Suzie Rodriguez‘s March 2 article in the Press Democrat (“The Black Cat Guys”) showcases three wine buffs who have been making wine together for 40 years, among them past BATW President Bruce Whipperman. Here’s the lead:
“An estimated 200 home winemakers in Sonoma Valley source or grow their own grapes, ultimately producing small lots of wine. Most aim to make a good, solid vino to share with family and friends. Others seek to push boundaries: they tinker with little-known varietals, create Bordeaux or other blends, and pursue gold medals in winemaking competitions.
Few of these “amateur” winemakers have been at it as long—or successfully—as Sonoma resident Lou Leal, along with his wine partners Bruce Whipperman and Larry Switzer. The men began making wine together in the mid-1970s as a hobby, and in the nearly 40 years since their wines have won more than 100 medals in competitions.
“We’ve had consistently good wines over the years,” said Leal. “I’m amazed, considering all the variables involved in the winemaking process.”
The trio’s “Black Cat” wines got their start in Berkeley in 1974, when Switzer and another friend, John Schuermann—who would be replaced by Bruce Whipperman about a year later—approached Leal with the idea of creating wine.”
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