By John Concannon
Happy Birthday to My Great-Grandfather, James Concannon !!!
And, Happy St. Patrick’s Day to All !!!
What an incredible experience it has been launching Concannon Irish Whiskey, and how I wish my Great-Grandfather were here now so I could personally give him this Special Tribute on his Birthday… which, as luck would have it, is also on St. Patrick’s Day!!
There are many questions I would have for this inspiring, determined and honorable gentleman who would have been 165 years old this Saturday. In 1865, at only 18 years old, he courageously sailed in search of new opportunities from Ireland to America. I would ask him not only about this voyage, but also his journey across an entire continent when the great American West was still being pioneered by those like him with vision, grit and spirit. And, what did he experience in business ventures along the Pacific coast, down into Mexico and twice across the ocean to France’s greatest wine regions? And, as an early pioneer of the California Wine Industry, what did he envision? He had mastered geographical surveys, enology and viticulture with the studious intensity for which he was known. But, did he envision this? What Concannon Vineyard would become? What California would become on the wine map of the world?
From these wished-for conversations, I know there would be much recounting of the many recorded stories and reported noble character of this man whom I revere. For him, Family, God and Country were paramount.
And, I imagine that I would also be enthralled and happily surprised by other stories of his many life’s adventures and dreams which he shared around his family table. However, this St. Patrick’s Day, his 165th Birthday, I believe I would have a surprise for him that not even he would have imagined!
Just a Century ago, and as luck and a demand for the best quality would have it, James returned from Bordeaux’s Château d’Yquem with premium vine cuttings, including Petite Sirah, primarily used as a blending grape in Old World France. However, because of the unique climate in the Livermore Valley, James believed the grape would flourish in the New World with a more robust flavor, thereby allowing him to craft beautifully distinctive Bordeaux and Rhône-style wines. James was correct in his assessment, and Concannon became one of the first wineries to make Bordeaux style wines in California.
But I wonder, when carefully transporting and meticulously planting those Petite Sirah vines, could he ever have imagined that Irish Whiskey from his beloved Ireland would be crafted and then finished with the same Petite Sirah? I would like to believe that for all of his forward thinking, that this might be unwrapped for him as an incredible and happy surprise!
And if my Great-Grandfather were here, I would want him to know how honored I am to announce the 2012 release of Concannon Irish Whiskey as a tribute in admiration of His adventurous spirit, vision and ambitious endeavors… along with our family’s highest respect for his character and the legacy he began.
Concannon Irish Whiskey, therefore, has been crafted for an ultimate smoothness, flavor, balance and complexity that he would have been honored to savor. This dedication is for him as well as for the rich history and culture of the Concannon family’s ancestral homeland that he loved.
And so I raise my glass to Him and to You, my friends, on this St. Patrick’s Day! May the luck of the Irish be with you, and may you enjoy the warmth of your family and loved ones beside you. Sláinte!