Tuesday, August 25, 2015

SF Giants' manager, announcers surprise Jordan winemaker Rob Davis

Jordan winemaker Rob Davis, center, at his surprise party with Mike Krukow, left, and Bruce Bochy
Surprise! When Jordan Winery winemaker Rob Davis came in from the first day of his 40th harvest on Monday, he had a few guests waiting for him, including his friends Bruce Bochy, manager of the San Francisco Giants, and Giants announcers Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper.

Forty harvests for an American winemaker at one winery is exceptional. Paul Draper has been in charge of winemaking at Ridge Vineyards since 1969. Mike Grgich, now 92 years old, will oversee his 40th harvest at Grgich Hills next year. Peter Mondavi, who turns 101 in October, still goes to work at Charles Krug, where he was put in charge of the winemaking in the 1950s.

But it has been a long time since these great men stood over a tank and did a punchdown. Davis, the only winemaker Jordan has ever had, is still fit enough to compete in triathlons at age 61. He was out in a Chardonnay vineyard Monday before sunrise, worked in the winery processing the grapes all morning, and if he knew more than 30 people would be waiting to surprise him, he hid it well.

Davis enters and is surprised to see retired Petrus technical director Jean-Claude Berrouet (out of frame, sorry)

Krukow and Kuiper were hilarious, no surprise to anyone who watches them regularly on the Giants' telecasts. They compiled a list of things that started with "40," including:

Krukow and Kuiper amuse Bochy, Josh Greene, Berrouet and Davis
"40: The number of glasses of wine Rob had to drink before he asked (now-wife) Karen out.

40: The number of glasses of wine Karen had to drink before Rob became attractive.

40: The number of times Rob has told me every André Tchelistcheff story.

40: The number of times Rob Davis has said, 'This is going to be the best vintage we've ever had.'

40: The number of people who turned down invitations to this lunch before we got invited."

(At that moment, with glasses of '77 Jordan Cabernet and '94 Petrus Pomerol in front of me, I said a silent thank you to Robert Parker for not being able to make it.)

The wine lineup
Kuiper, who I had the privilege of sitting next to, followed with a game of True or False for Rob:

"True or false: In 1985, you befriended Mike Krukow. Was that to get free Giants tickets? (Rob laughed). Then you befriended me, because you thought I could get you better seats. Then you befriended Bruce Bochy because you thought you could get even better tickets."

Davis: "That's true. We hit the ticket jackpot."

Kuiper: "True or false: You wouldn't have married Karen if she was a Dodgers' fan."

Rob and Karen Davis looked at each other and said simultaneously, "That's true."

Rob said, "When I was going to propose, I said, I want to ask you to marry me, but I can't marry you if you're not a Giants' fan." Karen said, "Are you kidding me? I'm in love with the Baby Bull." So Rob not only married her, he did so knowing she was in love with somebody else.

I once reported how in 2002, Rob Davis called Krukow on his cell phone in between innings of a World Series game, and Krukow answered -- and then the Giants blew a late 5-0 lead and the Series. Fortunately the Giants have subsequently won the trophy three times, and Davis' phone call timing has gotten better.

In 2014, Rob went to see the post-Series celebration in San Francisco and was eating at Zuni Café awaiting a call from his daughter.

"The phone buzzed, I thought it was my daughter. Then Bochy was on the line and I said, 'Honey, it's Bochy'," Davis recalled. "He said, 'We're at Waterbar. We're enjoying your 2010. You did a great job.' I said, 'I did a great job? You just won the World Series."

Davis' original employment letter: $4 an hour
Davis told us only one of his Tchelistcheff stories Monday, a fun one about André making him pull over a rental car in France because André saw that some goats couldn't reach some grass, so he pulled the grass out of the ground to feed them. He had a couple of mentors at the event, including retired UC Davis enology professor Ann Noble (inventor of the aroma wheel) and retired Petrus technical director Jean-Claude Berrouet.

Davis said, "My dad gave me the best advice. He said, 'Whatever you do in life, make it your hobby'."

The food was good Monday and the drinks were outrageous. We had Jordan's first vintage, 1976 Cabernet, as well as 1977 Jordan Cabernet from a 6-liter, and the aforementioned '94 Petrus.

And I've got a picture of myself and Bochy enjoying glasses of 12-year-old Van Winkle Special Reserve Bourbon (average price: $570.)

If you look closely at that photo, you'll notice that I hadn't relinquished my wine glass to grab the Bourbon, even though I needed to hand my camera to Chris Sawyer and even though I had to drive home.

That's because the glass still had some '77 Jordan Cabernet, still available at the winery in 6-liters for $1600. (I also found a 750-ml bottle on Wine-Searcher on auction with bids starting at $25, though that probably won't be true long after I post this.)

Jordan marketing director Lisa Mattson purchased the '94 Petrus Pomerol for $1700 a bottle (and so can you), and it was nice. But the '77 Jordan Cab was better.

As Bochy would say, "Rob, you did a great job."

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jo6pac said...


Unknown said...

Great story, thanks for sharing.