Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry – The 2012 List

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller and Peter Mondavi jun. has published the “Top 100 Most Influential People in the U.S. Wine Industry”. This is a very interesting list.

Going through the list, I noticed that (1) some of the people I had never heard about, (2) others I had read about and (3) some I had met personally. As to the third group of people, here are some remarks.

#72 Peter Mondavi jun.

See: Morton’s Steakhouse Presented Peter Mondavi Jr. at a Charles Krug Winemaker Dinner

I joined third generation proprietor of Charles Krug Winery, Peter Mondavi Jr., for a winemaker dinner at Morton’s Steakhouse in Reston, Virginia. Peter Mondavi Jr. is the son of Peter Mondavi, the brother of the late Robert Mondavi.

The Charles Krug Winery has been owned for many decades by Mondavis, but it was founded by Charles Krug, a German. When Charles Krug died in 1892, the winery was purchased by his close friend, James Moffitt, a San Francisco banker, who owned the winery through prohibition and sold the winery to Cesare and Rosa Mondavi, Italian immigrants, in 1943. Cesare was 60 when he purchased the winery for $75,000. His two sons, Peter and Robert, both went to Stanford, then came back to run the winery. Cesare died in 1959. The Mondavi brothers Peter and Robert could not agree on the general direction of the Charles Krug Winery and in 1966 there was the famous breakup between the two brothers. Robert left, was paid off and founded the Robert Mondavi Winery. Peter stayed and has been at the helm of the Charles Krug Winery since then.

#71 George M. Taber

 Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller and George M. Taber with his Wife

See: Meeting American Wine Journalist/Writer George M. Taber (who was Present at the 1976 Judgment of Paris Tasting), USA

George M. Taber belongs to the small group of people, who were present at the famous 1976 Judgement of Paris, which put wine producer California on the world map.

George M. Taber spent forty years as a reporter and editor, primarily on business affairs, before turning his attention to writing wine books. He was National Economic Correspondent and Business Editor for Time magazine and then started the weekly newspaper NJBIZ, which covered business news in New Jersey. He sold the company in 2005 to concentrate on wine writing.

In 1976, George published an account in Time about the famous Paris Tasting, which put California wine on the world wine map. Nearly 30 years later, he delved into the story again and wrote Judgment of Paris: California vs. France and the 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine (Scribner, September 2005). It was selected as the wine book of the year by Decanter. The movie Bottle Shock was loosely based on the story.

George has also written To Cork or Not to Cork: Tradition, Romance, Science, and the Battle for the Wine Bottle (Scribner, October 2007). In October 2009, George published In Search of Bacchus: Wanderings in the Wonderful World of Wine Tourism.

A Californian by birth, George M. Taber graduated from Georgetown University and received a Masters degree from the College of Europe in Bruges, Belgium. He and his wife now split their time between Florida and Rhode Island.

I met George M. Taber at the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference in Brescia. See: Blogging, Wining and Dining at the European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) October 2011 in Brescia, Italy – A Tour D’ Horizon. Notably, I listened to his key-note speech, networked with him during various tastings and shared the table with him – and Snooth Editor-in-Chief Gregory Del Diaz - during the final dinner. We both went on a post-conference day trip to the Soave region. See: Wining and Blogging in the Soave Region, Italy

# 60 Terry Theise

See: 2011: Terry Theise’s Top German Wines of the 2010 Vintage

Terry Theise is one of the leading importers of German Wine in the US. He is also one of the leading experts of German wine in the US. Among the vast number of his followers, he has gained something like a cult status. He publishes a thick catalog once a year with extensive comments. In addition to the compendium of exciting wine reviews, the Terry Theise’s annual catalog is a very good introduction to German wine, both to the basics and to the current trends and issues.

His wines are imported by Michael Skurnik, an importer and distributor of fine wines based in Syosset, New York. Terry also imports Austrian wine and Champagnes, including excellent grower Champagnes.

Terry used to live in Washington DC for many years, before moving to Boston. I would regularly lead tastings at the German Wine Society (DC Chapter), of which I am a Board member, when he was not yet as prominent as he is now.

# 54 Fred Frank

See: Kruger-Rumpf (Germany) and Dr. Frank (USA) Rieslings – The Wines I Brought to the 2011 European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) Opening BYOB Party

I met Fred Frank – the grandson of Dr. Konstantin Frank - at his Dr. Frank Winery in the Finger Lakes and have been in contact with him ever since. He studied in Germany (Geisenheim) and speaks beautifully German.

Dr. Konstantin Frank (1897-1985) was a viticulturist and wine maker in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, USA. He was born in Europe, in Odessa, now Ukraine into a Russian-German family. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s achievement is that he was the first to find a way to plant vitis vinifera varietals in the cool northern fringes of the north-eastern US.

Fred Frank took over the winery in 1993. Fred’s business degree from Cornell University and his study of viticulture and enology in Germany helped prepare him to take over the family business.

# 42 Paul Gregutt

Pictures: Christian G.E.Schiller and Paul Gregutt

See: Meeting American Wine Writer Paul Gregutt in Oregon, USA

I knew Paul Gregutt from the Internet. I follow his Blog and in particular enjoy reading his column titled "Wine Adviser" in The Seattle Times. At the 1. Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium, I met Paul in person. Unfortunately, I did not have much time to talk with him. He is just too popular in this part of the world and the winemakers present were so eager to talk with him. But I was able to have a short conversation with him.

Paul’s book, Washington Wines & Wineries: the Essential Guide, is now in its fourth printing and is the authoritative guide to Washington State wine. About half a century ago, there was basically no wine industry in Washington State. And if wine was made, it was not with the noble European vinifera grapes. But the American wine boom that had its origin in California moved to the north, first to Oregon and then it also reached Washington State. In 1980, four years after Californian wines had out shined the French wines at the famous tasting in Paris, there were about 20 wineries in Washington State that were producing high-quality wines with European vinifera grapes. Today, there are more that 500 wineries.

Paul also contributes to publications such as Vineyard & Winery Management, Yakima Herald-Republic, the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin and the Spokane Spokesman-Review. Paul is the Northwest Editor for Wine Enthusiast Magazine, and has written the Pacific Northwest material of Tom Stevenson's annual Wine Report, as well as contributions to Decanter and Wine Spectator.

Finally, Paul is also a musician. In the evening after the 1. Oregon Pinot Gris Symposium, I had arranged to listen to Jay Somers, the owner and winemaker of J. Christopher Wines, who played that night with his group at the White Eagle in Portland. But unfortunately, Paul could not make it. Paul’s genre is acoustic/alternative/country.

#10 Doug Frost

Picture: Doug Frost in St. Louis 

See: Drink Local Wine Conference 2011 in St. Louis: The World of Missouri Wine, USA

I met Doug Frost at the Drink Local Wine Conference 2011 in Missouri.  DLW2011 followed the success of the first two conferences -- in Dallas featuring Texas wine in 2009 and in Loudoun County featuring Virginia wine in 2010. It's the brainchild of Washington Post wine columnist Dave McIntyre and wine blogger Jeff Siegel, the Wine Curmudgeon. I participated in the DLW2010 and reported about it here.

Doug moderated a fascinating discussion about Missouri's reliance on non-vinifera grapes, which went through Seyval Blanc, Vidal, Vignoles, Traminette and Chambourcin before turning to Missouri's official state grape, the Norton.

# 1 Robert Parker

See: China’s Wine Boom: Is Jeannie Cho Lee the New Robert Parker?

Robert Parker lives in the greater Washington DC area and I have met him at various events in the area, such as, for example, book signing events. Unfortunatley, I have never tasted wines with him.

1 comment: