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How it all started

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The story starts in the early 1900's when my great grandfather came over from Germany and opened a bakery in Blair, PA, which is now called Clairton, PA. His son, my grandfather, did not want to be a baker so he opened M.F.Wolf Wholesale Liquor Dealer a few blocks away from the bakery (more photos below). Back then you could sell wholesale as well as retail. You could buy a bottle or bring your own jug and get it filled. As time moved on he moved his store to Duquesne, PA and his father, the baker, went into the business with him. One year he applied to the state to renew his license and was told he had to be married to then hold a liquor license. This is why at 37 years old he got married so he could keep his liquor license. He had 5 sons of which my father Bill was the youngest and is the only son left. When he was born in 1922 the family was out of the business and working on the farm as well as in the steel mills.

After my father returned from WWII he settled in Clairton, PA were I was born in 1949. I went to high school at Thomas Jefferson High. I worked in the steel mill and as a union laborer out of Pittsburgh before going to tech school in Columbus Ohio to be a Chef/ Rest. Manager. In 1971 I joined then ARA now Aramark Corp. located at 11th and Market. In Jan. 1972 I was made the food production manager at Westchester State Teachers College where ARA had the contract. After 17 years working in 8 states and moving 27 times, all with Aramark, I was made VP of the Healthcare Group running 10 western states based out of San Francisco. I moved to Napa and became a wine groupie. I married Roxanne in 1994, which is when we started planning my exodus from Aramark and our entry into the wine industry.

In 1996 I left Aramark and in Sept. 1999 we purchased a 13-acre property with 5 acres of old walnut trees, grapes and a house that was vacant for 15 years and built in 1976. The brown shag carpet and pumpkin colored counter tops were the interior high lights. We learned that the property had been planted in grapes for wine in 1926. The walnut trees and grapes were planted in 1976 when the house was built. Roxanne and I started studying at UC Davis in 1998 and completed over 75 classes covering everything from soil to finished wine. We spent a 10 days in France, four weeks in Tuscany, took a 19-day Viticulture tour in Australia with Dr Richard Smart and finished our trip in New Zealand for 16 days. In June of 2003 we completed the Level 3 Advanced Certificate in Wine

and Spirits from the Wine and Spirit Educational Trust out of London. We are now qualified to take the exam for the Master of Wine designation.
 

In October of 2004 we released our first wine under our Eagle Eye label. Roxanne is the artist and designer of the labels.  On Oct. 12, 2005 there was a wine warehouse fire at Mare Island,CA. There were 90 plus wineries that stored their wine

 

there of which we were one. All of our wines including all of our future releases were destroyed in about 3-4 hours. We were picking our Cabernet from our vineyard that day and did not know the fire had happened. After a 14-hour day we passed out at 10 pm. I woke up at 5:30am and climbed in the hot tub to get ready for another days picking. I remember sitting in the hot tub thinking about the $12,000.00 a year I was paying for insurance and wondering if it was really worth it. I came in, poured my coffee and turned on CNN. As I am listening and reading the bottom of the screen I see the news that there was a fire in a wine warehouse at Mare Island. That was the first I heard of it. I woke Roxanne and told her the news. Knowing she would be upset I said think of it this way, “We never sold so much wine in one day to one customer with no marketing expenses...The Insurance Company!”