Liberté, égalité, fraternité
The art collection in my father’s liquor store was a random hodgepodge of local scenes by local artists, a cheap knockoff of Édouard Manet’s "A Bar at the Folies-Bergère" and advertising posters for California wine. The one that captivated me most was a poster entitled “California, Wine Land of America” by Amado Gonzalez, a Mexican born artist who immigrated to San Francisco in 1927, painted murals for the WPA in the ‘30s, and created this poster for the California Wine Advisory Board in the mid ‘60s.
What appealed to me were the splashy, colorful images reminiscent of story books and treasure maps. The copy includes an account of Father Junipero Serra planting grapes beside his Franciscan padres along a 700 mile stretch from Mount Shasta to Mexico, and of the Gold Rush and great sailing ships. There is history, poetry and promise of adventure—all the things I dreamed of in my youth. This made an early impression on me— wine as romantic, expansive and exciting.
Working in my father’s wine shop would become both an education and an opportunity to meet other food and wine aficionados. Among them my friends Dan and Gregg whose dinner party this week was one of the highlights of the holiday season. Dan and I both lamented the end of a certain era in New Hope, a town we no longer recognize. We can only look back with nostalgia, at places like the Odette’s of long ago, where a diversity of locals and guests mingled, before a members only bar provided a prime view of Delaware River real estate available to an exclusive few. I guess what I’m trying to say is, I miss an era when New Hope had a much more egalitarian vibe.