2013 has started off as a very exciting and blessed year for our family. On February 1st at 11:36 a.m. we welcomed the 4th generation, Stella Marie Dericco. Born happy and healthy at exactly 7lbs and 19 inches both baby and mom, Nicole are doing well. Our family would like to extend a very heartfelt thank you for all your well wishes and congratulations on our newest addition!
John Tyler releases their inaugural vintage of 2008 Russian River Petite Sirah, as a perfect pairing for Christmas and remembering family. This Petite Sirah bottling is not just any new wine release. Winemaker, Tyler Heck wanted to pay tribute to his late grandmother, Anna Marie Heck. The wine was dedicated in her honor, Anna was also the wife of Paul Heck co-proprietor of Korbel Champagne Cellars, she spent much of her life living at the winery and raising a family there.
“She was his rock” states Pam Bacigalupi, Anna Marie’s daughter and, co-owner of John Tyler Wines. “We lived at the winery in Guerneville; I have found memories of growing up there with my brothers. Mom would always be at dad’s side when he was entertaining at the winery, she was his support system. You know the saying: behind every great man there is a great women, I think that really sums up their relationship. “
Pam and her husband John, joined with Pam’s nephew Tyler Heck in 2002 and formed John Tyler Wines. They recently opened a tasting room off Westside Road in Russian River Valley to showcase their wines.
“It was Tyler’s idea to dedicate the wine to Mom. I think we have all been inspired in some way by her. As his wife, Mom was an advocate for my Dad in the industry. She wanted the family to have a successful future. I think one of her most memorable events at Korbel was the Look Magazine photo shoot with the three brothers and their wives. Dad and his two brothers, Adolf and Ben had a feature on the cover and their wives were on a page inside. Mom wore a suede full length coat. It was quite the gathering with Richie, Dof’s wife and Natalie, Ben’s wife. That was probably one of mom’s most glamorous times. “
Anna had a special bond with her grandchildren, especially Tyler. “They spent a lot of time together when Tyler was little. She used to say a quote to him, it started when he was about two, and you know how two year olds can be, wanting everything under the sun. She used to tell him “Tyler, life isn’t always a bowl of cherries, sometimes it’s the pits.” That was probably his first life lesson. We put that saying on the back label, it’s a good reminder that life isn’t always what you expect it to be.”
As Paul’s wife, Anna was a constant advocate for the growth of the wine industry in Sonoma County. Her common sense and solid spiritual approach to life were an inspiration to all who knew her.
“This is a special offering that we want to share with others who are inspired by wine,” states Nicole Bacigalupi, one of Pam’s twin daughters who manages the tasting room. “I can’t wait to pour it for people and share my grandmother’s story.”
Born on September 9th, 1924 my father, Charles Bacigalupi grew up on a quiet street in the suburbs of Santa Rosa, California. His mother, Olive Gaddini (Olie) was a homemaker and artist. His father, Albert Bacigalupi ran the local market named after the family; Bacigalupi Market, first established by his father Natale in the early 1900’s.
After the war ended my Father returned home and finished his pre-requisites at the SRJC. It was in his final year at school where he first met Helen Long. Attending similar classes Helen had hopes of becoming a pharmacists– a field that was dominated by men during those days. Both my father and mother attended UCSF, living in San Francisco while finishing their degrees. Their relationship progressed and soon after they graduated in 1952 they were married. Coming back to Sonoma County they decided to settle in Healdsburg, a place that my Father had said he always wanted to live. He started his practice and soon acquired a list of devoted patients.
Always possessing a love of the land Dad had dreamed of once owning his own ranch. Hearing through the grapevine of some land for sale my parents made the drive out Westside Road and soon purchased a small plot of land, 121 acres to be exact with a quaint house in 1956. The land was mostly planted with prunes, cherries, and apples with a few acres of grapes; Golden Chaslis, Mission and Zinfandel. At the time my Dad didn’t know much about vineyards and grapes but he had a natural green thumb and enjoyed working outside. Through his dentist practice he got to know many of the local grape growers including one in particular; Paul Heck and his family. Paul and his brother Adolf had recently acquired Korbel Champagne Cellars in Guerneville. During his visits and taking the family in for regular check-ups they got to talking about vineyards. Paul advised my Dad to plant Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. “It’s cooler over there in the valley, near the river”, he said. My Dad also heeded the advice of Bob Sission, another patient of his who at the time was the farm advisor for UC Davis. “Don’t they grow those over there in France?”, dad asked, having to write the names down to keep from forgetting them. Eventually he was able to obtain Pinot Noir and Chardonnay budwood from Karl Wente coming from France via the family’s old vineyard in Livermore.
When he was not working with patients or in the vineyard my Dad could be found on the open water. An avid sailor he began sailing as a young child in Bodega Bay continuing his love of the ocean while he was in the navy and even racing in the San Francisco Bay.
Growing up some of my fondest memories is the time I spent shadowing my Father in the vineyards. A self taught grower he learned everything about vineyards from experience, trail and error. Over the past 50+ years my father has developed a reputation in the business of being a honest, hardworking man, always with a smile on his face. We have sold our grapes to countless wineries, from the big guys to the home winemakers, right across the street and across country. Just celebrating his 85th birthday my Dad can still be seen riding around on the 4-wheeler or driving the tractor during harvest. “It’s what keeps me young”, he tells people when asked why he still is not fully retired. “We’re so lucky to live here, I want to spend as much time out in the vineyards as I can.”
So in ending I want to wish the happiest of birthdays to my father, a man of wisdom who is aging like the finest wine, living his life and cherished by his family.
It’s true that every family is different and with our lives being as busy as they are, it seems like as the days go by there is less and less time that we get to spend together. With work, the vineyards, projects, volunteering and other activities it is rare that we are all in the same spot at the same time. This is exactly why I jumped at the opportunity to get an updated family photo done other the day. While we have older photos available (circa 2002!) I felt that it was important to capture the moment in the here and now. Since starting this blog I carry a camera with me almost everywhere I go because you never know when a great photo will present itself. So when you have that minute at a family party, birthday or the holidays and you realize that you are all together, grab that camera!
There is much to say about millennials, their demographics and their impact on the wine industry. With the craze of Facebook, Wine 2.0 and Open Wine Consortiumwine and technology have blended to appeal to this audience. Millennials have now given Baby Boomers a run for their money (literally) as the largest consumers of wine to date. While I will undoubtedly agree that data in this age range proves that milennials are a valued force in the market today I can’t help but ask myself; what about our elders? Though they may not drink as often or as much, their years of experience has led them to wines that suit their pallets. Living in wine country I have had the pleasure to meet some of these pioneers who are now “older” but basically helped to build the industry and survived many hardships. They are the few founding families that still exist today and let me tell you, they still enjoy their wine.
With the massive changes in the wine industry over the last century from technology and marketing to modifications in winemaking techniques and large multinational corporations I wondered what one would say about wine today having been present through these times. I recently sat down with my Grandmother; Anna Marie Heck who will be 92 years old this year and has experienced first hand some of these changes. She lived a good part of her life at Korbel Champagne Cellars, raising her family and supporting her husband in his business endeavors. I talked with her about some of her memories from Korbel and what she thinks about the wine industry today.
Me: About how many years have you been drinking wine?
Anna Marie: The first wine I recall drinking was a sweet red wine back in St. Louis, Mo. where I was born and raised. Wines back then didn’t really have the name of the grape on them. They were usually a blend of several types of grapes and they just called it “red wine”. I think I was around 20 years old when I first started to drink wine.
Me: What are your fondest memories from your time living at Korbel?
Anna Marie: Paul and I moved to Korbel in 1953, the year before my youngest daughter was born. Paul had just left his job as manager at the Italian Swiss Colony and purchased Korbel with his brother and Carl Wente. I remember a lot of good times by the pool house. Paul would have friends from the industry and family over and we would BBQ and have wine and champagne. The kids would play in the pool or go for rides in the jeeps, it was a fun time.
Me: What do you like most about wine?
Anna Marie: I like how it brings people together, it’s something that can be enjoyed by family and friends around the table with a meal. I also like the history behind it. People have been drinking and celebrating with wine for centuries.
Me: What do you think have been the biggest changes in the wine industry during your lifetime?
Anna Marie: I have seen the wine industry expand more than I ever thought it would. Now many countries produce wine that didn’t before. Also the technology used in wineries is far more advanced then what we used and I think better wine is being made today because of that.
Me: What are your hopes for the wine industry in the future?
Anna Marie: Well that people continue to enjoy and drink wine and that it brings family and friends together.
So while there is no doubt that milennials are vital consumers of wine today, lets not forget that wine can be enjoyed at any age…..over 21 and including 92.
From their 53 years in the wine making and grape growing business, my grandparents Charles and Helen have collected quite a variety of wine from over the years. From these years in the industry, we have also sold grapes to over approximately 50 wineries and wine producers ranging from Northern California and Napa Valley to Manhattan. With all this history, I thought it might be fun to do some detective work and raid my grandparents wine collection. Their cellar isn’t fancy by any means and although humble in appearance it holds some real gems and resembles their 53 years in the business. Here is a closer look at some of the wineries that have produced Bacigalupi vineyard designate wines: past and present.
Most recently– during the 2008 harvest–we sold a Dijion clone Pinot Noir to City Winery located in downtown Manhattan. City Winery gives urban wine enthusiasts the opportunity to craft their own wine without even leaving Manhattan. The opening of this winerymarks the first time that wine has been produced in Manhattan since the repeal of prohibition.