by Fred McMillin
for October 13, 1999


Beautiful Lady, Beautiful Wine



Lillie Langtry  
British actress Lillie Langtry, born 163 years ago today, produced the first wine in Lake County's Guenoc Valley. Her likeness appeared on the bottles of wine she sold in San Francisco, and with good reason. She was not unattractive...

The Beautiful Lady

London, 1876—Artist William Graham Robertson saw a young lady walking toward Hyde Park. "At first glance it seemed a very young and slender girl, dowdily dressed in black, and wearing a small, close-fitting black bonnet. She might have been a milliner's assistant waiting upon a customer. Then, as I drew near the pavement the girl looked up--and I all but sat flat on the road. For the first and only time in my life I beheld perfect beauty.

The face was that of the lost Venus of Praxiteles. It was pale with the glow of absolute health behind the pallor, the eyes grey beneath dark lashes, and the hair brown with hints of gold. The figure in its poise and motion conveyed the impression of something wild, eternally young, nymphlike."

About that "eternally young figure," Somerset Maugham met her in 1916 (she was 63 at the time) and still recalled her fine figure 39 years later in his Writer's Notebook. Needless to say, such beauty did not go unnoticed. Those falling in love with her included the future King of England, Albert Edward; Albert's handsome nephew, Prince Louis of Battenberg; Baltimore millionaire Freddie Gebhardt, whose first gift to her was a simple bouquet of flowers...concealing a diamond necklace and matching bracelet. (Principal source: Joan Dutton's They Left Their Mark, Illuminations Press, St. Helena)

The Beautiful Wine

Our March 6, 1997 WineDay began "Guenoc makes a great Cabernet from Andy Beckstoffer's St. Helena Vineyard IV." The Jan. 12, 1998 WineDay read, "The Guenoc Beckstoffer won best of tasting even though there were more expensive wines in the 20-bottle competition." Here's today's purple powerhouse.
1996 Beckstoffer IV Vineyard Reserve by Guenoc Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley (The winery is in Lake County, which originally was the northern end of Napa County.)
Composition—100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Oak—100% French
Taste—100% glorious
Contact—Office of Marketing Director Karen Melander-Magoon, (707) 987-2385, FX (707) 987-9351
Price -$40.50


We are not the only fans of the Beckstoffer. Not so long ago InterVin Internatinal selected it as BEST IN USA!

About the Writer

Fred McMillin, a veteran wine writer, has taught wine history for 30 years on three continents. He currently teaches wine courses at San Francisco State and San Francisco City College. In 1995, the Academy of Wine Communications honored Fred with one of only 22 Certificates of Commendation awarded to American wine writers.


WineDay Annex

More articles by
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