One of my most favorite wine tales, if not my favorite, is a story that goes back 5-6 years ago. It has a very strong wine connection; however, it is more about life’s travels and paths and where it can take you as well as the importance of making the most of every opportunity. The good news is wine and food tend to afford those type opportunities.
This tale starts in Pullyap, Washington at a retail food distributor trade show. The show was a two day show with a “sister” distributor location having a similar show the following week in Southern CA. The show floor was packed with exhibitors all ready to pitch their wares and products to the visiting retailers. The only problem was that, for whatever reason, the retailers essentially never showed up. Those that did were faced with a large number of assertive sales people and certainly had their pick of who to visit (or not).
As a result of this by day 2, vendors in order to maintain their sanity, began visiting other vendors. Some visits out of interest, some for entertainment and some for networking. I happened to be at my booth when a couple stopped in front of me and became very intrigued in the VineyardFresh I had on display and started asking me a lot of questions.
I found out they were in the seafood business and had some very interesting product themselves. We were enjoying the chat and I noted I was heading to the next show the following week in Southern California with an intermediate visit to Northern California (to visit some wineries and save money on coast to coast travel), when the wife picked up her cell phone and started dialing people.
She was calling people where it was evident they were notable wineries (i.e Inglenook, Coppola) and I could hear her explaining “we just met this nice guy who has a very interesting product, would you be able to see him?”. I looked at her husband and he just shrugged his shoulders and said “she has some Napa connections”.
I was soon to find out that “she” was actually one of the great grandchildren of George and Fernande Latour, the founders of Beaulieu Vineyards (often better known or called by BV for short). Imagine my surprise when, such a casual, and by chance, encounter turned in to a wine connection of the highest degree and a history to match.
When Prohibition in the United States began in 1920, most wineries in the country were forced out of operation. However, Beaulieu obtained a contract to supply sacramental wine to churches nationwide .The demand for such wine increased dramatically during the years of Prohibition and the winery repeatedly expanded. By the 1940s, Beaulieu wines were served at all major White House functions.
I made the trip through Northern California and made some additional great contacts, thanks to the introductions afforded. The thread of experience continued and/or continues on. Stay tuned for the rest of the story in the next Gary’s Gulps (Wine Tale Part 2)
Ever have a desire to share a fun or interesting, wine experience or story? We all have our own wine tales. I am fortunate to be able to do so thanks to Gary’s Gulps, but I’d more than welcome being able to share one of yours sometime. Simply drop me a note with your fun tale at my email address noted below.