Maynard Monaghan had graduated from UC Davis in enology in the early 1930’s, and was managing the Beaulieu Vineyards tasting room when he gave Michaela her first job in the wine business in 1972. “Uncle Maynard” was a charming eccentric, distinguished by his befuddled mien and shambling gait.
I considered it an honor to be invited to go with him to Forestville to pick up his allotment of Joseph Swan Zinfandel.
When we arrived, Joe acknowledged us with a nod. He looked like the central casting version of the airline captain, a crooked smile but straight teeth, steel blue eyes with the million mile stare, and a shock of white hair. He looked at Maynard. “Here to pick up some wine -- the usual?” he said. Maynard looked down and shuffled his feet before admitting “Well, yes, I think so. And oh, by the way, this is Gregory.”
We loaded several cases of wine into Maynard’s old Mercedes. After we had secured the trunk, Joe said, “Maynard, want to taste some wine?” He then looked at me, and added, “You too.”
We tasted some wines from the barrel and some from recently opened bottles on the table, to Joe’s usual low key running commentary. “Nice,” “Needs more time,” What do you think Maynard? More barrel age?” Maynard replied “Well, Joe, André always liked a bit of bottle age on the Private Reserve.”
At last Maynard and I were ready to leave. Almost as an afterthought Joe gruffly said to me, “All sold out for this bottling. I will have some for you the next vintage. Maynard will let you know.”
I bought Joe Swan’s wines from then through the last vintage he made. After Maynard died in the early 1980’s, I made the pilgrimage alone. It was still fun, but not as much.
Neither Maynard nor Joe was around when our Sangiovese project started in 1989. But they were its grandfathers.