Posted by Colleen | Musings | Posted on August 22nd, 2010
Many are familiar with the humble beginnings from which Clos Pegase was founded; as Jan often likes to joke, “the way to make a small fortune in the wine industry is…to start with a large fortune!” But what many may not realize is that prior to founding Clos Pegase, Jan created a successful publishing business in Japan and France. Jan and Mitsuko shared many common passions, including wine and art, but also shared a deep love of the written word. Below is an article Jan penned in December of 1965 about his lesser known passion.
Many years ago while returning to Japan from a visit to the Brussels World Fair over the North Pole route, I had the good fortune to meet the eminent Japanese novelist Jun Takami, (1907-1965). The Polar Route was relatively new at that time and in the big jet there was but a score of passengers. Mr. Takami was returning to Japan after a visit to Moscow and the Soviet Government had properly provided him with a first class ticket, which turned out to be a loss. He told me that he was the only passenger in first class, and soon after we were airborne he came over and asked if he could sit next to me for a while to resume our conversation from before boarding the plane.
I was certainly lucky. Including engine trouble in Alaska, the flight lasted well over thirty hours, during most of which time I could talk, and mostly listen, to the views and ideas of a dazzlingly brilliant mind whose approach to the problems of humanity filled me with awe.
The stimulation gained from this conversation with the great man was to open for me so many new roads and bring to me the friendship of the greatest minds our world has ever known through their books. Because having tasted what it was like to communicate with those who tower above us in intellect I decided to pursue such relationships all my life. We cannot presume to have the friendship of the great on a personal basis. However, their friendship is open to every one of us through their writings.
I have but one regret. Mr. Takami, full of kindness had given me his card and invited me to visit his seashore home in Kamakura, Japan’s 12th century capital. I could never presume to take his time to bother him with my visit. Now, in 1965, I am overcome with sorrow at his death because I wanted him to know how much our encounter had meant to the course of my life.
Ever since that fateful North Pole flight, I have made it my hobby to search among the library shelves for my best friends, and this search has led me to worlds I never dreamed existed. I have encountered the friendship of the great historians, who have charted for me the adventures of humanity; that of the explorers who have led me through deserts, seas, and mountains; that of novelists who have given free rein to my imagination in joining their fertile minds; that of scientists, philosophers, journalists, musicians, inventors…..You see, not only do I have many, many friends, but they continue to grow and inspire me ever more. At times, I have obtained records of their voices, and been dazzled even more by their power and erudition as in the case of Bertrand Russell’s speech accepting the Nobel Peace prize. And these friendships, I am glad, are open to all humanity.
I sometimes presume to watch with pity my fellow men toiling through the monotony of life, sometimes lifting their eyes to the sky imploring a break, but the wheel grinds on. I see my friends and associates yearning for an adventure, for excitement only to be plucked by the tides of time and driven on. And yet to all, the friendships of all sorts of people are readily available, through the magic of books. And with these friendships, all the excitement and adventure we may wish to brighten us up.
Books have of course been magic to me since my earliest years which is undoubtedly why I became inextricably drawn towards the book business. I was so fascinated by the first encyclopedia I encountered that it created a passion and I begun to sell it to support myself through my 5 years of college. And over the years, my heart has been filled with joy to learn that some of our customers have explored their pages and found the excitement I have found in books. Many parents have told me that after dinner, it is a regular habit for someone to read something aloud, and this stimulates ideas and enhances the natural curiosity of children to want to find out more.
Books are the best known device for human beings to escape from themselves. It is a rest for the spirit to plunge into some other period, into the mind of another human being—provided it is big enough. It is necessary for us to feed our subconscious mind which needs food just like our body needs vitamins. Such food can be the fantasy of the future, the memory of the past, the visions of an ideal.
It is certainly not necessary to read serious books only in order to benefit from them, since reading is nothing more than listening to what an interesting person is saying. For a book to be printed, it means that the writer had something interesting to say, weather it be in the form of a mystery story or the description of an unusual happening. And the wonderful thing about reading is that the more we read the faster we can read and the more we can comprehend, so that we can always move forward into more and more so-called “difficult” books. And as in real life, we choose our books, just like we choose our friends, those that fit our interests and temperaments.
If we play chess with someone better than ourselves we are bound to improve. If we work with those better than ourselves, we are bound to learn. In the same way our writer friends, can teach us so very much. Dr. Schweitzer teaches us reverence for all living things. Hemingway, the thirst for life. Tolstoy, man’s agony through war, peace and love. Cervantes, the ideal of chivalry. Ishizaki, the job of man. Thomas Mann, the torment of the body. Shakespeare, the depth of the soul…And all writers teach us the unlimited resources of our minds, our worlds, and our lives. That in this world everything is possible.
Posted by Colleen | Wine News | Posted on August 11th, 2010
Bananarama was almost right…it’s been unseasonably cool here in the Napa Valley this summer. I may or may not been sitting here in a fleece in August as I type. Uncool. For both me and the grapes!
Our winemaker, Richard Sowalsky discussed all things harvest-related with with Tim McNally, host of WIST AM690 (New Orleans, Louisiana) Radio’s The Wine Show, recently. The wine aficionados chatted about the chilly weather and its effect on the upcoming harvest in the clip below. I know it’s a bit long for a blog, but it all seemed like good info, so I couldn’t help myself.
Take a listen as Richard fields questions from Tim:TheWineShow_ClosPegase.mp3
You can catch Tim every Sunday at Noon – 2 p.m. from anywhere via wistradio.com