Monday, April 26, 2010

Following Dreams: Robert Craig and Tor Kenward

I'm not sure when it was that I realized I was not going to do something else when I grew up. That this is it. The pinnacle. End game. Thirty-five years ago a series of decisions inadvertently landed me in the packaging industry. After being down-sized ten years ago, I answered a want-ad in the newspaper and became a wine consultant. Bingo! And here I am. Not a bad gig really. I taste wines and then sell them.

Robert Craig and Tor Kenward took a slightly different path and wound up with significantly different end games. Theirs would truly be considered pinnacles as they have small family wineries producing extremely high quality wines.

Tor developed a passion for wine and moved to Napa, where he spent 27 years working for Beringer. Most of those years were spent working with Ed Sbragia and Bob Steinhauer developing and marketing the Private Reserve program, wines which have one of the longest track records in Napa for quality, style, and aging.

Together, these men walked vineyards and tasted grapes both in California and Europe in pursuit of quality. And made the wines. For twenty years, Tor's bonus was that he got to make a barrel of wine for himself. That's a lot of wine-making! And when Beringer did their deal with the Australians, Tor sold his stock and retired. And now he makes his own wine, in small lots, a few barrels at a time.

Robert Craig came from the Texas coast. With a degree in accounting, he joined the Coast Guard to serve his then required time in the armed service. Which took him to San Francisco where he discovered wine country and his passion. The only problem was that the only way he could crack into the biz was to have been born into the action or be a field worker. So he became a banker and started putting together land deals in Napa. He sold Donald Hess vineyard land on Mount Veeder and that was his ticket. He built Hess Collection into the Napa winery it is today. And now he makes his own wine.

I knew a guy thirty some odd years ago who dropped out of law school and eventually started selling wine for Sigel's. He had a passion for wine then as he does to this day. John Rector is now Executive Vice President for Sigel's and he's the guy that brought Tor Kenward and Elton Sloan, Robert Craig's Managing Partner to the Greenville Avenue store last week for a portfolio tasting. A huge enthusiastic throng of passionate wine-loving customers showed up to taste and buy the wines produced by these men who had spent their lives following their passion.

Oh yeah, John sold me a few bottles of wine through the years as well. And here I am. Passionately selling wines.

No comments:

Post a Comment