A section for those relatively new to wine, 'geeks in training', and for common wine topics
It was 1998 or 1999. I was 34 or 35 and a craft and micro brew beer guy. I HATED wine.
One of my neighbors became a buddy. He was hugely into wine. He and his wife organized a wine club where they would talk about a region and its wines and then everyone would taste 8-10 wines that Gunnar had selected. It was the hottest ticket in the neighborhood (so to speak).
My pal invited me several times and I repeatedly declined, stating my dislike of all non-beer related alcohol. (after all, I had tasted Mad Dog 20/20, Boones Farm, Blue Nun and Mouton Cadet as a kid/teenager). I remember telling Gunnar, " No, not my thing .. Sipping wine and saying something like 'Tastes like feet.'. He laughed and thought I was crazy (and stubborn).
Anyway, my ex finally insisted that we attend one of these events, if for no other reason that our neighbors were there and everyone wanted to be there. The first tasting I attended was a white Burgundy tasting. We learned about the Cote d'Or. I tasted and experienced the mineralogy and flavors of the various appellations and vineyards. I was HOOKED.
My pal was "amazed" at my supposed palate. I told him what I tasted and he claimed that I was dead one. I ended up ordering a case and a half of the wines from Nejaimes. The next tasting a month or so later was Gewurtztraminer. Again I was hooked. In fact, other than my buddy, I was the only one who liked what we tasted that evening. I bought a 6-pack of 1989 Marcel Deiss Berghaim Gewurtztraminer. It was all over then.
2000 Bordeaux futures soon followed ....
Next thing I know, it's 2011, I have done and quit the whole Cali mailing list thing, I have ventured throughout the European wine regions, experimented with Australia, etc and have 5,000+ bottles. I am now selling wines for the first time and refocusing my collection to my true loves of Burgundy (red and white), Barolo/Barbaresco, Bordeaux, Riesling, Brunello and Rioja.
What a long strange trip it has been.
Thank you Gunnar Christensen! (I think?!?)
Last edited by SteveC on August 8th 2012, 4:20am, edited 1 time in total.
Ste ve C o yl e
""Too Much Wine, Too Little Time"
"Life is Too Short to Drink Bad Wine."
"Damn You GC, You Have Cost Me Loads of Money by Introducing Me to This Obsession!!"
I'm 51 and started collecting in 2009 after I shorted the market and made millions. OK, that shorting the market and making millions is totally false. I've got about 300 bottles now. Our "friend group" were wine drinkers and I loved drinking the stuff but had never bought any of it. I remember getting a phone call one day from some sales lady with a special french chinon that couldn't be looked up on any wine web site. I bought a case and that was that. Now, aside from being wine drinkers, we're foodies as well, rarely eating out because we can cook better things in our own homes. For the most part that is true. The wine has gotten better and better as well.
I'm 49 and started in 87. My first "wow" was 1985 Ridge Geyserville and shortly after I was hooked on Bordeaux by 1979 Gruaud Larose. I have focused mostly on Bordeaux, Alsace and Rhone as I used to watch my dad drink them, and also a few Sonoma wineries that we visited and liked. I steadily built up to about 1400 bottles by the late 90s but have moderated my purchases and I think it's around 1200 now. Just recently I've been starting on Burgundy and building up a little collection.
Really two separate questions.
I'm 50, but was not a late-comer to wine: For my 19th birthday in 1980, my college roommates bought me a bottle of 1971 Lafite. The same year, I also had '67 Lafite at a Howard Johnson's restaurant in North Adams, Massachusetts (no lie, Howard Johnson's!). Neither are great vintages, but really not bad for a teenager!
That being said, I only started collecting in late 2006, when I was 45. Basically, I wasn't able to afford it until then.
No animal or pomerol was harmed.
Carollee and I started in 1961, when we began dating. Then it was mostly Burgundy, expanding to Rhône, Italian, and Spanish over the next few years. We didn't start drinking California wines until the late 60s - early 70s. She didn't date me until I turned 21 (She's six years older than I am.). I'd been drinking wines since I was 17 or 18 (at college).
Last edited by Dick Krueger on February 24th 2013, 11:49am, edited 3 times in total.
"Let us drink
I started just a month ago in ernest. I have been drinking it with special dinners and once in a while for 20 years but have mostly been a bourbon and cognac man.
On a recent trip to napa I " got the bug"
I joined a variety of clubs (starting to think that was a mistake) and then got on the Internet and started buying what I thought were "deals"
Now that I have filled my cooler I am going to stop, learn more, and then start putting away things I want to age.
I can say weekends have been a blast as we have started cooking finer dishes to go with our new hobby
"Courage Merry, Courage for our friends"
I first got interested in wine when I was in college, and first started buying stuff with regularity around 1973, when I got out of law school and got a job.
1997 at the age of 40. Started with Th Wine Spectator and it was downhill (or was that uphill) from there :)
I was raised in Sonoma County but didn't really get into wine until I left for college in 2003. Now, at 26, I'm back in the Bay Area and have about 80 bottles in my "cellar" (i.e., living room, dining room, and wherever else they fit).
I had my wine epiphany in 1993, and got serious about buying & cellaring wine in 1994 at age 27. I bought almost all California wines for a couple of years (still have a few of those early bottles), then had my German wine epiphany in 1996.
I regret a few of the zins I bought, but they are mostly gone now (still like Ridge & my older Ravenswoods), and the cellar is pretty much where I would like it to be. I do regret not buying more Northern Rhones and Rioja, but I am slowly correcting that error.
While I still buy quite a lot of wine it is less than it used to be, so at least the cellar inventory is stable rather than exponentially increasing as it did for years. The mantra is "less but better" and I largely stick to that.
One last regret that I am fixing a little at a time: I did not buy enough magnums!
Current avatar - The Ramparts & Amethyst Lakes, Jasper National Park, Alberta, Canada in September 2012
Started in February, 2005, 23 at the time. Most bottles I had in the US was 300 bottles. Moved to Burgundy full time in 2010 and brought over 8 bottles, starting over really. This is really the first time actually 'cellaring' and I couldn't be happier with my choices.
The Road To Burgundy
I grew up with my dad always having a couple cases of Bordeaux and Napa cab around the house in the 70's. We would do family vacations to Napa in the late 70's through the early 80's which pretty much ended for me when I graduated High School in '84.
From then till '99 when my dad passed away it was beer all the way other than holiday dinners when we would all get together. When he passed my sister and I split the wine collection up and I took a lot of Ridge and Montelena from the '70's and 80's.
I stupidly burned through that way too fast and ended buying a lot for myself, but didn't really hit my stride until about 2002 at age 36. and yes I regret a lot of my purchases before 2007 when I finally realized what I really like.
One of the few good things about modern times " if you die horribly on television, you will not have died in vain. You will have entertained us." Kurt Vonnegut
46 years old now, I grew up with wine because of my father, so have been enjoying the stuff my whole life.
Wine for me is something I have with food, friends and family - I never collect bottles, I drink them. I always keep a ready stock at home of around 80 bottles and replenish every month or so. Never got into buying wines to age (I don't see the point in my own case, but can understand why others do) - I buy wines that are already pretty much drinking already.
Luis Manuel Debuque Monreal Ermi
Some day, Noel, I'll have the pleasure of meeting you in person...
Isn't hyperbole the best thing ever?
I drink Champagne when I win, to celebrate…and I drink Champagne when I lose, to console myself. ~ Napoleon Bonaparte
And I you, Todd.
Luis Manuel Debuque Monreal Ermi
Really started getting into wine in 2002 while visiting family in Santiago. Really liked the Chilean wines at the time.
Once back in London started drinking progressively better mature wines particularly French and Italian with friends. Wanting to build a cellar for the future I began buying em primeur with Rhone '03 vintage at the age of 40.
Now most of my wine is Burgundy, Rhone and Piedmont but is relatively young. As I'm back in the States am drinking mostly Italian while the more serious wines mature.
Start collecting in the early 90s in my early twenties. Drinking wine goes back to the late 80s in my late teens. One of my first big purchase was a mag of the 66 Petrus for $450 at a Butterfiled & Butterfield auction.
2007 at old age of 25. Now almost 30 with off site storage.
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Thanks for writing my response for me LMD! Luckily, I still get to drink wines with my mother and father, who started me off at 6 years old. Whatever I have...I crack open for friends and family. Vintage doesn't matter. Why wait.
1999 at the age of... 17 cos d'estournel 1990 did the trick, haut brion 1985 some weeks later reconfirmed ;-) I went grape harvesting that autumn in Burgundy and than it really took off, spending every cent of my student budged on wine at that time
Starting buying in '93 after drinking the family stash for years. But didn't actually start "collecting" until '97 (@28) when I moved back from the UK.
Am I happy with my purchases ... sure ... would I do it differently if I could ... yep!
I grew up with wine, worked in restaurants while still in high school and subsequently in college, which soon turned to a full-time career. I ended up as a sommelier, but didn't have a steady place to live until 2000. It took me a while to find a good cellar and establish the right contacts, but have amassed a 700 bottle cellar since which has sparingly started to yield some bottles every year now.
I was lucky that when I started filling my cellar my preferences were already pretty much formed, but I too fell for the old beginners mistake of focusing on the best vintages exclusively. What does one drink while they mature? Now, I can buy some of my fave domaines ex-cellar so I have to buy every year to keep my allocations.
Last edited by Mike de Lange on October 28th 2011, 12:52am, edited 1 time in total.
ITB, but not in sales
I want in on that meeting as well. Cheers!
-Eric LeVine (ITB)
It rhymes with wine...
Great thread, but why moved?
I cannot recall a day growing up where wine was not on the table. It was, and remains, part of my parents' daily life and the way our families celebrate. My father started exposing me to quality wines, mostly California then (Cab and Zin) when I went to law school from 1989-1992. During this period I clerked in San Fran, and visited Napa/Sonoma with great regularity. In 1992 my father and I ended up in the same town - me with my first real job and he with a consulting gig - so we hung out for a couple of months having a great time, cooking some killer meals and drinking better and better wines, mostly now as I could financially contribute. Ironically, my dad, ever the charming ladies' man, met and introduced me to this hot, tall Norwegian/Irish woman who later became my wife! This period corresponded with some incredible wines coming out of Cali and Bordeaux, which my dad and I bought in spades: Bdx from 1986, 1989 and 1990, and some (then) inexpensive Cali fruit bombs like 1991 Caymus for under $20.
So inspired, my wife and I took our 1996 honeymoon in Bdx and Loire. The next year my parents spent the entire Spring in a wonderful villa in St. Remy de Provence. Of course my wife and I had to join for a couple of weeks. Those 2 weeks were incredible. We drove all over Southern France experiencing tremendous restaurants and wines of all sorts, from country wine, to Gigondas, CDP, Northern Rhones and banyuls. We were hooked on Southern France.
My modest cellar remains split between Bdx and Rhone, as a result. Probably 90% of what I own and drink.
After 26 years of paying my way, exposing me to incredible culture, my father retired and my parents now spend time between the beach and the mountains. I visit them regularly and the weekends are all about food, wine and relaxation, mixed with political debate (we have wide-varying opinions in our houses). And after mooching off them for so many years, I now spoil them with the best wines I can afford. A very very small price to pay back. My parents shaped and inspired my life in more ways than I can recount.
During my late teens and early twenties my father was spending up to a month of year working in France and upon return would always have a case or so of wine. These wines and the meals we prepared with them were definitely the spark that got the fire started.
Shortly thereafter I found myself serving and bar tending to get myself through college which led me to a job at the local country club. My boss was as far from clued in on wine as could be so the wine list quickly became my problem. At 23 it was an amazing opportunity to try so many different regions and meet some amazing people within the local wine industry. Serving dinner to folks bringing in 2001 Cayuse Cailloux, 1986 Latour and the wedding with the 6L of 1994 Opus opened my eyes to the idea of laying bottles down. Now at 28 I have close to 200 btls in my little fridge collection.
Lost In The White Room
I started at 23 in 2009. The gateway was a mixed case-gift from my brother living in San Francisco. It was a mix of everything, CdP, Sauternes, a bunch of different Ridge stuff, including Monte Bello, etc.
After I finished grad school a few months later, I spent 12 days in NorCal. 3 Nights were in Santa Rosa, and we went all over Northern Sonoma county. I fell in love with Zinfandel. My first hundred or so purchases were under the guise of "No boring wines". Many of the Pinot Noir I tasted on that trip were boring to me.
Now my cellar is tilted towards California, but Germany is quickly catching up (I love ripe riesling). I don't think I will be adding much from France with the long-term decline in USD. I have built up a cellar to about 200 bottles, but have a father that started at about the same time and is now at 500 (almost all California Pinot, how boring).
Interest began with a wine appreciation class my senior year in college, after which I was required to choose the wine when dining out with my family, putting the class to use. In 1996 at the age of 30 a friend opened a small restaurant. Drank a lot of 1994 Pride Cab and Merlot, as well as Pride Reserve Cab, by the glass, along with other great (but young) 1994 and 1995 Californian wines. That same year my wife bought a 110 bottle rack for me, which was filled in a matter of months (my friend with the restaurant was an enabler) and its been downhill since. Bought a lot of California cabs, merlots and some Italian wines (from another friend with an Italian restaurant) early on. Then I discovered the glory of buying direct from wineries - Pride, Paloma, Siduri, Carlisle, and many more followed.
Fortunately, I never bought mass quantities of any one - buying broad instead of deep (in 3s or 4s and the occasional 6 pack). My only regret was not exploring wines from France (especially the Rhone) and Germany earlier. I grew tired of the over oaked chardonnays, cabernets and merlots in a fairly quickly.
Jeffrey D. Fish
Hey, Smails! My dinghy's bigger than your whole boat!
My father got into wine in the 1970's so it was always around growing up. I have kind of liberal parents (at least when it comes to drinking wine at home), and they would let me have a 2 oz pour of wine with dinner starting when I was in my later teens (I think my father liked the "European" mystique of letting your kids drink wine at home to teach them about alcohol). I guess I should say I didn't start "collecting" wine until 2006 when I could buy it legally, but let's just say I bought some 2-3 bottle lots of things from my father before that, even though he wouldn't let me open them (OK, he wouldn't let me take possession of them either but agreed that I owned them and could have them when I was 21). I mostly buy in 2-4 bottle lots but most of my "serious" wine is bought in conjunction with my father (ie, he's generally willing to sell me a few bottles out of what he buys). I probably have about 220 bottles - most of it in storage in my parents cellar. I keep a couple of cases at home for daily drinking, plus a few of the better bottles that I want to try.
I was also lucky enough to be born in a year that was very good in a lot of regions (1985), and my dad bought a mixed case of 1985 wines when I was little that he gave to me when I turned 21. My brothers got the same thing but didn't have such universally good vintages (1973 and 1975), so I got the better port.
Started at age 29 in 2009 as a friend brought me to an Acker Auction. The wines I tasted that night have forever changed my life (not to mention some over budget, less than sober purchases) and I have been tasting and collecting ever since.
My dad was/is a wine geek and he bought me my first mixed case in 1989. I was 25. Started buying a case of the ones in the case I liked immediately thereafter (85 Pichon Lalande, 86 Cafaro, 86 Beaucastel). Started spending time on the AOL wine forum (where Allen Meadows became Burghound) and then the compuserve forum. Living on the OWS became friends with John Kapon, went to the first ever acker auction, bought a bunch of stuff (like 89 Montrose for $275 a case, 86 LMHB for $300) toured Napa with him and loved it. Have probably maintained at around 2,000 bottles since the late nineties.
"what's missing in many people's experience of wine is a simple sense of ease." - Eric Asimov.
I started in 1979 in New York with Les Amis du Vin. I was the only woman at the table. I started collecting and the finally got smart in 1999 and went into the wine biz as a somm and later became a wine columnist.
I'm 24 and was hooked on the idea of collecting by the time I was 16. I'm incredibly lucky to have a father who's hooked on wine and has a 1500 bottle cellar that's mostly Spanish/Italian. Though I can't actually call myself a collector, as my inventory of bottles is only about 65-70, I unfortunately can't invest any more heavily than I currently am. I do have some splurge bottles that hopefully will age as I do, and I've been educating myself through my dad's cellar in the meantime!
"Drink and be whole again b
My father-in-law got me into wine when I met my wife about 11 years ago. He was big into California Cabs and I remember drinking Silver Oak, Duckhorn and Caymus from the 1995-1997 vintages with him. They were eye opening. Australian Shiraz was next and I remember having a bottle of 1996 Elederton Command that just floored me. The Command is still one of my favorites and I have 2002-2005 vertical. A year later, I got into Pinot Noir and that's when my interest took off. I started buying wine in 2002 and keep a cellar of about 150 bottles. I have grown to love California Pinot Noir and Syrah. On a trip to France two years ago, I fell in love with Southern Rhones as well. I have few Spanish (Big fan of Numanthia and Clio) and Italian wines in addition to some Australian Shiraz and Oregon Pinot Noir. Even after 11 years, I still feel like I don't know enough about wine, especially the wines made around the world. I love coming to the board and learning about new and exciting wines from all of you. I appreciate everyone taking the time to share their experiences. Thank you.
My friends and I are kicking ourselves for not starting to collect Burgundy in high school.
I'm 51 and while familiar with Germany and Napa Valley didn't start collecting until 1997. So that means my Burgundy won't be ready for quite a while yet...
Started at the age of 23 in 2003. Fell in love with wine so much I turned it into a career 2 years later.
I got started on Rhone and Germany. Through an "Italian appreciation" class I was exposed to Piemonte. A casual Clos Pepe producer(s) tasting showed me the glory of Pinot Noir. Later started to participate in the various wine tasting clubs that were around in the East Bay at the time (miss those!).