Why food & wine make all the difference: a chat with George Berg of Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti
Above: George Berg (seated, far left) takes a photo of a bottle being poured by Master Sommelier Bobby Stuckey at the Boulder Burgundy Festival’s “Paulée-Inspired Lunch” at Flagstaff House.
I met a lot of fantastic people at the Boulder Burgundy Festival this year: winemakers, wine tradespeople, collectors, and bon vivants.
But one of the most fun conversations I had was with George Berg (above, left), whose law firm Berg, Hill, Greenleaf & Ruscitti, underwrites the festival each year.
When I asked George, whose generous conviviality is rivaled only by his Texas charm, why he and his firm sponsor the gathering, his answer was a simple as it was brilliant.
“I’ve always found that sharing food and wine is a great way to do business,” he said. “Sitting down and drinking a bottle of wine together is a very attractive way to get to know someone.”
“People like Brett [Zimmerman, festival founder and owner of the Boulder Wine Merchant] and Bobby [Stuckey, wine director and owner of Frasca Food & Wine] have helped me in my business,” he explained, “and so this is a way for me to give back to them.”
It doesn’t hurt that George’s office sits directly above Frasca, where he often entertains for both business and pleasure.
George got into food and wine in his early years raising a family and working as a lawyer in Houston, where he had become good friends with the city’s leading restaurateur Tony Vallone (who happens to be my very good friend and client).
“Tony taught me everything I know about food and wine,” he revealed. “He showed me how you could use restaurants as a way to meet people.”
Over the years, he told me, George and his office have helped Brett and Bobby set up their businesses and given them a hand with other legal affairs. And over the years, he’s dined countless times in Bobby’s restaurants and shopped at Brett’s store.
In talking to George, I got the sense that for him, the Boulder food and wine scene is a vibrant enogastronomic community that he’s thrilled to be a part of. And I could tell how much he genuinely admires the city’s food and wine professionals.
It’s only natural, I thought to myself, that he’d want to give back to this close-knit group of like-minded sommeliers by helping to make the festival possible.
I loved watching George interact and banter with the sommeliers, tasting and comparing notes, snapping photos of the labels with his phone when a given wine really impressed him.
And it occurred to me: Food and wine had brought us together and that led to the discovery that we had a mutual dear friend in common back in Texas.
It’s a small world after all and that’s why food and wine make all the difference.