How a Wine School Dream Changed the World

We have been laser-focused on celebrating our powerful community of wine women this month—as well we should be! But let’s take a pause to commemorate Steve Spurrier, who passed away on March 9th, a legend for anyone who has ever enjoyed a glass of wine. He shattered the hierarchy of the wine world, and it all began with a wine school.

Spurrier, an Englishmen, opened the first private wine school in Paris in the early 1970’s. A passionate wine lover and an enthusiastic communicator, he considered his Academie du Vin to be his crowning professional achievement. He was committed to promoting the knowledge and enjoyment of wine to the world and eventually achieved this not just through his wine school, but through books, broadcasts, and, later as the star columnist for Decanter magazine. But he is most well-known for an educational wine tasting he orchestrated in 1976, nicknamed the “Judgement of Paris.”

An earthquake of a competition that turned the wine world upside down, this blind tasting pitted California’s wines against the elite of France’s as way to commemorate America’s bicentennial. When California’s Chateau Montelena Chardonnay and Stag’s Leap Cellars bested France’s finest examples from Burgundy and Bordeaux, the world was shocked…but also inspired. The seed that great wine could be made outside of France had been planted, and resulted in vineyard expansion and investment in the New World like never before. It also caused France to focus on improving quality within its own borders and to find new regions to expand its “vinfluence.” Any emerging wine region trying to establish a name for itself credits the “Judgement of Paris” as inspiration.

Wine history was changed that day. And it all began with an immigrant with a dream. Rest in peace Mr. Spurrier.

We believe in the transformational power of wine education as well. Become a member of Latinas Wine Club today and start your own wine revolution.