My parents are not huge wine drinkers. In fact, they don’t drink much alcohol in any form. My dad usually keeps a six-pack of lite beer or Mike’s Hard Lemonade in the fridge, and that will last them a couple months. But when I became a wine professional, my parents started stocking up and even have a wine fridge now!
Granted, there are about ten bottles in that fridge, and I’m fairly certain those are there just to humor me. They know that when I come visit them, I’m going to make sure that we have wine pairings for our dinner, so they may as well keep the bottles I force on them in proper storage.
There is one bottle, though, that stays in that fridge and doesn’t get considered for my nightly pairing consideration: a 1978 Beaulieu Vineyard Georges de Latour Cabernet Sauvignon.
This wine is rare and valuable. It comes from one of the oldest wineries in Napa, is still produced as their most revered wine, and comes from a year in which Napa was experiencing the afterglow of the 1976 Judgment of Paris. Those facts alone are enough to cause me to at least respect the bottle and reserve it for a special occasion.
But more than its intrinsic value, the wine holds special importance for my parents and me; it is a bottle they bought on their honeymoon. They got married in 1982 and chose to celebrate by flying to Napa and going wine-tasting! I didn’t even know about that until they asked me to go through some of their old bottles in the basement as we packed their house up to move. When I saw this bottle, I couldn’t believe it! Nestled amongst some inexpensive wines that were way past their “drink-by” date, this incredible and historic Cabernet Sauvignon quietly aged and stood testament to the first days of my family’s history.
I told my mother how excellent this bottle was, exclaiming that it was in fantastic condition for a bottle that had lingered next to non-vintage no-longer-white zinfandel for over 30 years, and that’s when I got to hear about their exploration of a valley that became one of my absolute favorite places in the world. Even growing up in a house that had a “liquor” cabinet stocked with nothing more than a ten-year-old bottle of Canadian whiskey (for Christmas egg nog) and a garage fridge holding four bottles of Michelob Ultra, my family had a special relationship with wine.
My parents came to visit a few weeks ago, and we were able to return to Napa and go wine-tasting. How could I pass up a chance to take them back to BV? It’s part of my family’s history. 32 years after their first visit, I got to take my parents back to a place where they got to celebrate the beginning of their life together—a place that doesn’t just hold value for its terroir and the famous wines produced there.
Napa became part of my history and my family, and the bottle that rests in my parents’ mostly-empty wine fridge serves as a reminder of our past, while a brand-new bottle of BV Private Reserve Pinot Noir now lays to its right.