April 30, 2015 | Joy Sterling
A Birthday & Mother’s Day Celebration of Audrey M. Sterling
Happy Birthday to Iron Horse co-founder Audrey M. Sterling, who turns 84 on May 5. The Cinco de Mayo birth date always encouraged the family to joke that the entire country of Mexico is celebrating with her.
Audrey is as dynamic & sparkling as Iron Horse cuvees and her elegance, grace, and humor has always pushed both the family and our family business forward. Her favorite Iron Horse wine is our Classic Vintage Brut and she has always said that Pinot Noir is her “baby.”
A bit of #throwbackthursday appropriate background: Audrey is a native San Franciscan and a fourth generation Californian. She attended Lowell High School and Stanford University, where she met Barry. She served as Fair Employment Practices Commissioner for the State of California under Governor Pat Brown and spent almost four years fighting discrimination in employment and housing.
The Sterlings moved to France in 1967, where she became the first and only person I know to have visited every single gallery in the Louvre. I now wear the gorgeous couture gowns she collected in Paris.
Audrey was a more than equal partner in the founding of Iron Horse. She ran the vineyard, overseeing the building of the winery and restoration of the Victorian home on the property while Barry commuted to Los Angeles to practice law and was lovingly regarded as the family’s “cash crop.” In fact, they chose to settle on the West County because of their shared love of Burgundies and my mother’s knowledge of the area’s cool, foggy climate which makes it so perfect for Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
The name on the 1983 application for federal recognition of Green Valley as an official American Viticultural Area (AVA) was Audrey M. Sterling and her attorney of record was Barry H. Sterling.
My mother has impeccable taste and has set the vineyard standards from the beginning. All of our wines have to pass muster with her and Barry. And best practice with “tough customers” is to bring them home for lunch for Mother to win them over. Her personal goal for Iron Horse is for our wines to be the most expensive on the wine list.
Her influence and involvement are inestimable. The vineyard’s great partnership with National Geographic is thanks to my Mother. She and Nat Geo’s Chairman Emeritus Gil Grosvenor were tablemates at a lunch at the Field Museum in Chicago and in the course of conversation found out they share the same birthday … day and year. Thus a friendship was born.
Ten years ago, we celebrated their 75th birthday at a gala in Washington D.C. The Society helped us launch our annual Earth Day event in 2007 and four years later we created the first vintage of Ocean Reserve Blanc de Blancs, which benefits National Geographic’s Ocean Initiative. $4 a bottle goes to help establish marine protected areas and support sustainable fishing around the globe.
Audrey Sterling is my hero. Every day, I look in the mirror and wish that I will “grow up” to be just like her. The Sterling family looks forward to bringing you into our sparkling family history.