Benjamin Hammerschlag, 46, owner and CEO of Epicurean Wines, died in his home in Bellingham, Washington.
He was a renowned winemaker and importer of Australian wines. Named in 2004 by Food and Wine magazine one of “35 most fearsome talents in wine and food, all 35 years old or under”: “To sell his first 1,000-case shipment of Australian wine, Benjamin Hammerschlag went door-to-door to Seattle restaurants and wine shops. In a month, he sold every last bottle. Five years later,” Food and Wine noted, “[it was] still hard for Hammerschlag, 33, to keep up with demand, though his portfolio of small producers in the southern Australian countryside” had expanded to 85 labels. Named “Wine Personality of the Year” by Robert M. Parker, Jr’s The Wine Advocate in 2005: “For a young man (early thirties), Hammerschlag has put together a remarkable portfolio of artisinal/hand-crafted Australian wines, primarily from the Barossa and McLaren Vale. He has a degree of enthusiasm, talent, and above all, wisdom, that belies his youthful age. We should all be thankful for the diverse group of wines that are now available in the United States because of the work of Ben Hammerschlag.” Jay McInerney highlighted his work in A Hedonist in the Cellar: Adventures in Wine in 2006 and again in The Juice: Venous Veritas in 2012 and his article solely about Hammerschlag for House and Garden magazine. Frank J. Prial in The New York Times “Wines of the Times” column said in 2002, “Consensus was rare in this tasting but everyone agreed that a very young wine, a 2002 from Southeast Australia with the bizarre name Woop Woop, was our favorite. We gave it three stars...We found it to be a classic shiraz with beautiful balance and great structure.”
Hammerschlag created Woop Woop from grapes grown on his Australian vineyard. He was a graduate of Cornell’s School of Hotel Administration.
He is survived by his mother Mary Tabor, his father Alan Hammerschlag, sister, Sarah Hammerschlag, stepfather Del Persinger, stepmother Bonnie Hammerschlag, and Sarah’s husband Ryan Coyne and their daughter Lila Coyne and his two step sisters Rebecca Haskins and Jennifer Carter.
A Funeral Service will be held at Moles Farewell Tributes – Bellingham, 2465 Lakeway Dr, on Tuesday, November 7, 12:30pm.
Donations in his memory may be sent to the Lighthouse Mission, 910 W. Holly, Bellingham WA, 98225.