In Adventures on the Wine Route, Kermit Lynch's 1988 book, the importer recounted his search for small, traditional, family-run domaines in France and Italy at a time when many American wine lovers were focused on the big names of Bordeaux and California.
Born in San Luis Obispo, Calif., Lynch moved to Berkeley in 1962 to study at San Francisco State. A decade later, when playing guitar in a rock band wasn't paying the bills, he borrowed $5,000 from his girlfriend to open a wine shop, Kermit Lynch Wine Merchants. At first, like his customers, he focused on California, but then he began visiting Europe. Most of the producers he found there, such as Domaine Tempier, Vieux Télégraphe, Coche-Dury and Domaine Raveneau, were then unknown. So Lynch began telling their stories in a newsletter that was part travelogue, part sales pitch. His articulate presentation of a personal vision, his consistent taste and his knack for spotting overlooked treasures built his business and drew a road map for future importers. Consumers have a bigger, more diverse wine world to explore as a result.