Memories of Jerry D. Mead
I first met Jerry Mead in 1975 when he and some friends came into the wine shop, Sequoia Wine Cellars, in Newport Beach where I worked, to rent a wine storage locker. Seems they had this wine group that met every so often and they had some good wines they wanted to store in ideal conditions until they were ready to taste them. It wasn’t until a couple of months later that I started attending their events. Later when I moved up to San Jose I became the Regional Director for the Santa Clara Valley Chapter of WINO. From that time in 1975 and for the next 15 years I had the pleasure and privilege of knowing Jerry Mead. Jerry, thru W.I.N.O. (Wine Investigation for Novices and Oenophiles), pioneered the concept of having a tasting, for many to enjoy, that featured a winery and had a meal along with the tasting. At one time we had some 25-30 chapters in California and a number of other states.

Jerry was constantly looking after the interest of the “common man” wine drinker. He looked at wines as something to be enjoyed, if they were good, and dumped if they weren’t. He wasn’t into a complicated scoring system where the first half of the numbering system meant nothing but in describing wines in layman language so you could really decide if it was really a wine worth drinking or not. Later on he also devised a wine quality/price scoring to show a sense of real value. He was trying to give people a sense that the 95 point wine that costs $75 wasn’t really a better wine value than the $15 wine that scored say an 85. He was into enjoying wine not analyzing them even though he could analyze wines with the best of them.

As has been mentioned before he was the tireless crusader for no “intervention by government, lobbyists and the whole realm of opponents that he called "neo-Prohibitionists" into what he saw as the free-spirited, free-market world of wine.”He earned the title "The Wine Curmudgeon (TWC)."I always looked forwarded to his monthly/bi-monthly (sometimes less often) Wine Trader magazine to see who he was going after next. He did get a lot accomplished during his years with legislative changes in many states.

During the mid 70’s Jerry also started a series of gourmet dinners at the Hobbit Restaurant in Orange or Santa Ana, CA (don’t remember which city exactly it was in), which soon became the dining event of the area, selling out within a matter of a couple of days after the notices were mailed out. (That was before online announcements and email) People came from throughout California to attend these dinners. These were multi course dinners with wines specially chosen for each course or with the course developed just to accompany particular wines. Jerry was able to get some of California’s finest to donate wines for these dinners. Why, because the wine industry respected and appreciated what Jerry Mead was doing for them. He was responsible for “launching” new wineries or particular wines thru his weekly newspaper wine columns and thru the Wine Trader. It was after these dinners that I modeled the gourmet dinners we held for the Santa Clara Valley Chapter.

During the 80’s Jerry held special wine weekends for the Regional Directors. We were treated like royalty everywhere we went. We tasted barrel samples of special, limited wines, experimental wines, blending seminars, and so on. When we were fed it was like having a gourmet lunch or dinner every time, many of them with printed menus to match. Multiple courses with matching wines was the norm. We enjoyed very limited release wines and some that never were released because they were so limited in production as well as current release wines.

For me it was a real honor to have known Jerry for those years and the wine industry and wine lover lost a real champion when he died.
 Jerry D. Mead's Publications, Volume I, and Volume 5 
Bob Miller
Former W.I.N.O. Regional Director and Jerry Mead fan.