The Beginning of an Era

Wine Spectator is a popular lifestyle magazine with all the news about wines and overall wine culture worldwide. The magazine also publishes a list of the best wines and awards the best wineries periodically. Wine enthusiasts pay for a subscription to view the contents. The humble beginning of the magazine and its global recognition as a wine rating authority is an interesting story.

Wine Magazine

Many people wonder who created the magazine line and why it became so popular. According to the magazine history, Wine Spectator was first written by Robert B Morrisey. He served in the marines for 25 years and retired in 1967 with the Secretary of the Navy Achievement Medal for his performance.

At the beginning of the Spectator, a tabloid newspaper operated out of his garage. Bob was known for having persistence and journalistic standards and for writing must-read articles on a variety of subjects, particularly on wine culture. Bob intended to start a magazine with a prime focus on the wine news and took a practical step by starting the magazine.

The first issue was released on April 1, 1976, and comprised only 12 pages.  However, he had a vision and patience, and over the years, the magazine gained respect from consumers and industry members. Bob described the magazine success story as a labor of love. The magazine gained global recognition when Bob covered the Paris tasting in 1976.

One of the earliest fans of the magazine was Marvin Shanken. He later became a writer and then the owner of Wine Spectator. He provided the financial resources to expand the topics covered and improved the style. Marvin still owns the magazine today.

Unfortunately, Bob was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. His daughter, Michele, said he pushed through the day until he had an episode. Bob couldn’t breathe and was taken to the hospital. He died peacefully of heart failure with his family at his side on March 26, 1979, in San Diego.

When Marvin took over the business entirely in 1979, he turned the newspaper tabloid into a glossy magazine for the wine world. It has grown dramatically from the bi-weekly tabloid it used to be. It provides the most up-to-date information on the industry and reaches approximately 3 million subscribers around the globe. They have also created a digital platform and website for easier access.

Undoubtedly, it’s the number one wine magazine due to its unbiased and straightforward approach.  Here is a peek into the past of what the first issue of the Wine Spectator looked like. (Wine Spectator’s 40th Anniversary, 2016). See more resources here

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  1. About Us. (n.d.). Retrieved from Wine Spectator:
  2. Laube, J. (2005, Mar 28). Bob Morrisey, Wine Spectator Founder, Dies. Retrieved from Wine Spectator:
  3. Lechmere, A. (2005, April 1). Wine Spectator founder dies. Retrieved from Decanter:
  4. Wine Spectator’s 40th Anniversary. (2016). Retrieved from Wine Spectator:


Categories: This Day in Wine History | ArticlesTags: , , , By Published On: June 29, 2022Last Updated: February 21, 2024

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