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Wine Spectator founder dies at 78

Morrisey's newspaper became influential magazine
/ Source: Reuters

Robert Morrisey, a former U.S. Marine with a passion for wine who started Wine Spectator magazine in the mid-1970s, has died.

A spokeswoman for the magazine, whose wine ratings are widely used as a buying guide by consumers, confirmed Thursday that Morrisey died last weekend in San Diego at age 78.

Morrisey started Wine Spectator in 1976, operating it on a shoestring budget as twice-a-month newspaper. He sold it to Marvin Shanken in 1979.

It has grown into a leading magazine with a circulation of nearly 400,000, in addition to a subscription Web site and a reference database of wine reviews available via cell phone to help connoisseurs on the go.

“Bob was the original visionary who saw the possibilities of the Wine Spectator’s future.  He had the faith to sacrifice whatever was necessary to keep it going in the early years,” said Shanken, editor and publisher of the magazine, in a statement.