Sunday, September 18, 2011

Joe Dressner, RIP

Joe Dressner was a rare type of person. He made his living selling wine, but unlike most salespeople, he had no interest in pushing his products or reaching the widest possible audience. He developed this kind of insider relationship with the wine drinking public - if you took the time to get to know his wines, you'd be rewarded. If not, no problem, your loss. In the early '90s Joe believed in wines that no one in America had heard of or tasted, and his combination of intelligence and good taste allowed his business to work, and continues to allow you and me to drink his great wines.

Perhaps the most telling thing about Joe Dressner is the incredible devotion and love he receives from his colleagues, many of whom became his close friends. And this was not an easy guy - Joe was simultaneously brilliant, sarcastic, hilarious, emotional, irreverent, welcoming, dismissive, and always complicated. Easy or not, Joe inspires deep affection, respect, and love from an enormous group of people.

I cannot say that I knew Joe very well, but I respected him deeply and enjoyed his company whenever I was fortunate enough to be around him. He always treated me kindly and we had several deep conversations over the years that I walked away from feeling as though I had learned something.

Joe Dressner died on Friday night after a long battle with cancer. He will be greatly missed. This wine community that we live in is a vastly better and more interesting place because of him. Cheers to you Joe, to a life well lived, and thank you for all that you have given us.


Winey the Elder said...

Well stated, Mr. Guy.
Joe was a rascal, but had a wonderfully generous, loving spirit; at least that's how he seemed to me on the few occasions when I spent precious moments with him.
The world is corked, without Joe in it and this just sucks; but you are right: the wine world IS vastly better because of him.
A toast to Joe.


Anonymous said...

What an impact Joe had on the industry. You nailed it right on the head regarding his character. I am happy he's now resting and wish his family the best during this transition. I think a lot of us will be drinking some more LDM wines these days and we'll be thanking Joe all the while doing it.

jason Carey said...

I agree with everything you said about Joe except this.
"n the early '90s Joe believed in wines that no one in America had heard of or tasted

That is simply not true.. many (not millions) people including me were drinking and enjoying wines like this I am American.. and I know others who drank these kinds of wine too

Anonymous said...

What I liked about him especially was that he simultaneously insisted that we should not take wine too seriously and yet should appreciate it as one of nature's great gifts. Although not a direct contradiction, straddling that position demands a fine sensibility and a great deal of integrity.

I didn't know Joe personally, but my sense of him was that, while he certainly could be explosive and trying, he had such an inner core of strength that he always righted his own ship to maintain about life and wine that sensibility and integrity.

Anonymous said...

Everyone's saying RIP to Joe Dressner, and it's the accepted convention.

But, even if he believed in some sort of post-death condition (which, of course, he did not), I can't believe he would have wanted to "rest in peace." Like Heathcliff curse of his beloved Cathy, he'd want to haunt us, to keep us from being smug and complacent in our judgments. So: don't rest in peace, Joe!

Clotpoll said...

I always put Joe's wines into the hands of folks who are jaded with the status quo or searching for the authentic in a sea of pretender wines. They never fail to impress, which is hard given the fact that none of his wines are dark, oaky, high-alcohol monoliths.

Not too many people in the business truly march to the beat of their own drummers. Joe was one of them, and he will be missed.

Eric Pottmeyer said...

Joe was truly one of a kind. He was hilarious, witty, charming and sometimes pretty coarse- occasionally all at once. Those who have enjoyed Louis/Dressner wines have learned about wine and the importance of people and place. Those who have spent even limited time with Joe have learned much about life and how to live purposefully. Joe will be missed on many fronts, but his spirit and work will live on not only in his wines, but more importantly in all the people who he inspired.

Anonymous said...

I'm hailing from Lyon, and, 2 years ago, I've seen Joe during a wine show. He seemed fine, because of his behavior which is still glad with the customers. Like you say, and as I see his friend was also his colleague, he had a real love for him. Actually, many people know him even in the United States, and I hope so that he'll become a famous man who will be recognized as one of the biggest expert of wine.