Norm vividly remembers meeting Jim Clendenen for the very first time at 1988 INPC (International Pinot Noir Conference) in McMinnville, OR. Jim was wearing a flamboyant aloha shirt and pouring striking Santa Maria Valley Pinot Noirs. He was an enthusiastic ambassador of Santa Barbara County wines. Norm was the winemaker at Mark West Vineyards in Russian River Valley. Jim enlightened Norm about the attributes and finesse of Santa Maria Valley wines. Perhaps Jim subconsciously influenced the trajectory of Norm's career path, which ended up in Santa Barbara County sourcing fruit from Santa Maria Valley for his own label Flying Goat Cellars.
I remember meeting Jim for the first time at his Rancho La Cuna in Los Alamos when we participated in a fabulous fundraiser for one of his favorite non-profit organizations, the TumTum Tree Foundation out of AL. We felt privileged to be included in such an exclusive event that was endorsed by Jim. He made us feel like part of his elite inner circle. We later participated in many other social events at his lovely venue. The photo is from an event four years ago at Rancho La Cuna. 8 OGs plus 1 NewG.
L-R: Frank Ostini, Jeff Newton, Stephen Bedford, Richard Sanford, Bryan Babcock, Jim Clendenen, Steve Beckman, Norm Yost and Drake Whitcraft.