In Memoriam: Gregg McConnell

It is with great sadness that I write about the recent passing of Gregg McConnell: work colleague, friend, and mentor.

Gregg had a long and illustrious career in journalism, most recently as President and Publisher of the Tri-City Herald and Editor of Wine Press Northwest Magazine.

I met Gregg in Hood River, Oregon in 2014, where we both served as judges for the Northwest Wine Summit. We immediately hit it off, and Gregg offered me a position on the spot as a Contributor to Wine Press Northwest. For me, it was a life-changing and door-opening event.

Gregg was a giant in the Pacific Northwest wine industry. He was a tireless promoter, proponent, and, just as important, consumer of wines, especially those from Washington State.

Gregg was also instrumental in assisting my spouse, Alex, and me in establishing the Bellingham Northwest Wine Festival six years ago. He served as a judge in the initial years of the Festival’s competition and attended the Festival with insights and feedback that were invaluable.

One of the standout suggestions he made came when we were struggling with the possibility of holding the Festival at a different venue. We were considering a newer, but smaller facility and were uncertain how it would be received by consumers. Gregg’s advice was simple: “if you’re going to grow an event you have to add to it; never subtract. If people come away feeling they received less of an experience, they won’t return.” We’ve never forgotten those words.

After his retirement, Gregg took a run at public office. By his own admission, he knew his chances of winning were slim. His political ideologies were more centrist in nature, and that made him a tough-sell in an area that was decidedly right-leaning. But along with his centrism, he was also fair, unbiased, and willing to listen to both sides. In short, he carried all the qualities of a lousy candidate in today’s political climate, but perfect for flourishing as a newspaperman, reporter, and editor in the field of journalism, which he did.

Rest in peace and cheers to you, Gregg. You will long be remembered when we read about, write about, or pop the cork on a bottle of Pacific Northwest wine.

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