle reader - were my customer. If I liked a wine, fine. If I didn't, fine, too - but you needed to know that there are a lot of crappy wines out there. I never hedged my bets.
I always did it for you my way -
straight, no chaser.

Believe it or not, the first time I wrote a a farewell wine column for the Chronicle was more than 20
years ago. You see, periodically I would get burned out and would approach people on staff I knew who liked wine to see if they would like to take over the beat - offered to help them over the rough spots - but no one would take up the challenge. I was amazed - the wine beat, along with, maybe, being a travel writer or movie reviewer - was primo - yet no takers. How strange. So even though I would get refreshed on the wine beat I would still update periodically the "goodbye" column that was, I hope, more inclusive and certainly much more
eloquent than this rambling. But again, the Chronicle deemed it not necessary to run my farewell column. So be it. Sometimes silence speaks far more loudly than words.

My retirement from the Chronicle is now complete: No more pun-dacious headlines, no more haikus and - now - no more wine columns. As for the latter, if you enjoyed them even half as much as I enjoyed writing them for you, it was worth all the time, all the inconvenience, all the hassle - and that was a lot, not just for me but also for all the people involved.

Don't believe it? Think of all the winemakers and winery owners who came to Houston, dog-tired from weeks on the road, when all they wanted to do was sit in a hotel room, watch CNN and have a beer, but no - they had to sit down with yet
another wine writer and repeat the same mantra over and over again. They weren't happy, but it was business. And I was there, too. Dog-tired, often bored, too, but it w
as business. Yourbusiness.
And think of all the
Houston wholesalers who had to schedule interviews with me and their suppliers at inconvenient times to accommodate my inflexible schedule, at local venues such as the Corskcrew, Crapitto's, Shade, Brennan's - so many places - that generously let me come in and occupy a table and dirty up glassware just to let me do my thing. The list is long and, I'm thankful to say, distinguished, and folks, I am grateful beyond words.

Yes, I'm grateful to you, the restaurateurs. And to you, the distributors. And to you, the wineries and your winemakers and reps and brokers and and PR people. Twenty-eight years - whew - I couldn't have done it without you.

To all of yo
u, I am grateful. For your thoughtfulness. For your support. And for your friendship. Yes, I'm grateful: That's the truth - as always, straight, no chaser."

Please visit the IN THE NEWS section on www.texacaliwine.com to read a few reviews and feature articles Michael so generously wrote in years past...Cheers - ALI

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