Sunday, August 17, 2008

Book Club Wine Outing

I want to tell you about this amazing lady who died last year at the age of 82. Her name was Juanita Swedenburg and she was the most famous winemaker on the east coast. Her photo was on the front page of the Washington Post a couple of times and she was on the cover of People magazine too. Yesterday our Piedmont book club caravaned to Middleburg, VA to visit her winery where I snapped this photo of a picture of her that was hanging on the wall. We got to meet her son Marc Swedenburg who is now carrying on his mother's wine legacy by running the winery.
Why is this woman so famous in wine circles? Because in her own quiet professional way she challenged an existing law in New York State that required out of state wineries to use a middleman to sell their wines to folks in other states. Naturally this law favored the New York State wineries and made the middleman a lot of money. Juanita didn't think this was right. No other product across the nation was being restricted in this fashion so why should winemakers in every state be required to follow this law for their products. Juanita filed a lawsuit that eventually made it all the way to the United States Supreme Court in Washington D.C. and won that lawsuit because she said public opinion was on her side. Unfortunately her husband Wayne whom she met in the Foreign Service in French Indochina (Vietnam) in 1952 and married in 1953 died the year before she won this Supreme Court decision. Tomorrow I will write Part 2 of our book club wine outing. In the meantime you can click below on this site to read Juanita Swedenburg's obituary that appeared in the Washington Post in June of 2007. After you read the obituary I think you will agree with me that someone needs to take her life story and put it into a novel or biography for everyone to read.
The obituary was written by Ellen Crosby who has written these three wine mystery books: The Merlot Murders, The Chardonnay Charade and the Bordeaux Betrayal.

D. J., one of our book club members who works at the winery for weekend winetasting events told me yesterday that the day before Juanita died she had been driving her tractor over the rolling acerage of her vineyard to check on the grapes growing on the vines. By the way, this winery sits right in the middle of Virginia's horse hunt country made famous by Jackie Kennedy years ago and so on Saturday D. J. was not too surprised to have two customers ride their horses to the vineyard for a winetasting.


fishing guy said...

J&J: My wife would love that trip.

Anonymous said...

Well good for her. Middlemen and women are not good. I don't think they are.