Sunday, August 28, 2011

Goodbye To Roger Kelley, Ed Scapplehorn, and Bob Woehler

They say that the greats all go in threes. I am coming to believe that for sure after this week. Three great men who helped me, and shaped me in the wine business are gone this week. I want to spend just a few moments talking about each of them and the way that they touched my life and the lives of those in our region.

First, I want to mention Roger Kelley, the draft manager for Graybeal Distributing. I met Roger right away on my first day of work at Graybeal in Pendleton. Rough talking and full of vigor, Roger could flat out get the work done.

Roger worked more with beer than he did with wine, but we did spend a considerable amount of quality time in the wine isles of the stores a few times each year during reset season.

All of the big chain stores are organized by actual schematics as to what goes on each shelf. There was one thing that both Roger and I detested doing, and that was resets. We would spend hours pulling bottles of wine off of the shelves, cleaning the shelves, and then putting them back on in order. Truly a horrible job.

Roger had a method that worked. He would stand there and read the schematics and yell out to me what needed to go on the shelf next, one bottle at a time. During those times, as well as all the work we did together at the fair and Roundup each year preparing the beer gardens the things I appreciated Roger most for was his honest, straight forward talk, and his ability to get the work done.

Roger, I hope you’re enjoying an ice cold Coors Banquet up there in heaven!

At the same time I heard about Roger’s death, I also heard about another wine industry great in our area who passed away last week. Ed Scapplehorn, who represented Terra Blanca Winery for many years passed away in Richland, Washington.

If you saw a bottle of Terra Blanca wine on the shelf in your favorite wine shop or restaurant anywhere in America it was because Ed had worked to get it in there. Like Roger, Ed was a straight talking and hard working man. Having years of grocery and distribution experience, he could work and drink with the best of them. I just know that Ed is kicking back a glass of Cabernet or a Miller Lite right now. Save one for me Ed!

As I was writing this article tonight I found out that I had to add one more name to this article. Bob Woehler, one of the region’s most prolific and celebrated wine writers passed away this week as well.

Writing a weekly column for the Tri City Herald, as well as regular columns and articles in Wine Press Northwest made Bob a well known name in this region for wine. It’s pretty much known that having Bob taste wines with you, it was going to be entertaining and educational.

The thing I most appreciate about Bob, and I’ve chosen to follow his path in writing this column each week, is that “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say it”. Bob was very loyal to the industry by never talking bad about a wine, winemaker, or the industry. His articles were always fun and informative. Many times I would wish I had written so well about the same wines. I wish you only the best wines in heaven Bob.

Until next week, enjoy!


  1. Rich-
    Thanks for writing and article and including my father. It was just what I was needing to hear this week. Thank for keeping the thought of him alive.
    -Jennifer Scaplehorn

  2. Jennifer,
    I think of your dad often. I've never met you, but your father talked so much about how proud he was of you. I will remember him and your family every time I see the Cougar colors flying.


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