RIP Koerner Rombauer, who wanted wine to be accessible & pleasurable.

Ester Mobley:

If you don’t like it, it’s not your style.” Koerner Rombauer wanted wine to be accessible & pleasurable.

He believed people should drink what they like, not what they think they should like.

My Obituary for the man who started a Chardonnay phenomenon:

Met him a couple times. Appeared to be a really good fellow. I wasn’t ever a fan of the wines, but owed a lot to the cookbook and he seemed to be exactly what you’d expect from the family that produced the down-to-earth all around cookbook in the years before there were such things as “foodies”.


I was roommates in college with the son of the Ohio distributor for Rombauer. I didn’t know anything about wine back then, of course, but still remember the merlot ('92?) that his father ordered when he took us both out to dinner. My first “there’s something here worth paying attention to” wine experience.

He was a kind and generous man. I saw him a couple of months ago and noted his frailty. Still a big man…robust is how I would describe him in earlier days.

He was a genius at marketing and distribution - his Chardonnay gracing the table of many an advertisement for vacation spots, etc.

RIP, Koerner.

Had the pleasure of sharing dinner with Koerner and his wife at the first Rubicon Club dinner .I could have listened to his stories all night, a very warm and gregarious man.I will always remember being out on the patio following dinner on an unusually,for November, warm night listening to Koerner and Francis swap stories sipping Cognac and puffing on cigars. RIP to a fine gentleman [cheers.gif]

Had dinner at his home about 7 years ago. He couldn’t have been a nicer or more gracious host. RIP.

RIP, Long live Cougar Juice!

A bit rude, no?

Actually, it’s a testament to the success of the brand that they carved their niche in the lexicon of a business where so many players remain relatively unknown. Cougars gotta drink too!

I just returned from the Celebration of Life Memorial for Koerner Rombauer. It was held at the Culinary Institute in St. Helena. The place was packed! I was trying to guess how many people, and someone nearby said there must be at least 500 people here. Indeed.

There was a live music combo playing, a buffet with gorgeous and tasty food, and not one or 2 stations for wine, but maybe a dozen. Each station was stocked with bottle upon bottle of Rombauer wines: SB, Chardonnay (of course), Merlot, Zin, and I think Cabernet. I only saw whites being consumed - I think most people (I included) drank the signature Chardonnay in his honor.

Unlike many of these events (I did not attend the church service this morning), there were very, very few presentations/speeches. Maybe 2 or 3. A delightful video of a fairly recent interview with Koerner, where a big subject was the Chardonnay. He talked about it candidly, and did so with great seriousness, and then said something like “And besides, the ladies like it.” I think I heard that. Maybe I just EXPECTED to hear that. But the gleam came into his eyes, his faced opened up into a grin, and it was a grand statement about the man and his wine. Humor and warmth with an unapologetic attitude.

This was no paper plate event. And of course the flower arrangement at the entrance to this event? Yellow and blue flowers in the shape of a wine bottle and colors we all recognize.

Rest peacefully, Mr. Rombauer. You touched many of us.

Sincerely, RIP.
A question, though. Do cougars want their MEN ‘accessible and pleasurable’, as well?

Thanks for sharing that, Merrill. I know from talking to people in the Valley, that most held Koerner in the highest of regard.

Wine connoisseurs like to look down their nose at the Rombauer Chard, dismissing it as “Cougar Juice”. Most of them have not tasted it of late.
But the present Rombauer Carneros Chard is as fine a Chard that anyone would want to drink…including myself.

Obviously, this was not the time nor place to study or critique the wine. But I was not turned off by the Chardonnay at all, and the “who’s who” of winemakers (mostly of an older generation) I noticed in attendance were drinking something white while they gathered together. But then again I didn’t study the glasses nor the bottles/vintage at the pouring stations. This was about the people. And the people (person) who founded one of the most prominent labels of our time.
I am pretty sure it was Koerner’s grandson (Blackwood) who appeared in full military dress - his grandfather would have been so proud to see him like that. My daughter used to have playdates over at the (Rombauer) Blackwood’s house.

Thank you, Tom, for understanding that this is not a playful post that I made. I pointed out the playful side of the man, because that was an important part of him. I also remember, vividly, standing at the Tra Vigne bar with the man who had just lost his wife. And I remember him at local auctions, with his paddle in the raised position, challenging all to raise their bids, and often matching theirs or just donating to the cause.

I made it clear in my previous post that I don’t consider “cougar juice” to be a disparaging term. What is it you think he meant when he said,“Besides, the ladies like it”? And I don’t consider myself to be a “connoisseur” but an enthusiast.

Rombauer and his wine are very successful, and have helped California wine become more popular, and most anyone knows that blue foil color

The Chardonnay is always a hit with the ladies and I like it as well

RIP Koerner

I have not tried it in many years. If the RS is down and you like it, I will revisit it!

Thank you!