The Robb Reader: Ann Colgin

How long has wine been a part of your life?
I was born in Waco, Texas, but my father was a lover of the great things in life. I remember driving to Louisiana in our baby-blue Cadillac with the big fins. We would go to restaurants—Galatoire’s and Antoine’s and all those traditional old places. My father was a big lover of food and wine. And although he died when I was 5 years old, I’m sure those early experiences had more of an effect on me than I realized. My family was definitely into food and wine.

How did you become interested in art?
I had the great fortune of going to an all-girls boarding school in Dallas called Hockaday. At that time, very few schools offered an art history class in high school. But Hockaday did, and I took that class. At Vanderbilt I majored in art history, and that’s how I ended up going to study with Sotheby’s in London. And so, through all of that, my life just kind of landed in place.

How did you transition to winemaking?
It was a long path. When I got out of college, I studied with Sotheby’s in London. It was through the auction world that I came to the wine world. I started coming to Napa Valley—first as a tourist, and then with my mentor at Christie’s in New York, where I worked after returning from London. He was one of the guest auctioneers for the Napa Valley Wine Auction in the 1980s. That was how my love of Napa Valley was nurtured, and I ended up being lucky enough to start a small label in 1992.

Are you still involved in the art world?
I’m on the board of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art [LACMA]. In April, I chaired the Collectors Committee weekend. Of course, being the chair, I had to bring a food-and-wine element to it. We had dinners in different trustees’ homes on Friday night, each with a celebrity chef and either a special guest or an artist. The purpose of this particular weekend was to purchase some works for LACMA’s permanent collection. We ended up being able to buy four different works of art, including a very important work, by the Chilean artist [Roberto] Matta, called Burn, Baby, Burn.

What is the mark of a good host?
I like great energy at the table, so I usually split up married couples at my dinner parties. That way, they can go home that night and talk to their spouses about who they got to meet. My husband and I spend a lot of time seating people together who sometimes know each other, sometimes don’t, but who can spark great conversation.

Give us an example of you at your best.
I would say the charity work I do through the wine world. I’m extremely proud of the way that wine and food have benefited so many arts organizations, children in need, and health-care concerns. Also, I enjoy presenting my wine at a dinner to people I don’t necessarily know and getting them to really understand the passion and the love, the precision and the effort that go into what we do.

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