28 April 2008
“Now Children”…An Education in Wine
Posted by Chef Paul under: Information .
A long time ago I got out of culinary school, then moved down to Long Beach and got a job at Chez Melange in Redondo Beach. Shortly after I was tagging along with my mother Joan to her wine class. I was pretty much poor as dirt so I bought my way into the classes with food like homemade brownies that I knew would go great with some of the red wines. Teaching the “Premium Wines of California” class every Monday evening was Robert Laurence Balzer. He brought in winemakers to teach us about each region and taste each varietal grown in California. I saw the young Bruno D’Alfonso from Sanford winery & Crazy but intelligent Randall Graham from Bonny Doon speak in depth about winemaking techniques, differences in grape varietals and more. In short time I became one of Roberts “Children”, as he referred to us in class. He became my wine guru taking me far beyond the cursory education in wine I had received thus far. Robert inspired me to learn more and to travel to the wine regions of California to see for myself where the grapes were grown and the wines were made. My then girlfriend, now wife, Dana joined me in signing up for many of Roberts future classes and together we took many a trip to wine country.
Tonight was Roberts final wine class held at the Queen Mary in Long Beach. He will be 96yrs old this June and I believe he has made a huge contribution to the California wine business. I know he has taught a great many of his Children about the world of wine and we are living richer lives because of the knowledge he has shared with us. No one can replace him and his accomplishments but I hope someone will follow in his footsteps and continue teaching about exciting and new wines of California.