Q&A: Hilary Berg

Former Oregon Wine Press Editor

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Former Oregon Wine Press editor Hilary Berg first started editing the magazine in 2006. While at the helm, she oversaw countless issues and her influence on Oregon’s wine industry is hard to quantify. Hilary departed in April 2022 to focus on her own winery, Roots Wine Co. along with new challenges as editor for a publication centered around subjects other than wine.

You must have many proud moments over your career. Can you share something particularly memorable?

HB: I remember the moment I got Dan Aykroyd to do this very Q&A. I had been emailing his team at Crystal Head Vodka for months. One morning, in October of 2015, I turned on my computer and literally squealed: I finally snagged one of the most famous people on Planet Earth — and Planet Remulak. Other celebrity gotchas that had me leaping with delight out of my swivel chair include actors Kurt Russell and Sam Neill, musicians Mick Fleetwood, Maynard James Keenan and Jerry Casale, magazine editors Adam Rapoport of Bon Appétit and Christopher Kimball of Milk Street Magazine — I am a HUGE fan of his recipes! — and many, many others. “Last Call” was always one of my favorite pieces each month.

What’s the best headline you’ve written?

HB: Hmmm, I am a sucker for a witty headline and I love writing them. I wrote most of the headlines unless a contributor turned in one that fit the bill. Since there are so many, I’ll just focus on some of my favorite cover headlines from recent years. “Morel of the Story,” was a feature I wrote about the beloved mushroom-crazed Czarnecki family (October 2021). “Prey Tell” explored falconry in the vineyard (September 2021). “Peak Interest,” was a cool feature about high-altitude winegrowing (November 2019), and “Have Can, Will Travel,” was all about, you guessed it, canned wines (July 2018).

What do you consider your greatest accomplishment(s) during your time as editor?

HB: The transformation of the publication over the years. I’m proud of what I was able to accomplish, of course with the help of many people: office staff, sales reps, ad designers, writers, photographers and others. It takes a village, as they say.

OWP has been a major part of your life for a long time. What do you think you’ll miss most?

HB: Definitely the people. All the people I mentioned above, but also members of the industry with whom I would communicate over email, over the phone or at events. So many memories. So many great conversations.

Since starting at OWP, what changes in the industry stand out the most?

HB: Probably the influx of major money and the sale of wineries. Just in our neighborhood — as in across the street, behind us and at the end of our loop — three wineries are now owned by a major California player. I want to say the neighborhood feels the same, but it doesn’t. I am not saying this is bad, it is just a sign of the times. Oregon has really come into its own, and now outside buyers want a piece of it.

Are you and Chris planning any new projects at your own winery, Roots Wine Co.?

HB: Well, Chris just bought a well-worn food truck he wants to revamp — more like gut — so we can take the wine show on the road while serving some kind of food. He just got the tags and had the brakes fixed, so I guess it’s going to happen. He’s already named it “Today,” as in the title of the Smashing Pumpkins song that stars a food truck in the video. That’s Chris, always hatching plans. It definitely keeps things interesting!

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