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Wine,Wine Business,Wine Hospitality,Wine Magazine,Wine Writer

Marvin Shanken knows how and why to throw a party

Years ago, when I was working at WBLM radio in Portland, Maine, my boss Bob “Doc” Fuller had a once a year client party.

For me, this man set the gold standard in bosses among bosses. I’ve had plenty… the good, the bad, and the ugly. And, as someone once said to me as he was headed out the door, “Some you remember more than others.” Doc hit a high pinnacle and remains a dear friend in so many ways. It’s his generosity that defines him and keeps him in that spot in my heart and mind, as someone who was thoughtful, fair, and kind.

His client party was his way, once a year, to give back to those who had made him successful for one more year. Eve Rubins, his national sales manager who went on to become his general manager, was tasked at setting it all up, and she did a great job. I got to photograph each event. Jose got to be one of Bob’s on-air, shining stars. It was much ado about something very special.

The west coast has a version of that client party, and Marvin Shanken of Wine Spectator fame is the man who puts it on each year. After each event, when those in attendance begin to wax poetic in the afterglow, those who didn’t attend ask, “How do I get onto that list?” The answer is pretty simple… It’s a client party…

Just as Bob Fuller took care of his friends, so does Marvin Shanken.

Here’s how it went down for me, as I wanted to say thank you… And I did say thank you…

So, there stood Marvin Shanken, but I didn’t expect him to remember me. There’s so many of us… How could he remember us all, when he only comes to town one day a year?

But, that wasn’t going to stop me from interjecting. He was talking with Maryann Worobiec (wine writer and critic with Wine Spectator), and I adore her. The threesome also had Cheryl Lewis, a long time associate/friend for me, who sells advertising for Wine Spectator… It was a power house team, enjoying each other’s company.

Jo: “Excuse me, I just have to interject.”

Jo and Maryann: Hug, hug, kiss, kiss.

Marvin Shanken smilingly said to me: “Do you know who I am?”

Jo: “Yes, Mr. Shanken, I DO know who you are…” (With a smile and a twinkle in my eye.)

Marvin: “And who do you work for?”

Jo: Lots went through my head. “Do I tell him about PS I Love You? He’d get that in a heartbeat. No, I brought Ron Rubin’s wines with me, and he needs to hear Ron’s name…”

“I work for Ron Rubin.”

Marvin: His face and eyes lit up… “MY Ron Rubin?”

Jo: (Okay, this was going to be fun)… “No, he’s MY Ron Rubin. He’s been with The Republic of Tea and now he’s into wine.”

Marvin: “No, he’s MY Ron Rubin,”

Jo: “No, MY Ron Rubin.”

Marvin: “Ron and I go way back!”

Jo: Quizzical expression on my face said, and I asked , “Really?”

Marvin: “Yes, we go back 40+ years, when he was in the wholesale business.”

Jo: “Okay, you win. He’s YOUR Ron Rubin.”

It appears that my Ron Rubin also belongs to Marvin Shanken, and I wasn’t going to push that one any further uphill… It reached its destination.

My Ron Rubin also falls into the category of spectacular, so I’m not surprised that Marvin Shanken holds him close to his heart, too.

There’s a lot to be said for what Mr. Shanken does each year… He gives back to the community that supports him. This is what makes a huge difference between the good, the bad, and the ugly, for those of us who weren’t born independently wealthy, or for those of us whose parents blew the trust fund leaving us to our own devices…  When an employer shares his bounty each year, there’s more than enough admiration to go around and that’s why the Wine Spectator BYOM party “list” is admirable.

(BYOM = Bring Your Own Magnum)


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