I got up this morning thinking about what I wanted to blog about, and found this post on Terroirist Wine Blog, announcing the passing this weekend of George Vare. This is typically where I’d put a comma and say “George Vare, a Napa vineyard owner and winemaker” or “George Vare, a fellow Williams alumnus who did all he could to help Cody when he wanted to get into the wine industry,” or “George Vare, one of the all-around coolest people I know in the wine industry, who made sure to stock us up with some of California’s least conventional, most delicious wines, including a few of his own precious Ribolla Gialla bottlings.”
I keep re-reading the news release, hoping it’s some kind of mistake, but I don’t think it is. I even searched my inbox for George’s email address, almost like I needed proof he really lived. His last correspondence with me was to recommend a winery in New Zealand to help me get a job (it was on the South Island, unfortunately, so that didn’t pan out) and to give me the email address and phone number of another big man in the wine industry, whom I was in the process of stalking to try to get a job. He was always willing to let us use his name to make contacts and meet people, and several of our most memorable tastings in the last year and a half were the direct result of his suggestions and connections.
He encompassed everything I admire about the wine industry. He’s a super successful grower and vintner, but he took on a Godfather-esque role way early on in his career, making introductions and creating a network of winemakers who want to do something different. For a long time (maybe still?) he was the only grower of the Italian Ribolla Gialla grape in California, and encouraged Cody to do something outside the norm.
We have one 500ml bottle left from him stored back in Sonoma, and I know the night we open it will be a somber occasion as we remember this joyful, kindhearted man who took two new-in-town twenty-two-year-old college grads into his home to do whatever he could to help them get their dream jobs in the wine industry. I only wish we had a wine of our own already so we could name it after him. George, you are sorely missed already.