Quigley Fine Wines Founders Jeff and Mary Shapiro to Join Prestigious Jurade in Bordeaux
Meet the minds behind the wine!
Quigley Fine Wines Founders Jeff and Mary Shapiro serve alongside Brendan and Christina Quigley as QFW Directors. The Shapiros specialize in scouting the world’s wine regions for new wines, and they travel annually to develop and maintain close relationships with QFW’s 56 winemakers around the globe.
As with many other years, Jeff and Mary’s fall wine excursion will include a stop in Bordeaux. But this year is special: the Shapiros will be inducted into the Jurade, a prestigious organization founded more than 800 years ago. The Jurade’s purpose is to celebrate the history and the wines of Bordeaux’s Saint-Emilion region through events in Bordeaux and in the home countries of its members (jurats). Jurats are responsible for perpetuating the Jurade’s values of sharing, learning, and passing down knowledge and traditions.
To celebrate this event, we are taking some time to learn a little more about the Shapiros, their role at Quigley Fine Wines, and their exciting new roles as jurats. Thank you to Jeff for answering our questions and sharing your passion for wine!
How did you and Mary become so involved in the wine industry?
My career was in the helicopter industry. I am a commercial helicopter pilot and owned my own helicopter accessory company.
In 2009, while visiting Agusta/Westland Helicopters in Italy, Mary and I stayed in a small town called Stresa and ventured into a wine shop for a tasting. They offered us Amarone. When they asked us which Amarone we would like to try, I replied, “Aren’t there only 4?”, counting the usual number I saw on the wine shop shelves in the major US retailers. The owner took us into their cellar and showed us more than 50 Amarones, and explained how American retailers are mostly concerned with volume and cost. We asked, “Are these any good?”. She replied, “This is what we (Italians) drink. You try, and tell me. Are they any good?”. We were blown away!
Immediately, we saw an opportunity to bring these small vineyards to the United States. And that we did, with the experience of Brendan and Chrissy Quigley. This started in 2009 and is still going strong today.
How did you hear about the Jurade?
We heard of the Jurade from our Bordeaux winemakers in St. Emilion. Our partner Brendan was inducted into the Jurade in 2012.
What are you most looking forward to during the two-day ceremony?
I really look forward to seeing all of our winemakers from Bordeaux and being introduced to new ones. The setting is heaven to me: being together with some of the greatest wine producers in the world, the ceremony, the castles … it is surreal. Also, the dinner is spectacular: it is a black-tie event with at least 5 or 6 courses prepared by 3 Michelin chefs, each accompanied with the area’s best Bordeaux wines. The experience is overwhelming. And this year, to be a member makes it all the more special.
What will your role be once you’re inducted? (What are your duties/responsibilities?)
My duties as a member of the Jurade will be exactly what they are now: to properly represent the wine industry, provide innovation for growth, and to respect both wine growers and customers.
What’s your go-to wine on a Wednesday evening?
Of course, the wine choice is dependent on food. Speaking generally, for white wine, I love a Grand Cru Riesling from Alsace. My red of choice is a Barbaresco from Piedmonte.
What’s one beloved wine-related memory you have?
It is impossible to pick just one. The most beloved wine memories I have are from staying in the homes of our winemakers and getting to know their families.
I compare it to instead of looking at a picture, actually entering into the picture. Typically there are 3 generations that are always together and I love to be welcomed into their world. Because the oldest generation speaks little or no English, it gave me the impetus to learn their native languages. Wow, how they light up when we can communicate! I am now fluent in Spanish, semi-fluent in Italian, and can hold my own in French. Also, our winemakers send their children to visit us here in the United States to learn English. We have wonderful memories of their visits.
The first tradition the Shapiros will learn is the Harvest Proclamation (Ban des Vendanges). This event marks the beginning of the harvest season for Bordeaux. During this event, the Jurade ceremoniously proclaims a lift on the ban to pick grapes, and harvest begins. We wish Jeff and Mary safe travels, and look forward to hearing all about this event! Congratulations on your upcoming induction to the Jurade!
Are you a Bordeaux wine lover? Contact Quigley Fine Wines and learn all about the fantastic (and organic!) Bordeaux wines that Jeff and Mary have hand-selected from the region’s small-production vineyards.