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That's what you can do

a diamond is forever Print
Written by Nikitas Magel   

Boots and Al Brounstein of Diamond Creek VineyardsPR:  Al passed away three years ago, after having had Parkinson's disease for 25 years.  But the thing is, it didn't slow him down!  Think about that: he had it for 25 years, so during the majority of his experience in building Diamond Creek he had this disease.  I saw him depressed about it for maybe two days after the diagnosis — and that was it; then he got on with his life.  Al actually became an inspiration to a lot of other people in the valley who had Parkinson's; they would call him a lot because he would cheer them up!  To him, he didn't have a disability; he just happened to shake.  He did a lot of public speaking, so with his wonderful sense of humor, he would create all these jokes to make people feel at ease with his disease.  He'd been a private pilot but he eventually had to give up flying, he would tell people, because he was doing rough landings!  {laughter}  He also loved music, classical music.  So, another joke that he told people was that he'd always wanted to be a conductor, but ever since he got Parkinson's, he could only do fast numbers!  {laughter}  You can see his wonderful sense of humor.  And he would do public speaking and fund-raising for Parkinson's.  Well over a million dollars have been raised for research on the disease from the efforts of Al, and my mother continues those efforts.  In fact, at an annual event just last year, even in these economic times… what was raised, about $150,000?

BB:  Oh, it was over $200,000.  Robin Williams was one of our guests one year…

PR:  And Michael J. Fox has been involved with it in the past.

BB:  I earmark the money to go to the Parkinson's Institute in Sunnyvale, California.

"Al did a lot of public speaking, so with his wonderful sense of humor, he would create all these jokes to make people feel at ease with his disease."

NM:  So, you're continuing his legacy in more than one way.  That's fantastic!

BB:  Yeah… it is!  And I'm determined.  Because he was in good health, but finally the disease just takes the body.  It's a sad thing.  So, I'm going to keep this going until there's no more Parkinson's!  They're getting close, but it takes a lot of money.

PR:  So we're continuing to do all the good work that Al created.  My mother's been involved since the beginning, and I've been involved for many, many years.  We believe in what we're doing here.  And we're small.  We have no desire to grow or expand.  We have our loyal customers and sell our wine throughout the world, including Russia and China.

NM:  In retrospect, you've witnessed a tremendous amount of evolution in California's wine industry, in part as the result of efforts by pioneers like Al.  In light of that, what is your opinion of how the industry has developed in the recent past and where do you think it's headed in the future?

BB:  It's difficult to speculate on where it's headed.  But what I think is very healthy is the enthusiasm that the younger generation is bringing to the industry.  I think that's wonderful!  I also think that France is not nearly as much of an influence on this generation as it was for us, whereas I think California as a whole has become far more influential.  And I think that's outstanding!  That's what we want.  We never want to forget the French and how their influence shaped things early on for us, but there are other countries today that are also making wonderful wines — Italy, Spain, Australia, even South Africa.Phil Ross of Diamond Creek Vineyards

PR:  There's also been an evolution in the culinary arts that kind of parallels the evolution of wine over the last thirty or forty years.  You have tremendous interest nowadays among Americans in the culinary, and that's further fueled the fine wine industry.  But it's not all the same; all these chefs are doing their own thing, quite differently from each other, and they all have their followings.  It's the same thing with wine.  There's enough room for all styles.  The important thing is to have many different styles of everything.  The consumer will decide.  Keep in mind that in the beginning of the wine industry in this country, it was an educational process; Americans were not confident in drinking wines because they simply didn't know them.




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