CARL WELSER: A little sip of memory on Mother’s Day

We don’t often indulge in wine. A little sip now and then is plenty. Sometimes the discovery of a hidden bottle of wine brings old memories to light.

While prepping for our guests on Mother’s Day, we discovered a small wine rack high up on a pantry shelf holding six bottles of quality wines. To our surprise, these included a bottle of Gallo wine labeled “California Gewürztraminer, Vintage 1983.”

That old bottle brought back a lot of memories. When our kids joined us for dinner that day, they noisily recalled a forcible conscription to sing with the Kohlrabi Chorus at a series of Kohlrabi Festivals back in their college days.

That old wine bottle also prompted a recollection of the year when a well-known wine company came to the aid of the annual Kohlrabi Festival in 1985.

Sometime in the mid-1980s two wine tasters, Frank Bartles and Ed Jaymes, ventured forth in search of foods which might work well with a sip of their company product. Ed was the spokesman. He identified Kohlrabi and Kandy Korn as two foods that should never be served with Bartles and Jaymes wine coolers.

Their findings were widely shared in a television commercial broadcast coast-to-coast on a daily basis. You might expect such propaganda to damage Kohlrabi’s reputation.

Their report obviously placed the livelihood of the members of the Hamburg Kohlrabi Grower’s Association in mortal jeopardy. A major Kohlrabi Festival was already in the planning stages for September that year. Such adverse publicity would likely undercut attendance.

By 1985, Kohlrabi had already developed a wide reputation as Hamburg’s official vegetable. Serving as the “Intercessor pro bono” for the local Kohlrabi Grower’s Association, it was clearly my duty to challenge the unwelcome opinions pitched against Kohlrabi by Frank and Ed.

I wrote to the company suggesting that Frank and Ed may simply have been served a batch of punky Kohlrabi. Perhaps they should conduct a new series of tests before running that commercial again. Otherwise, some legal action might be necessary.

The wine company scheduled a conference at the Detroit Press Club, bringing representatives from the Hamburg Kohlrabi Grower’s together with officials from Bartles and Jaymes. The wine people quickly apologized for their obvious mistake. They acknowledged that Frank and Ed had likely been furnished Kohlrabi by a careless producer.

The meeting was a great success. Apologies were rendered. New friendships developed over a sip of wine. As reparations, the wine company offered to supply the forthcoming Kohlrabi Festival with an abundant quantity of liquid refreshment.

The Kohlrabi Grower’s were stunned by the offer of half-a-truckload of a wide variety of Gallo wines, including Bartles and Jaymes Wine Coolers. But that offer was not without complications. A delivery driver could not release such a load of wine to the church where the festival would be held. He was required to furnish the wine to a licensed commercial dealer.

Fortunately, a search reveals a solution to every problem. A local restaurateur named Henry Boeving owned the Edelweiss Restaurant in Hamburg. Henry was totally familiar with the special needs of the Hamburg Kohlrabi Grower’s. He agreed to accept the wine shipment at his restaurant for transfer to the festival site.

The 1985 festival was a great success. Discovery of that leftover bottle of vintage Gallo Wine in our little wine rack generated a pleasant reminder of bygone times.

The cork is still securely in place. We’ll let it age some more. We’ll save the treat for another day.

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About Carl Welser 3 Articles
Carl Welser is a reverend, and a former firefighter with the Hamburg Fire Department. Email him at