A Guide to Wine, Food & the Good Life
To subscribe and be notified anytime we post a new article, enter your email address in the box below, then click on Subscribe Now.

Featured Wine Commentary

Similar Articles:

  1. CALERA WINE COMPANY - A GREAT CALIFORNIA WINE STORY NOW ENTERING ANOTHER CHAPTER
  2. A RECENT VISIT TO DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS – FALL 2018
  3. GAMBAL-WORK WINERY
  4. 2018 HILLSIDE HOUSE SUNSET SOIRÉE WITH JIM CLENDENEN OF AU BON CLIMAT
  5. IS IT ROSÉ TIME?
  6. DOMAINE BALLOT-MILLOT – HISTORY, OLDER WINES & THE 2015 VINTAGE, AND TASTING NOTES ON THE 2015S
  7. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  8. A VISIT TO TYLER WINERY
  9. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2014
  10. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD AND QUINTA CRUZ
  11. RIDGE VINEYARDS & THE DROUGHT YEARS 2012-2015
  12. BONNY DOON VINEYARD: A PIONEER PRODUCER WHERE OLD IS NEW
  13. VISIT TO CALERA & NEW AND OLD WINES
  14. DIAMOND CREEK VINEYARDS
  15. TYLER WINERY
  16. MARIETTA CELLARS
  17. CHANIN WINE COMPANY & LUTUM WINES
  18. MASSICAN WINERY
  19. DOMAINE BALLOT MILLOT
  20. DOMAINE SAUMAIZE-MICHELIN
  21. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2013
  22. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  23. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  24. BIEN NACIDO ESTATE AND SOLOMON HILLS ESTATE
  25. RIDGE VINEYARDS AND TABLAS CREEK VINEYARD
  26. TYLER WINERY AND CHANIN WINE COMPANY
  27. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2012
  28. WORLD CLASS CENTRAL COAST WINERIES: New Releases From Calera, Domaine Eden, Mount Eden Vineyards, Ridge Vineyards, and Tablas Creek Vineyard
  29. BERNARD PORTET’S NEW WINEMAKING PROJECT, HERITANCE
  30. CALERA WINE COMPANY
  31. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  32. TYLER WINERY
  33. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2011
  34. DOMAINE DONATSCH
  35. THE COMPLETE(R) STORY
  36. SANTA CRUZ MOUNTAIN VINEYARD & QUINTA CRUZ: TWO IN ONE
  37. THE BIG KAHUNA LINE UP
  38. RIDGE VINEYARDS
  39. AU BON CLIMAT & QUPÉ
  40. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN
  41. MOSEL VERSUS MONTRACHET
  42. JOSEPH SWAN: A CALIFORNIA WINE LEGEND
  43. SUMMERTIME IS ROSÉ TIME!
  44. IN PURSUIT OF BALANCE: A TRADE TASTING AND MORE
  45. SPRING HAS SPRUNG
  46. THE MAYACAMAS MOUNTAINS OF NAPA VALLEY & THREE PIONEER PRODUCERS
  47. STILL DON'T KNOW JURA? YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT YOU ARE MISSING!
  48. THREE CRU CLASSÉ LADIES OF THE COTES DE PROVENCE
  49. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL – VINTAGE 2010
  50. THE OJAI VINEYARD
  51. KUDOS FOR CALERA
  52. THE HOLY TRINITY OF WINERIES
  53. MOUNT EDEN VINEYARDS AND DOMAINE EDEN -- SOMETHING OLD AND SOMETHING NEW
  54. RIDGE VINEYARDS - UNCOMPROMISING QUALITY
  55. The Dueling Inexpensive Red Wine Line-Ups -- Which Ones Went To The Drinking Round And Which Ones Went Down The Drain?
  56. A Pair To Draw From – Santa Cruz Mountain Vineyard and Quinta Cruz
  57. T FOR TWO – TABLAS CREEK AND TYLER TOO!
  58. Que Syrah, Syrah…Wherefore Art Thou?
  59. ALONG THE BURGUNDY TRAIL - VINTAGE 2009
  60. Is “Sanity” Returning To The Market?
  61. Under The Radar California Wines
  62. More 2009 Wines
  63. A Tale of Two California Wineries – One New, One Old
  64. There Was A Legacy
  65. Surprising New Wines from Old-World Spain
  66. 2009 Beaujolais
  67. Lemmings to the Sea?
  68. 2009 Rosé
  69. Dom Pérignon in the Napa Valley
  70. A Burgundy Story
  71. A Vineyard 29 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon Retrospective Tasting
  72. Champagne or No?
  73. A Visit With Robert Lawrence Balzer -- Grand Ambassador of American Wine Culture
  74. Champagne -- The Wine of Kings

There Was A Legacy

Joel Fisher • 9/3/10        Print This Post Print This PostComment Bookmark and Share

By Joel M. Fisher

If asked who The Wine Spectator anointed Dean of Wine Writers, who would be your guess? Robert Parker, perhaps? The answer is a name not heard enough these days: Robert Lawrence Balzer.

The onetime actor, aviator, media personage and Buddhist monk cut quite a figure in his day. Born in 1912, Balzer got his start in wine at his family’s famous gourmet grocery store in the Larchmont neighborhood of Los Angeles. At the age of 24 he was put charge of the store’s wine department. Balzer took this responsibility seriously, knew he had a lot to learn, and plunged into wine studies. He quickly realized two things: he loved sharing what he learned about wine with others, and he believed California wines to be world-class – back in the days when these were fighting words.

Over the years, Balzer steadily expanded his soapbox from the family store wine department to the media. He wrote for the Los Angeles Times and Holiday Magazine, and appeared on radio shows on such stations as KFI and K-Mozart. To help promote California wines, he supported or directed a slew of competitions including the Jerry Mead New World International Wine Competition, the Long Beach Grand Cru Wine Competition, and the New York Wine Tasting of 1973, which was the precursor for the famous Tasting of Paris. Impressively, he judged the Los Angeles County Fair Wine Competition (now the L.A. International Wine and Spirits Competition) for an astounding 61 years.

Ever prolific, Balzer has authored 11 books that stand the test of time. He organized the food and wine pairings at two presidential inaugurations – Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush. Last but not least, he taught appreciation classes at UC Irvine, UCLA, countless cruises, and the Queen Mary.

The man is tireless – and still going at age 98. I  witnessed a radio appearance of his last year. Over the last decade Balzer has racked up career accolades that celebrate his legacy of sharing his wine passion and knowledge. Wines and Vines Magazine named him Wine Writer of the Year in 1996. The Academy of Wine Communications gave him its annual Wine Communications Award in 1997. The Wine Appreciation Guild honored him with its Wine Literary Award in 2004. And as you now know, The Wine Spectator honored him with the appellation of “Dean of American Wine Writers” in 2002.

Perhaps the greatest honor, however, is just how many wine tasting groups Balzer inspired. Alums of his classes have been particularly prolific in establishing  their own groups. Balzer helped bring wine education and wine appreciation to an accessible level. Countless wine enthusiasts have benefited from and appreciated his message. As a self-taught wine man, Balzer can receive no greater honor.

Co-authored by Sara Fisher Chapin

Post a Comment

No comments so far for “There Was A Legacy”

Post a Comment