Thursday, August 12, 2010

An Embarrassment of Wining...I mean Riches...

Feeling a bit overwhelmed.  JD and I have been so busy with events and traveling that I don't know what to write about first! So, I'm going to start with what's on my mind.  We'll see how that works...

I don't know about the rest of you, but the first wine club I belonged to was the original Wine of the Month Club.  It was such a new idea to me - someone would send me wines every month and include educational information about the wines. It just seemed so civilized. So JD and I joined up; I don't even know how we heard about it. Maybe we got something in the mail. I don't remember. All I do know is that for a few years, every month we received a box filled with surprises. And I learned that I had my own palate and likes and dislikes.
Paul Jr & Sr at PV Wines & Spirits

After a few years, and much more education and discovery, I ended my membership with WOTMC, but I kept the tasting notes and newsletters, just in case.

So fast forward from 1995 to 2010, and I get an email from a publicist regarding WOTMC - and an invitation to chat with owner Paul Kalemkiarian, Jr.! What a kick!

Paul told me his company's and his family's history: The Original Wine of the Month Club®, was founded in 1972 to take the guess work out of fancy labels and expensive price tags in choosing a great wine. When all the California greats (Chateau Montelena, Dry Creek Vineyards, Jordan, etc.) were coming of age, Paul Kalemkiarian, Sr. set out to find the best values for his customers at Palos Verdes Wines and Spirits, a premier wine shop in Southern California in the 1970's. As he chose the best two values he found each month, customers of the shop requested that he have them delivered. His son, Paul, began delivering the selections to the local few that were interested. As the popularity grew, they began shipping the wine directly through UPS and the idea of wine in the mail was born.

Paul and I spoke for almost an hour, discovering that we knew many wine folks in common (not surprising), and trading stories. What impressed me most was while we discussed the famous Barrett family - Jim and Bo of Chateau Montelena, and of course, Heidi Peterson Barrett (Bo's wife), winemaker extraordinaire (the original Screaming Eagle and La Sirena), Paul referred to Jim as 'Mr. Barrett', having known him since he was a child in Palos Verdes. In fact, Paul's passion and respect for the wine industry in general was wonderful to hear; after all these years choosing wines for his club, he's still avid to find great wines and share them with his club members.

Paul invited me to visit WOTMC in Monrovia, and I'm going to take him up on that! It's just a 10-minute drive from the earth job, so stay tuned for a follow-up post!

Next posts will include, an intimate new venture from Mark Newman and Dr. Joel Fisher, our adventures in Napa, Sonoma and Lompoc, and much more!


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