Let's Talk Wine with Eric Garnier
March 2013

The Opening Act!

Some 30 years ago, while visiting the Christian Brothers Winery in Napa Valley, I was mesmerized by a collection of wine openers that was on display at the winery. After the big San Francisco earthquake in the 80’s the building was condemned and later refurbished into the Culinary Institute at Greystone. Since then, I have been on a quest to collect wine openers. Though my collection is small by some standards, I have over one hundred that I have gathered at different wineries and in my travels to Europe.

The exhibition at the Culinary Institute of America's Greystone facility in Napa is the first class collection of the legendary Brother Timothy of the Christian Brothers winery fame can be seen. His corkscrews are on a permanent display at the CIA West and if you are in California, it is a must see.

The collection was started in 1949, the year before the Christian Brothers purchased the Greystone property. But by the time they were ready to open the facility to visitors, about the beginning of 1955, Brother Tim had about 200 or more pieces in his collection. They displayed the corkscrews for operations - to keep them occupied, you might say. And today, visitors to see while they were waiting to take a tour of the wine they are displayed in cases and cabinets, almost returning to the early days of the collection keeping visitors occupied while they wait for the tours.

 Every time I open a bottle of wine, I use a different opener. The opener brings back memories of when or where I was when I acquired that opener. They come in all shapes and sizes. They have names like, wing, oso, travelers, boomerang, butterfly and rabbit just to name a few. Electric and battery operated openers are also popular now. The famous Laguiole knife making company in the south of France also make beautiful openers.

So, whatever your fancy, they all open a bottle of wine. But it’s the memories that I enjoy when I use a different opener each time I open a bottle of wine! What’s your next opening act going to be?


Questions or comments? Reach me at : Wineoeric@gmail.com

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