We read it with relish because we knew just about everyone in the book! Andrew is a detailed, disciplined journalist and storyteller, and this book is an engaging documentary about America’s culinary revolutions from the 1980s through the 2000s. It ends just around when the worlds come crashing down (both the World Trade Center after September 11th and the stock market crash a few years later).
Andrew spotlights chefs on his Heritage Radio show “Andrew Talks with Chefs,” and he has written over two dozen cookbooks, with the likes of Alfred Portale, Tom Valenti, Michael Lomonaco, Michael White, Bill Telepan and Jimmy Bradley, to name a few. Of course, being tennis buffs, we were impressed by his New York Times best seller with tennis champion, James Blake, entitled “BREAKING BACK: How I Lost Everything and Won Back My Life (2007). You can see them all here on his website, appropriately named Toqueland.
This show aired broadcast live on Wednesdays May 2 at 2PM ET on W4CY Radio – (www.w4cy.com) part of Talk 4 Radio (http://www.talk4radio.com/) on the Talk 4 Media Network (http://www.talk4media.com/).
Listen to our show with Andrew Friedman and Peter Mondavi Jr (Charles Krug Winery) at this permanent iHeart link:
Do you know what the oldest winery in Napa Valley is? It’s Charles Krug, established in 1861. Its namesake, a German immigrant, started the winery and ran it until he died in 1892. After Charles Krug’s death, the winery was acquired by the family of James Moffitt who were wealthy San Franciscans. In 1943, a former saloon worker -turned- grocer, who successfully started a fruit distribution business called Cesare Mondavi & Sons, purchased the property for $75,000. Imagine what that money represented back them (versus now!).
Today, Charles Krug, more than 150 years later is under the stewardship of Cesare’s grandsons, Peter Mondavi Jr. and Marc Mondavi. Peter grew up on the wine estate and recently shared memories of his grandparents as well as his vision for the future of Charles Krug. #TheConnectedTableLive
Peter joined us on The Connected Table Live May 2. Listen to our visit with Peter Mondavi on iHeart. On the same show, here from author, Andrew Friedman.
“What were you doing 1968?” That was the opening question Kevin Zraly asked the group attending this week’s tasting at Corkbuzz Wine Studio to commemorate Trefethen Family Vineyards’ 50th Anniversary Retrospective. Kevin was joined by proprietors Janet Trefethen and her son, Lorenzo Trefethen, who shared the history and milestones of this family-owned winery located in Napa’s cool climate Oak Knoll district.
The tasting notes included a historical marker for our nation. Some were happy times: the growth of the American culinary revolution and California wine industry. Some noted the natural disasters that impacted the region, such as floods, earthquakes and drought. And the federal debt went from $316 billion in the 1960s to 20 trillion in 2010. The Good News is that the wines survived it all and each vintage we tasted was exceptional.
It was an afternoon to share family stories while enjoying the wines. Patriarch Eugene Trefethen purchased the Eschol Ranch in 1968 and planted vineyards with the intent to sell the grapes. Janet and John Trefethen met, married and started the winery in 1973 with Tony Baldini, as their first viticulturist. Janet noted there has been a Baldini family member involved with the winery since Day One. Lorenzo also underscored that Trefethen winery workers are treated like family with salaries and health benefits, no contract workers. Many employees have worked at Trefethen for years.
Trefethen is world-renowned for its Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon. Lorenzo noted with a smile that the family was unaware their 1976 Chardonnay- the family’s fourth vintage- had been named “Best Chardonnay in the World” at the Gault-Millau World Wine Olympics in Paris until a CBS news helicopter landed to request an interview. Numerous awards and accolades have followed.
At Corkbuzz, owner Laura Maniec and her team poured first a selection of Chardonnays, vintages 1977, 1985, 1991, 2005, 2011 and 2016; and Cabernet Sauvignon, vintages 1979, 1986, 1999, 2006, 2011, 2015. Kevin Zraly wisely encouraged us to taste at our leisure to allow time for us to really savor and contemplate the wines.
I (Melanie) like to play a mental game when I taste wine: I create personalities and stories for each vintage and style. For me the Chardonnays were a multi-generational family of pedigreed blondes, starting with elegant elderly dowager (1977) to the perfectly coiffed classic Bergdorf blonde (1991) to the more preppy and peppy 2012 and 2016. And, yes, drinking these wines I thought, “These Chardonnay blondes are more fun.” Each generation had its spirited personality.
The same went for the Cabernet Sauvignons which ranged from my timeless idea of the “dreamy matinee idol” (1979) to the sophisticated “Rat Pack” (1986, 1999) to the ”Leonardo Di Caprio” (2011) and “Bradley Cooper” (2015). They were all stars with different appeal. For some reason I conjured all men for these wines.
Oh, there were plenty of wine terms tossed around to describe the wines, like the ABC’s of acidity, balance and concentration. But, inspired by the stories Janet and Lorenzo shared and Kevin’s always enjoyable remarks, I let my mind daydream about each generation of wine and its place in time and the remarkable family who brought them to life. Thank you!
Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen broadcast from Napa Valley last year:
We’re heartsick over the devastating fires that are still burning in Napa and Sonoma counties and southern California. So many industry friends have been impacted, and we’re still learning which wineries have been destroyed. I was just in Calistoga a few weeks ago celebrating at The Harvest Table with the local vintners. Despite the surprise heat wave, everyone was in a happy mood. And now this. Our thoughts and prayers are with everyone. If you want to send help for evacuees, Public Relations Pro Kimberly Charles has set up a GoFundMe Page. Here are the link and message from Kimberly:
Napa and Sonoma counties in Northern California are undergoing an unprecedented series of fires, over 60 recorded in the last 48 hours. One of California’s oldest wineries perished last night and several others have been completely lost. The wine community is one of the most giving, generous groups who give to charity constantly, now it’s our turn to help. We have worked with wineries in California closely for over 30 years and right now have identified a group of shelters in who are accepting evacuees. They need hard goods, not money -cots, sleeping bags, non perishable foods, hygienic items, kids’ pyjamas. We are raising money to buy these items and drive them up this week to the distribution center at Mentor Me at the Cavanagh Rec Center which is sheltering 500 evacuees currently. They are networked with 10 other shelters to distribute goods. We plan on raising funds, buying goods and delivering them right away this week. Link: https://www.gofundme.com/fire-relief-napa-sonoma-counties
And, if your emotions are as raw as ours from all the bad news, we encourage you to read Lettie Teague‘s October 5th Wall Street Journal article: “How Wine Sustains Us Through Tragedy and Helps Us Reclaim Joy.” Read here: link.
The spring buds are breaking in Napa Valley which puts everyone in a good mood after recent rains. Driving along Highway 29 gazing out at expansive wine estates, it’s hard to envision the ranch towns of the 1960’s when Napa Valley’s earliest vintners scooped up farmland for a fraction of what it would cost today.
It was an investment that paid off, and a gamble that hit the jackpot with international media attention from promotional stunts like the 1976 Judgement of Paris and numerous accolades for Napa Valley wines. Still, in spite of its international reputation, Napa Valley is still among the world’s smallest wine regions with just 4% of California’s wine grape harvest and only one-eighth of the planted acreage of Bordeaux, according to the Napa Valley Vintners Association.
Stewards and Successors
Napa’s first commercial winery was established in 1861. America’s first designated Agricultural Preserve in 1968, Napa was established as an A.V.A. in 1981; today there are 16. 95% of Napa Valley’s wineries family-owned. Meet founding families of Napa who are working hard to preserve their legacies: Janet and Hailey Trefethen, Trefethen Vineyards, and Bill and Will Phelps, Joseph Phelps Vineyards.
I have always had a fascination with cowboys after spending a few nights on a cattle station in the Australian Outback and at a dude ranch in Arizona. But I’ve never met a real-life cowgirl. Janet Trefethen is a top ranked equestrian and a member of the Cowgirl Hall of Fame. She’s also the first women CEO of an American Corporation. Janet and John Trefethen oversee the winery established by his parents Eugene and Catherine in 1968. The historic farm property located in Oak Knoll was originally built in 1868 as “Eschol,” which is a biblical term for “lush cluster of grapes.”
Janet’s daughter and son, Hailey and Loren Trefethen, have joined their parents in running the winery. Hailey has been overseeing the restoration of the original 1868 building which was damaged in the earthquake on April 24, 2014. The building is reopening this May (2017). Recently we spoke with Janet and Hailey on The Connected Table LIVE.
1973 was a big year for both the Trefethen and Phelps families. It was the first vintage for Trefethen and it was the year Joseph Phelps purchased a 600+ acre cattle ranch on the east side of St. Helena to create his namesake winery. Phelps, who owned a construction business, worked with architect John Marsh Davis to build the winery of his dreams to produce the wines he desired. He’s credited with being one of the first California producers to focus on Rhone style blends as well his signature Bordeaux blend, Insignia. We visited Joseph Phelps Vineyards for the first time this week. It was like visiting a sanctuary for fine wine.
Bill Phelps joined his father’s winery after a career in law and finance. Like his father, Bill takes a long-term strategy to producing wines and maintaining the Phelps legacy. One of his most notable initiatives was to transition the entire winery portfolio to estate grown. Bill will be joined by son, Will Phelps, who is the winery’s Director of Marketing.
Listen to our show with Janet and Hailey Trefethen and Bill and Will Phelps on iHeart.com