Sep 242010

First Love. First Wine. What kind of memories does that conjure up for you? Was it the boy or girl with the locker down the hall? Maybe it was that person you watched crash into the coffee shop, hat askew, dripping wet from a sudden storm. When did you see them last? Was it a happy time or one filled with regrets? Was wine a part of your first love affair? And what about your love affair with wine itself? What wine did you use to seduce or impress your first love? What wine seduced you into a lifelong love affair with the grape?

Wine Blog

Roger and Donna circa 1977

Picture San Antonio, Texas 1975. Willie Nelson was (and still is) King. Jerry Jeff Walker’s Viva Terlingua album played from every juke box (and should still). We were high school seniors (of legal drinking age – 18) and I had my first date with a girl I’d had a crush on for a couple of years. It was spring and we had agreed to babysit her younger siblings before we could go out. The restaurant was special, the quintessential hip 70’s fern bar, Reed’s Red Derby. I was suave in the pants to my leisure suit and Salvador Dali print polyester shirt. She wore a sun dress.

The hostess showed us to an unromantic table in the middle of the hubbub. But I was bound and determined to do this right. I carefully andWine Blog ignorantly perused the supposedly sophisticated wine list for something to impress. What would be the perfect wine to pair with Reed’s famous French onion soup with a pound of gooey cheese melted across the top? I looked to tables with tragically hip fern bar couples to see what those far more experienced than I (they may have even been out of college) were drinking. After taking it all in, I made a bold, exotic, European choice to show my worldly knowledge…Mateus Rose’! If you’re too young to remember Mateus, it was a cheap Portuguese wine in an artistic squatty bottle that was all the rage of worldly hipsters in the ‘70’s. Was it my excellent choice of wine or my Salvador Dali print shirt? I don’t know, but the magic worked. Donna and I are still together and still in love with each other and wine.

Wine itself, seduced me in my early 20’s but there was one experience that left me hopelessly in love. A mere ten years later Donna and I traveled to Napa Valley with another couple to experience wine country. Living now in Austin, Texas many of the great wines I would read about were just not available to us. So we ventured up and down Hwy 29 across the Oakville Crossing and all along the Silverado Trail loading up our rented Lincoln Continental with more wine than it was ever intended to carry. By the end we had 27 cases. Really.

Roger & Charlie Wagner Founder of Caymus circa 1983

There was one experience that proved to be my moment of wine enlightenment. One moment that as I look back now, if it had not happened, I doubt I would have grown to be as enthusiastic about wines as I am. It was late summer in Napa, vines pregnant with promise and a light drizzle was falling. We drove past a small sign with a name we recognized, Caymus, and turned in. The place appeared closed as we walked around but then we heard a gruff voice yell, “Can I help you?” We introduced ourselves and asked this old man in suspenders if we could taste his wine. He looked at us and said something like “you won’t understand my wine unless you see my vineyard.” The man was, Charlie Wagner. He took us out to the vineyard behind his house. We tromped in mud with two big dogs shaking like water sprinklers whenever they’d get near. We tasted unripe grapes from the vine, chewed on seeds tasting for bitterness. The rest of the afternoon was spent in Mr. Wagner’s kitchen drinking Caymus Cabernet and learning more about winemaking and grape farming than I ever dreamed possible. It was and will always be my single best wine day. I was deeply in love.

During our September 2010 trip to Napa, we ventured out on a sunny Sunday morning to visit myfirst wine love. Charlie Wagner

Caymus Vineyards 2010

passed in 2002 at the age of 90, but Caymus and Wagner Family Wines are still family operations with Chuck, Charlie’s son, at the helm along with Chuck’s two sons, Joseph and Charlie II. We had a wonderful time at Caymus. It is still beautiful but not as quaint; we all grow and change. Standing in the same vineyard as we did 25 years ago, Donna and I reminisced, a glass of Caymus Special Selection in hand, about that day long ago with Mr. Wagner. We again tasted grapes and chewed on seeds. As I looked back on the house where we sat in the kitchen on a wet summer day, I quietly said “Rest well Charlie Wagner, my life is better for meeting you. Thanks.”

What wine did you share with your first love?

What wine seduced you to love the grape?

Do Tell…Do Tell…

  16 Responses to “First Love…What Wine Did You Share?”

  1. […] you read Roger’s piece First Love…What Wine did you share? Some of you have asked, when did I fall in love with red wine?  Roger wrote that our first trip to […]

  2. My first “wine love story” is from 1978 when I flew to Dallas, Tx from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida where I lived, to go to Los Colinas/MacArther HS prom with the “man” of my dreams! We had met the previous year when I was visiting my father during my annual summer visit and started a “long distance love”. He came from $$ and his dad had made arrangements for 6 of us to go to this fancy downtown restaurant for dinner. Jason was to order “Pouilly Fuisse” when the sommelier came over only it came out “Pussy Foulet”…I do believe I saw a smile as he turned and went to retrieve our request but he had more class than to correct my young, inexperienced date!

    • I’m sure that same mistake has brought a smile to many a Som’s face. But sometimes it is an intentional slip of the tongue…. 😉 too easy a joke to be too funny

  3. Arbor mist. Can we call that wine. I graduate from him and the wine. 🙂 But it did start a desire in me to learn more.

  4. Chateau Margaux 1983; split with my love at the time and it was savored for about 3 hours. 1985 University of Oregon days.

  5. Love this story! And I can remember those mid and late 70’s well! Thanks for sharing on my blog!

  6. […] you read Roger’s piece First Love…What Wine did you share? Some of you have asked, when did I fall in love with red wine?  Roger wrote that our first trip to […]

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    Really it is good news for wine lover
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  10. Loved reliving everyone’s memories. Mogen David was the wine of the 50’s, later colorful pink champagne, and I do remember Cold Duck at $2. a bottle. In Northern California where I went to college during the 50’s, wine, interestly enough, was not as popular with the college crowd as beer and anything made with vodka, especially coupled with orange juice. Rhine wines were the hit of the early 60’s, especially labels that featured German castles.

    Thanks for the nice treat, Roger and Donna. And I still love those clothes. The picture is priceless…and I do remember the day it was taken.


  11. Thanks…
    Shortly after Mateus we graduated to Blue Nun Liebfraumilch. As for Howell Mountain… Dunn…we are big fans!


  12. Great stories and pictures, Mr. Beery. I especially like the “Flying Nun” collar on you shirt. Very stylish for the day. Excluding my early experimentation with the finest offerings from Mogen David, My first love wine was that sophisticated white from Der Vaterland, Madonna Liebfraumilch.

    Not only was it sweet and quaffable, but it had cool little plastic Madonna thingies hanging from a little ribbon on the bottle one could collect to remember one’s conquests by.

    My few visits to the Napa and Sonoma valleys were marked by highs of visiting vineyards on Howell Mtn. and dining at Auberge du Soleil.

    And to think it all started with a virgin mother.

  13. HA HA……………………….bringing back memories of my college days and its alcohol-related seductions, or attempted ones, at UT-Austin. Back then the drinking age was 18, and you did not need the “Austin” after UT, for it was essentially “the one and only”. Heck, still is. I remember that to make the best impression on a potential conquest, in addition to making it clear that I was regularly playing in a famous (in my mind) local rock band called “The Cavaliers”, I would offer either Mateus or Lancers; the latter came in a tall ceramic vase that looked impressive and imported. However, round one of many of my dating experiences started with Boone’s Farm selections (ugh – really sweet and terrible wines with little resemblance to those made with grapes) or Spanada from a very, very large bottle. Also, homemade sangria could be the way to a girl’s heart or other body parts. My personal mantra was the rock song “Wine, Wine, Wine”, one which has not stood the test of time, but nonetheless provided very timely suggestions like “…you get a nickel, I’ll get a dime, we’ll go out and buy some wine….” That was almost possible back then, if you purchased wine in smaller bottles from a 7-11. In my case, trying to isolate nostalgic thoughts of the 1960s in Austin at UT ….. from rock n roll memories ….. from hazy wine recollections ….. from remembering kissing a few girls (being modest) ….. is NOT possible. God Bless the Grape! Then and now. As I have gotten older, but not yet “OLD”, both an improved wine quality and a more meaningful enjoyment of life have occurred. Roger and Donna Beery have often joined me for this perilous journey. My special thanks go out to each of you for that, Johnny Bode

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