June 25, 1912: On this day, Robert Lawrence Balzer was born. He initially encountered wine through his family’s company, a neighborhood grocery shop in Los Angeles, and was immediately enthralled. He then started carrying a selection of premium wines from all across California. Shortly after, he began writing about wines, and one of his self-made newsletters on the subject was spotted by the politician Will Rogers Jr., who requested he make a regular newspaper column. Thus began his long career in journalism. He later organized the New York Wine Tasting of 1973, a precursor to the famed Judgment of Paris.

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