Saturday, January 5, 2013

My wine history:

My first wine tasting was in 1965 at age 22 on a Rhine river cruise - German Hock /Riesling while attending the ICN [International Convention of Nurses in Frankfort]. After Nursing School, I moved to Boise via Mexico and then to San Francisco from Delaware in 1966. Settled down in San Francisco with my first husband, Bruce Buchanan, Marnie's father, who deserted me in 1968 while pregnant. We moved to Berkeley in 1971 with Joel Peterson, a co-worker I met at Mt. Zion. We attended a weekly wine tasting dinner group at the Basque Hotel every Thursday, with visiting wine writers, negociants and importers: Hugh Johnson, Harry and Prudence Waugh from England, Frank Schoonmaker among the guests. I once surprised everyone with an Idaho Riesling from St. Chapelle in a brown bag - blind tasting.
 Joel and I were certified as Journeymen at a 1974 Napa Valley Wine Library wine appreciation course led by James Beard with Joe Heitz, Richard Peterson and Robert Mondavi among the instructors. 

Joel and I helped Joe and June Swan from harvest to bottling and often shared casual wine dinners with Kermit Lynch, neighbor Tom Dehlinger, Andre and Dorothy Tchelistcheff. Andre, Kermit and I were the only smokers - so we enjoyed each other's company as  outsiders after dinner. 

Joel and I made our first wine from blackberries, a second from Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon in 1975 and started Ravenswood with our first commercial vintage of Zinfandel in 1976.  We often went to wine dinners at Chez Panisse in Berkeley and got to know Alice Waters and Mark Miller, who started Coyote Cafe much later in Sante Fe. Joel and I split up in 1979 and I took a year off in 1981 - early retirement - to visit France. Marnie, age 14, and I picked wine grapes in Meursault, stayed overnight at Jean-Michel Cazes of Lynch-Bages home in Paulliac, Bordeaux. As the mayor of Paulliac, he arranged for us to visit and taste at Mouton Rothschild as well as Lynch-Bages. 
I had taken a bottle of 1895 Simi Zinfandel with other CA wines in a case shipped to France - which I shared with friends Mary and Ivan Moseley in London. I love sharing surprises with people I know will appreciate wine. 
Returning to the US, I stayed with my sister Rhea in Rising Sun, MD. A neighbor let me make simple wine from his French Hybrid grapes: Marechal Foch and Seyville Blanc.  
My grandmother in Boise asked me to come help her with my grandfather who had been recently diagnosed with Alzheimers. Meanwhile, I had re-connected with Bob - my High School Sweetheart and we married in Boise on July 14, 1983 - 30 years coming up! 

We had both enjoyed making wine and beer and dancing! We became members of Les Amis du Vin with Statesman wine columnist, Brooks Tish;  joined TVWS in 2004 when the first Idaho competition and tasting was held at Eagle Knoll. We helped with pouring wines for the judging in 2005. I was asked to judge in 2006 at the Riverside.  

 In 2007, I chaired the judging panel at 8'th Street wine Cafe inviting Gary Vaynerchuk as a guest judge - public festival tasting at the Crystal Ballroom; 2008 we moved the competition only - no public tasting, to Meadow Lake Village with Doug Frost MS, MW as the guest judge and in 2009 we held our last TVWS Idaho Wine Competition at Meadow Lake. Savor Idaho promoted a public tasting and subsequent competition judging was taken over by NW Wine writers. Pairing wines with creative menus is my focus now as liaison for TVWS. 

Bob and I enjoy creative food preparation and have collected 2000 + bottles of wines in our cellar - it is time for us to drink more and buy less! Cheers!    

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