RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

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TomHill
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RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#1 Post by TomHill » January 27th, 2019, 7:05 pm

Found out a bit ago from Jake’s FaceBook page that his Dad died ystrday. I gather it was rather unexpected.
Met Chris way long ago out there. Would most often see him at the Taos WWF. A big bear of a man, very likable. I last saw him at Cruz’s do at LimerickLane in early December. He gave me this bear hug and was so glad to see me. His minestrone was the stuff of legends.
I’ll miss seeing him in Taos this week.
Jake/Scott/and Sam are really special guys and this will leave a big hole in their lives.
Remember well when the first Marietta OV Red came out. No Lot# then. Now they’re almost to Lot#80.
Tom

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#2 Post by Ken Zinns » January 27th, 2019, 7:11 pm

Saw this on Sam's FB page today. I never met Chris, but the Marietta Old Vine Red was one of my first "everyday" red wines. Condolences to the Bilbro family.
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#3 Post by jcoley3 » January 27th, 2019, 9:17 pm

Sad news. When I got first got into wine and could only afford the "cheap" stuff, the Marietta Red was a regular take home. Even when my budget improved, my taste stayed the same enough that an OVR red was always never far from reach.

I work with many of the Bilbro family wines today, but that Red Blend should get so much love for one of the great introductions to what is good about:

1) Red Wine
2) California Wine
3) "Blends"
4) Small production family wine

RIP Mr. Bilbro
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#4 Post by Marcus Goodfellow » January 27th, 2019, 9:55 pm

Ken Zinns wrote:
January 27th, 2019, 7:11 pm
Saw this on Sam's FB page today. I never met Chris, but the Marietta Old Vine Red was one of my first "everyday" red wines. Condolences to the Bilbro family.
+1

One of my early favorite wines.
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#5 Post by Tom DeBiase » January 27th, 2019, 11:44 pm

Very sad news today, for me when I think of the wine icons of California its Chris Bilbro and Joel Peterson. Like many of you Marietta Old Vine Red is my introduction many years ago to good quality California Wine.

I was lucky enough to meet Chris last May at an Idlewild-l'Artusi dinner in Healdsburg. I told him he must be proud of his children and how they have followed in his footsteps. His eyes lit up like candles and hoarse from treatment he said "I am very proud". I won't forget my meeting with Chris Bilbro that day.

When I heard of Chris passing earlier today I did the only thing I could. With some lamb chops instead of an aged Bordeaux I substituted Old Vine Lot 68. Guess what, today it was every bit as satisfying as that Bordeaux would have been.
My thoughts and prayers to the Bilbro family.
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Yup....

#6 Post by TomHill » January 28th, 2019, 5:05 am

Tom DeBiase wrote:
January 27th, 2019, 11:44 pm
Very sad news today, for me when I think of the wine icons of California its Chris Bilbro and Joel Peterson. Like many of you Marietta Old Vine Red is my introduction many years ago to good quality California Wine.

I was lucky enough to meet Chris last May at an Idlewild-l'Artusi dinner in Healdsburg. I told him he must be proud of his children and how they have followed in his footsteps. His eyes lit up like candles and hoarse from treatment he said "I am very proud". I won't forget my meeting with Chris Bilbro that day.

When I heard of Chris passing earlier today I did the only thing I could. With some lamb chops instead of an aged Bordeaux I substituted Old Vine Lot 68. Guess what, today it was every bit as satisfying as that Bordeaux would have been.
My thoughts and prayers to the Bilbro family.
Yup, Tom. Chris' legacy won't be the creation of Marietta OV Red...but the family he leaves behind. When I would visit w/ Chris, it was clear
that his family was what he was most proud of. And it's clear that his son's learned from the foot of the Master what family is all about.
When you look at a lot of families in the wine biz and see some of the squabbling that goes on, you wonder what makes the Bilbro family
so different. They have all gone on to carve out there own little successful niches.
Tom

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#7 Post by D@vid Bu3ker » January 28th, 2019, 6:05 am

jcoley3 wrote:
January 27th, 2019, 9:17 pm

I work with many of the Bilbro family wines today, but that Red Blend should get so much love for one of the great introductions to what is good about:

1) Red Wine
2) California Wine
3) "Blends"
4) Small production family wine

RIP Mr. Bilbro
Sam Bilbro's 'The Bird' from Idlewild is a direct descendant from OVR.
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#8 Post by Kurt B e i t l e r » January 28th, 2019, 12:20 pm

Tom,
Thanks for posting this- I very much wanted to meet the man and recount an old connection:
After returning from the Taos WWF last year (and our Zin dinner with Jake & Morgan) I phoned my dad about New Mexico and new friends made.
Dad immediately asked "any chance Jake's dad is Chris Bilbro from Cloverdale??" Of course he was, and Dad right away started in about high school football.
1963 was a time when St Helena and Cloverdale were huge rivals, when SH had some multi-season undefeated streak.
My dad was a SH sophomore (class of '66) and Chris would've been a senior ('64 class) at Cloverdale.
Chris was apparently an OUTSTANDING running back, leading the North Coast League (maybe state too?) in rushing by a huge margin. Chris was a superstar and revered/ feared by many around the NCL.
It was the last game of the season in '63, with torrential rain and slippery mess. So muddy that Chris had to trade jerseys with a teammate, making himself an inadvertent trojan horse to the St Helena Saints.
St Helena had a couple lucky breaks but at some point, Bilbro was tackled by SH's Chris Schuh (linebacker?) and was sadly out of the game with an (ACL?) knee. By accounts Chris excelled in basketball too; easily could've played college football but didn't. Perhaps this was all the opening act to his great career in wine and family.

It's wonderful to see the legacy Chris left--he clearly lived a life of passion and goodness to the end.

RIP Chris Bilbro!
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#9 Post by Thomas Keim » January 28th, 2019, 12:28 pm

Very sad -

I first met Chris in the early 1980s, he used to travel with John Grace who only made white wines under the Alderbrook label (and they would pitch each other's wines). I was a buyer for a large chain back then, and used to purchase their entire allocation of wines for the Minnesota market. They used to come to town, Chris hauling wild boar steaks he would procure from his hunting hobby, and John would bring a big bag of Abalone he would snorkel for in the San Francisco bay (I believe?) and we would grill them up all night long, drinking their new releases. I introduced their wines into Illinois and Florida over the next decade - such great memories -

Chris was such a wonderful, gentle person with a heart of gold - I had heard he had failing health over the last couple of years - very sad -
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#10 Post by larry schaffer » January 28th, 2019, 12:33 pm

I lovingly remember those Marietta Old Lot wines from my starting days of getting into wine. They always over-delivered and were truly under the radar wines. I wish I could have appreciated them more but my knowledge of wines was just at its infancy - I always 'enjoyed' them but never really knew much about them.

Chris sounded like a tremendous individual and he certainly made a great impact on a lot of folks. RIP . . .
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Thanks, Kurt...

#11 Post by TomHill » January 28th, 2019, 1:11 pm

Thanks for sharing that story of Chris, Kurt. Think you gave me an annotated version last year, verbally.
I’ll make sure the boys see it.
Tom

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Re: Thanks, Kurt...

#12 Post by Kurt B e i t l e r » January 28th, 2019, 2:52 pm

TomHill wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 1:11 pm
Thanks for sharing that story of Chris, Kurt. Think you gave me an annotated version last year, verbally.
I’ll make sure the boys see it.
Tom
Thanks Tom- that would be good.
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#13 Post by Joshua Kates » January 28th, 2019, 3:33 pm

TomHill wrote:
January 27th, 2019, 7:05 pm
Found out a bit ago from Jake’s FaceBook page that his Dad died ystrday. I gather it was rather unexpected.
Met Chris way long ago out there. Would most often see him at the Taos WWF. A big bear of a man, very likable. I last saw him at Cruz’s do at LimerickLane in early December. He gave me this bear hug and was so glad to see me. His minestrone was the stuff of legends.
I’ll miss seeing him in Taos this week.
Jake/Scott/and Sam are really special guys and this will leave a big hole in their lives.
Remember well when the first Marietta OV Red came out. No Lot# then. Now they’re almost to Lot#80.
Tom
Thanks for posting, Tom,
I didn't know the man, but his Old Vines was a go to wine for me back in the day like so many others. When did they change the label? There was one with a thick blue stripe down the middle (see below), but I thought I recalled one with a lot more red in it, and that's the one I associate with the bottling.
103-marietta_old_vine_red_label.jpg

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#14 Post by Jeffrey Earl Warren » January 28th, 2019, 7:38 pm

HERE'S ONE MAN'S STORY ABOUT A GREAT, GREAT CLOVERDALE ATHLETE
It was 1963. The leading rusher in the NCL (I think that’s what they called us) was Chris Bilbro. If not the leading rusher in Northern California, he was among the leaders mentioned in the Chronicle in Al Moss’s column on Northern California High schools.
The rivalry to end all rivalries in the early 60’s was Cloverdale/St. Helena. If memory serves (highly questionable) Cloverdale went down and played a team from the City and beat them. Small town schools didn't beat City schools back then.
They were undefeated.
As were the St. Helena Saints. In fact, we had a streak of 35 consecutive wins dating back to 1960.
The Press Democrat installed the Eagles as 7 point favorites. Since 1960, we had never, ever been an underdog.
We can still remember the announcer before the game shouting (as he introduced the Cloverdale team), “THE HIGH FLYING CHRIS BILBRO.”
The stands rose to their feet and erupted in applause.
I was a sophomore, split end. Besides being a great rusher, Chris was also their best defensive back.
Having been fortunate enough to lead the league in receiving that year, Coverdale’s coach, (can’t bring up his name—but he was a good man); had decided to have Bilbro line up opposite me whichever side I split out on. He would follow me on every play, whether I was split left or right.
We had a play (a glance deep) which we had run for two touchdowns earlier in the season, and which Cloverdale had well scouted.
I would split out right and run a glance pass—a 45 degree slant over the middle. Our QB would stand up and hit me without taking a step back into the pocket. On the “glance deep,” he would fake the throw, I would plant my foot and angle back towards the right flag at the goal line. The QB would then pitch the ball back to halfback, Gary Rodgriquez (who was tragically killed in Vietnam a couple of year later). Gary would sweep right, and he had the option to throw to me or run.
The defensive back would usually bite on the fake, and I would be open for an easy completion and at least twice, a score.
Minutes before kick off, Coah George Davis decided that the “Glance deep” would be our opening play.
Unlike these days, it was raining like hell and the field had no grass. It was almost complete mud.
We won the toss and after our kick return, I split out right for our first play. Bilbro was right opposite me—clearly in man to man coverage (which no one used back then).
The ball was snapped and I slanted in towards the middle. QB Mike Norman raised the ball up to “fake” the throw and it slipped out of his hand. I didn’t break stride and continued to run the pattern, planting my foot and angling for the right flag at the goal line.
We learned after the game, that they had been expecting the glance deep on the first play and were ready for it.
However, with the fumble, Bilbro came up to make a tackle.
Norman somehow scopped it up and lateraled it to Rodriquez, who spotted me all alone with no one within 20 yeards of me. He actually smiled as he floated the ball up and I ran uncontested into the endzone and we were up 7 to 0 with less than a minute gone.
Of course, Cloverdale did not give up and played us even for the rest of the game. The final was 13 to 7.
Chris and the rain blanketed our passing game as I caught only one other ball all night.
But fortune had smiled on us and we had that first score under our belt.
They might have indeed beaten us, but on a sweep right by Bilbro, (the late) Chris Schuh came up from his defensive back position and tackled their Chris. It was a clean, solid hit, but (probably due to the slippery field),Bilbro's knee went out. He had to leave the game.
I don’t know whether he went on to play college ball or not. Surely, had he not hurt that knee he would have gotten a scholarship to one of the Pac 10 schools—he was that good.
He was also a great basketball player, and I can’t remember if he played that year with a knee brace or not.
Kurt Beitler (his dad was my QB for my junior and Senior years) called to tell me of Chris’ untimely death.
We never really knew each other, but we competed against each other and had big time mutual respect. He was a stud—a truly gifted athlete of obvious high integrity. Looks like he was a wonderful father as well—no surprise there.
I know the people of Cloverdale will morn the loss of one of their finest citizens. He won’t soon be forgotten. And he will never be forgotten by those of us who had to the honor to go up against him.
Our prayers go out to his family and all those friends who morn his passing.
Jeffrey Earl Warren
P.S. Cloverdale got its revenge two years later when they ended our unbeaten streak at 52. In even worse rain, they ran an interception back for a TD to take a 12 to 7 lead. With less than a minute, a kid on our team (luckily, not moi), wide open, dropped the game winning touchdown and we lost. Rutherford's Francis Ford Coppola used that story to make a movie staring Robin Williams called the Best of Times--about a kid in Fresno who drops a game winning pass ), but gets to go back in time and re-play the game and make the catch. Would that life we like the movies.
Last edited by Jeffrey Earl Warren on January 28th, 2019, 8:25 pm, edited 4 times in total.

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#15 Post by Tom DeBiase » January 28th, 2019, 7:51 pm

Jeffrey, wow what a first post. Welcome to the board and just a fantastic story about an incredible athlete and person. Hope you continue to participate here.

Tom

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#16 Post by Jeffrey Earl Warren » January 28th, 2019, 8:16 pm

Thank you Tom. Kurt Beitler told me about this page. It looks great. We have a minor history in the wine business as my Dad, James Warren was one of the founding fathers of Freemark Abbey Winery along with Chuck Carpy, Bill Jaeger, Laurie Wooed and John Bryan. I will follow this page with great interest.
Jeffrey

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#17 Post by GregT » January 28th, 2019, 8:46 pm

Great story Jeff. And Jim put it well:
but that Red Blend should get so much love for one of the great introductions to what is good about:

1) Red Wine
2) California Wine
3) "Blends"
4) Small production family wine
Completely agree.

RIP.
G . T a t a r

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#18 Post by Kurt B e i t l e r » January 28th, 2019, 10:50 pm

Jeffrey Earl Warren wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 8:16 pm
Thank you Tom. Kurt Beitler told me about this page. It looks great. We have a minor history in the wine business as my Dad, James Warren was one of the founding fathers of Freemark Abbey Winery along with Chuck Carpy, Bill Jaeger, Laurie Wooed and John Bryan. I will follow this page with great interest.
Jeffrey
Jeff,
Really fun to read that story - thank you.
Dave Wight of Lewelling was your class at SH and should've been at that game too, yes?
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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#19 Post by Jeffrey Earl Warren » January 29th, 2019, 7:31 am

Kurt,

Your dad got mud in his contacts towards the end of the game and had to come out. Dave came in at QB during the last 4 minutes when we were down 13 foo 7. We got to about the 20 when in the last minute and he laid a perfect pass in the arms of a wide open receiver for the winning touchdown. Alas, the poor iid had the wet ball slip down his chest to the ground and we lost: Hence the Coppola movie, The Best of Times, starring Robin Williams. Dave's Lewelling Cab may be th the finest wine to come out of the Napa Valley. At $65 it is far and away the best value, though he's too modest to say anything. The waiting list is years long.

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#20 Post by Adam Lee » January 29th, 2019, 7:52 am

Chris was a friend of mine. I'd see him at the gym and we'd always talk about his kids (my good friends) and my kids and just about anything else. Fortunately, his death wasn't unexpected and Jake, Scot, and Sam...plus all of his grandchildren...were able to spend time with him, take him to the ocean and mushroom hunting and the like. The Bilbros are a remarkable family and it all stemmed from the top with Chris. He will be missed.

Adam Lee

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Thanks..

#21 Post by TomHill » January 29th, 2019, 11:41 am

Kurt B e i t l e r wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 10:50 pm
Jeffrey Earl Warren wrote:
January 28th, 2019, 8:16 pm
Thank you Tom. Kurt Beitler told me about this page. It looks great. We have a minor history in the wine business as my Dad, James Warren was one of the founding fathers of Freemark Abbey Winery along with Chuck Carpy, Bill Jaeger, Laurie Wooed and John Bryan. I will follow this page with great interest.
Jeffrey
Jeff,
Really fun to read that story - thank you.
Dave Wight of Lewelling was your class at SH and should've been at that game too, yes?
Thanks for sharing that story, Jeff. Very interesting about an apparently legendary athlete.
And welcome to WB. Stop by anytime. Most folks here are pretty friendly.
Tom

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Re: RIP: Chris Bilbro/MariettaCllrs

#22 Post by Drew Goin » January 29th, 2019, 3:29 pm

I am so sad to hear the news.

The Bilbro family is the greatest! I have been a long time fan of the "Old Vine Red", and all of my past electronic communications with different members have made apparent the love they share through their work and how tight their bonds are.

My deepest condolences to the Bilbro family.

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