Winemaking. Life. The Dirt. Alison Crowe is a Winemaker Based in Napa.

#bedavidstevens- The Wine Industry Remembers and Celebrates a Beloved Colleague

This is how I'll always remember David Stevens- at a wine competition judging table, laughing. Photo credit Mike Dunne

This is how I’ll always remember David Stevens- at a wine competition judging table, laughing. Photo credit Mike Dunne

There are some people you can’t help liking, who always seem to have a smile on their face and who leave you encouraged and uplifted at the end of every interaction.  Such was the case with David Stevens, whom the wine industry has been mourning since we learned of his sudden and unexpected passing due to natural causes Tuesday April 10 2018.  I was clicking around Facebook on Wednesday when I saw a post from Bob Foster, a friend who runs wine competitions, stating that David was gone.  As the word got out and a shocked wine industry and extended wine community started to mourn on Facebook, I invited friends to leave a little tribute in the comments below my post with the promise I’d collect them into a blog as soon as I felt it was appropriate.

I first met David wine judging about ten years ago and have had the great pleasure to spend time with him around the judging table in San Diego, Napa and Sonoma over the years.  Not only a great taster and wine judge, Dave was first an award-winning winemaker with the likes of Bouchaine and Domaine Carneros.  Later in his career he started teaching part time at Napa Valley College and at UC Davis, leading the OIV Wine Marketing Program along with Christian Miller of Wine Opinions and Full Glass Research.  Many of us know and remember David Stevens for his welcoming, supportive personality as well as his zany and infectious sense of humor.  An avid baseball fan and lover of games, David leaves behind a wife and two daughters and many, many devastated friends and colleagues.

Undoubtedly, we all have lived a fuller life having known him.  One of the best tributes we can give him, and one of the best ways to carry his spirit with us,  is to try to be just a little bit like him.  Where to start?  Be curious, be kind, laugh at yourself, laugh more than a little at your friends and occasionally your industry.  Be a giver, not a taker. Be a teacher, a mentor and always be looking for ways to connect people and ideas together in positive ways.  Be a booster, a cheerleader, a colleague, and most importantly be a friend.  Laugh a lot.  We’ll be a stronger, more united, respectful and dare I say, lighthearted, wine industry because of it. #bedavidstevens

Here are some remembrances of David Stevens, a man who touched so many people in many parts of the wine industry:

Mike Dunne- Regardless of context – sitting on a panel at a wine competition, orchestrating a marketing seminar at UC Davis, joining a tasting of old dessert wines in Sacramento, rounding up people for a trek to some obscure Korean or Chinese restaurant in Pomona – David could be counted on for his levity, smarts, ability to listen and knack for sharing in a way helpful, upbeat and generous. And always, many hearty laughs.

Jim Lapsley- Dave was a stalwart in the OIV course and when I retired I was SO pleased that he and Christian Miller agreed to take it on. Dave had so much information that he passed on in a gently humorous way. We will miss David for the rest of our lives, but will remember him at odd moments and smile.

Lessly Wharton VanHoutan- My heart is broken. Dave had nothing but kind words and encouraged me. He kept me from losing my mind and soul. To the moon and back DS.

Paul Robert Blom- My last wine chat with David was during #mundusvini end of February. We lost a friend and sure source of information on any subject of viticulture and a praised member of the world wide judging ‘society’. R.I.P. David, you will be missed.

Linda F Bisson- Deeply saddened to hear this – will miss him, his smile, his positive outlook, his wit and wisdom.

David Graves- We were privileged to have him as a colleague in Carneros.

Andrew Waterhouse- A gentleman and a scholar. I am greatly saddened to hear this news. We will miss him!

Greg Bjornstad- What a wonderful man! So sorry to learn of David’s passing. We were classmates and TA’s at Davis and colleagues in wine, recently having opportunity to collaborate on a project. Smart, funny, warm and curious. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends that miss him already. Cheers, my friend…

Edward Schulz- We had good years and many good meals together. Carneros, Paso, Temecula. Barrels brought us together. Death takes us apart, dang it.
Ira Kreft- So sorry to hear about it- what a loss. I always appreciated his knowledge, insight and humor. My notes contain a number of winemaking rules of thumb and insights that he provided me.
Ernie Farinias- Very shocking to hear David’s gone. Have great memories of David at Davis.

Patricia Ann Howe- Ok- thinking of David’s best story. He told me about the time he dressed up as Bigfoot/Sasquatch and freaked out some folks. The kicker is that “sighting” made into a book of unexplained legitimate encounters. That is such a typical David stunt.

Mike Swan, Dave Stevens. Photo Credit, Mike Swan

L-R Mike Swan, Jason Wimp, Dave Bridgeman and David Stevens, holding a big ling cod haul in Alaska, 2016. Photo Credit, Mike Swan

Mike Swan- We were set to go to Portugal in January.  I cancelled my tickets yesterday.  The most wonderful man I have ever met and was able to hug him goodby 3 weeks ago at our wine competition.  Not shake hands, HUG!

Jeff Stewart- Sad news….. Great winemaker and better person.

Ann Noble- Dave leaves a void….How sad to lose someone so young.

Merrikay Locati- Omg, he will be so missed here in Walla Walla. He was so fun when he came to visit and help us make wine at Robison ranch. We are without words.

Danusia Scout Szumowski- Dave was one of my teachers at the UC Davis OIV wine marketing program. I remember him fondly – and remember last time I saw him – always a smile, an introduction to “someone you should really meet” – and endless enthusiasm for a love of all things wine. Thank you, David, for sharing your knowledge and passion with us. You will be missed.
Amy J. Butler-David was a compendium of wine knowledge. He had digested all of the literature…you could look it up or you could just call Dave. He had an opinion (backed by research) on all the new wine technologies, so many smarts. I’ll miss that but I’ll miss also the music fan (always turning me on to new bands), the sports fan (a 20+ year Oakland A’s season ticket holder), the proud dad, and my friend.
Neeraj Singh- I am terribly sorry for our loss. David was someone who took me under his wing from my first day at the OIV program. His positive impact in my life goes beyond words at this moment. I will very much miss his enthusiasm and energy.
Rosie Lopez Holland- He was a wonderful man and will be remembered for his humor and kindness. Over the rainbow 🌈 my friend.
Raeanne Passantino- I am going to miss David so much! He was a great friend and spectacular human being. I feel so very blessed to have spent two of the opening weekend A’s games with him this month. There are no words to express how much he will be missed by Section 216. RIP dear friend.
Ever the educator, here's Dave Stevens "judging" an ad hoc "First Annual Glacier Bay Wine Competition" in 2016. Sweepstakes winner was the Williams Selyem. Photo Credit Mike Swan

Ever the educator, here’s Dave Stevens “judging” an ad hoc “First Annual Glacier Bay Wine Competition” in 2016. Sweepstakes winner was the Williams Selyem. Photo Credit Mike Swan

Melissa Bates- David was so full of life and laughter. He was loved by so many and he made sure you knew how much he enjoyed your friendship. My condolences to his family for their loss.

 

Christian Miller- This is awful, awful news. It’s a rare thing to find in one person a brilliant intellect, great wit and humor and an appreciation for what is sweet and humane. The world was undoubtedly a better place with Dave in it.

Laurie Walters Foster- One of the warmest, nicest special people on the wine judging circuit…will be so missed! Such a beautiful and talented soul….

Tim Hanni MW- I am so saddened to hear the news. I just spoke with David last week – he is the epitome of everything good about humanity and the wine business. I am grateful that I was able to call him my friend.

 

A memorial service for David Stevens will be held 11 am Saturday April 21st at St Mary’s Episcopal Church in Napa,  1917 Third St. Napa CA 94558.

 

Alison Crowe is Director of Winemaking for Plata Wine Partners, which makes Garnet Vineyards and Picket Fence Vineyards wine among many other custom and bespoke wine projects.  Sourced from her company’s 100% sustainably certified vineyards, she works with fruit from Napa, Sonoma, and the Central Coast.  @alisoncrowewine email:  alisoncrowewine@gmail.com

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