Trending
MOST READ
Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

Easy Green: 10 quick ways to make money in college

College Issue 2014: Sell clothes. Plato’s Closet is a great place to take your gently worn apparel in exchange for cold, hard cash. They accept clothes, shoes and... By Brittany Minor 8/18/2014
SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

SAPD Issues Thousands of Tickets for Homelessness

News: Data and records obtained by the Current show that between January 1, 2013, and early October of this year the San Antonio... By Alexa Garcia-Ditta and Elaine Wolff 10/22/2014
Alamo Ice House Brings Hill Country to Downtown

Alamo Ice House Brings Hill Country to Downtown

Food & Drink: There was a special kind of draw at Alamo Ice House on a recent Tuesday evening. A handful of weeks after opening its... By Jessica Elizarraras 10/22/2014
6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

6 Sinfully Good Grilled Cheese Sandwiches in SA

Food & Drink: Cheesy Jane’s. Multiple locations, cheesyjanes.com. If the name is any indicator, this San Antonio staple doesn’t mess around when it comes to... By Tommie Ethington 10/22/2014

Best Local Artist

Best of SA 2013: 4/24/2013
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Value Vino

SA's 'Mr. Riesling'

Photo: , License: N/A


How does a college English instructor get to be a respected wine authority and purveyor? The same way you get to Carnegie Hall: practice, practice, practice.

In 1978, after several years teaching the subject at Pan American University in Edinburg, Fernando de Luna, better known to his friends as Woody, left the town where he "had to drive up to Austin for any books, records, wine" and spent the better part of a summer in Europe — a logical destination for someone nurturing an interest in wine. By the end of the summer he had abandoned all thoughts of pursuing a Ph.D. "I knew that I wanted to do a wine bar and/or retail store," he says.

But it didn't work out quite that way at first. His eyes firmly set on Austin, de Luna had a job within 10 days of arriving — as a wine buyer for an importing and distributing company. He stayed until opening his own store on South Congress in 1983. "We served the likes of John Connally," he says, but that didn't save the shop from the oil bust of 1987. "I closed the store, sold three cases of vintage Port and took the summer off."

De Luna worked several other wine jobs after his personal bust. Then, in January of 1994, he was approached by Alan Dreeben of Block (now Republic National Distributing) to do a newsletter and be a wine educator, the reason for the CWE (Certified Wine Educator) pin that still adorns his lapel. More travel, tasting, and reading followed (de Luna has passed the rigorous tasting portion of the Master's of Wine Program), but in 2011 another turn in the road presented itself. His position at Republic was made redundant.

Some changes, though, have been personal. "Riesling was the first wine I started really paying attention to. Then I lost track of it, but by the early '90s my palate was bored with Bordeauxs, Burgundies, and big California wines." It was during this period of palate fatigue that de Luna was reintroduced to riesling's best producers ("it was like rediscovering a new world," he says) and gained the sobriquet "Mr. Riesling." But it would be 20 years before he would be able to realize his dream of "being a wine merchant in the typical English style: you taste wine, then pass your finds along to the consumer."

The new offices of Vintages 2.0 reflect the personality of the man: an Asian screen, Orientals on the floor, a bookcase with wine references, a handsome desk… and an adjacent storage room in which boxes of wine are stacked awaiting delivery or pickup. Our discussion takes place first over a glass of minerally 2008 Kimmeridgian, a chardonnay by France's Jean-Marc Brocard, followed by a "2010 declassified Morgon," the Raisins Gaulois X (Vin de France), sporting mineral and cherry qualities. Neither is more than $13 or $14.

"If I find something I think is good, I'll take a position in it; I can always drink it myself," says de Luna. Periodic tastings are a good way to determine if it's drink or sell. Though his palate may be refined and impeccable, his website, vintages2.com, isn't yet fully developed, but a note to woody@vintages2.com — or ring him at (210) 410-0296 — should get you on the list. A barrage of offers and observations will ensue. Just think Carnegie Hall.

Veteran food, wine, and spirits writer Ron Bechtol has been a Current contributor since 1993 and is the local editor of the Fearless Critic restaurant guide to San Antonio.

We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus