A Cache of Wine Info Worthy of Access

I was reminded recently of an amazing resource of which we all ought to be aware.

Josh Hermsmeyer, dedicated winemaker and blogger, sent me a note letting me know that on March 28 the Sonoma County Wine Library will be hosting a talk by Steve Heimoff, author of New Classic Winemakers of California. Steve will be discussing winemaking with five of his New Classic Winemakers including Randy Ullom, Eric Cinnamon, Merry Edwards, Greg La Follette and Michael Terrien. The even will no doubt offer fantastic insight into the current state of winemaking in California.

But what I was reminded of was the Sonoma County Wine Library.

It has been a while since I thought about this wonderful resource, let alone visited the place (it is located in the Count Library in the town of Healdsburg).

These days we scour the Internet seeking the info we need on wines, winemaking, wine history, etc. But here at the Sonoma County Wine Library lies a treasure trove of fascinating historical and technical data on the wine industry.

I recently wallowed in Wine Library’s on-line resources, snooping around to remind myself of the various nuggets it held. The nuggets are many.

To-date the Wine Library has not placed its contents on-line. Rather, it delivers abstracts of its contents based on searches. This is a shame. As much as I adore libraries with their rows and stacks and old paper smells, most of us look to the Internet for our research needs. What a boon to the the world it would be if rather than being able to retrieve abstracts of the Library’s contents we could retrieve the actual contents and read them on-line. This of course would take a tremendous effort and gobs of time and money to accomplish. It would take an industry willing to step up with enormous amounts of funds to see the scanning begin and finish. Yet I’m convinced that such a project would be of enormous value.

Josh is the current president of the Sonoma County Wine Library. I wonder if this topic has come up in the various board meetings. Surely funding of the library is tight. But what a legacy Josh might leave if he and others led an effort to take the contents of the library and put them all on-line.

The contents of the library are somewhat eclectic. Without too much self indulgence I have to relate one find that made me laugh. In searching the Library’s content on-line using as a search term the name of the first PR firm I ever worked for (Gracelyn Associates), up popped a press release I wrote in 1992 on behalf of the firm. It was a release meant to draw attention to the firm, rather than our clients. A bit of self promotion, if you will. A part of the press release showed up as a result of the search:

New study shows outcome of ’92 election may rest on grapes – August 1, 1992

Preliminary results of a new study show that the quality of an election year
vintage in California’s vineyards may influence which party wins the
White House more than economics or foreign policy. The exhaustive
study, conducted by Gracelyn & Burns over a two-hour period, shows
that in years when California experiences a good to outstanding
harvest, Republicans tend to take the White House. In average to poor
election-year vintages, Democrats are more likely to head the executive
branch. "This revelation is startling," said Gracelyn Guyol, founding
partner of Gracelyn & Burns, a food and wine public relations
agency based in Northern California’s premium wine country. "This
changes the entire dynamic and meaning of politics in America.
Politicians should be watching the grapes instead of the polls as the
election draws near."

I hadn’t thought about this press release in years. It got tremendous pick up in the media, including the Wall Street Journal. I remember suggesting we do this tongue in cheek press release to Gracelyn, the owner of the firm and thinking she’d say no on the spot. She laughed and said, "Let’s Do It!"
There is much much more than just old press releases in the Sonoma County Wine Library’s contents. Here is a wonderful story on what one might find there. The content deserves to be made accessible. Perhaps one day.

2 Responses

  1. Bo Simons, Sonoma County Wine Librarian - March 17, 2008

    Hey, thanks for the ink. I know it would be great to get all our articles and other materials up full text and with full images. However that requires some capital. You and your readers can have a great time and help generate that capital, please attend our event.

  2. Morgan Twain-Peterson - March 25, 2008

    An excellent cause. I have lost many hours of my life in the Wine Library.

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