Robert Parker and the Vintners Hall of Fame

This year, there won't be any controversy when Robert Parker isn't inducted into the Vintners Hall of Fame. That's because Parker, the critic who invented the 100-point scoring system and is the most most important person in the wine business, wasn't nominated for the 2012 hall.

You'll recall that there was a stink last year when Parker, who was nominated for the 2011 and 2010 classes, wasn't chosen. I wrote then, and I still believe, that "keeping Parker out of the Vintners Hall is like keeping Babe Ruth out of the baseball Hall of Fame because you don't like home runs." The Wine Curmudgeon, who gets to vote, voted for Parker. But not enough of the other 73 voters did, and he wasn't one of the five inductees. Somehow, the others didn't think Parker was someone whose "collective vision, determination, and hard work have been responsible for the growth and worldwide prestige of the California wine industry."

More, after the jump:


Apparently, the nominating committee felt the same way this year (and also left off previous nominee Fred Franzia of Two Buck Chuck fame, who may be even more controversial than Parker). W. Blake Gray, who oversees the nominating and balloting, said that the nominating committee did discuss Parker, but that its discussions are off the record. He did note that the nominating process was restructured this year, so there are about half fewer nominees than last year.

"My personal opinion is that I'd like to see Parker in the Vintners Hall," says Gray. "I think the Hall would be better off with him in it. Maybe a year off the ballot will help his chances, because there will be some public debate about him."

The irony is that there is a wine writer nominated this year, Bob Thompson. He was one of the first wine columnists in the U.S., writing for Sunset magazine and the San Francisco Examiner, and also published a variety of California-wine related books.

This year's ballot has 17 names, including Peter Mondavi Sr. I haven't decided yet who to vote for, save for Mondavi, but I'll post my ballot when I send it in. I don't think they'll let me write in Parker, though.

9 thoughts on “Robert Parker and the Vintners Hall of Fame

  • By SUAMW -

    Parker should be banned from being nominated (and thus ever elected). Whenever he opens his mouth, he proves he knows nothing about viticulture.
    Now, if there was a Wine Hall of Infamy…..

  • By kelkeagy -

    I couldn’t agree more Jeff. Whether you agree with him or you don’t there is no denying that Mr. Parker’s hard work and determination has added to the prestige of the California wine industry. Without him any “Hall of Fame” is just a popularity contest with no real merit.

  • By Cathy Corison -

    It’s Bob Thompson. Wonderful to see this humble, great winewriter recognized.

  • By Bill McIver -

    This hall of fame is a popularity contest with Parker, Martin Ray, Jerry Mead, not included, plus about a dozen I would add and dozens who have no business being there. Not including the “original” Wine Curmudgeon, Jerry Mead, whose moniker the guy who does this column ripped off is pure ignorance.

  • By Tish -

    Bill, I will step in to defend Jeff here with respect to the curmudgeon moniker. He started writing crankily after Jerry Mead’s time, and if I am not mistaken, was unaware of Jerry’s nickname at all. Remembering Jerry’s consistent emphasis on value as an important aspect of reviewing, Jeff is quite sympatico in that respect.
    And while I did tweet support for the idea of RP’s in this particular context, I find most Halls of Fame silly/flawed and will not be casting any vote even though I somehow became eligible this year.

  • By John -

    I wouldn’t put siskel and ebert in the actors “hall of fame” they rate art— they don’t create it. Robert Parker may have great influence but for me not a real contribution. Just becuase hoards of people listen doesn’t mean he saying anything truly worth while. Great winemakers and farmers who worked to make CA great should be in the hall of fame, not people who give out numbers.

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    Thanks for the assist, Tish. I get a couple of emails a year about where I got the WC tag, and how it relates to Jerry Mead.
    I never met Jerry, but knew him professionally. I still have a typewritten letter from him around the office. I was given the name by the former food editor at the Star-Telegram newspaper in Fort Worth, and she didn’t know who Jerry was. And, since this was after Jerry died, I didn’t think it would be disrespectful.
    To paraphrase Thomas Jefferson, I follow Jerry. No one can replace him.

  • By Joe Gargiulo, director of all things big and small -

    Controversy notwithstanding, Parker deserves to be in the VHoF for publishing the Wine Advocate for 30+ years.

  • By Jeff Siegel -

    Thanks to everyone who noted I called Bob Thompson Bob Thomas. That has been fixed. There was a famous wire service reporter named Bob Thomas, which is why I made the mistake,

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