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Fred Parks Lecture Series Brings a Taste of California to UH 10/13/2011

Third-generation Californian and Master Sommelier to speak on California's diverse appellations

HOUSTON, Oct. 13, 2011 — Most wine enthusiasts know about Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon, but what about the Pinot Noirs, Chardonnays, Rieslings, Syrahs and Zinfandels produced from the other diverse appellations of California? Not everyone can take a trip to California to discover first-hand the agriculturally rich appellations that produce some of the best wines in the world, but not to worry. The University of Houston's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management is bringing the taste of California to you!

Through the Fred Parks Lecture Series, Master Sommelier Robert Bath, MS, CHE, is presenting "California Dreamin'—A Look at California's Diverse Appellations." The free tasting will be from 6 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 2, in the Conrad N. Hilton Ballroom at the Hilton University of Houston.

In addition to learning about and tasting some great California wines, attendees will have the rare opportunity to have their questions answered by one of the world's foremost wine experts. 

"There are only 160 Master Sommeliers in the world, and to have one of them here to participate in this lecture series and present a free wine seminar is a special treat," said Kevin S. Simon, director of the Fred Parks Wine Cellar at Hilton College. "Bob Bath is one of the most wine-knowledgeable people in the world and he presents in such an informal and exciting way that everybody learns, everybody benefits—no matter how much or how little you know about wine." 

A third-generation Californian, Bath was born and raised in Davis, a small college town, 60 miles east of the Napa Valley. His interest in wine was sparked at the age of 19 while attending college at Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and working summers in fine dining restaurants. He passed the Master Sommelier exam in 1993, becoming one of the first 25 Master Sommeliers in the United States. Since passing the exam, Bath has been a keypart of the educational arm of the Court of Master Sommeliers and is an executive board member.

Bath's career has spanned virtually every aspect of the restaurant and wine industry. He was directly involved in two Wine Spectator Grand Award restaurant wine programs—the Sardine Factory Restaurant in Monterey, California, and Starker's Restaurant in Kansas City, Missouri. He has also consulted on many wine list programs around the country, including the French Laundry Restaurant in the Napa Valley. Bath spent almost eight years as the national sales manager for the prestigious Napa Valley winery, Shafer Vineyards, traveling the country and overseeing sales of their wines in more than 30 U.S. markets.

In February of 2000, he started his own company, the RLB Wine Group. His multi-faceted company has provided customized consultation for more than 30 high-profile California wineries, including Dalla Valle Vineyards, Viader Winery, Hartwell Vineyards, Dierberg Vineyard, Iron Horse Vineyards, Trefethen Winery, Morgan Winery, Charles Krug Winery and Marston Vineyard. The RLB Wine Group has also developed educational programs for preeminent companies like Marriott Hotels, Duckhorn Vineyards, Crystal Cruise Lines, Taj Hotels, Kendall Jackson Winery and the Young Presidents Organization.

Bath joined the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) at Greystone as an adjunct professor in 2004 and continues to teach a variety of advanced wine programs. In February 2010, he was selected by the CIA as the lead instructor for the new Accelerated Wine and Beverage program, the first full-year, accredited wine and beverage program of its kind in the country. He is also a contributing writer to Santé magazine and the Sommelier Journal, a frequent speaker at wine festivals around the world, and has appeared with fellow Master Sommelier Andrea Immer on the Fine Living Network Channel's show "50 Wines in 50 States." 

Bath will bring his California to participants attending this lecture through a visually stunning presentation of eight diverse appellations and explain the basics of wine tasting. Attendees will sample eight different wines that will be paired with fresh California fruits, vegetables and cheeses. 

The lecture is underwritten by the Fred and Mabel Parks Foundation.

"This is the seventh Fred Parks Lecture we have held here at UH," Simon said. "The event is an extension of Fred's passion for wine and wine education, and a way to bring wine to the masses. Bob adds to the growing list of wonderful personalities and the quality of speakers we've been able to bring to Houston, to the UH campus and, of course, to Hilton College in support of wine education, thanks to the generosity of the Parks Foundation."

Admission to this wine tasting and lecture is free, but seating is limited to the first 160 people. Seats are expected to fill up quickly, so RSVP as soon as possible. Attendees must be at least 21 years old to participate and a photo ID is required. Click here to RSVP.

About Fred Parks
Throughout his illustrious career as a trial lawyer, Fred Parks collected fine and rare French wines. In 1994, he donated a portion of his collection to the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. This collection became the foundation of the Fred Parks Wine Cellar and features more than 1,000 bottles from the early 1900s to contemporary vintages. Parks died on Oct.18, 2001, at age 95. At his bequest, his estate donated the remainder of his collection to Hilton College. Today, the Fred Park Boardroom showcases his remarkable collection and pairs his passions for wine and education. The boardroom serves as an international repository for research, education and training in the study of wine.

Debbie Maurer