On any given day of the week [except Mondays – they’re closed] you’ll find Vic at All Corked Up, staffing the retail store or wandering the restaurant, ready to talk wine with you, determine what you like, and able to offer his expert advice on what might best suit your palate.
On Friday and Saturday nights, if you’re lucky, Vic will sit in for a couple of numbers with whoever is entertaining that evening, offering his vocals on songs such as “Mustang Sally” and “White Room”.
And, if you are really lucky, you’ll be at All Corked Up when his band, Vic Rocks, is playing.
Vic’s love of music possibly started with his Grandpa Jack, a bandleader, and his Mother who in youth was a vocalist with her dad’s band.
His appreciation of wine started at the tender age of 10, with the memory of family=2 0dinners in the wine cellar of Mama Leone’s in New York, and being granted sips of Chiantis and Barolos.
Fortunately for Vic, the legal drinking age in the New York / New Jersey area was 18, so when he turned that age he was then able to go to work for next door neighbor Ike Shapiro’s wine and liquor store in NYC. There, he was exposed to European wines and was able to hone his palate on 2nd, 3rd and 4th growth Bordeaux. This was in the early 70s, so Vic was enjoying French wines such as Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse. California wine had not yet hit it big, although that was soon to change.
[Louis Jadot Pouilly Fuisse – great stuff. I remember in the late 1980s my boss being given a case of it by one of his suppliers. Since he only drank California Chardonnay, he gave it to me. Nice!]
Vic’s interest in art took him to Europe for the first time in 1973, where he visited 38 art museums in 42 days, visiting museums all over Europe. His love of painting also took him to the Cooper Union School of Art, and three years later he finished getting his BFA at the brand new California Institute of the Arts in Valencia. During the next fifteen years, he exhibited his paintings in a rt galleries in New York, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
At the same time, his prior experience in wine and liquor helped him to gain employment in that industry. Starting at Gourmet Liquors in Newhall, Vic soon moved to Sunrise Spirits. Marriage in the late 1970s took him back to New York, where he first went back to work with the Shapiro brothers and then as head chef for his family’s restaurant.
Marriage also took him to Europe for the second time, where he got to experience great wineries in France and Italy. He also developed an appreciation for the wonderful everyday wines of Europe.
But California beckoned, and Vic returned in 1980, where he went back to work for Sunrise Spirits, where he got to witness firsthand the California wine boom that resulted from the 1976 Judgment of Paris, where California wines shockingly bested their French counterparts. This time, Vic worked at Sunrise until the early 1990s, when the store was sold.
In the meantime, Vic’s marriage ended amicably after 13-years. He pretty much gave up painting. His brother David moved in with him, and asked Vic to teach him bass guitar, which helped to rekindle Vic’s interest in music. Soon he was playing in venues in the Santa Clarita Valley, as well as in the San Fernando Valley, mainly Rock and Blues.
One of the potential buyers of Sunrise was Yoon Lee. Although Lee did not end up buying Sunrise, he and Vic became friends and Lee ended up being a big part of Vic’s career down the road.
Vic soon followed the original owners of Sunrise, when they bought the Irvine Ranch Markets. With them, he became a wine buyer as well as manager of the cheese department. Unfortunately, Irvine Ranch was not to survive, the final straw being the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, and Vic found himself back at Sunrise.
[I think this is when Vic and I first met – not at Sunrise, but when he was working the Sunrise table at the annual Santa Clarita Valley Wine Classic at Cal Arts.]
But again, destiny called, when, in 2003, Lee invited him to interview at All Corked Up. Vic did so, and was hired. Lee has since moved on, and Vic is now wine buyer at All Corked Up.
Although, as I said above, I met Vic much earlier, I didn’t really get to know him until I started going to All Corked Up just about a year or so ago. I quickly realized that, while his palate and wine knowledge exceeded mine by leaps and bounds, we did have in common our love of fruit driven wines. One of his early favorites in this kind of wine was the Brochelle Zinfandel from Paso Robles, and he has since expanded his experience of Paso Robles wines, as well as other regions that are known for these kinds of wines, such as Toro in Spain, Puglia in Italy, and Australia’s Barossa Valley. Since I am especially fond of Paso Robles and Barossa Valley wines, we have much in common in this area. I am looking forward to him teaching me about the other wine regions as well.
In reading over the above, I realize that I am a poor wordsmith and have not done Vic Herstein justice. I think the only way to really know Vic is to go visit him at All Corked Up, get him to recommend a bottle of wine, and [hopefully] get him to sing