Jamie Herbison,’The Coach’ on Calgary’s XL 103, tells us about the bottle of wine he’s saving for a special occasion

“One thing you find about wine folk is that they love to talk as much as radio people do.”

Jamie ‘The Coach’ Herbison spent seventeen years with Don and Joanne at Lite 96, until his wife was transferred to her oil company employer’s headquarters outside San Francisco.

In Calgary, Herbison always had a passion for wine and cooking, and was fascinated by pairing them. “I got lucky,” he says “and was invited to trade tastings and was able meet the principals and ask lots of questions.”

Friends in the industry suggested he look into WSET courses. “There was all this knowledge swimming around in my head and none of it was organised…so I did levels 2 and 3, and passed both with merit, and that organised everything. So now it all made sense, and that was huge,” Herbison explains.

Ending up one hour south of Napa in the spring of 2010, Herbison saw that the wineries were hiring for the high season. “Winejobs.com offers wine jobs from everything from cellar hands to winemakers to sales reps, and Mondavi were looking for wine educators and I managed to get hired,” he says.

In 2011, he got lucky again when an opportunity arose to work with Fairmont Sonoma Mission Inn, designing and implementing wine programs to enhance their guest experience, and he stayed until Mondavi called a year later to ask him to come back. “Sure!” was his response, and he worked part time with them on the 2012/13 vintages until he moved back to Calgary.

”It was a fantastic experience,” he says. “It was fulfilling being around the grapes and around a winery for entire vintages. You see everything from bud break to bottling, and it was something I always wanted to experience.”

The planets aligned for Herbison’s return to Calgary in January this year, and everything fell into place, although it took a few serendipitous things to happen to reunite Don, Joanne and the Coach again.

So, what bottle is Herbison saving for a special occasion?

Herbison’s magnum of Saddleback Cellars 2006, Napa Valley Cabernet, was made by Nils Venge who, at Groth Vineyards, made the first 100 point Napa Cabernet.

“One of the things I learned down there is that there are 400 wineries in Napa and thousands of labels from $8 to crazy esoteric and expensive stuff,” says Herbison. “And I found that what the people there got excited about was who grew the grapes and who made the wine.” “That’s what gets people jazzed”, he adds. “It’s not just the label but the story behind it. This wine symbolizes all the stuff I learned.”

And when will Herbison open the bottle?

“I’m going to give it the full ten years at least if not longer,” he says. “I could go as far out as 2019 for our tenth wedding anniversary – but you never know, it could be on Friday!”

Photo by Ingrid Kuenzel

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