March 21, 2012
I was reading through the wine blogs tonight and found out that Nathan Chroman, one of the pioneering wine writers of the ’70s and ’80s had died at the age of 83. Reading the obituary, an early memory popped into my brain. This remembrance of things past revolved around wine, as most early family memories did. My father, who was the VP of Sales at the family winery worked in Southern California a lot back in the ’70s and ’80s, was close to Nate and a bunch of his non-wine business friends from the LA/Pasadena area.
This time in the wine business bears absolutely no resemblance to today. The challenges were different then. Today, we have thousands of competitors; then, you had to prove that California deserved attention and the “wine press” was more collegial in a lot of ways.
Anyway, I remember, as a child, spending a Thanksgiving with my father, sister, step-mother-to-be and Nate and his family and other close friends in a house in Yosemite. We arrived on a clear Wednesday and awoke to snowfall, the wreathing of woodfire on Thursday. It was a magical trip…deer coming by the door, feeding them carrots, great food, an encampment of children apart from the adults, the washing of dishes.
Nate was in a wheelchair and seemed a daunting figure even though I looked down on him at 10 years of age. His family was wonderful (I may have had a crush on one of his daughters…). I never knew Nate in his capacity as a wine writer, but knew him briefly and innocently as a child.
I’ve heard stories of Nate from my father and others of that time. The details were meaningless to me then and mean even less now. All I can say for sure was, like my father and me, Nate loved wine. He found magic in the stories of production and was so compelled by wine’s bottomlessness that he devoted a lifetime to it.
My condolences go out to his family.