The Intrigue of Wine, Gold and California Today

– [Narrator] This program is presented by University of California Television. Like what you learn? Visit our website or follow
us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest UCTV programs. (upbeat music) – Well, good afternoon,
ladies and gentlemen, and welcome to this lecture. This is the third lecture in the HarvEst Distinguished
Women Lecture Series. For those who don’t know you, my name is Fiona Doyle. In addition to being a
Professor in Material Science and Engineering, I’m the
Dean of the Graduate Division at Berkeley. The Graduate Division
has a proud tradition of managing the Berkeley
graduate lectures. We cover eight lectureships in all. Each has a distinctive endowment history and a distinctive theme for the lectures that are delivered under their auspices. The different programs
have brought a variety of incredibly distinguished
visitors to Berkeley since 1904. So this goes back well over 100 years, really building on the principle
that a great university is the repository and
the center of knowledge that should be made available
to the general public. What’s I find very interesting about the HarvEst Distinguished
Women Lecture Series, which is the newest
edition to our collection, is that rather than
choosing a particular theme for the lecture, the common
theme for the three lectures has been distinguished women who, in fact, have been very, very different in their contributions to the world and their overall impact. The HarvEst lecture name comes from the first names
of our lecture benefactors, UC Berkeley alumni,
Harvey Lee and Esther Ma, both of whom earned their
undergraduate degrees in economics at Berkeley
before pursuing MBA degrees at Harvard and Columbia, respectively. Both Harvey and Esther have gone onto accomplished international
business careers. Esther is the founder of the public relations firm, Prestique and is author of four books. She was featured in the
2011 book Ladies Who Launch. Harvey is the Vice Chairman
of Golden Real Estate Financial Holdings, Limited. Although the couple
are based in Hong Kong, I’m delighted that they
are here with us today and along with their beautiful daughters. And on your behalf, I wish
the family happy new year. So we’re very lucky that they’ve joined us during Chinese New Year. So, with that, it’s my pleasure to invite Esther up to lectern
to provide a few words on her perspective on distinguished women. Esther. – Thank you, Dean Doyle. Wow, it’s great to be
back at Cal, go bears! (laughs)
(audience applauding) So good afternoon and happy
Chinese New Year of the Monkey. Dean Doyle, Miss Frances Dinkelspiel, Miss Deirdre English, and alumni, faculty, students and
distinguished guests. It is my and Harvey’s
honor to be here again for the third time to present the third HarvEst Distinguished
Women Leader Lecture. Well, I always like to
start with this poem that was actually unveiled
during our wedding back in 1994. So here it goes. On a bright sunny day
under the Sather Gate, two Berkeley freshmen met by fate. Dot, dot, dot, dot. Nine years of sharing,
nine years of caring, love has come of age and true love and mutual trust will allow the 1985 vintage to yield a fruitful harvest. So, indeed, HarvEst got married
nine years after they met under the Sather Gate. But it took them a little while to HarvEst the two little
ones, Quisha and Tiqa. Took us 11 years. And Quisha was born in 2005,
while Tiqa was born in 2007, because I actually had a
couple of multiple miscarriages within four years before that. But, anyway, you know, ever
since I became a parent, Harvey and I both realized
the importance of education, philanthropy, giving back to the community and really nurturing a young
generation of future leaders. And so that’s why when Dean Andrew Szeri approached us five years ago to offer us this opportunity to endow lecture series, we immediately accepted the invitation without hesitation, because this distinguished lecture series resonates with our
philanthropic philosophies, being in education,
leadership, philanthropy and also in the arts and the athletics. So if you look in Instagram
under my name, Esther Ma Lee, you will notice that label
myself hyper-momtrepreneur. Well, I always call myself a full-time mom and a full time entrepreneur, having been running my
own business for 20 years and also now being a mom for 10 years. I think I kind of take pride in being able to achieve
that work-life balance, which gives me a sense,
great sense of gratification. So my typical day would be sending Quisha and Tiqa to school at 7:15, have a quick breakfast
and then workout for one-and-a-half hours to two hours, go into the office, have a business lunch, and then run some errands, and then pick up the girls at 3:30. And then I always request
my clients to do events after 4:45, because that’s when the kids are in their after-school activities. And then after the event, we’ll
either go home for dinner, look after their homework,
or study with them, or once in awhile, go out with Harvey on wine dinners, so on and so forth. Weekends are always spent
on family gatherings or some kind of a sports competitions. But why distinguished women? Because I’m, myself, I’m a great fan, great supporter of women courses. Back home, I’m on the
Zonta Club, which is a NGO, consisting of women executives. We all joined force to
help underprivileged women. I’m also one of the founding members of the Golden Bauhinia Women
Entrepreneurs Association and we established scholarship and a lot of mentoring programs for aspiring women entrepreneurs. And I’m also very actively involved with a women’s foundation which
focuses on a lot of research on issues such as gender
equality and work-life balance. And they’ve been getting a lot
of government support lately. And also I’m volunteering for Women Helping Women Foundation, which focuses on helping
marginalized women, especially those who
experience domestic violence and domestic abuse. And on the lighter side of life, I’m co-founder of Femme du Vin Society, a women wine society. Every month we organize wine tasting for wine education and
networking opportunities. So when Dean Doyle told me that this year our speaker’s gonna be
a little bit different, half-different, because the first year, as Dean Doyle mentioned,
Mrs. Harriet Fulbright gave a inspiring speech on
international education. And last year, Professor Laura Tyson, who happened to be Harvey’s first economics professor,
gave an inspiring speech on women and the world economy. And this year, we are so excited because Harvey also happens
to be in the wine business. In fact, his boss is the owner
of a Napa Valley vineyard by the name of Sloan Estates. And Jenny, I believe, the GM is making her way down. So we are really excited that today our guest lecturer, in fact, is a renowned author of a best-selling book
called Tangled Vineyards, so all you need to know
about what happened in Napa Valley vineyards. So, without further
ado, I’ll let Dean Doyle make an introduction of
our guest lecturer to you. And stay tuned for the interesting lecture as well as some wine
tasting after the lecture. Thank you. (audience applauding) – Thank you so much, Esther, and to you and Harvey for your generosity. So without further ado, we’ll
move onto the main event. I’m very pleased to
introduce Frances Dinkelspiel who is an award-winning
author and journalist. She’s based in Berkeley,
which is wonderful, since we’ll learn in a second or two that she’s a Stanford graduate. (laughs)
(audience laughing) I promised her I’d make a dig about that. And we thought that a very engaging way to organize this afternoon
was as a conversation, rather than a lecture, as such. So Frances will be in
conversation with Deirdre English, a lecturer in our graduate
school of journalism here. And they’re going to discuss
how power, money, gold and wine all contributed to
the making of California, then and even today. And that covers I think at least one of the favorite themes of
many people in this room. So I’m certainly looking forward to the conversation immensely. Frances has delivered
more than 200 lectures on the history of California, including the role the Jews made to the development of the state. In 2009, she co-founded Berkeleyside, with which many of you,
I’m sure are very familiar, an online news site that has since twice won the Best
Community News Site Award from the Northern California Society of Professional Journalists. In 2013, Dinkelspiel helped created Nosh, another of my favorite themes, (chuckles) a website about the food
scene in the East Bay. As I mentioned, Frances is a graduate of Stanford University and
The Columbia University School of Journalism. She began her reporting career at the Syracuse newspapers
in upstate New York and then moved to the
San Jose Mercury News. She’s written for the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal,
the Los Angeles Times, People Magazine, San Francisco Chronicle, San Francisco Magazine, and more. Her first book, Towers of Gold: How One Jewish Immigrant
Named Isaias Hellman Created California, was
a San Francisco Chronicle best seller, a finalist
for the Northern California Book Awards, and was the
Best Book of the Year named by both the San Francisco Chronicle and the Northern California Independent Book Sellers Association. Her most recent book appears to be getting similar acclaim, Tangled Vines, as Esther mentioned, but the subtitle is truly intriguing, Greed, Murder, Obsession and an Arsonist in the Vineyards of California. And this is a New York Times and San Francisco Chronicle Best Seller. Deirdre English is a
former editor-in-chief of the award-winning and
influential Mother Jones Magazine. She was a founder of one of the first women’s studies programs in the US and it’s taught at several
colleges and universities. She has written and edited work
on a wide array of subjects related to investigative reporting, cultural politics, gender studies, and public policy. She’s been with Berkeley’s
Graduate School of Journalism since 1997. So please join me in
welcoming Frances Dinkelspiel and Deirdre English to the stage. (audience applauding) Great and welcome. – Thank you.
– I’m so looking forward to hearing (drowned by distance). – Thank you. – Well, (chuckles) gold leads to money, leads to power, leads to wine. (audience laughing)
So it won’t be hard for us to hit on all those topics. And obviously we fit very comfortably under the rubric of the HarvEst moniker. And in celebration of you as a outstanding woman leader and author. So let’s just plunge right in. I’ve really enjoyed reading
both of these books. I think they’re extraordinary, Towers of Gold, the story
of Frances Dinkelspiel’s great-great grandfather, Isaias Hellman, and the bold sub-head in the creating of California is something we’ll ask you to defend. And that’s a wonderful book that is a business history of California and an interesting way into those of you who haven’t
studied California history in great depth, it’s an
actually quite an interesting way to look at it, because it goes from the Gold Rush up unto almost contemporary times. It’s very recognizable and it covers everything
from land development to the development of banking and finance. And then Frances, in her second book, kind of takes something that
began in the first book, Towers of Gold, but
that she really explores in Tangled Vines, her second book, which is that her
great-great-grandfather, Isaias Hellman, invested in a vineyard, in Cucamonga Vineyard
in Southern California when he was there. And, eventually, Isaias Hellman moved from Souther California
to Northern California and the wine industry also moves from Souther California
to Northern California, for different reasons, but they remain tangled. So we will be talking
more about win industry and the dark side of the wine industry, which Frances gets into in great depth, the labor exploitation,
the fraud, the greed, the arson, the criminal behavior and the threats that continue to this day, the fraudulent marketing of some wines. So it’s a interconnected history. I think you’ve masterfully woven all of these threads together. And we agreed that
instead of just focusing on Tangled Vines today, we’ll try to do a little bit of a timeline
through both of the books so that we’ll start with
talking about Isaias Hellman right from the very beginning and then weave it into the current book. So let’s just start with talking about Isaias Hellman himself and as we were, just a few minutes ago. He was very young when
he came to this country. Who was he? – So Isaias Hellman was
born in Reckendorf, Germany, which at the time was part of Franconia, one of the states of Germany. It later became part of Bavaria. And he was a Jewish boy who was born to a family where his father was a weaver and his uncle was a cattle trader. And Jews in Germany were not
accorded full citizenship. And although the town
that Hellman lived in had the Catholics and the
Jews had good relations, it became very clear by the
middle of the 19th Century that the future for
Jews was not in Germany. And there had already been a
migration of a number of Jews leaving central Europe to
come to the United States. But when the Gold Rush hit, it completely accelerated that emigration. And so Hellman came to
the United States in 1859. And even though that was 10
years after the Gold Rush, it’s still considered sort of part of the Gold Rush emigration.
– And he was 17-years-old? – He was 16-years-old when he came.
– 16 and had had a little bit of secondary education, but– – Not not much. – Not a college education
or anything like that. But he was a European, he was a German. And he came from if
not a bourgeois family, certainly he had seen bourgeois life, he’d seen city life, he
knew what banking was. – Well, yes, he had… You know, the town that he lived in only had 900 people living there. But his father was a
weaver and also a peddler. And I don’t know for a
fact, but I imagine that Isaias accompanied him
to towns in Germany. He was also sent to secondary school in a town about 50 miles away Reckendorf. And so although he grew up in sort of a
more rural environment, this was a very intellectual
time in central Europe. I mean, this was, you know,
Napoleon had been there. There were all these revolutions going on. I mean, there was a certain
level of sophistication that he would’ve been exposed to. – So coming to California then, to frontier California. That time, Los Angeles had
maybe 4,000, 5,000 residents. And I love one fact that you said of 30 to 40 murders a day. – No, no, not a day. – Oh, month, a month. – (laughs) Yeah, yeah.
(audience laughing) – A month. And so it’s the wild west. And it’s a little bit,
must’ve been for him, a little bit like going backwards in time to a rougher time, but he saw a great deal of opportunity, as did so many other people. So it has often said that the people who really made the great
fortunes out of the Gold Rush were the people who sold
things to the miners. – [Frances] Right, right. – And, indeed, he went into
the dry goods business, right? – Right, exactly. So for Hellman and for many
other Jews who arrived, California was different from any place they’d ever been before. And their experiences were
different than the Jews in New York, because in California, people were so focused on getting rich that they hadn’t created
social hierarchies that oppressed a lot of classes. I mean, there was discrimination against African Americans and Chinese, but against Jews, they
were regarded as white. And it was a frontier, and nothing, there was no telegraph service
between San Francisco and LA. There was no train between the two cities, there were barely any roads. So essentially it was a
completely undeveloped landscape. – [Deirdre] And there
was no banking industry. – No banking industry, right. – In fact, one thing I
learned from your book is that California had
actually outlawed banking? – Yes, so what happened
was there was so much gold in California, when they wrote
the California Constitution, they decided not to let
banks operate in the state. And this is for complicated reasons. It had to do with something
called the Free Banking Era, when banks would just print
up their own bank notes and there was a lot of
people lost a lot of money. So banks were outlawed. But that didn’t mean
people didn’t set up banks. It just meant they were not regulated, there was no minimum
financial requirements. And, in fact, outlawing them probably made things more volatile in the economy. – [Deirdre] And more
higher interest rates, because people had to get
their loans from individuals typically.
– Exactly. – So your great-great-grandfather founded a bank in LA. And he called it the
Farmers and Mechanics Bank. – [Frances] Farmers and Merchants Bank. – Farmers and Merchants Bank. And he began to loan money to people in LA at more reasonable rates. – [Frances] Right, right. – And he did very well. – He did very well. So the bank opened in 1871. And his business partner was the former Governor of California, which was I think a pretty good pick. And, yeah, so what they did was that they were able
to normalize the economy on some level by offering a lower interest rate. Interest rates in those
days could be 5% a month. And so I’m sure many of you’ve heard of the huge transfer of land from the Californios, the
Mexican-born Californians, to the Americans. And a lot of that was
because the Californios borrowed money and put up
their land as collateral, not really understanding
that compound and interest was gonna increase their
debts phenomenally. So Hellman came in, was
able to offer good rates. And brought capital to the city. People needed to borrow
money to buy houses and do businesses. – And Isaias Hellman
arrived with his brother. – Yes. – Herman. – Yes. – And that’s maybe worth mentioning, because later they were at odds. And the stormy personal history being there are many ups and downs
in business, over time, and Hellman experienced them, and sometimes they take a
toll on personal relations. And it certainly happened
between these two brothers. But at that time they were
still in business together. And who else did he go into business with? – So this is one of the interesting things about Los Angeles. It was a society that
really all the groups sort of mixed together, the Californios, the Americans, the Europeans. It was a time, to some
degree, of business harmony. There were other tensions
around other things. So his business partners were
Basques, they were Irishmen, they were Germans, they
were other Americans. So what had happened, Los Angeles was a city
that was never meant to be, because there’s no natural port, there’s no navigable river, there are no minerals. There’s no reason a city
should’ve grown up there. But a group of people
sort of banded together and almost willed Los
Angeles into existence, including Isaias Hellman, by really focusing on business
development in Los Angeles. And that’s why the city took off. I mean, it always–
– So water. – Water. – Energy. – Water and trains. Those were the two most important
things in the beginning. Agriculture was a very important product. And, eventually, of course, water, power and oil
were really important. – But first the trolleys, right? Building a trolley cart
system in Los Angeles. And then he brought a great deal of land. And he donated some of that to found The University of Southern California, which increased the value
of the land around it. – [Frances] Right. (chuckles) – And his mastery of
horizontal integration, his control of the
trolleys also allowed him to run a trolley to the campus, which also helped to increase the value of the surrounding land.
– That’s right, right. – So he was able to exploit
many different industries, many different businesses
as well as banking and have so many different partners. When did he buy Rancho Cucamonga? – So Rancho Cucamonga
is the place where… My book Tangled Vines
talks about this fire and that destroyed four-and-a-half
million bottles of wine. And among the wine that was destroyed, were 175 bottles made by
Isaias Hellman in 1875 from a vineyard in Rancho Cucamonga. So he bought Rancho Cucamonga in 1870, 71. So he was very young at that point. It was before he started
Farmers And Merchants Bank. But he got together a
syndicate of businessmen in San Francisco. And they bought this land
that was being foreclosed upon because the widow who owned
it couldn’t pay her debts. And, yeah, it was a business deal for him. – So what was the state
of grape cultivation and wine-making in
California at that time? What was the history before Isaias Hellman ever came to this country? – So I think a lot of people don’t realize that the California wine industry got its start not in Napa or Sonoma, but in Southern California. And that was primarily because Father Junipero Serra who
started the mission system, he brought up grapes from Baja California and planted them to make sacramental wine. And he brought up a grape
variety called Mission Grapes, which were really, really hearty grapes that did well in the hot
suns of Southern California. – [Deirdre] Were they already
called Mission Grapes? – No, no, no. – [Deirdre] They were named
after the California missions. – They were named after
the California missions. That’s not their Latin name. – Well. (laughs)
– Of course, really. So Los Angeles was known
as The City of Vines because grapes growing
did really, really well. And probably by the 1850s
there were 100 vineyards in the city of Los Angeles, people making wine for local consumption and a little bit for export. The export really hadn’t
taken off by then. But it was a growing business. So after everyone rushed to California to make money in the gold mines, when that sort of ran out, or it became part of large corporations started taking over the
gold mining industry, people looked for other
businesses to go in. And agriculture was, of course, one of the most important things. And a lot of people thought growing grapes and making wine was a growing industry. And, in fact, they got tax
breaks for planting vineyards and things like that. So when Hellman bought
the Cucamonga vineyard in 1871, California had a pretty vibrant wine business going on.
– All this one type of grape. – Mostly, it was
predominantly Mission Grapes until 1890 in California. And one thing it’s important to know is Mission Grape made really crummy wine. I mean it was… And there wine making methods
were not very sophisticated so even if they had better grapes, the wine wasn’t always so good. It made sort of dry, it made flat wine that didn’t have a lot of acidity. There was a push to
bring in other kinds of grape vines to California, starting around 1860 there
was a really big push. And slowly there was a transition from having Mission Grapes
be the number one grape to having other varieties. But that– – Is that a red varietal or– – Mission, well, you can
make white wine, too, from red grapes. – From the red.
– But, yeah, Mission is a red grape. I mean, most of the wine
was port was made from it and red wine and stuff like that. – So it all depends on whether
you process the skin or not. – Yeah, exactly. – But they did win an award, such as it may have been,
for the quality of their wine at the time. – Yeah, so Rancho Cucamonga
actually became very well known for the wine it made. A lot of ways wine makers
made wine taste better was to fortify it. They would just turn a ton
brandy into the white wine. (audience laughing) And the red wine. So I found some great scenes in my book of 49ers trying to make
it over the mountains. And they were trudging through the deserts and they were really
tired and cold and hungry. And one of the first settled
places they came upon was Rancho Cucamonga. And they ran into the people making wine and they sort of just
guzzled this wine down. And they were very happy after that. (audience laughing) But, you know, in the beginning, the methods that they made
wine were very primitive. They didn’t have a lot of barrels here. So Native Americans, they
used to string up cow hides on poles, and Native Americans
would stomp their grapes and squish the grapes in the cow hides. And then they would sometimes
have high kind of containers to ferment the wine. And eventually– – [Deirdre] And this
was almost slave labor. – It definitely was slave labor. So eventually they learned how to make better wine. But for a long time, people
were just cutting corners to make money. It was just seen as a product, not really something that
was particularly special. – Now, at some point is
it that Isaias Hellman saved some barrels of wine that eventually became the 175 bottles that you finally lost in the arson episode many decades later? – I don’t 100% know. So here I am writing
this book about this wine that was made in 1875. And I kept asking myself,
“Why does the family “have this old wine?” We don’t have 1873 wine or
1881 wine, we just have all this wine from 1875. – [Deirdre] Or had, right? – Or had, right, right.
(Deirdre chuckles) And I think, I figured it
out, which I go to in the book that it had been a particularly good year and they must have like
put a few barrels aside and people forgot about it. And so when they were
discovered around 1920 after Hellman died, they were then bottled at that point. – And they were bottled
because during prohibition, your family wanted to be able
to take those bottles of wine, barrels of wine, put them into bottles, and give them to the family. – Yes, right, right.
– Right? So that you could enjoy
yourselves at home. – Right. – [Deirdre] Not you, personally. – Right, no.
(Deirdre laughs) People don’t know that during prohibition, individuals were allowed
to make up to 200 gallons of wine a year. – [Deirdre] That would
be quite an incentive. – It is quite an incentive.
– For people to go out and grow their own vineyards – Well, you know what happened was, so prohibition came and
you think immediately that all the vineyards
in California went broke. But, in fact, they made
more money the next year because they just shipped their grapes across the country to New York. And people were lining up, the boxcars would come in, and people were lining
up to buy the grapes in order to make their own wine. And so that was a good
business for a couple years. And then finally it fizzled. So, actually, what did
lead to the downfall of the LA-based vineyard
agricultural economy? – So Los Angeles and Southern California were the biggest wine growing
areas until the late 1880s. And what happened was a blight hit, something
called Pierce’s Disease. And within two years it
had completely decimated most of the vineyards
in Southern California. And by that point, there
was rapid industrialization around Los Angeles. Land was much more at a premium than it had been previously. There was a boom that went on. And so lots of those
parcels were not planted back into wine. And of course it was– – [Deirdre] The land became
more valuable for housing than for vineyards.
– For housing, or for oranges. Oranges became, of course,
the huge crop of Los Angeles. And so the other thing was the realization that Southern California was actually not the best climate for wine, that Northern California
was a much better climate to grow grapes, because
it’s hot all the time in LA and Southern California. In Napa and Sonoma
Counties, one of the reasons they make such good wine is they’re very warm during the day, but the temperature drops pretty significantly at night. And that sort of combination is the ideal circumstances
in which grapes grow. – Big decline in fog now in
Northern California that may affect the vineyards.
– Oh, sure, climate change is a huge issue for– – We’re not up to the present yet. So the wine industry basically collapsed, or the vineyards collapsed in LA, not entirely, but to a great extent. And what is it that
made Isaias Hellman move to Northern California? – Well, so Isaias was very
prominent in Southern California. And he was probably the
biggest banker in Los Angeles. He just had one little problem, which was he had a brother-in-law whose name was Mayer
Lehman of Lehman Brothers. And I think Isaias felt that he wasn’t as important
as his brother-in-law. And this is a little
conjecture on my part. And so I think he wanted
to go to a bigger arena. So in 1890, he took over
something called the Nevada Bank, which had been founded by
four Silver Kings in 1875. It had been once the most largest capitalized bank in the United States. But it had fallen on hard times. And so Hellman bought it and moved up to Northern
California to take it over. San Francisco was the center
of California at the time. There were more millionaires
per capita in San Francisco than in New York at that time. It was a very vibrant economy and he wanted to– – [Deirdre] What would you
say the size of San Francisco was compared to LA? – Oh, LA was very tiny. It was fewer than 25,000 people in 1890. And I’m not sure about San Francisco, but it was probably
more than 100,000, yeah. LA didn’t really surpass San Francisco in population until after
the turn of the century. – So the Hellman was, by
this point, a rich man. And he saw the opportunity
to become much richer. And he wanted to play
in, move to the big city and play in the big time. And he built himself
an incredible mansion. Tell us about his mansion. – Well, it was on Sacramento
and Franklin Streets. It had been built by a
man named Nathaniel Cole who was a ship’s captain. And it was in an area that at that point was called the Western Addition, but they eventually renamed
it sort of Pacific Heights to make it sound better. And, yeah, he lived… And very funny thing is he
lived in this very fancy house but he lived just like
two doors down from his childhood friend, a
guy named Isaac Walter, with whom he’d grown up in Germany. And just a couple other houses down was another childhood
friend from the same town, Reckendorf, the Haases. Many of you, of course, being at Cal, you know the Haas family. So this was really a
fun thing to think about that here are these men who’d all come to California,
who’d all struck in rich. They’d all been playmates back in Germany and they continued their
friendship in California. And they used to walk to work together like a couple times a week, you know, to Downtown. – And there were other Jewish
immigrants from Germany who did very well in America, who invested in each other’s
businesses, became partners and continued to expand their network. – That’s right. That’s very important sort of… That’s how the Jews
did well in California. One brother would come
over, raise some money, bring over another
brother or another cousin. Some of them would be in San Francisco or Los Angeles or Portland or Seattle. And they would all do
business with one another. Hellman, when he had his dry goods store, he would buy dry goods
from the Haas family here. When Abe Haas started a canning factory, he would ask his Jewish
friends to be investors. When Isaias Hellmans came
and bought Nevada Bank, he asked his Jewish friends
to invest in Nevada Bank. He asked non-Jews as well. But what happened was it was like, you know, what’s the term? Rising tide lifts all boats. And so a lot of the German
Jews and French Jews who came to California in
the 1850s grew very affluent together at the same time because they cooperated with one another and they helped one
another out business-wise. – So at the same time, Hellman had a nephew who he had brought into his home for seven years, and who he hired to be the
chief cashier at his bank. – [Frances] Right. – But this is where his business interest and his family interest came
into a tremendous clash. – Yes. So this was really fun to find out. Hellman had a cousin, a
guy named Henry Fleischman, who he regarded as a son. And he lived in his house and he had installed him in the bank. And one day Henry Fleischman, Henry Fleischman was a
big, had a high position in the bank in Los Angeles,
the Farmers and Merchants Bank. But one day he did not show up to work. And a sort of scouring
of the books showed that Fleischman had left with
about $100,000 from the bank. And he had fled Los Angeles
and no one knew where he was. And this was apparently at the time the largest embezzlement of
a bank in California history. It made all the headlines
all over the state. There were Pinkerton
guards looking for him. There were cops at all the train stations throughout California. Then he was spotted in Mexico. And emissaries were
sent to try to find him. But he managed to escape
with all that money and he wasn’t caught. – And this caused a
tremendous breach between Isaias and his brother Herman. – That’s correct. So Isaias Hellman was very
pig-headed in a lot of ways. He liked what he liked an
he was very loyal to family. And he really admired this cousin Henry, whereas his brother Herman, who actually was heading
up this bank in LA, thought Henry, there were
some things about Henry he didn’t like. And he tried to get Isaias to fire Henry and Isaias refused. And it caused a big rift
between the brothers that would later sort of force them apart. So he was kind of myopic, Isaias, he didn’t wanna see
what he should’ve seen. – Well, we would be surprised if such a powerful and
successful businessman as Isaias Hellman did not
have a big ego to match. – Yes, of course, of course, yes. – So his brother calls
him something of a tyrant and doesn’t wanna do business
with him anymore after that. – So one of the things
I found very interesting in doing the research was that I think during that era, men who
became very successful believed that they were successful not because of their luck. But they believed that
they were successful because they were inherently
better than a lot of people in their world. And I think this contributed to this arrogant attitude of Hellman. I think people like him
thought if someone was poor it was poor because it was their fault, it was their mistake. And it’s not that he wouldn’t have sympathy for people
who were down on their luck. And he did help people
who’s down on their luck. But I think he believed in
a natural order of things. And since he had risen to the top, it must mean that he had more brains than anyone else.
– He felt he deserved it. (chuckles)
– Exactly, yeah. – So he then became a very active investor in the Souther Pacific Railroad. – Mm-Hm. So just like about a couple years ago, I mean, I can’t say it’s
true for this moment. People who wanted to get rich would start Internet companies, right? Like let’s make an app, let’s get rich. Well, back in Isaias Hellman’s time, the way to sort of get rich was to start a trolley line or to, yeah, get in the transportation field. So Hellman built trolleys at a very early era in Los Angeles. When he moved up to San Francisco, he also was involved in trolleys and he became a financier for
the Southern Pacific Railroad, both in their local lines in San Francisco and helping to raise capital
to expand Southern Pacific. – And then how did become… How did he get involved
with Wells Fargo Bank? – So what happened was… So Collis Huntington
was one of the Big Four and after he died, his
nephew, Henry Huntington, hoped that he would be
put in as the head of the Southern Pacific at that
time, but he was not. And a couple years later,
a man named Edward Harriman purchased the Southern Pacific Railroad. It was a huge business coup. And at that time Southern Pacific Railroad actually owned a majority
interest in Wells Fargo Express. Wells Fargo was known as a company that delivered gold, delivered passengers. Its banking functions
were kind of a small part of its operation. And when Harriman bought Southern Pacific he wanted to get rid of the bank. He was sort of like a dragging asset. So he was friends with Hellman and he asked Hellman
if he wanted to buy it. – [Deirdre] And what year was that? – It was 1905. 1904.
– 1905. So the earthquake is coming. – The earthquake is coming, yes, yes, yes.
(Deirdre laughs) – And so he’s living in this neighborhood with his Reckendorf– – [Frances] Buddies. – Friends, boyhood friends. And he’s living in this
magnificent mansion that’s has had all kinds of
frescos and beautiful furniture. And the earthquake comes. – Right. So, yes, the earthquake
comes and, you know, the earthquake itself was devastating. But it was not as devastating as the fires that ripped through the city afterwards. – [Deirdre] The city
didn’t have any water. – Right, right. – Because the water mains
had been routed through filth so they ruptured and the city was helpless and couldn’t fight the fire. So the fire burned for three or four days. – Right. And so Hellman had a, the bank was in something
called the Nevada Block, it was on Montgomery and Pine Street. It was a beautiful building. The fire and earthquake
completely damaged the bank and, in fact, damaged most of
the banks in San Francisco. And what this meant was that
there was really no cash to go around, because
you couldn’t open a bank, a bank vault, after a fire. You had to let the contents inside cool, because if you opened the door, the rush of oxygen would make
all those contents explode. And so that process took about three weeks to cool down the vaults. And a lot of the money was in the vaults. So San Francisco was this city in ruins. Nobody had any money to
sort of buy anything, to do anything. And so Hellman was one
of a group of bankers who got together who
decided to sort of take over the banking system by getting
some money from the mints, which did survive the earthquake, and doling it out in small
increments to their customers. And they didn’t even know
who their customers were and they gave out a lot of money on faith. And it was sort of helped
ease the transition from this devastated city. – And this is also the era of AP Giannini and the founding of the Bank of America.
– That’s right. So there’s a famous story. Giannini had only like $80,000. He didn’t even have a ton of money. But before the fire happened, He took all his money out. He put it in a wagon and he
took it down to San Mateo. And after the fire was over, while all these others
banks didn’t have access to their money, Giannini
went up to North Beach. And he was able to give
money out very quickly to a lot of his Italian customers. And it earned him a
tremendous amount of… You know, people were very
happy that they got the money. And it sort of really catapulted
Giannini’s reputation. And certainly the Bank of
America marketed that story (Deirdre laughs)
for all it’s worth for many, many decades, yeah.
(audience laughing) – So obviously now with
California’s most significant city in ruins, it needed to rebuild. And to rebuild you need
money and you need credit and you need loans. So suddenly the banks
that were so new, I mean, your great-grandfather had only been… Was he the president,
nominally, the president of the Wells Fargo Bank? – [Frances] Yeah, he was
president of Wells Fargo Bank. – He had only been in
that role for one year before the earthquake. Suddenly they’re in the
role of needing to loan tremendous amounts of money and handle enormous amount of debt in order to rebuild San Francisco.
– Right, right. So this is was one area where the Jewish networks came in handy. I know that Hellman had
a lot of relationships with banks in New York, banks
run by the Lehman family and other banks that they
could access capital. And he actually, they had
relationships with other banks. So there really wasn’t
a tremendous difficulty getting capital in San
Francisco to rebuild. It was just sort of mostly a
short term kind of dilemma. – And then there was a
lot more money to be made in the rebuilding of the ruined city. And in the meantime, what’s
going on in the vineyards in Napa? – In the vineyards in Napa. So the story of wine in California is very interesting because it is a story of boom and bust. I mean, I talked a little
bit about what happened in Southern California. At the same time, all
the vines that were dying in Southern California, vines in France were dying as well of this disease called Phylloxera. And California has always
struggled to sort of prove itself as a good wine making state. On the East Coast,
starting from the 1860s, when the first bottle of wine
was imported from California to New York, East Coast
people prefer French wine or Italian wine. So the story of California is always, it’s always trying to prove itself. – [Deirdre] In terms of quality. – In terms of quality. So when France was hit by this Phylloxera, all the California wine makers said, “This is our opportunity. “We’re gonna plant a lot more grapes “and we’re gonna make
the wine for the world, “because France is dead, it’s gone. “It can’t make wine anymore.” So there was a huge amount of planting that went on in the 1880s. But, as it turned out, France figured out how to
resolve its Phylloxera problem. And as a consequence, in the 1890s, there was an enormous glut
of grapes on the market. And the way the wine business
was run in those days was different. It wasn’t like individual
proprietors did things. There were wine houses. There were about 100 wine houses centered in San Francisco. And these were like large organizations that bought wine and
made wine and sold wine and shipped it in
barrels around the world. But in the late 1890s, there was such a glut
of wine on the market that grapes that once fetched $25 a ton fetched only $8 a ton. And so the whole business
sort of collapsed. And to address that issue,
a group of seven wine houses got together and formed something called the California Wine Association, which grew into a monopoly that controlled 80% of the
production of wine in California. It was the muscle behind
the wine making business in California. And it fought very hard to do that. It did a wine war with small producers. It’s squeezed out, you know, it lowered its price for grapes, it forced a lot of people out of business. And in the earthquake,
very interestingly enough, it lost about 10 million gallons of wine. And not all of it was completely lost. There’s one great story of one of the wine houses,
the sewer drain got blocked during the earthquake. And the basement filled up with wine. And after the earthquake, the CWA convinced the San
Francisco Fire Department to lay a series of hoses from that cellar all the
way through the streets to the port where they off-pumped
all of this cooked wine into barges that were
then taken to Stockton and converted into Brandy. (Deirdre chuckles)
(audience laughing) They did some fun things. But the California wine business, it still had a problem
with its reputation. California wine was not
considered really good wine. The CWA did try to create a brand that was sort of uniform,
it was called Calwa, they would blend. They tried to make like
a Coca-Cola of wine for California wine. And it did help California’s
reputation a little bit. But, still, in general, California suffered in comparison to European wines. – And wasn’t there really
a lot of adulteration of that wine, too? The wine that was sold in
those days, in those barrels, well, what were you really getting? – Exactly. Yeah, wine makers, the ones
who planted all those grapes to take advantage of the Phylloxera, when the time came to make wine, a lot of them didn’t know how to do it. And so they would just
add like red food coloring and chemicals to mask the moldy flavor. And so all of this contributed to California’s terrible reputation. – In the meantime, who’s doing the labor in the fields? – Okay, yeah, this was one
of the most interesting thing to find out. So Deirdre talked about that I mention the dark side of the wine industry. And, you know, I love wine, I love to drink wine. And most of my exposure to
wine before I wrote this book was going up to Napa, which is such a spectacular place, with all those undulating
hills with grapevines and the blue skies and the fantastic food and really, really good wine. But when you look back at
how California wine was made, it really was… The history of wine is really
a history of exploitation. Father Junipero Serra, when
they started to make wine at the missions, they
used the Native Americans who’d converted to
Christianity as their labor. And once those Native Americans
converted Christianity, they were chattel for the missions. They weren’t allowed to leave. They weren’t allowed to
work on their own schedule. They were really sort of put to work. But interestingly enough, the Americans treated the
Native Americans worse than the Franciscan missionaries. The very first law passed in California, before it even became a state, was something called the
Indian Indenture Act. And there was a big labor
shortage in California in 1850 because of the Gold Rush. So the legislature passed this law which enabled any white person to identify a Native American
as either drunk or indolent. And that would mean that
that Native American was subject to arrest by the Sheriff or a marshal, and fined, and most of those Indians
could not pay their fines. So the marshal would then
sell off that Indian’s labor to the highest bidder for
a week period at a time. And the marshals would pocket
a percentage of that money. And the municipalities
would pocket a percentage of that money. So really in the starting from the 1850s through the 1870s, the
California wine business was developed on the
backs of this slave labor of Native Americans. And they eventually died out because they were so brutally mistreated. – So after the Native American
workers tragically died out, then what did the vineyard owners do? – Well, they turned to the next group, which was the Chinese workers. So the Chinese had come
over in huge numbers to work on the railroads. And the Transcontinental
Railroad was completed in 1869 And all of a sudden, there
was this huge pool of labor. And a lot of vineyard
owners did not like using the Native Americans because
they were very susceptible to alcohol and needed
a lot of supervision. And the Chinese, in
contrast, were self-governing and they were very, very hardworking. And I think what is not very well-known is that the Chinese really started agriculture in California,
including in the vineyards. They were the people who planted the grapes, who
cultivated the grapes, who made the wine. And the same is true
for lots of other crops in California.
– But they didn’t have the opportunity to have ownership. – No, no, no. They were workers for hire. I mean, the amount of
prejudice against the Chinese, I mean, there were no laws saying that Chinese people could not own the land, but they were very mistreated. And the amount of bias and
prejudice against the Chinese was extraordinary. And, of course, I think it was 1884 the Chinese Exclusion Act was passed. Which prohibited Chinese
immigration into California. Yeah, so the Chinese
was the next, you know, wave of worker. And that eventually gave away to Mexican and Central American–
– Mexican farm workers and– – Workers, yeah. – [Deirdre] Yeah, migrant workers. – Right. – Well, so in the meantime, what is happening with
the quality of the wine and how did wine come to
be stored in this warehouse that you talk about? – So we have to sort of fast forward. So prohibition came, completely devastated the
California wine economy. Certain vineyards and wineries did okay because they could sell sacramental wine to synagogues an churches. For awhile a lot of wineries sold grapes, they shipped them east. But, eventually, most of the wineries had to shut down. And prohibition was lifted in 1933. And, really, even by the late 1960s, California had fewer vineyards operating than they had prior to prohibition. And Americans were drinking sweet wine. They didn’t really like table wine. And all that changed when Julia Child came on the scene and Jackie
Onassis came on the scene. And vets who’d fought in World War II started to think about drinking wine like they’d seen in France. And so starting in 1967, California wine industry really took off. And it’s been sort of an upward trajectory most of the time since then. And so my modern day story sort of starts probably around then. There was a man named Mark Anderson who was born in Berkeley in 1948. He came from a family who lived
in the Claremont District. He went to John Muir School. He was a nice, average kid. And he moved to Sausalito
to work on the house boats in the early 70s. And then he eventually
made his way to Hong Kong and then to Japan where he
lived for a number of years and he fell in with a group of very rich Japanese businessmen who liked to travel around the
world having wine adventures. And Mark learned a lot
about wine from them. And then he came back to the US and he did a lot of things,
none of them successfully. But in 1999, he started
a wine storage business, where he set up a facility where he was storing people’s wine, because wine needs to be kept
at a certain temperature. Most people don’t have that
facility in their house. And so Mark did that business for awhile. And then he realized that he– – [Deirdre] And this is
where the greed and arson in your subtitle come in. – That’s right. He was not a stupid guy. He figured out he could
make a lot more money by selling his client’s wine than just renting them space. So for a period of a couple years, he would just take his client’s wine and take it around to
various stores and sell it. And one of these stores was Premier Cru which– – So he’s in a fix. – Yeah.
(audience laughing) – He’s stealing his clients’ wine. – He’s stealing his clients’ wine. And I don’t know if you’ve been reading about the recent problem with Premier Cru, well, back in 2000, John
Fox, who owns Premier Cru, he would just take Mark’s wine. He didn’t ask for any proof
that Mark owned the wine. Mark was eventually
charged with embezzlement. At which point there were these charges levied against him and
he was in the newspaper. The owner of Premier Cru then said, “I don’t want your wine, Mark Anderson.” But all Mark did was change the name under which he sold the wine. And he continued to sell the wine. So this is part of what
I get into the book, just how poorly regulated
the wine business is. Anyway, Mark was charged with
many counts of embezzlement. And in a desperate attempt
to cover his tracks he set fire to the wines’ central warehouse in Vallejo, 2005. And it destroyed a quarter
of a billion dollars worth of wine– – Hoping that he would
get the insurance payoff and be able to cover his tracks, that he’d actually sold
so much of the wine. – And the police wouldn’t be able to say, “You sold your clients’ wine.” He would say, “No, it just burnt up “in that fire.”
– It burned up, yeah, right. – It didn’t really work out
so well for him, though. – It didn’t work out for him. He’s now in a place that
doesn’t sound so good, Terminal Island, serving
a 27-year sentence. – Right. – But you say that today the wine industry is still not well regulated and that there’s still fraud in the wine business.
– Yes, there’s a lot of fraud in the wine business. So just here in Berkeley,
I’ve been writing a lot about this incredible wine retailer named Premier Cru, which
has been around since 1980. They did a lot of online wine sales. They would offer really great
French Bordeaux and Burgundy at prices that were much
lower than their competitors. And people would buy the wine. But then they were often
buying wine futures, which meant they would buy
wine that was still in barrels, ’cause you can get it for less money when it’s still in barrels, than when it’s bottled. But a lot of these clients
had been complaining that wine they paid for was never delivered. And so there was sort
of this low-level rumble on a lot of wine boards
about what was going on. But then just in December, oh, sorry, in December Premier Cru
shut down unexpectedly. And then in January, it
filed for bankruptcy. And just this week, The
FBI announced that it’s investigating it for a Ponzi scheme. So when they filed for bankruptcy, they listed $70 million in debts and seven million dollars in assets. So there’s some $63 million
out there floating around. Nobody knows where. So this is just, I mean, this is just
the most recent example, but there are lots of
other examples of people making fraudulent wine
and selling it to some of the world’s most renowned collectors, and things like that. There is a lot of dirt and dark stuff.
– (laughs) Well, it’ll keep you busy. Well, I want to turn to
questions in the audience in a minute. But I just want to comment
that this all began in some ways with a
personal history for you. But it turned into California
history and business history and so many other things. How do you feel that doing these two books has changed you or affected you? Or what has it made you appreciate that perhaps you didn’t before you embarked on this research? – Well, you mentioned California history. I mean, I did study history in college and I’ve always loved it. But it’s been really
interesting approaching California from a
journalistic point of view in the sense that there’s
a lot of great history that’s unknown out there. I mean, there are, I mean, I found in the
history of Isaias Hellman that was a relative. But that was a great unknown history. This whole other side of the wine world, it has been told in academic tomes but it hadn’t really been told so much in sorta popular books. And so I just think there’s such a rich history in California. So much of it has not been explored. And so that’s sort of what gets me going. And that’s been what I’ve learned the most that I can combine these
two skills that I have in a fun way. – I agree, I think that
the history of our country has been told very much
through an East Coast filter. And most of the historians
are on the East Coast. So there’s still a lot of material left here on the West Coast. – [Frances] Yeah. – Well, with that, let’s
turn to the audience and see what questions
we may have for you. – Well, before we get questions. I’d invite everybody to
thank France and Deirdre for an absolutely fascinating discussion.
(audience applauding) I thought I knew a fair
amount about the topic, but I realized that I knew almost nothing. (chuckles) We’ll take questions for
about 10 minutes or so if we have that many questions. And then we, as was mentioned before, we have a reception at the
back of the auditorium. And that, of course, will
afford everybody the opportunity to ask more informal questions. So, with that, I invite
anyone who has questions to please come forward. – [Audience Member] Please
talk about climate change on the vineyards. – Sure, the question is will
we talk about climate change on the vineyards. I think nobody knows
exactly what’s gonna happen. But as the climate warms up, that diurnal difference between
hot days and cool nights is certainly gonna diminish
in Napa and Sonoma. That will affect the
quality of the grapes. And so presumably the wine
industry might move north. Though, of course, there
a lot of scientists who are experimenting and
trying to create grapes that will be able to still do well even if the climate is hotter. But I think the drought has
had an affect on California. Certainly last year, the
yields were much lower because the plants were more stressed out. And I think they’re probably
gonna do okay this year. But definitely climate
change is a very major worry for grape growers and wine makers. – [Audience Member] I
wanted to ask if you could share some of the history about University of California at Berkeley being the university farm and
later one Davis becoming our university farm. Just how viticulture came to be a part of the body of knowledge of the
University of California. – So the question is sort of how did viticulture evolve in the halls of academia in California. So of course the original
and only university, public university, in
California was here at Berkeley for a very long time. And we–
– And Isaias Hellman was a regent for–
– Yes, he was a regent for–
– A long period. – 38 years he was a regent, I believe. So there was a man, I think
his name was Mr. Bioletti who headed up a very important department at UC Berkeley
that studied wine. And that, in itself, is a
very interesting history, because he brought an academic
perspective to making wine. And he had his supporters. But there were a lot of businessmen who fought, like his approach towards wine was ridiculous and unnecessary. And those supporters eventually convinced the legislature to unfund
him in a lot of ways. And so once Davis was founded, the whole wine-making, the study of wine and stuff
was moved up to UC Davis. So really from the very start, Berkeley has been very involved in trying to create better grapes, studying the conditions under
which grapes flourished, sort of measuring the
temperatures of different areas in California to determine climates and all sorts of things. So it’s been very, very critical but politics have also played a role in how those kind of
departments have done. – [Audience Member] I seem to remember that there’s a connection
with the Hellman name to the Ehrman Mansion in West Lake Tahoe. Is it the same Hellman family? – Yes, so the question
is there’s a connection between the Hellmans and
the Ehrmans in Tahoe. So Isaias Hellman, who I
write about in Towers of Gold, he built a beautiful
house on the western shore of California, of Lake Tahoe, called Sugar Pine Point, he named it. And after he died, his
daughter inherited it. And her name was Florence Hellman-Ehrman. She was married to Sidney Ehrman. So the place has something
called the Ehrman Mansion on it. So that’s the answer. – [Deirdre] It’s a state park now? – It’s a state park, yes. So, yeah, it was taken by
eminent domain by California in 1968 and people were
very upset about it. But I think in retrospect
it was a good thing, because now there’s two
miles of open shoreline for everyone to enjoy. – [Deirdre] Yeah, great. – [Audience Member] You’ve described the cross-section of the
Jewish history of California. Is that really the California history? It seems like such a large part of it, and yet Jews were such a small
part of the population here. So I’m wondering whether
we’re simply seeing a focus on that from your discussion. Obviously, you’ve researched it. Or whether it was as big as it sounds. And if it was as big as it sounds, how did it get so big? – That’s a very good question. Yeah, I don’t know
(Deirdre chuckles) how to answer that. Maybe, yeah, Jews are
a very small percentage of the population in California. But perhaps they had an outside influence certainly in the early days of California, just because of the tremendous
financial success they had and how they spent their money and their philanthropic endeavors. I mean, we could be talking about Irish history up here, too, and there would be a lot
to say about Irish history or Chinese history. It’s just that I happened
to have written about it, that’s why it’s the focus
of this conversation. – [Audience Member]
And a related question. One block in San Francisco,
with multiple residents from Reckendorf, Germany, all born at the same period of time, all raised in the same town of 900, all find their way here eventually, all are monumental names in
the history of California. They’re wonderfully successful. They have families that were wonderfully successful for generations. But the starting point is this
little spot in Reckendorf. What in the water there– (audience and speakers laughing) I’m wondering whether
it’s just the fact that Europeans in 1850 knew what
the future of the United States in 1851 was gonna look like because we were still living in 1820. – Yes. – I didn’t get the last part. – [Audience Member]
Well, the United States was behind Europe in terms of its cultural and economic and political and artistic development.
– You know, I think this touches, if I may
throw something in here, on the advantages of being
discriminated against in some situations, that when Frances discussed the fact that Jews could not own property
in Germany, were not citizens. And in other central and eastern
European countries as well. So they were motivated to emigrate, whereas other young men who
would have good prospects in Europe perhaps wouldn’t
have been as motivated. After all, it’s mainly
the poor who emigrate. – [Deirdre] Right. – But in this case it was well educated middle-class Jews who– – [Audience Member]
Except Isais was what, 16. How well educated can he be? Or was he? Was he high school European educated? – Yeah. – I mean, they weren’t exactly middle cla, I mean, they had the money to
send their children overseas. Yeah, but actually the middle-class Jews, when restrictions were
loosened in Germany, starting in 1860s, many of
them went to the cities. And they didn’t come to America. But the question about
the water in Reckendorf is a really good one. I did find out in my research that at least eight men who
came from Reckendorf became multi-millionaires
in the 19th Century. – [Deirdre] Did they all
go to the same school? – They probably all went to
the same little Jewish school. (chuckles) That teacher might’ve
been the glue, who knows? (audience laughing) – Yeah, that would be interesting. – [Audience Member] Eight
Jews from Reckendorf. – Right. – Eight.
– Probably went to the same synagogue, too. – The same synagogue.
– Yes, there’s only one synagogue.
– I mean, there’s probably somewhere back there,
there’s probably some figure that would be interesting to discover. You know, one might guess that
there would be some educator or rabbi who played a role
in their formative times. I just would comment one thing about your saying how do you get into proportion, how much is the Jewish
history of California the history of California, or how much did Jews create California, that I don’t think we can give
a definitive answer to that. But what I would add to this is that I think the story of the Jewish role in the creation of California actually was a little-known story. And so I think Frances’,
one of the importance of Frances’ work, has been
in surfacing that story. And then perhaps it’s for
other people to try to get it into proportion, or say the importance of that
story relative to others. But it’s a story that
really had not been told. There’s a wonderful documentary movie. And I know you played a
role and you’re in it, by a woman named Jackie Krentzman that’s called American Jerusalem. And American Jerusalem is San Francisco. And it is another attempt,
and a very recent one, just within the past two years, a few years, but it was on PBS, to tell that untold story that the Jews of San Francisco did play an important role, maybe not the all-important role, but an important role in the development of the economy and the culture that we are still living in today. It’s very, very much the
heirs of the institutions that they created. So, yes? – [Audience Member] Hi, thank you. Just moving up to the modern day. I wanted to ask you, Frances, about given the focus on
the HarvEst lecture series and its focus on women, if you might speak to your own experience as a prominent woman author and as co-founder of Berkeleyside, and then also perhaps to touch on, because I’m curious about it, women in the wine industry today. – Yes, so I do. One of my main characters
in my book is a woman. Her name is Delia Viader. She had grown up in Argentina. Her family had Spanish
roots and French roots. She is one of the first really prominent female wine makers in Napa. She lost about four-and-a-half
million dollars worth of wine in that fire, she was uninsured. This woman has an incredible spirit and an incredible drive. And she was able to recover from that devastating financial loss. And so there are a number of
female wine makers in Napa. I mean, it’s been a place where women have thrived as much as men. And there are a lot of iconic names. So, anyway. – You know, I’m glad that
you mentioned Berkeleyside, because we didn’t get to that. But Frances is one of the founders and she’s a reporter and editor for Berkeleyside, an online
local, hyper-local newspaper, or news site that I think we can all be very grateful for. And it plays a really important role. And I hope if any of you have not, don’t look at it, you’ll
Google it and go look at it. So, thank you very much.
– Thank you. (audience applauding) (upbeat music)

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *