The Cabernet is one of the top selling wines in the world. In the Bordeaux region of France the tradition has long been to blend the Cabernet Sauvignon with other varieties to mellow it out and give it some extra perfumy aroma. This is accomplished by using Merlot and Cabernet Franc. In California the enologists took their time figuring this out and now many employ the practice to produce blends called Meritage. An interesting fact about the wine industry in Europe, it never would be possible without the help of American grape rootstock. In the late 1800’s an invasive pest from America called Phylloxera (a sap sucking insect related to the aphid) almost completely devastated the vines of Europe. Years of research led vintners to discover that grafting the European varieties onto America rootstock (Vitis aestivalis) made their vines resistance to the disease. There are some areas in Europe that produce wines without the graft, but they are sparse and expensive. These areas are somehow not favorable to Phylloxera. Scanning grapes led to an interesting episode in my life. I drove to Napa Valley with a portfolio, a large cooler rigged with a lattice in place of the lid, and some tools. My intent was to find a friendly vineyard and bring home some clusters. But arriving in the valley I saw red grapes everywhere, nameless red grapes. I just kept driving until, in my frustration I said, OK – I’m pulling into the next winery. It turned out to be Robert Mondavi Winery and oh what luck. I showed my portfolio to several people, they loved my work and said “We have a demonstration vineyard out back – each row producing a different varietal and they are all labeled. Knock yourself out.” And that I did. I was there for hours going over the clusters looking for the best. I hung them in my cooler to protect them on the way home so as not to disturb the fine layer of yeast on the plump grapes. It took a while to figure out how to do the scan, the first attempts almost produced wine right there on my scanner. I returned to Robert Mondavi Winery several months later to show them my work, all the images were printed on 13×19 watercolor paper and looked delicious. The Guest Services people introduced me to the Marketing people who introduced me to Margrit Mondavi. Margrit is the head of Cultural Affairs at the winery and as such schedules art shows. A year and a half later I had a solo show at the winery of all my work. It was a grand experience, but the story gets a little sad. My show opening coincided with the passing of Robert Mondavi. I got the call Friday afternoon, the opening was scheduled for Sunday. They said the winery would be closed for the weekend and the opening was rescheduled. Here’s to you Robert Mondavi – thank you for your dedication making California wines the best in the world. And thank you Margrit.