Robert Lawrence Balzer
Robert Lawrence Balzer (June 25, 1912 – December 2, 2011) has been called the first serious wine journalist in the United States. He was born in Des Moines, Iowa. At the age of 24, he was put in charge of the wine department of his family’s grocery/gourmet market in Los Angeles, California. Because he knew nothing about wine, he quickly educated himself on the subject. Balzer soon championed quality California wines and stocked his shelves with the best American wines available. He promoted wine in his customer newsletter and was asked by Will Rogers, Jr. to write a regular wine column in his local newspaper in 1937.
In 1948 Balzer published California’s Best Wines, the first of his 11 books. His wine writings include articles published in travel Holiday for over twenty years, a weekly column in the Los Angeles Times Magazine, and Robert Lawrence Balzer’s Private Guide to Food and Wine. In 1973, Balzer organized the New York Wine Tasting of 1973 which was a precursor to the matching of French and Californian wine at the Judgment of Paris. Balzer oversaw food and wine at the presidential inaugurations of Ronald Reagan in 1981 and 1985 and for George H. W. Bush in 1989.
- Taber, George M. Judgment of Paris: California vs France and the Historic 1976 Paris Tasting that Revolutionized Wine. NY: Scribner, 2005.