Nathan Chroman, a Beverly Hills attorney and wine aficionado who wrote an influential weekly column for the Los Angeles Times from 1971 to 1987, died March 16. Chroman, who contracted polio when he was 18, passed away at his home in the suburb of Westwood of post-polio syndrome, his family said. He was 83.
As a freelance wine writer, Chroman chronicled California wine at a time when it grew to national and then international prominence. He shared the wine beat at the Times with Robert Lawrence Balzer, who died last year. The two men gave the Times powerful voices for wine.
A personal injury lawyer for more than 50 years, Chroman was a noted authority on wine and wrote for many publications, including Wine Spectator. He also wrote a book, The Treasury of American Wines, published in 1973.
Born in Chicago in 1929, Chroman and his family moved to Los Angeles when he was three. He graduated from Santa Ana College in 1952. After attending UCLA, he received his law degree from Loyola Law School in 1957.
Chroman developed his passion for wine after noticing a book on the subject in a library while studying for the bar exam in 1957. He ended up teaching wine appreciation and history at UCLA’s Extension school. He also served as chairman of the Los Angeles County Fair, one of the biggest wine judging competitions in the state.
Chroman’s weekly columns ran from 1971 to 1987. The Times discontinued it after the paper's media critic wrote an expose on wine writers’ ethics and practices, raising questions about potential areas of conflict of interest. Chroman denied any wrongdoing, noting, as did Times editors, that freelancers were not full-time staff writers subject to the same policies. The paper hired a staff wine writer shortly after that. Chroman continued writing about wine for other publications.
Chroman is survived by his wife of 57 years, his three daughters and three grandchildren.
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