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A Brief History of Larry Mayhew’s Involvement in the Pacific Northwest Wine Culture

Larry Mayhew enjoyed a successful career in the High Tech industry, with senior management roles at Tektronix as well as the top management role at Data I/O in Redmond Washington.  He retired circa 1992.

Larry has always had an interest in fine wines, and in the late 1960s he had an opportunity to spend three years with his family in the Netherlands managing a factory for Tektronix.  This gave him the opportunity to cultivate extensive relationships with winemakers and distributors throughout Western Europe, primarily West Germany and France.  Capitalizing on these connections, he and several other wine enthusiasts founded the Cascade Wine Consumers Guild after his return to the U.S., circa 1971-1972.  The charter of the CWCG was to foster an appreciation for fine wines and to enable members to purchase wines that were not imported or carried by local distributors.  This was accomplished by placing collective, larger-volume orders that would economically justify transport via shipping containers.  Needless to say, it was a pioneering effort to establish such a private club, amidst a sea of government regulations relating to alcoholic beverages and import constraints.  But in the end they persevered, and collective orders from members resulted in container-loads of fine wines being delivered directly to his family home in Raleigh Hills.  Members picked up their cases directly from the Mayhew family packed “garage warehouse.”

The Guild also hosted wine tastings to actively promote an appreciation for the fine wines of Europe.  Bear in mind that the Pacific Northwest wine-making industry was still fairly young during this period (as compared with California).  As it grew, Larry continued to cultivate relationship with winemakers in the Northwest, including burgeoning wineries in the Willamette Valley and Walla Walla.  Later Larry become involved in funding efforts to help winemakers in Walla Walla to provide health care for their seasonal workers, and to support the Institute for Enology and Viticulture through the Walla Walla Community College system.

The CWCG is no longer active as an organization, but it played a significant role in helping establish and consolidate an appreciation for fine wine in the Pacific Northwest.



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