With the passing of Al Brounstein, we lose a pioneer of the California wine industry and a wonderful character.
I remember one of my first trips to Napa in the early '90s and a visit to Diamond Creek. Al drove my wife and I around his property, proudly telling the story of how he bought it, discovered the different soils he had, and decided to bottle vineyard-specific Cabernets before most people in Napa even knew what Cabernet was. It was a story he no doubt told many times, yet you'd never know it by his enthusiasm. Bravo.
His wines from the late '70s and early '80s seared indelible impressions on my palate. As someone just starting out in the business nearly 15 years ago, they provided a reference point for mountain-grown Cabernet for me. Though I drifted away from the wines in more recent years, it was only because I changed. Al would never bend to perceived market whims - no softening of the wines, or adding other grapes to his portfolio. He set an ideal for himself, and stuck to it from the get-go. Bravo.
Perhaps the best part of Al, though, was how he dealt with his Parkinson's. He always had a great icebreaker joke whenever he shook someone's hand for the first time. He didn't battle the disease - he laughed at it. Bravo.
When I get home from work tonight, and sit down to dinner, I'll raise my glass to Al Brounstein, and say 'cheers'...
Chris Lavin — Long Beach, CA — June 27, 2006 8:07pm ET
William Landreth — Irving, TX — June 27, 2006 8:45pm ET
Michael Culley — June 28, 2006 10:43am ET
Tim Sylvester — Santa Monica, CA — June 28, 2006 1:05pm ET
M Esensten — June 28, 2006 8:17pm ET
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