SMITH: The grape guy from corn country steps down

Nick Frey knew this much about the wine grape — 0 — when the transplanted Iowan went to work in Sonoma County 14 years ago.

"I knew this part of the grape," he said as he swirled what was left in his wine glass Friday at a grand luncheon held in his honor at Kendall-Jackson's Slusser Road grove.

Rep. Jared Huffman, four county supervisors and 500 local growers, makers and advocates of wine came to wish Frey a happy retirement and thank him for his historic contributions to the quality and renown of the Sonoma County grape.

Frey sniffed back tears several times as he recounted his pleasure at serving as president of what's become the Sonoma County Winegrowers.

"Wineries can buy grapes anywhere," said the humble and wise man who bears many tons of credit for the fact that so many premium wineries want to buy them here.

Frey, whose retirement gift was a bottle of wine from every person at the luncheon, isn't too sure what he and his wife, Angie, will do now. But they're sure of one thing.

They will not be moving back to Iowa.

SHE HAD $500 in cash when she walked out of her bank on Santa Rosa's Yulupa Avenue. But when Julie Malm arrived home, there was but $200 in the envelope.

She shot back and was recounting the loss to the branch manager when in walked a young man carrying a wad of $20s. He reported finding the money in the parking lot.

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