It’s three o’clock in the morning, and I am sitting here wearing a t-shirt that says, “Trust Your Palate” and I can’t figure out how to write an About Us page for our website. I’ve been wearing the t-shirt for 15 years - and then for another 15 before that – before it was printed – really? And I can’t figure out how to describe who we are? That’s crazy, but here’s my attempt...
A great friend of mine, who also happens to be a very successful wine merchant - although he would never want to be referred to as a “wine merchant - told me that all he wants to know about the wines he pours for his clients are a few interesting facts. The “interesting” facts he is looking for aren’t really about technical information or farming, they are great anecdotes about the people behind the wines. He knows that he likes the wines, or he wouldn’t be pouring them. He knows that they have great pedigree, or they wouldn’t have been presented to him. He wants to make wine fun and approachable. He wants to demystify wine without telling anyone that he is what he is doing.
I guess after 30 years in the wine business (or as my friend says - 100 years in the wine business), the best way to describe my passion for wine is to demystify it, make it fun, approachable and make people believe that when it comes to wine, they should trust their palate. Garber & Co is a wine company – we are producers, distributors and importers of wines that we really like and we hope others will like as well. We represent producers with integrity – what more can be said. We care about the people behind the wines, how they grow their grapes, and how they make their wine. We shop for our daily food at the farmer’s market, and we share the same passion for the wines we produce and represent.
Here’s a snapshot of who I am, who we are and what a long strange trip it’s been.
Road trip from Wisconsin to California with husband Ralph, dog Kaya, cats Chinga and Willard – to Napa Valley – Toyota land cruiser and U-Haul full – for no apparent reason. No more selling bootleg Grateful Dead albums for me. Time for wine.
Mad fun tending bars and learning to drink martinis at the local growers hangout in Rutherford leads to a job as a tour guide at Robert Mondavi Winer, Napa Valley – 50 wineries, learning to haul hoses, tasting wine on Sunday mornings with Bob Mondavi, trashing Bordeaux because they tasted like stale ashtrays – hmmm, Bob didn’t agree but you gotta trust your palate, and serving under his amazing wife Margaret Biever - one of the truly great women of the early California wine industry.
Six-month road trip in Europe – getting closer to understanding wines while meeting legendary winemakers. Telling a “local” winemaker we had met in Aligote, Aubere de Villain, in his garage where he produced a small amount of that delicious white wine, that we didn’t need his help getting a tour at Romanee Conti because we had a connection…really? Weren’t we surprised when we went there the next day….?
LA bound and tripping into a job as the somm at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in the day of Hernando Courtwright, La Bella Fontana and fancy chandeliers. Maybe the only female somm at the time in California – tasting thousands of legendary wines – and launching an occasional tray of champagne flutes at the rich and famous.
Being a pregnant somm – with my tuxedo and a tastevin sitting on a 9-month pregnant belly – a belly holding my future partner. Training his little palate in utero.
Being offered a job at Acacia winery, then Chalone wine group and being so hesitant to have a real job that I shaved my head for the job interview at the Zuni Café. Judy’s chicken tasted great anyway - not to mention a perfect pear with blue cheese of some sort.
15 years of Chalone when the wines were amazing. Being immersed in a wine culture that was so serious - so terroir driven - so “estate bottled” driven. Tasting with winemakers and grape growers who were so serious about their mission.
Getting to explain to the winemaker at Chateau Lafite that the only thing missing from our luncheon together was a great bottle of Burgundy – oops. Moving along, no more corporate culture for me.
And then there was Garber & Co – independent broker and distributor representing many of my friends and former Chalone Wine Group winemakers. Living in Topanga Canyon and planting a little vineyard with friends and post hold diggers to live with a vineyard. Starting Topanga Vineyards, with my husband and best friend. Importing grower producer champagnes when they needed so much explaining. Air freighting my very first 12 case champagne order to LA because the thought of being an importer was so terrifying. Always trusting my palate and wishing others would too.
And then there was the encouragement of my good friend to make the leap and start importing more seriously. There was an amazing opportunity to bring in a small group of very good producers - producers from lesser known regions with lots of integrity, great value wines and great farming.
Three years ago, my son Jeremy joined me in this endeavor and will be taking Garber & Co, with his amazing palate, to ever new realms.
Garber & Co has never been about the press. We have always been about trusting in our own palates – our own taste; swimming upstream is difficult but we are strong and hope you get the wines we bring you. This is a snapshot of who we are – we are people whose lives have been immersed in wine culture for a very long time, and are proud of what we like to drink!
We are also really into food, cooking, bread baking, making saba and vinegar, playing with our dogs and hiking in the Santa Monica Mountains – it’s all a part of who we are – all integrated with our love of wine.
March 18, 2015