Obituary,Wine Writer

David P. Jones of Wine Works ~ Remembering a great wine advocate

On June 3, 2008, David P. Jones of Wine Works quietly passed away in his sleep from Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), often referred to as “Lou Gehrig’s Disease.” [He’s pictured second from the right with friends, including wine writer/critic Steve Heimoff to his immediate right at Wine Enthusiast Magazine’s March 2008 Toast of the Town.]

A native San Franciscan who attended U.C. Berkeley as both an undergraduate and graduate student, David taught Geography and Environmental Studies at several Bay Area colleges. He also conducted guided tours of Napa and Sonoma wine country on weekends and summers, and David was also a wine writer and wine judge.

He left education to open his own sightseeing company based in San Francisco. Upon sale to Coach USA, he followed his passion for wine by sharing his insights professionally by launching the “Wine Wisdom” column in the Nob Hill Gazette.

David wrote about wine on a freelance basis, conducted seminars, and taught wine appreciation classes. He consulted (dba Wine Works) for multiple wine bars and restaurants, coordinated and judged many wine competitions, which also includes being chair for the Grand Harvest Awards.

One of David’s great triumphs, for which he was so pleased, is that he helped to set up the Presidio Wine Bunkers in San Francisco.

I captured the moment, as he was giving the “grand tour” to a couple of his friends.
David Jones had a zest for life that will certainly be missed. At any wine gathering, David was always the first one to arrive and the last one to leave, because he defined his life as being all things “wine.”

David loved the social aspects of being in the company of others, while tasting and enjoying the nuances of wine, and didn’t want to miss a moment of it spent with his friends.

When David was diagnosed with ALS, the San Francisco Bay Community quickly organized and came together on Sunday, September 1, 2007, to celebrate his life with him. We all wanted to remember him forever as we knew him. It was important to each of us to share the love he had rightfully earned.

This wasn’t an easy day, but it was a necessary one. Everyone that loved David who could be there… was there. This included his mother and brother and many, many friends…

We all gathered for food, wine, hugs, and friendship at the Presidio Wine Bunkers. David’s pictured above with a couple of his friends, while they were enjoying his inventory.

We turned out to be a fairly large group. We all silently wept with him, and also laughed out loud a lot. Everyone had such beautiful stories to share… because he made such a strong imprint in all of our hearts.

As Ellen Landis just wrote to me, sharing the news, “I’m grateful that he and other members of his family were with Ken and I for an evening and overnight at our place in Half Moon Bay last week. He remained positive and such an inspiration all the way till the end; and we must believe he is in a better place now; but oh how we will miss him. David was a loving father to his two young children, and also very close to other family members. He was truly a great friend to many; and last but not least – a gifted wine writer with a keen palate. Thankfully we have special memories of times shared with David over many years that will remain with us forever.”

If I were in charge of scattering David’s ashes, it would be right here on the hillside of the Presidio Wine Bunkers. David P. Jones will be greatly missed by all who knew and loved him.

15 Responses to “David P. Jones of Wine Works ~ Remembering a great wine advocate”

  1. David was a true gentleman and it was a great pleasure to work with within the context of wine. His passion will certainly be missed.

  2. Steve says:

    I feel privileged to have known David and worked beside him. Wine writers can be aloof, anti-social, self-absorbed. But David was the friendliest one in the Bay Area. His smile was genuine. He was fun to taste with. If I tasted something that was great, or awful, I wanted to share it with him and see what he thought about it — and he did the same with me. Often, we were in agreement. If the wine was bad, we’d try to figure out what was wrong with it. David was one of those people who make the workaday world of wine a more interesting place, and he leaves it better because he was in it.

  3. What a beautiful tribute. Those bunkers sat empty for years and now are a place of fun rather than one of war. What a great idea.

  4. Amelia Ceja says:

    I met David in 1997 at a Diamond Creek Vineyards’Open House event. Aida Sabo, a mutual friend, introduced us and we shared Al Brounstein’s beautiful wines paired with delicious picnic fare and wonderful conversation — it was a beutiful day! David made it special! In 2001, my family and I released our Ceja wines, and David was delighted — he visited Ceja in Carneros to enjoy our Noir Noir and Chardonnay. He is fondly remembered.


  5. […] Juicy Tales blogger Jo Diaz: On June 3, 2008, David P. Jones of Wine Works quietly passed away in his sleep from Amyotrophic […]

  6. admin says:

    Because this blog entry is gathering such touching moments, I’ll be printing this entry, and sending it off to David’s mother. I said to her, during the Bunker event, just before we all parted, “I’m so sorry that you have to live through this one as a mother,” and she bowed her head, nodding affirmatively. This blog will give her some comfort, because he left such a beautiful footprint. — jo

  7. Cora Baron says:

    He also gave great suggestions on wines and explained details about wines.

  8. Cora Baron says:

    It’s a small world when I met David, We went to the same Junior High School, we were also neighbors growing up. We both didn’t know each other then. Then He went to UC Berkeley to Study, I went to Berkeley and lived there and just hung out there and still didn’t know each other. Then we finally met by way of Greyline and Hertz we finally met. Talked about people we knew during old school days. Then go figure, we are still and presently neighbors till he passed on. David was a great gentleman,He had a good heart,good human being and always helpful to me. He also had patience and self decipline of not showing negative emotions even when I would say something to him and could have ticked him off. He is the best person to have as a good friend to talked to. Very understanding. I can keep going on and on and praise him. I surely missed him a lot. But I know in spritit he will always be with us. His self pleasant kind attitude. My deepest sympathy to his Brother, Mother and his Children. He will always be my very good friend and hope that he will be with us in spirit always. David , I will missed you a lot.

  9. Scott Carpenter says:

    I had just finished doing a remote broadcast when I met David for the first time. There he was with his smile and handshake asking me a question – we bonded instantly.

    From the moment that he told me he had ALS, the race was on to find an answer; it never came. However, in his last communication he said he was at peace and grateful for having a wonderful life with such great friends and family.

    David had a special insight and was genuine in his caring about others.

    David also had a terrific sense of humor. I saved a very short e-mail exchange after a wine tasting we’d been invited to. I share below.

    My question:

    “By the way, I meant to ask you if you wrote anything on the wines we tasted. Frankly, my socks were still on when I left, and I thought the wine maker was a bit of a smart-ass. Still, your palate and nose are more experienced than mine.”

    When you can.


    David’s answer:

    “I thought the wines were over-built, BALCOed behemoths strutting the same nuance-free bombasity as their maker.”

    Here’s a toast to one of the best. I will never forget him – a true friend.


  10. Edgar Vogt says:

    David was one of my best friends. His wit , enthusiasim and willingness to engage others made him a special man. His ability to divine the correct words to explain an idea or a wines flavors were exceptional.
    He started Wineworks as a way to share ideas and compare notes among his peers in the wine industry. He approached me initially and I shared his vision.
    His influence in the wine industry will be missed.
    Those who met him will always remember him fondly and lovingly.
    My sympathy to his brother,mother and children.
    Be strong in knowing you son and brother was well-loved and well-respected.

  11. Cassandra says:

    I just found out today that David has left this world! I’ll never forget the first time I met David. I was pouring wine at the French Wine Affair in San Francisco last spring. I was lucky to have had some really good wines at my table. He struck up a conversation with me. We tasted the wines on my table and talked about them. He didn’t know me from Adam, but he told me, “You have a really good palate.” I told him that I was studying for my Certified Sommelier credential. He gave me his card, and we vowed to stay in touch. I Googled him when I got home that night, and I realized that I had just met one of the most prolific and special wine personalities in this area, BAR NONE! I was so amazed that this celebrity paid me the nicest compliment, and in the same breath validated all of my reasons for pursuing my interest in wine and for changing careers in mid-life. A few months went by, and I saw him at an industry tasting in the city. We hugged and kissed, happy to see one another again…He was different. I didn’t know what ailed him at that time, but we carried on like nothing was wrong. We kept in touch, and sought out each other at tastings. Working the room and tasting with him was an education. He never hesitated to introduce me to people. I was honored and flattered when he called me his protege… the next up and coming ‘star’. He always made me and everyone in his company feel like we were the most important people in the room. It wasn’t until when I volunteered for the most recent Pinot Summit that I found out what ailed him. My heart sank…I shared with him that my Mother had just recently passed away of the same condition. I re-lived my experience with her all over again, and he saw it all over my face. From that moment on, we bonded even more, sharing an unspoken understanding. He became my “WINE ANGEL!” Throughout our acquaintance, we shared lots of things. He encouraged me to pursue wine judging, and he mentored me. Even when his speech had become labored, he still went to the trouble to talk to me as much as he could. When he spoke in fragments, he said the rest with his eyes, and I understood every word. He said to me, I want to live long enough to see you ‘launched’. I was so excited to tell him that I was accepted into the California State Fair Wine Judges’ Mentoring Program. He gave me the biggest hug and said, “You’ll do GREAT!!!” I got through my first judging experience last week, and I have David to thank for coaching me every step of the way. Well David, this world won’t be the same without you. I’ll miss you so much. I asked my Mother to take care of you, and I want you to take care of her! Teach her about wine, and she’ll teach you how to cook all of her favorite southern foods!!! Let her know that her daughter is a much better person for knowing you. Thank you for shining your light on my world!!!

  12. admin says:

    I feel compelled to say that there hasn’t been any other topic on this blog (started in December 2005) with so much reaction – regardless of the topic. It’s obvious that David touched so many hearts – so many people. He was very kind and loving… that’s the message. Some foot prints in the sand are much larger, deeper, and further from the tide than others. David was a giant among gentlemen. — jo

  13. David’s enthusiasm for wine and life and his bravery until the end are remarkable and inspiring. Thank you, David.