The world is full of characters, and California certainly has more than their fair share.
I will never forget the first time I met Rene di Rosa. To most people he won’t mean much, however, to folks in the wine industry in California he was an iconic figure. Rene passed away a few years ago at the age of 91, but left a legacy worth a google. You see, Rene di Rosa helped establish the Carneros region of California as one of the world’s great producers of
Burgundian grapes – chardonnay and pinot noir.
It was 1999, and I was working as the Beverage Manager at the Hallmark Inn Hotel in Davis, CA, the day an elderly gentleman shuffled into the bar. He was wearing a worn Levis denim shirt – not one that you purchase worn, but one that can only be worn out from years of working, washing and wearing – you know what I mean. He also wore an agricultural cap which sat high on his head, and if I could remember what it advertised I would die a happy man. I noticed his hands to be drawn and arthritic – they looked like a couple of old and ancient head trained zinfandel vines, which lead me to believe he did something with his hands for a living.
He sat at the bar and asked for half a glass of chardonnay which I gave him. He then asked for half a glass of merlot. I proceeded to grab another glass and to pour it, and he said to me, “no son, put it in the same glass”. After I poured the merlot into his chardonnay, he swirled it around and sipped it. After a couple of quick quaffs, he looked up at me with his smiling eyes and said “nobody makes a good rose anymore”.
I asked him what he did and he replied “I’m a farmer.”
“What do you farm” I asked? “grapes” he replied.
“Where” I asked? “Indian place, but I can’t remember the name” he responded.
Napa? I answered “yea that’s the place!” he said.
This exchange would lead to a lengthy conversation about the man Rene di Rosa, where I sat captivated by his tales of the old days in the wine industry, and the famed Winery Lake Vineyard.
After a beautiful visit, Rene got up and began to shuffle out the door. As he was exiting I yelled to him, “Mr. di Rosa! In my next life I want to be you!” He slowly shuffled his old body in a 180 degree turn, looked me right in the eye, and said to me “What’s wrong with this life son?”
My point. Rene di Rosa would be quite pleased because the wine industry has been producing good rose again. In fact, they have become quite popular, and are done in a fresh and dry style unlike the white zinfandel with which they have been associated. Ask at your local wine store and give one a try. They make great aperitifs. I have been known to put one in a bucket of ice before I cut the grass – it makes it ripe for picking after I cut the grass! It also makes me late for dinner…..
My other point. Mr. di Rosa was right. What is wrong with this life son? The world is full of second chances. In fact, that’s what life is; one second chance after another.
Skytop Lodge Sommelier