SAINT MARY’S MAGAZINE: February 12, 2012
With a deep luminous core and a bright cherry/ plum nose, the 2007 Brother Timothy Cabernet Sauvignon is ready to debut. “It’s the vintage of the decade,” said celebrated winemaker Dave Guffy of the Hess Collection, who handcrafts a cabernet annually to benefit the Lasallian Education Fund.
The wine, available to Saint Mary’s alumni for $60 a bottle (a $94 value) is a fitting tribute to Brother Timothy Diener, the man who was cellar master at the Christian Brothers Winery in Napa for more than 50 years. It’s a reservequality offering of just 294 cases made from grapes grown in the soil where he toiled. Now leased by the Hess Collection, the small two-acre vineyard at Mont La Salle yields world-class wines.
Even more significant is the fact that the proceeds go to provide scholarships for legacy families, who might otherwise be unable to afford an education at Saint Mary’s. It is part of the De La Salle Christian Brothers’ ongoing mission to serve the poor, and it was one of Brother Timothy’s passionate goals in life.
“Basically, Brother Timothy approved the project and the legacy,” said SMC Alumni Board member Michael Mulcahy ‘74, noting that too many young people face the double threat of poverty and exclusion. He called the scholarships a great way to keep the Christian Brothers’ mission and legacy alive through a bottle of wine.
The legend of Brother Timothy is well known in Napa — and throughout the California wine industry. He was a high school chemistry teacher when he was assigned to Mont La Salle in 1935 — just five years after the Christian Brothers purchased 340 acres on Mt. Veeder in the fertile Napa Valley. The property included vineyards and an old stone winery where the Brothers made altar wine and some early offerings of table wine. With his impressive stature, big hands and strong understanding of science, Brother Timothy proved to be a quick study in the field of viticulture. It wasn’t long before he’d established the Christian Brothers as one of the leading producers of wine in California’s budding wine industry. Indeed, it was his smiling image on advertisements nationwide.
But as famous as he became for his wine, Brother Timothy considered himself a Brother first and a winemaker second. He loved tending to his vineyards and had an impressive collection of orchids but he never lost his focus on educating children and helping the poor.
Near the end of his life, (he passed away in 2004 at the age of 94) Brother Timothy helped establish the Lasallian Education Fund. The fund — the West Coast Educational Foundation of the De La Salle Christian Brothers — provides scholarships to help disadvantaged students gain access to Lasallian Schools and educational programs.
The Brother Timothy 2007 Cabernet Sauvignon is a tribute to his memory, and to the Christian Brothers’ contributions to California wine. But for Mulcahy, it’s also a way for underprivileged youth to transform their lives and the lives of their families and communities. “To me, this is a message in a bottle,” he said. “It’s a message of hope.”
To order wine: stmarys-ca.edu/for-alumni/brother-timothy-wine