Napa Valley pioneer Bo Barrett, whose wine beat the French in a blind taste test, shared his knowledge of cabernet with diners Wednesday.
“I don’t know if you know about the glamorous and romantic life of a winemaker,” he told a group of diners in Margate. “The first time I went in a wine cellar, my boss, he called us his robots, cleaning robots. ‘You are cleaning robot. You are not winemaker.’
“He said winemaking is 90 percent sanitation and 10 percent art. And he lied. It’s a really hard job.”
The dinner, wine tasting and silent auction was put on by Steve and Cookie’s by the Bay, where it was held, and Joe Canal’s Discount Liquor Outlet in Egg Harbor Township. The event benefits the charity A Work in Progress, which is dedicated to building gardens and educating the public about the value of fresh produce.
Barrett made his name in 1976, when his wines placed first in the “Judgment of Paris,” which pitted French wines against Napa wines in a blind taste test. The contest was fictionalized in the 2008 film “Bottle Shock.”
Adam Stromfeld, one of the partners at the Egg Harbor Township Joe Canal’s, said Barrett is an incredibly popular speaker.
“We didn’t really think that much of it at first, because I do a lot of wine,” he said. “I get a lot of high-profile people in the wine world. We we’re talking to people, and they’re saying, ‘Do you realize who we have coming in? You have probably, right now, the most prominent, most important living person ever in Napa, because Robert Mondavi passed away a few years ago. He is who brought Napa on the wine map.’”
Stromfeld said most of his wine events are for about 40 people, and he has to work to fill the event. Barrett drew more than 60 people with a waiting list of more than 20 others.
Joseph Massaglia, owner of Mama Mia’s in Seaville and Egg Harbor Township, came to hear Barrett speak.
“Thanks to him, the U.S. wine, the cabernets, we can talk about them,” Massaglia said. “We owe him a lot, as far as winemaking in this country. He’s really one of the pioneers, besides Robert Mondavi. We’re happy to be here tonight, to enjoy his presence. It’s great.”
Mondavi, a vintner who helped build the Napa Valley wine industry, died in 2008.
Contact David Simpson: